Saturday, January 18, 2014

Column: Bench pushes Kansas to victory over Oklahoma State

Kansas forward Tarik Black delivers on a dunk before Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Tarik Black delivers on a dunk before Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Bill Self calls KU's 80-78 victory over Oklahoma State "a relief"

KU coach Bill Self calls KU's 80-78 victory over Oklahoma State "a relief."

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Jamari Traylor, Naadir Tharpe and Joel Embiid following KU's 80-78 victory over Oklahoma State

Jamari Traylor, Naadir Tharpe and Joel Embiid following KU's 80-78 victory over Oklahoma State

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The Keegan Ratings

Tharpe tops ratings (again)

Kansas 80, Oklahoma State 78

Box score

Andrew Wiggins and Perry Ellis, the Kansas University basketball team’s two leading scorers, warmed the bench more than the nets in Saturday afternoon’s 80-78 survival victory against Oklahoma State in Allen Fieldhouse.

Ellis played just five second-half minutes, Wiggins just 12. Ellis didn’t have a foul all game, so that wasn’t the issue. Wiggins was whistled for his third with 9:18 left and headed to the bench. Exactly eight minutes of game clock later, the freshman returned. His uninspiring play to that point was only part of the reason KU coach Bill Self decided to let Wiggins watch instead of play.

With good reason, Self showed a great deal of confidence in his bench.

Even in a game in which Oklahoma State reserve guard Phil Forte torched Kansas for 23 points, KU’s bench outscored the Cowboys, 28-23. Pokes coach Travis Ford turned to his bench for 52 minutes, Self to his for 54.

“Wiggs had the worst game he’s had all year,” Self said. “Perry had as bad a game as he’s had all year. Wayne (Selden) had as bad a game as he’s had in a long time and we won. So the bench was good.”

Nobody had to tell that to Ford, whose depth took a hit when starting center Michael Cobbins, easily the team’s best post defender, suffered a season-ending injury recently.

“I don’t know a team in the country that is as talented and as deep as they are,” Ford said. “They’ve got so many good basketball players, so deep.”

Four KU reserves made 11 of 15 shots, had 10 rebounds and committed just 2 of the team’s 19 turnovers. The fifth, Conner Frankamp, played just one minute and missed a three-pointer.

Jamari Traylor, the third-year sophomore built more like a football player and a relative newcomer to basketball, led the way with nine points, three rebounds, a big blocked shot and a perfect shooting day. Unveiling a free-throw line jumper on which he has been working since shortly after he started playing organized basketball as a junior in high school, Traylor hit one on his way to a 3-for-3 shooting day. He also made all three free throws he attempted.

Tarik Black, KU’s other muscle-bound post player, had as much as anybody to do with a 47-30 halftime lead. He rocked the ball behind his head and threw down a two-handed slam on his way to eight points, a big blocked shot and 4-of-5 shooting. He didn’t play a minute in the second half because starting center Joel Embiid dominated the much shorter Cowboys.

Having such physical reserves behind the athletic, skilled finesse big starters gives Self the option to bring on the muscle when the circumstances called for it, such as they did in Saturday’s heated contest in which six technical fouls were called.

“I pretty much just try to come in, defend, rebound and bring energy to the team,” Traylor said. “Anytime I come out and do that, I think we get a better edge over the opponents’ big men because (Tarik and I) are pretty good coming off the bench and a lot of teams don’t have good big men coming off the bench.”

The Jayhawks have the potential to bring better ballhandling off the bench, as well, should they be on the way to another 14-turnover half such as KU experienced Saturday in letting a lead leak away in the final 20 minutes. Frankamp (three turnovers in 86 minutes) could lend a steadying hand and at times a hot one as well, complementing the big-play hand of Frank Mason, who made the game-saving play by swatting the ball away from Le’Bryan Nash before he could get up a shot.

Self even let Brannen Greene out of his doghouse for a productive seven-minute run, all  in the first half. It was the most Greene had played in a game since getting 16 minutes vs. New Mexico on Dec. 14, also the date of Greene’s most recent field goal before Saturday.

Greene rewarded his coach’s renewed faith in him with five points, 2 of 3 shooting from the field and 1 of 2 three-pointers, to go with an offensive rebound.

Clearly, KU’s starters aren’t the only ones improving.


Brett McCabe 7 years, 9 months ago

That final point is so important - and I hadn't thought of it before. The entire team is improving, which could make so much difference come tournament time in being able to solve problems presented by unfamiliar teams, foul trouble or shaky performances by starters.

Keep working men. Every game is important from here on out. A 1-seed is still possible.

Terrence Cernech 7 years, 9 months ago

In any given week the toughest competition the 'Hawks face, could well be, and should be, in their practices.

Jeremy Paul 7 years, 9 months ago

I was impressed with Greene today. He brings a lot of energy off the bench.

Justin Lindsley 7 years, 9 months ago

Think about it. We get nothing from Wiggy or Ellis. Selden not great. Our bench, Beed And Tharpe beat a top ten team. We are crazy deep. Starting to love this team.

Think how dominate Beed and Wiggins would be if they played four years like manning? Would we ever lose a game?

Dirk Medema 7 years, 9 months ago

Selden played great. He didn't have a great game shooting, and was part of some of the second half turnovers, but he was matched up with Smart most of the game, played him some tough, and really limited him. Wayne also had a bunch of really nice assists as well. Wayne was a huge part of this win.

John Randall 7 years, 9 months ago

This is becoming the most common usage error on these boards:

dominate is a verb the adjective/adverb is dominant

John Randall 7 years, 9 months ago

Not more often, just more of an error,

unless that conflicts with yore/your/you're opinion.

Confusion among homonyms seems less egregious than using a word in the wrong context, as so many of are colleagues are won't to due.

Len Shaffer 7 years, 9 months ago

You're right, John: so many of "are" colleagues are "won't" to use a word in the wrong context.

Kurt Eskilson 7 years, 9 months ago

The sarcasm font John used didn't show up on this board.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 9 months ago

The crazy thing about our bench is that it also includes a RSF that could probably start for OSU and a few other good schools, and he's our 5th big that almost never sees the court - this year. He'll be rocking it in a couple years, and in the meantime learning from the best.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 9 months ago

It will be interesting if we hear anything about Mason talking smack after the game. Probably not the smartest play. It's no backflip, but Marcus was right there to take notice.

John Randall 7 years, 9 months ago

Frank's play at the final buzzer, rather than attempting a block and probably fouling, was as 'smart' as any defensive gem of the second half. Recovering the (tipped) bobble cost Lamb a second he didn't have. That play, along with two shot-clocks disrupting OSU runs, could truly be called game-winners.

Benz Junque 7 years, 9 months ago

For those wanting to torch Tharpe recently, in two consecutive games against opponents ranked in the Top 10?

44 points on 14-17 shooting including 6-8 from three. From THARPE.

Black and Traylor combined scored just one point less than Ellis, Wiggins and Selden combined and we just beat Oklahoma State.

Just let that sink in...

Rodney Crain 7 years, 9 months ago

Tharpe - 10 turnovers, from my count 7 more lazy passes that could have been, in 2 games. Defense his guy gets wide open a lot too. We do not win without his shooting I agree, but I wish he would take better care of the ball.

Tyson Ailshie 7 years, 9 months ago

Rodney, you make a great point. The turnovers are a concern. He has to take better care of the ball going forward if they want to have success in the big dance. His shooting has been nothing short of impressive, and I hope he maintains it. But, he has been forced into shooting more because of the turnovers and mediocre defense.

Gerry Butler 7 years, 9 months ago

believe me Rodney, there is ALOT more then tharpe turning the ball over, players falling out of bounds in recent games throwing the ball back in wildly that could of cost us ( wiggins) just careless all over the place by far not just tharpe, we would not of won this game without his production, but thenthere are some no matter what a guy does ITS NOT GOOD ENOUGH.GO HAWKS GO NADAIR

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 9 months ago

Sick and tired of people misspelling our player's names. Knowledgeable KU fans? What is "NADAIR"? How about "Naadir Tharpe"? Yall know his nickname from teammates and Self is Naa.

Benz Junque 7 years, 9 months ago

Sick and tired of spelling and grammar lessons on message boards...

Jonathan Unruh 7 years, 9 months ago

IM SORRY TO ASK but how did we miss on Forte?

Adam Tyler 7 years, 9 months ago

Smart and Forte were a package deal.

We missed on both technically.

Cameron Cederlind 7 years, 9 months ago

It was OkSt great play calling. Ford had Smart cut across the court, fall on the ground and flail around like he was having a seizure. Now if this didn't result in a whistle, it would at least draw our defense over to ask if he knew how to play respectable basketball. While all this is happening, Forte is wide open on the wing. Pretty simple coaching.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 9 months ago

KU offered Forte a scholarship, but Self never really recruited him very hard because Forte was an unranked player and Self knew he had Connor Frankamp in the bag a year later. It's also very likely that Forte wouldn't have played much, if at all, last season because that's just how Self is in regards to freshmen. Hindsight is always 20/20, but I was still surprised Self never recruited Forte to get Smart although my guess would be Self thought EJ would be much better than he was and Smart would've come off the bench last year. My best guess is that playing time is ultimately what kept KU from landing both players.

Allin Herring 7 years, 9 months ago

I am not sure Seldon had a terrible game. He was guarding Smart most of the game and held him to a 3-14 shooting though his shooting was bad. As for Wiggins he seems to disappear in big games. He is greatly overrated. I agree with ESPN the herd when he tore Wiggins up. Said he just does not see what everyone is going crazy about. His opinion he can not shoot outside, not the greatest dribbler, turns the ball over too much, and though he can go to the hoop he is not aggressive enough to finish allot of his shots. He said he tall but not big enough and does not look like he is going to gain allot of weight. He said is diffently not Lebron. He will be a good NBA player such as Guy but not great. Not sure he is ready for the NBA and for sure not the number on pick and should not have been the #1 freshman. I really think CBS and all the other station give him too much press. At the beginning of the game yesterday all they talked about was Wiggins game against Iowa State. They failed to mention that Tharpe was the one wow took over the game and was the real reason we won! NOT Wiggins. Yesterdays game shows we can play without Wiggins. And we have played much better when we do not play through him.

Pam Goad 7 years, 9 months ago

Totally agree. At times, he seems lazy (or maybe just lost), does not go to "meet" the ball and stands around a lot. Shot selection is pretty suspect, and many times, he seems more intent on drawing a foul under the basket than in trying to finish the shot. I'm sure he must be a better player than what he is showing us, but would sure like to see him improve at a faster rate. That being said, to have such high expectations put on such a young guy so early on must be quite a burden.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 9 months ago

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!! Wiggins leads the team in ppg. Look at his rawest, he shined on the biggest stage so far: Madison Square Garden, basically it was all him in crunch time against a big-name royalty opponent (Duke). He is a PTPer. Recall Wiggins switching to guard Parker without Self's knowlege? How about Wiggins trying to singlehandedly bring us back against SDSU? Didnt he hit 3 or 4 3s in crunch time, and finally got fouled but it was a non call (even Dick Vitale was lamenting Wiggins deserved the foul call)?

Wiggins had an OFF night. Marcus Smart (lotto pick, right) also had an OFF night.

Andrew Wiggins is the best freshman Self has ever had, followed closely by Embiid and B.Rush frosh year is right up there, as may be Ben McLemore, although Wiggins slashes better than Rush or BMac.

Look at Jabari Parker slumping at Duke now in ACC play...averaging 10ppg now after averaging 20ppg in Duke's nonconf season...

These were highschoolers a few mos ago, and now are integrating into team ball, and they are honing additional skills, as their "favorite moves" have been scouted and gameplanned by professional college coaches with veteran, physical D1 athletes to throw at these uber frosh. Just look how opposing teams are killing our inexperienced kids with zone defenses.

To quote Bill Self: "KS fans are unrealistic". Reading these comments, I would agree with Self.

Benz Junque 7 years, 9 months ago

Smart's "off night' was almost a triple double.

Bruce Beckum 7 years, 9 months ago

Does anybody else think Forte's shot looks like he's shot-putting?

David Gisi 7 years, 9 months ago

Yes, but the most important part of a shot is when the ball goes in the basket. It seems to go thru quite often for him.

Benz Junque 7 years, 9 months ago

I have never seen a guy be able to hit threes on a dead run as accurately as Forte. No matter the speed or the angle he still seems to be able to rise straight up. Very impressive. Every shot he took looked like it was going in and most did.

Glad we survived this battle.

Randall Uhrich 7 years, 9 months ago

When do we get to see Wiggins do something? He sure has turned out to be a major disappointment. Talk about over-hype!

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 9 months ago

Randall: Wiggins leads your entire Jayhawk team in ppg average. Talk about lack-of-facts!

Max Ledom 7 years, 9 months ago

I have a feeling AWIII is gonna transfer. He hasn't played in ages.

Gerry Butler 7 years, 9 months ago

ya max, I know I wondering what the heck has happened? ya he was hurt but I know he is ok just don't understand why he is getting nothing. I think he won't be the only one I look for him and I can't even think of the other big guys name right now that WHEN he did get in he did good things for us, he red shirted last year it wouldn't surprise me if they both transferred out that's not good.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 9 months ago

Lucas won't transfer. He was a lower rated player to begin with and Self is straight forward about projected playing time. Lucas is someone who was likely told from the beginning that he likely wouldn't get into the rotation until his junior year at the earliest and that he may never crack the rotation. Lucas is someone I wouldn't be shocked by if he became a 5th year transfer out of KU so that he can play his final year, but I don't see him leaving before then and he may very well play all 5 years at KU. Next year the front court rotation is looking like it'll be Ellis and Alexander starting with Traylor as the first big off the bench which would leave Lucas to battle Hunter Mickelson for the 4th rotation spot.

Benz Junque 7 years, 9 months ago

Agreed. Lucas has gotten this much better this fast BECAUSE he is at Kansas. You don't transfer somewhere else; you continue to improve at this rate under these coaches and training staff.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 9 months ago

Lucas will be a regular contributor next season. He is a beast on the glass, and Self said 2 weeks ago that we "havent had to use him offensively, so the fans have not seen his face-up jumper, his hook shots, or his improved athleticism". (Self's words, folks).

Ryan Shelton 7 years, 9 months ago

Our biggest issue is free throw shooting. We shot 65% from the charity stripe and missed some big ones late. Anyone else remember the '03 title game?

Benz Junque 7 years, 9 months ago

43 turnovers in 2 games and letting OSU's best three point shooters go 12-19 behind the line and you think the biggest problem we have is a few missed free throws? That's about fifth on the list.

Yonatan Negash 7 years, 9 months ago

Alright, call me crazy or whatever you want but I am beginning to believe KU is going to win the national championship this year.

Sure, I had my share of doubts early on just like everyone else. However, the more I watch us play the more I see the pieces coming together. I believe that KU has every piece in place to win the national championship this year.

We have a good point guard, all he needed to do was believe he had a bigger role to play.
We certainly have the big men to make a run for a championship.

We have an unbelievable talent at guards (Selden and Wiggins). We also have extraordinary role players (Ellis, Black, Frankamp, Green, Mason, AW3).

Last but not least, we have one of the greatest coaches in the business. I'm going to put it out there and just say it, we will win the National Championship this year.

I absolutely believe that KU will win the national championship this year. I've been watching KU for over two decades, this is one of the most exciting and special teams I've had the privilege to watch.

Now all we need is for the players and coaches to believe.

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