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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Black on track: ‘Hard work paid off’ for Kansas’ big-man transfer

Kansas forward Tarik Black raises the Fieldhouse after throwing down a lob dunk against Georgetown during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013.

Kansas forward Tarik Black raises the Fieldhouse after throwing down a lob dunk against Georgetown during the first half on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013.

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Before coming to Lawrence, Kansas University senior Tarik Black, a transfer from Memphis, carved out a niche as Conference USA’s top shooter.

Most of Black’s shots with the Tigers came from point-blank range, as he led his former conference in field-goal percentage in back-to-back seasons — 58.9 percent a season ago and a single-season record 68.9 percent during 2011-12 – but, close range or not, the numbers were impressive.

Saturday, during KU’s 86-64 victory over Georgetown, Black made all five field-goal attempts and seven of nine shots from the free-throw line during his first breakout game with the Jayhawks.

For his efforts, Black on Monday was named Big 12 Conference newcomer of the week, which made him the third Jayhawk to be so recognized during the season’s first seven weeks.

Although Black’s Kansas career started slowly, it had more to do with constant foul trouble and less to do with his offensive production. During his first 10 games in a KU uniform — eight of them starts — Black had delivered 11-of-20 shooting, good for 55 percent. After Saturday’s effort, Black is up to 64 percent and feeling good about his game once again.

“He knows he hasn’t played well,” KU coach Bill Self said of Black. “A lot of it is self-caused, and a lot of it is bad luck. He lost a little confidence, but he kept working hard and never took practices (or) even a few possessions off. Hard work paid off.”

The breakthrough performance came at a great time for the Jayhawks (8-3), who saw sophomore forward Perry Ellis limited to just 12 minutes in the victory over Georgetown after taking a blow to the head on a hard foul. In addition to the 5-of-5 shooting effort, Black added six rebounds and some toughness against a physical and experienced Georgetown squad that scrapped from the opening tip to the final horn.

With Ellis expected to be back for KU’s next game — 7 p.m. Monday vs. Toledo — Self could not help but smile about the potential of KU’s front court the rest of the way.

“He may not always have 17 points,” Self said of Black. “He didn’t do anything spectacular. He just played to his strengths. So if we can keep getting production out of him and Joel (Embiid, 17 points, eight rebounds on 4-of-4 shooting), we’ll be a hard team to deal with. Jamari (Traylor, eight points, seven rebounds in 20 minutes) was great off the bench as well.”

Black’s Big 12 honor was the fourth for the Jayhawks this season. Ellis and freshman Andrew Wiggins earned player- and newcomer-of-the-week honors, respectively, on Nov. 18, and Embiid earned newcomer-of-the-week honors on Dec. 2.

Wiggins and West

A photograph surfaced Monday on Twitter of KU freshman Andrew Wiggins posing with hip-hop star Kanye West. In the photo, Wiggins is wearing a Houston Rockets hat, while West is sporting a smooth coat and a big smile.

The photo likely was taken in Wiggins’ hometown of Toronto, where the KU forward is spending the holidays and West’s “Yeezus” tour wrapped up Monday night.

Bilas a big fan

College basketball analyst Jay Bilas, who was in town Saturday to call KU’s 22-point victory over Georgetown, took to Twitter following the game to praise the play he saw from freshman center Embiid, who finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, a block and two steals in 21 minutes.

Bilas’ Tweet: “If stock is being sold in Joel Embiid’s future, I want to buy some. That kid is ridonkulously talented. Dare I say, upside?!”

The raw big man who has started during the past three games enters the holiday break as KU’s third-leading scorer, at 10.5 points per game, and leading rebounder, at 6.6 per contest. He also ranks first in blocks (25) and steals (13) while shooting 68.3 percent from the field and 64.7 percent from the free-throw line.

Comments

Aaron Paisley 3 months, 3 weeks ago

How many people on here know that the purpose of a headline is to attract readers? Headlines are not always 100% reflective of everything contained in the article. Paris Black did have a nice game and he could be back on track, but we won't know that for a few more games. I do think part of Black's issues are adjusting to a new system which does take time. At this point though, Black's fouling is not a big deal because of Embiid's emergence as a 30+ minute a game player.

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Michael Pannacciulli 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Its scary how good Joel can become. I only hope at the next level the lucky organization that gets him pulls all stops to develop him into the next great big man. Dont make him what he's not...don't just expect he will develop naturally to be a beast...do whatever it takes...hire Hakeem...hire Patrick...

I love all our Jayhawks but he has clearly separated himself from the pack. I thought Selden was going to be that guy...and I hope he still does blow me away but so far he's been good. Not great. Wiggins is Wiggins...we analayze him enough so no need to comment there. Love Black's fire...and glad he had a good game.

Keep it up fellas!

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Ron Franklin 3 months, 3 weeks ago

This article is another fine example of the media over- reacting to short-term performance.

Regarding his fouls; Tarik has been getting hosed the last 3 games on bad calls. He fouled so much before now refs are issuing phantoms on him. It's a load of crap.

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Nancy Borst 3 months, 3 weeks ago

Let's make sure everyone's parents attend every game. Both Embid and Black have had great games when their parent(s) were in the stands.

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Benz Junque 3 months, 3 weeks ago

There will only be a few games where Black will have a positive match up. He got to go against a fat, slow, lazy center in Josh Smith who didn't make Black move his feet much or take Black away from the rim to defend in space. It was the perfect scenario for Black to excel and he did. Well done. That said, there aren't many of these types of matchups on the horizon so I don't think this was his getting "on track". He just took advantage of a good match up.

Black should be OK against Toledo as their best big is a 6'9" sophomore center who isn't very athletic and they are pretty weak in the post after that. I think the KU bigs will put up another big pile of stats in hanging the first loss of the season on Toledo.

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Jack Wilson 3 months, 3 weeks ago

The biggest stat for Black (obviously) was one foul (and that wasn't a foul).

That's all that matters right now for him.

"Black on Track"? Let's see a nice stretch of games from Tarik before we make that proclamation. It's one game. But one game of productivity vs. 10 games of nothing, is better than 11 games of nothing.

I know Black was trying, but seeing Lucas perform so well might have added a touch more motivation, seeing his role on the team possibly slipping away.

Oddly, his lack of productivity early may have been the right thing for this team long term -- getting Embiid more quickly into a larger role. If Black had been at least serviceable, Embiid might not be starting. Now we have both in the roles that probably suit them best.

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