Jayhawk Big Men’s Second-Half Surge Powers KU Past Lobos, 80-63

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Sophomore forward Perry Ellis and freshman center Joel Embiid combined for 29 of their team’s 41 second-half points to help No. 13 Kansas defeat the New Mexico Lobos, 80-63 Saturday night inside Sprint Center. The win, which was the Jayhawks’ ninth-straight inside Sprint Center, put an end to Kansas’ two-game losing streak.
The victory lifted KU to 7-3 on the year, while New Mexico suffered its second loss of the 2013-14 campaign, falling to 7-2.
The contest began at a quick pace with both teams trading baskets through the first four minutes of play. New Mexico came out of the first media timeout on an 8-2 run with the help of three buckets from the Lobos’ leading scorer on the year, senior forward Cameron Bairstow. Kansas responded with substantial run of its own, sparked by a Naadir Tharpe three pointer in front of the UNM bench right out of the under-12 minute media timeout. The Jayhawks scored 11 of the next 15 points following the Tharpe trey to regain the lead, 24-18 with just over seven minutes to play in the half.
UNM didn’t waiver and took back the momentum in the following minutes as the Lobos regained the lead, 32-31, on a pair of Cullen Neal free throws with three minutes to play in the period. The Lobos were on top only 23 seconds after freshman guard Wayne Selden, Jr., shot in his first three of the night at the 2:33 mark. Kansas went on to hold its narrow lead at the half, this after Lobo forward Arthur Evans hit a layup as the first half clock expired to pull his team within a point at the break, 39-38.
The Jayhawks opened the second half by putting some distance between themselves and the visitors from Albuquerque. After sitting out the majority of the first half due to foul trouble, Ellis and Embiid made their presence felt, each putting in five points and lifting the Jayhawks to a 10-2 run, all within the first three minutes of the second frame. Ellis shot in his second three pointer of the season to put his team up 49-40, which prompted UNM head coach Craig Neal to try and stomp out the KU run with a timeout with 17:08 to play.
Kansas kept the pressure on, extending its lead to double figures, 53-42, with a picturesque reverse layup from Embiid at the 14:33 mark. Within the minute, the Jayhawks then pushed their lead to 13 when Ellis put in his third bucket of the half.
The Lobos again managed to claw their way back with a 16-8 run over the next five minutes, ending with a four-point play by New Mexico’s Kendall Williams to bring his team within five, 63-58 with eight minutes left in regulation.
That’s as close as UNM would come as Embiid again sparked a KU run. After connecting on a pair of free throws, the seven-footer tallied a steal on the other end that led to a Selden lay-up to again give Kansas a double-digits. KU went on to outscore the Lobos 9-1 over the next stretch and pushed its lead back to 13 at the 5:34 mark. Kansas closed the game outscoring New Mexico 17-5 and held the Lobos to just one field goal in the final eight minutes of play.
The final buzzer sounded with Kansas taking the victory, 80-63, its biggest margin of victory outside of Allen Fieldhouse this year. The Jayhawk defense held the Lobos to a 33-percent clip from the field, the lowest by a KU opponent this season. Kansas countered by hitting 52 percent of its attempts from the field, the fifth time this year the Jayhawks have connected on the majority of their attempts.
Ellis’ 21-point scoring effort led his team for the fourth time this year and was just a rebound shy of tallying his first double-double of the year. Embiid ended his day with a career-high 18 points after scoring 16 in the final 20 minutes of action. He also shot in a career-high eight free throws. He added six rebounds, four blocks and tied a season-high with three steals.
Other Jayhawks to get in double-figures were freshman Andrew Wiggins, who was in double figures for the third-straight contest with his 11 points and Selden, who added 10 points.
The Jayhawks will now take a week off before they return to Allen Fieldhouse to face the Georgetown Hoyas on Saturday, Dec. 21. Tip-off is set for 11 a.m. on ESPN.

Postgame Notes
Dec. 14, 2013
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Jr. Naadir Tharpe (6/6), Fr. Wayne Selden, Jr. (10/10), Fr. Andrew Wiggins (10/10), So. Perry Ellis (10/13), Fr. Joel Embiid (2/2)

SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 2-1

ATTENDANCE: 18,493 (Capacity: 18,500)


  • Improves Kansas overall mark to 7-3 on the season
  • Made KU 4-3 in games away from Allen Fieldhouse in 2013-24
  • Improved the Jayhawks record to 208-78 all-time in games played in Kansas City
  • Gave KU it’s ninth-straight win at the Sprint Center and 23-4 overall record in the venue
  • Made Bill Self 307-62 while at Kansas and 514-167 overall
  • Made KU 2,108-815 all-time


  • Freshman center Joel Embiid is 0-2 in winning the opening tip since gaining a starting role.
  • Junior guard Naadir Tharpe made a jumper at 11:02 to give the Jayhawks their first lead, 6-4, of the game.
  • KU’s nine turnovers tied its season-low, which was last done On Nov. 28 against Wake Forest.
  • Kansas had seven blocked shots tied for the most this season as Jayhawks swatted the Miners of UTEP on Nov. 30. KU has registered more blocked shots than its opponents in all but one game in 2013-14.
  • Tharpe knocked in a three-pointer at 11:39 in the first half that started a 14-4 Kansas run that that lasted 4:02. Within the run, Kansas regained the lead when freshman guard Brannen Greene knocked in a three-point basket to move the Jayhawks ahead, 18-16.
  • New Mexico senior forward Cameron Bairstow chalked up 16 points in the first half, the most scored by an opponent since Duke’s Jabari Parker scored 19 against Kansas, also in the first half.
  • The Jayhawks opened the second half with a 14-2 run, which widened their lead to 55-42 over the Lobos.
  • Joel Embiid (9) and Perry Ellis (7) scored KU’s first 16 points of the second half, shooting a combined 67 percent (6-of-9) through nearly the first eight minutes. Freshman guard Andrew Wiggins’ second of two free throws at the 12:21 mark was the first point scored by a Jayhawk not named Embiid or Ellis.
  • Kansas held New Mexico to just four points in the first seven minutes of the second half.
  • KU’s 17-point lead (78-68) is the biggest distance Kansas has put between itself and an opponent since last month when the Jayhawks built a 17-point advantage over Towson.
  • In the final 7:48, New Mexico only made one field goal. The Lobos shot 33.3 percent on the night, which is the lowest by a Jayhawk opponent this season. It is also the second time this season Kansas held their opponent under 35 percent shooting and the third time under 40 percent.
  • The Jayhawks clamped down in the second half allowing only 27.3 percent shooting from the Lobos. It is the second-best defensive field goal percentage of the season in a half and the third time this season they have held an opponent to under 30 percent in a half. 


  • Junior guard Naadir Tharpe has made at least one three-pointer in 7-of-9 games and is the most consistent Jayhawk from beyond the arc, while freshman guard Andrew Wiggins ranks behind him with at least one trey in 7-of-10 games played. Wiggins still leads on the season with 11 threes compared to Tharpe’s 10.
  • Tharpe dished out nine assists, which is the most since recording 10 against Iona on Nov. 19.
  • Freshman forward Landen Lucas surpassed his previous career high of two rebounds when he pulled down five rebounds against the Lobos.
  • Justin Wesley scored his first point of the 2013-14 season with a free throw in the first half.  
  • Wiggins finished the night with 11 points for his ninth game scoring in double figures.  
  • Freshman guard Brannen Greene tied his season high of five points achieved against Florida.
  • Sophomore forward Perry Ellis completed a three-point play at 8:26 mark in the second half. He finished the night with 21 points, the most since knocking in a season-high 24 points against Duke. Ellis chalked up his eighth of the season and 15th career game with 10+ points.
  • Joel Embiid recorded a career-best 18 points and eight free throws. He also tied his career-high of free throw attempts (10) and steals (3). His 18-point effort marks the fifth time in his career reaching double figures.

Kansas head coach Bill Self:
On Joel Embiid’s performance:
“Joel (Embiid) was great. He and Perry (Ellis) both were great. I thought Jamari (Traylor) and Landen (Lucas) gave us great minutes. Our bigs were really good today against two bigs who can really play. Perry was the most consistent and scored the most points, but there was a stretch in the second half where Joel looked pretty good.”

On attacking the zone:
“There is no question we attacked the zone better. It was a different type of zone where they packed the middle and stretched out a little bit as opposed to Florida, who trapped the ball and made you play around them. This team didn’t really do that, but we attacked it better, not great, but better. I thought the biggest key that gave us some confidence was that Naadir Tharpe, except for about three possessions in the second half, played really well. That’s what we need to have him be for us.  Frank (Mason) didn’t play as much, but Naadir is much better against a zone right now.”

On New Mexico senior F Cameron Bairstow’s performance:
“I thought in the first half, right in front of our bench, he (Cameron Bairstow) was unbelievable. He was aggressive making left and right-hand hooks. Those aren’t easy plays, especially when you’re scoring over length. I think (Alex) Kirk is really good but didn’t have a chance tonight because of fouls and then (Kendall) Williams is terrific. They have three guys that, when they are playing well, (there) may not be three better scores on a team in America. Who else has three guys averaging 19 a game?”
Kansas freshman C Joel Embiid
On the difference in the second half:
“We knew we had to come and be ready to play in the second half. We had to get a run and put the game away.”

On getting his first two fouls in the first half:
“I was frustrated, even though I didn’t think the second foul was a foul.”

On wanting to have a big second half after missing most of the first half:
“I wanted it bad. I wanted to play, and like Perry said, they wanted to throw me the ball and score and that’s what I needed to do.”

On his second foul being called:
“Just have to live with it. Next time I’ll be careful and not go over the back.”

Kansas sophomore F Perry Ellis
On getting back on the winning track:
“It was great to come out here and get the win and (Sprint Center), is pretty close to Lawrence and we had a lot of support with us too. It was great just to get that win after those losses.”

On how Joel Embiid changed the game in the second half:
“He has great moves. The key was to get the ball to him because it opens everything up. He did a great job down there and we have to keep continuing to get him the ball.”

On the play of New Mexico senior F Cameron Bairstow:
“We saw him on film and knew he was one of the best players around. He did a great job out there, good foot work and real strong so it was a challenge.”

On Kansas junior G Naadir Tharpe’s play:
“He distributed the ball well and led us and that’s what a point guard is supposed to do and he led us to the win.”

On shutting down one of New Mexico’s better offensive players:
“We had to try and guard all three of them. We had to really focus on those three and play help defense on the others.”

On having a breakout game:
“I went into practice and kept working and I knew eventually good things would happen and just tried to continue playing hard.”

On the game as a whole tonight:
“We definitely competed and played defense. We got out in transition and got easy buckets so I would say it was one of our better halves.”

On Embiid being able to trap the post:
“He’s smart he knows whatever coach tells him to do he’s doing it. It’s a big help having him right there blocking shots and everything.”

Kansas freshman G Wayne Selden, Jr.
On being in attack mode tonight:
“I felt like I knew we had to hit them first and we had to come out and go at them first and defend and be the first on the floor. That was our main goal to try and be the first one on the floor and be aggressive.”

On Sprint Center being a home court advantage for Kansas:
“It definitely felt like a home court and we were saying it looked and felt a lot like the United Center when we played Duke. The home support was great.”

On Naadir Tharpe’s leadership tonight:
“I see leadership from a lot of the guys, Perry led us too. Naadir was able to calm us down when they went on a little run we were able to pick it up and push forward. Naadir was really engaged tonight.”

On what the locker room was like after the game:
“Quiet. I’m kidding, everybody is excited because we’re getting back on a roll so we’re just trying to push forward.”

On Joel Embiid doing the ‘Dream Shake’:
“If you saw my facial expression on the court. I see him do it in practice every day and I’m glad he brought it to the game.”

On if KU was more focused tonight:
“We knew we had to push forward and bounce back. We haven’t been playing our best basketball in the past few weeks. We just started with going hard every day in practice and really competing and being tougher. We know we have to be tougher and hit the other team first.”

On if they’re excited for one game in the next 16 days:
“We’re looking forward to the next game and the next practice. We’re just trying to keep it going.”

On if they refocused after New Mexico’s four-point play:
“We knew in the game of basketball you can’t get too high or too low. I think we got too high but we were able to regain focus and push forward and get back on a roll.”

New Mexico head coach Craig Neal
Opening Statement:
“Let me start off by saying, I appreciate the opportunity to play Kansas. It gave me a good barometer for my team. I thought we played really well in the first half without having one of our better players, who was in foul trouble. I thought Kansas played really good. I thought that was the best offensive game they’ve played all year. I’ve known Bill for a long time and I knew he’d have them ready. I like their team and I also like my team, but we got in some foul trouble and did some things that we weren’t used to doing. We’ve got to improve on that, but all in all I think my guys gave a great effort. We played with great effort and it was a great atmosphere for college basketball. I’m just really thankful that my team can see where we need to improve and we’ll get back to the drawing board tomorrow night because we have a game on Tuesday.”

On allowing Kansas to pull away in the second half:
“They came out to play in the second half and I don’t think we did.  I kept telling them at half time when we went in that, we need to stop, score, stop, and score, to get right where we want to be, but Kansas did that to us. They got some easy shots and the big fella (Joel Embiid), has really improved. He’s a good player and that’s the best I’ve seen him play and I’ve watched all their tapes offensively all year. I kind of knew they were going to come out and play well. I thought we had them in a good spot in the first half and we just couldn’t get over the hump when they got up. I think we cut it to six and had a chance to cut it to three, I think Cullen missed a shot to cut it three and we just couldn’t get there. So that was the big difference. I think their little run where I had to take a timeout was the difference.”

On Perry Ellis:
“I think he is a good player. He’s really improved and he’s playing with extreme confidence. He’s very talented. He made some jump shots and we were kind of telling our guys he’s got 17-foot range, but he made some shots and he made some plays. I like how hard he plays, I think he’s very knowledgeable about the game and guys, they’ve got a good team. They’ve got a bunch of young guys, but I think they are going to be really good late in the year and I like their team.”

New Mexico senior G Kendall Williams
On Kansas’ youth as a potential disadvantage:
“I think the age thing is overrated. They (Kansas) have a lot of skilled players that didn’t really get flustered.”

New Mexico Cameron senior F Cameron Bairstow
On playing at Sprint Center:
“It was a great playing environment and you could tell KU fed a lot off of the crowd’s energy.”

On New Mexico’s scoring struggles:
“We lost a lot of options we had on last year’s team that made us really good, but us seniors will just keep encouraging the younger guys to keep shooting and stay confident.”


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