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Kansas defeats Oklahoma, 83-75

  • 8 p.m., Feb. 24, 2014
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Decade of dominance: Kansas earns share of 10th straight Big 12 title

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe slaps hands with students as he exits the court following the the Jayhawks' 83-75 win over Oklahoma on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. The win secured a share of a tenth-straight conference title for the Jayhawks.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe slaps hands with students as he exits the court following the the Jayhawks' 83-75 win over Oklahoma on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. The win secured a share of a tenth-straight conference title for the Jayhawks.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self discusses how Kansas beat OU to win a 10th straight Big 12 title

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self discusses how Kansas beat Oklahoma to win a 10th straight Big 12 title on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Naadir Tharpe, Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden react to KU's Big 12-clinching win

Kansas basketball players Naadir Tharpe, Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden react to KU's Big 12-clinching win against Oklahoma on Monday, Feb. 24, 2014.

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KANSAS 83, OKLAHOMA 75

Box score

Bill Self exited briskly out the northwest tunnel of Allen Fieldhouse, hands up, palms extended high, at the conclusion of Kansas University’s historic 83-75 victory over Oklahoma on Monday night.

The fans behind the KU bench and in the north student section stuck around after the 11th-year KU coach’s ESPN interview to acknowledge ever-so- briefly one of the great accomplishments in school history — a 10th straight Big 12 regular-season title.

Though there was no official announcement at the final horn and no trophy ceremony — that will come if and when (22-6, 13-2) KU wins the crown outright — the fans, who had signs commemorating the feat, were well aware the Jayhawks had snatched at least a share of consecutive league title No. 10.

Iowa State and Texas are three games behind the Jayhawks with four games left to play. OU dropped out of the race as the Sooners trail KU by four games with just three left.

“We allowed Jerrance to dance for everybody. He’s a helluva lot better dancer than I am,” said Self, who let first-year assistant coach Jerrance Howard boogie to the “Nae Nae” dance in a giddy locker room.

“We talked about it (grabbing at least a share of 10th title). We didn’t make a big deal of it. We’ll rest up and try to win it outright in Stillwater (8 p.m., Saturday at Oklahoma State),” Self added.

There was no trophy in the building to commemorate the tie. 

“I said we’d do it when and if we win it outright,” Self said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate in Stillwater on Saturday.”

He did concede that, “It’s pretty cool. To get a piece of it or win it outright 10 years in a row means we’ve had a lot of good players come through here.”

KU players Jamari Traylor, Joel Embiid and others, like Self, rejoiced with their arms stretched high, thanks in large part to junior Naadir Tharpe, who pretty much saved the day against a gritty (20-8, 9-6) OU team.

Tharpe, who finished with 19 points off 6-of-7 shooting with five assists and one turnover, scored 12 of the Jayhawks’ final 18 points. He hit a driving left-handed layup to give KU a 71-66 lead at 3:08. That clutch bucket was followed by a tip in by Andrew Wiggins (15 points) at 2:44.

Tharpe also scored to up a 74-68 lead to 76-68 and up a 76-71 lead to 78-71. He calmly cashed four straight free throws in the final 33 seconds.

“Naadir closed the game the way point guards are supposed to close,” Self said. “The last 10 minutes is as good as Naadir has played since he’s been at KU. All teams that have a chance at having a great season have guys that can close, when you don’t run offense and put the ball in his hands. It’s what great teams have.”

Tharpe, “wasn’t going to let us lose,” said sophomore Perry Ellis, who had 11 points and four rebounds.

Junior point guard Tharpe had just five points with three assists the first half as KU led, 42-33, at the break.

“I felt they started to play more on the wings and deny the ball to Jo Jo  (Embiid, 13 rebounds, 12 points) as well,” Tharpe said. “The lane was open. I tried to be aggressive and make plays.”

He’s now won three titles in three years at KU.

“That’s what we say every year, ‘Big 12 champs,’’’ Tharpe said of the message coming out of the huddle at practice. “Past teams have been doing the same thing. We’re happy we’re able to do it as well.

“To be home and hear the crowd is beautiful,” Tharpe added. “The great tradition here ... obviously they care about us.”

As far as the actual game, Self said, “We were stale tonight compared to Saturday (85-54 win over Texas). That was a no-energy, tired team out there.”

Yet this young team — freshmen Wayne Selden and Wiggins contributed 15 points apiece — managed to eke out a victory on a night the energy may have been lacking.

“It’s the standard here,” Selden, who had 13 first-half points, said of winning titles. “You have to come out and compete and we were able to do it tonight.”

“To win the championship ... it’s a great feeling on the court from start to finish,” noted Wiggins.

Or as Self concluded, “It was a little anti-climactic because we still have three games left in the season. Right now all we have done is tie. It’s pretty good to be 13-2 in this league,” he noted.

NOTES: KU actually could clinch the outright title before Saturday, if five-loss teams Iowa State and Texas lose on Wednesday. Iowa State plays West Virginia in Ames, while Texas meets Baylor in Austin. ... KU is the fifth team in NCAA history to win 10 or more consecutive conference championships (UCLA, 13, 1967-79) (Gonzaga, 11, 2001-11) (Connecticut, 10, 1951-60) (UNLV, 10, 1983-92).

Comments

Len Shaffer 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Is there any doubt at this point that Naadir is the best clutch player on the team? How many big shots has he hit, going back to last year? Another great performance from Naadir when it counted the most.

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Rodney Crain 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Len he played well the last 10 minutes. He is critical to our success, we need him to play well to go far the rest of this season that is true too. He is not the best clutch player on the team. He is inconsistent and sometimes like recently cannot score. If he was so clutch why did he sit the last 10 minutes of the Texas game in Austin? He is a good player that struggles with his shot and defense. I would take Wiggins, or a healthy Jo Jo over Tharpe.

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Doug Merrill 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Rodney, He actually played well the whole game. He just wasn't needed to score in the rest of the game because the others were doing it. That is being point. He like every other member of the team has been getting better through the year. He was clutch at various times last year as well. He steps up when needed - they closed off Wiggins and Embiid, Ellis and Selden. If he wasn't "clutch", we lose. Other games and other teams playing against us won't shut those guys down and he won't be needed. Even when he didn't score well this year, he had a great assist total. You have to remember that he plays on a team with 2 or 3 guys averaging in double figures.

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Ryan Michael 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Do you only watch offensive possessions? Im happy Tharpe had a great game yesterday... That being said, he's still a massive liability defensively. One game is all it takes in the tournament... One game where an opposing PG runs right past Tharpe for layups or wide open 3's all day.

We don't need Tharpe to take crazy off-balance contested shots. He made them last night, he's going to miss them on other nights. What we need is consistent ball-handling (he was good in the second half last night), and DEFENSE. We have four other starters who should be scoring all of our points off assists from Tharpe.

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Walter Bridges 6 months, 4 weeks ago

He played 26 minutes. Hard to play the whole game when forced to sit in the first half because of early foul trouble. I did think he played well overall, maybe the deciding reason we won.

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Walter Bridges 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Sorry..you were talking about the Texas game.

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Rodney Crain 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Tharpe is and has been the weak link on this team all season long. He played well and was the reason we won against OK, but he has had dreadful games this season, some not to long along ago. He could not make a shot just a few games ago. Heck he has been benched 3 times this season for poor play. He is a C player. One game does not make up for his inconsistent play this year. He is not even in the top 5 of PG's in our own conference. We need him to play well to win, and last night he was one of the guys who stepped up to help win the game, but he is not clutch, he is still struggling defending, and his scoring is suspect. Kudos for a good game, especially the last 10 minutes.

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Adam Evans 6 months, 4 weeks ago

He sat the last ten minutes because we were up by 30...wigs Seldon and the rest of the starters barely played the last ten.

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Mick Allen 6 months, 4 weeks ago

"Na' is short for "NADS" and he had some big ones last night.

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Tom Gillaspie 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I wish we were up by 30 in the game at Austin. The lack of energy in that game was kind of scary. The point is Naadir can still be sketchy at times. And outside of the Texas game at Allen his defense has been mostly atrocious.

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Joe Joseph 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I agree with this. Naadir has proven himself as the most clutch performer on this team. That doesn't mean he plays well all of the time, but he has played well in spots when this team desperately needed him.

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Rodney Crain 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I would take Wiggins every time over Tharpe if I needed a basket. Tharpe is not a clutch performer for this team. See FL, TX, on and on, he is not even a top 5 PG in our conference.

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Bryce Landon 6 months, 4 weeks ago

It was a bizarre game, with all the runs by both teams. But I'm glad we have the win and a share of a 10th straight league crown.

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Bryce Landon 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I must admit, when KU started 9-4 and got waxed at home by SDSU, I thought that the streak would end at 9. How wrong I was! And how glad I am that I was wrong!

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Jack Wilson 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Tharpe is what he is.

He has become a vastly improved shooter. He has been a clutch player, making many key shots throughout this season. He was our go-to guy down the stretch last night.

However, Tharpe is a subpar defender. We know that. He compromises our defense because he can't keep ballhandlers out of the lane. No way to dress that one up. Further, he is not that good in the open floor, and on the break. Last night he had some good moments, but generally, not so much.

It just seems undeniable that his peaks and valleys, and strengths and weaknesses, could control our tournament destiny. However, I do think that if he's in a valley, or we get into a game where his defensive weakness is exposed, we at least have a couple of other options (Mason and CF) for stretches. And Self can adjust the defensive matchups, which we control.

If there was one thing I'd ask from Tharpe, that he can control, it's defensive intensity 100% of the time. That's where Mason's got him beat. Mason is always getting after it on the defensive end. Even if the result isn't perfect. I think we have a pretty good two headed monster at the point, and CF can provide a little relief when needed.

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Rodney Crain 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Agree Jack, I would add that Tharpe makes poor decisions in key moments too many times. I am not comfortable at all with him running the offense when we are in a must score or a time and place situation. He can make a play that leaves you scratching your head wondering why he did it. An Early 3, a poor pass when it has to be on spot. A bounce pass in the lane to a 7 footer at his knees. You can not have everything but can you imagine us with a good PG?

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Erich Hartmann 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Disagree, Rodney. Did you see the OU game? Who closed that out for us? Naa might make some mistakes, but he is a net positive for us.

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Rodney Crain 6 months, 4 weeks ago

One game Erich… He is a net zero. He is a defensive liability against quick PGs over and over and over. Teams target him as a weakness to attack, we have to help out on his man which weakens our defense and creates mismatches in other positions. His makes poor decisions at critical times that a junior PG should not make. His shooting can disappear, which is ok, but instead of making an in game adjustment and focus on assists or defense he keeps looking for his shot when he knows he is off that night. He has been benched numerous times for poor play this year, recently too. He is not even a top 5 PG in our conference. We should not let a good game, one that he helped us win with his play, overshadow his weaknesses.

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Jonathan Allison 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I would suggest that Tharpe has shown the ability to play adequate defense on the opposing PG when dialed in effectively. He has done this at times this season and even covered Marcus Smart fairly well for stretches.

He will never be a lockdown defender or be called upon to smother the opposition's best scorer. But he CAN play defense. Getting consistent defense out of Tharpe is going to be key for Bill Self in what remains this season and next.

I see it as the next step in Tharpe's maturation. From a discipline standpoint, Tharpe needs to be more and more tuned in to scouting reports and more and more disciplined in defending to the scouting report.

For a player who is still maturing and developing it should come naturally that he would take the next step from a discipline standpoint and become more tuned in to studying and sticking to the scouting report. If Tharpe doesn't do this then it means that this maturation process has drastically slowed or stopped and that he will likely never be a championship caliber PG.

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Benz Junque 6 months, 4 weeks ago

The issue we have isn't his ability to do it, it's his ability to be dialed in effectively. There are to many moments where Tharpe just isn't mentally shap and focused. There are too many times where he simply isn't dialed in on defense andmakes critical mistakes that directly cost the team points. He HAS to stop this if this team is going to have postseason success. We cannot afford to give up easy points because Tharpe got caught napping.

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Jonathan Allison 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I hope that you read more than the first sentence of my post.

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Rodney Crain 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Jonathan I do not think Tharpe can physically stay with the quicker PG in our conference let alone on a national level. It will not matter if he has a chip implanted in his head with the scouting report in it, he just can not keep up with some of these guys. He makes bad decisions repeatedly too, takes the wrong path on screens, etc... even if he knows what to do. He is what he is.

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Jonathan Allison 6 months, 4 weeks ago

You don't have to be faster or quicker than the other guy to guard him effectively.

If you are those things then you definitely have an advantage, but it's not a requirement.

The advantage that the offensive player has is that the defender doesn't know what the offensive players next move is going to be. That's where scouting reports come in to play. If your man catches the ball from the left wing in isolation and you know ahead of time that 65% of the time he will fake right, cross over and drive left, then you can be ready for it.

The defender also has an advantage in that he can use angles to stay between his man and where his man wants to get. If you have a shorter distance to travel to get to that spot than the man you're guarding then you don't have to be as quick as that man. However, if you know that that player can shoot over the top of you if you back off even an extra foot to keep him in front of you then you're in a matchup disadvantage.

If you are not quicker than him then you have a very small margin for error. Bill Self and Naadir Tharpe will have to mask Tharpe deficiencies by knowing the scouting report and by not putting Tharpe in matchup disadvantages. To me, it's obvious that Tharpe knows that he needs to play better scouting report defense and I have a lot of faith that he is continuing to improve on this. The hardest thing now is that everyone who's on the court with Tharpe needs to know whether or not they can switch with Tharpe on a screen. This is the only way to keep Tharpe out of major matchup disadvantages. This is how KSU beat us. They made it easy because Tharpe switched onto DJ Johnson on the pick and roll play several times late in the game, and Johnson rolled for the easy 2 over a helpless Tharpe.

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Benz Junque 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Agreed. Tharpe is a much better defender when he plays up on the guy he is covering. When he plays off the guy too much he tends to be slow to react. He needs to pressure the ball and not let his guy be comfortable. He can't just let his man sit up at the top of the key and have his choice of what he wants to do. Force the guy to do what you want him to do which is pass the ball under pressure.

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Rodney Crain 6 months, 4 weeks ago

If it is not a physical liability then it is a mental one. Either one is concerning. Tharpe has a history of making poor decisions, so even if he knows what to do his tendency is to play to his instincts which overrides any scouting report. Following your logic Self will design a plan to mask his deficiencies but Tharpe will probably do what he thinks he should do, not what he should do and the results will be the same. (how many times does Self pull him out of a game for not playing smartly) If he was quicker he could react off the ball better and at least athletically adjust better. Wiggins defense is enhanced by his athleticism, so even though you do not need to be quicker it helps. I just do not think knowing what to do will be enough for him.

We could not defend the paint either, so beating Tharpe was not the only reason we lost to KState. Our interior help defense was weak that night.

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Joe Baker 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Great win and enjoy. Please stay focused because there are three more conference games to play. Let's not lose focus and settle for a "share." I hate the "share" phrase of this accomplishment. Please don't fumble now and suffer another loss or two. The question now is who will share? UT? OU? No other team deserves this sole title than this KU squad after the tough fights they've had throughout the year.

I want them to win this title all alone without sharing, one game at a time...RCJH Beat OSU I don't want KU to provide OSU any justification for a tourney spot. OSU will be hungry to salvage what's left of their season. A great win against KU and what may be a good conf tourney run or win, would solidify their situaiton.

Self should have them ready:

Or as Self concluded, “It was a little anti-climactic because we still have three games left in the season. Right now all we have done is tie. It’s pretty good to be 13-2 in this league,” he noted.

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Ethan Berger 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I don't think we have seen the best of Tharpe. Chemistry is so important and our guys are still working on it. While he is subpar on D, he gets more blame then he should. Our guys still don't communicate screens and switches that well. Many times he is stuck in no mans land. He does also seem to get distracted with the ball and loses his guy. However, what he provides for our O is where he is need. I love Mason, but he struggles to run the offense. Watch the first few minutes again from yesterday. Tharpe has the offense working then takes a break. The moment Mason replaced him, the tempo sped up and shots were rushed. But he is a good defender so OU wasn't able to really take advantage and pull a good lead. Tharpe last year showed how good he can be. I think next year will be a huge year for him.

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Tony Bandle 6 months, 4 weeks ago

REASONS KU [ WILL WIN/WILL NOT WIN ] 2014 NC:

1] Too young to know any better/Too young to take the pressure.

2] PG play leads team to victory/PG play leads team to disaster.

3] Wiggins stays aggressive/Wiggins stays passive.

4] Jo Jo dominates the paint/Jo Jo is neutralized in the paint.

5] Perry shines/Perry disappears.

6] The Bruise Bros. Contribute/The Bruise Bros. get into foul trouble.

7] Selden plays like a five star/Selden plays like a walk-on.

8] Bill timely adjustment of strategy using bench/ Bill late on changes & shortens bench.

9] Win the rebound battle especially off. rebs./ Lose rebound battle especially off. rebs.

10] Foul shooting like last night against OK/ Foul shooting like 2003 against Syracuse.

Kansas will be like the Titanic..any combination of only four negatives and we will continue to float..add a fifth negative and we will sink!!

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Mike Riches 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Great analysis, as always! It seems to me that when this team really dials in, almost all of the above stay on the positive side (Duke, Texas at home, even OU in Norman following the SDSU loss). For this reason, I'm much more worried about the first two rounds of the tourney, than the later rounds if/when we reach them. The farther we go, the more I think your #1 point becomes an advantage for us. I still believe that was the difference in '03, our older squad felt the pressure more that Cuse's younger squad-which led to poor FT shooting etc...

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Benz Junque 6 months, 4 weeks ago

1] Just a reminder that the youngest team in the field has played in the national title game each of the last three years. 2011-UConn 2012-Kentucky, 2013-Michigan If we can get our talented players to play consistently aggressive then they won't be beat.

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Mike Riches 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Bill Self has already proven himself to be a great coach, a lock for the hall of fame. 10 consecutive championships in a major conference in this OAD era...enough said. He's great! What happens over the next month - if he's able to keep his guys focused and hungry through these last three conference games, if he's able to motivate them to compete and continue to grow together during the conference tournament, and how this team performs in the dance - all this will contribute to whether Self is ultimately viewed as a legendary coach. I think to be in that discussion, he needs at least one (and probably two) more national championships. This year, with the absence of a "great" team and the huge upside of this KU squad, is a great opportunity to snag one of those. Personally, I think he's up to the task. I'm excited to see this team fire on all cylinders when it really counts!! Rock Chalk!

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Bryce Landon 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Who's been buying commemorative t-shirts for the league title? I did from Kansas Sampler - a red one to commemorate a red-letter event in the history of Jayhawk basketball.

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