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Kansas defeats Loyola (MD), 94-61

  • 7 p.m., Dec. 1, 2015
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Diallo delivers: Freshman recovers from slow start, shines off bench

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) celebrates a Loyola turnover during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo (13) celebrates a Loyola turnover during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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An approachable guy who usually has a smile on his face, Cheick Diallo spoke with several members of Kansas University’s student body during his time on campus on Tuesday morning.

“My classmates were, ‘Oh, Cheick, we’re coming to watch you today. Let’s go, Cheick.’ People were tweeting, ‘Cheick, we can’t wait for you. We can’t wait.’ Today was the day. I had to prove to everybody I can play,” Diallo, KU’s 6-foot-9 freshman forward from Mali said, after a productive 13-point, six-rebound, three-block college basketball debut — a performance that helped the Jayhawks blitz Loyola Maryland, 94-61, Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

Diallo — who was subject of a little joke by his teammates when the Jayhawks had him run onto the court first for warmups, but did not follow through the northwest tunnel, leaving him out there alone — received a loud standing ovation when he entered for the first time with 12:57 left in the first half.

Like his teammates, he had a less-than-stellar half. He scored no points with one rebound, a block and turnover while committing two fouls in six minutes, KU leading just 40-36 at the break.

“I was thinking about this game all day, what I’m gonna do — rebound, block shots. The first half I played seven, eight minutes. I got zero points. I was thinking, ‘Wow, what am I supposed to do the second half now?’’’ Diallo said. “I was so scared and nervous at the same time, but now I’m so excited. The game is over and I played really, really well.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self breaks down Cheick Diallo's debut

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self points out the positives and negatives from freshman big man Cheick Diallo, who came off the bench to provide 13 points and six rebounds in his first collegiate game, against Loyola Maryland.

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He was a human highlight-reel the final half. 

His first points as a Jayhawk following his five-game, NCAA-mandated stint on the sidelines came on a dunk off a behind-the-back pass from Wayne Selden Jr. After grabbing a rebound and scoring inside, he flushed a lob from fellow freshman Carlton Bragg. Diallo waved his arms wildly to the crowd after that slam and after a blocked shot that came shortly after.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Diallo, Selden, Ellis on freshman big man's debut

Kansas basketball players Wayne Selden Jr. and Perry Ellis join freshman Cheick Diallo in discussing his KU debut against Loyola Maryland, a 94-61 rout that featured plenty of Diallo highlights.

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“That’s my new style,” Diallo said of the celebratory wave.

He also hit an 8-foot shot, dove to tie up a Loyola player and had the play of the game, blocking a shot and dribbling the ball 3/4 of the court, slamming with his right hand while placing his left hand on the back of his neck.

“I thought that was cute. That was nice,” KU coach Bill Self said. “I told him after, ‘Cheick, we don’t do that.’ That’s what he did. So that’s fine. He was having fun. That’s great. I’m happy for him. The kid waited a long time to get out there.”

Diallo explained: “I mean I used to do that even at my high school. In the Jordan Brand Classic I did that, too,” Diallo said, noting he was “kinda nervous” he’d lose the ball on his jaunt down the court.

Selden., who led the way with 18 points, six boards and four assists, enjoyed the flashy dash down the court and dunk.

“I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t know what to expect,” Selden said. “I’m just glad he made it, because freshmen get on that fast break, you never know what could happen.”

Diallo finished perfectly, to the delight of the fans.

“I don’t know what I was doing at the beginning of the game,” Diallo said. “I still kept playing hard, just like coach tells me: ‘If you turn over the ball, don’t put your head down. Just keep playing hard every single time.’’’

Self said he and his staff members hoped for the best, but knew Diallo would be nervous.

“We don’t bet, but we had a friendly handshake wager what would happen the first shot he took. The over/under was air-ball,” Self said. “Fortunately he got an easy basket (off the Selden feed). After that happened, he was fine from a nervous standpoint. I thought he did great. Our team was really bad the first half. I thought he did fine the first half, even though the team wasn’t great. The second half, the team played better.”

Diallo played so well, he’s planning on phoning family members in Mali with details of the game today.

“I can’t wait ... I want to call my dad. They could not watch. Some way I can send a tape so they can watch it tomorrow,” Diallo said, proudly. “I’ve got to call my parents.”

He was asked by a reporter if in the final analysis the long wait for NCAA eligibility was “worth it.”

“Of course,” he said. “Of course.”

KU (5-1) will next meet Harvard at 2:15 p.m., Saturday, in Allen.

— See what people were saying about the game (and Cheick Diallo) during KUsports.com’s live coverage






More news and notes from Kansas vs. Loyola


By the Numbers: Kansas 94, Loyola 61

By the Numbers: Kansas 94, Loyola 61

Comments

Mike Riches 3 years, 11 months ago

Welcome Cheick! I'm glad to see some of these games on the schedule this year, where we don't have to be perfect to win comfortably. This was a perfect opponent for the first game after Maui and for Diallo's first game. One of the ugliest games in awhile for sure, but there is a lot to be excited about! Rock Chalk!

Rodney Crain 3 years, 11 months ago

Nice second half, Cheick looked good that half too.

Well deserved win but I would like to see an experienced team start the game ready to go.

Great to see Wayne continue to play at a high level.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 11 months ago

Agree but after the Maui Classic plus the hoopla over Diallo's first game, I think a pass is in order but DON'T want to see us playing down to our opponents talent like we've done the last two years.

This team feels different and would be extremely disappointed and surprised to see the same results in this year's NCAA.

Rodney Crain 3 years, 11 months ago

I don't think a pass is in order Marius. We have experience and that should count for something. We should know how to pick ourselves up after a rest like we had and come out ready to play. I can handle a slow start, not an off half. No reason for that.

Our senior "star" had to be benched to get his attention. Our "All American" is sitting for heavens sake.

This is what happened in the last year, we come out soft and slow when we should be ready and only play a half. Against good teams, and we will face quite a few of them this year, you cannot have an off half like that.

Michael Sillman 3 years, 11 months ago

Tonight's game showed me how much better this team is with a shot blocker in the lane. The guards can play more aggressive perimeter defense when they know someone is backing them up.

As impressive as Diallo was, Mickelson also improved the team while he was on the court. In addition to the 3 blocks, Mickelson altered a bunch of shots. Loyola's guards were clearly afraid to drive whenever they saw him in the lane.

The most interesting line up for me was when both Diallo and Mickelson were together. Loyola couldn't get anything started since penetration was effectively blocked on both sides of the lane.

Traylor will be too short and overmatched against some of the bigs that are coming up later in the season, especially Kentucky. My recommendation would be to alternate Diallo and Mickelson at the 5 to keep length and rim protection on the floor.

Joe Joseph 3 years, 11 months ago

I really enjoy reading about this kid. He seems genuinely excited to play ball and to play ball at this level.

Jared Reeves 3 years, 11 months ago

Diallo makes Kansas Basketball fun to watch again. Kansas is at its best when it plays fast and lets our superior athletes show their abilities. I loved the line-up with our Freshmen and Sophmores--Diallo, Bragg, Vick, Svi, and Graham. That was entertaining basketball. If they all stay, that could be a dominant team next year.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 11 months ago

And I'm glad to see Svi driving to the hole this year. This is going to be a fun season.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 11 months ago

Cause for concern - just like last year, and just like the Michigan State game, the Jayhawks blew a lead in a hurry. When KU went up by 9 in the first half and then let the Greyhounds ring up three straight 3-pointers in what seemed like less than 90 seconds. Didn't Perry Ellis say after the loss to MSU that they have to learn from that? But clearly they didn't, or they wouldn't have allowed that to happen.

Cause for celebration - Cheick Diallo, obviously. His second half was nothing short of spectacular. That tomahawk jam he had midway through the second half was one of the most spectacular jams in recent memory. Better than that slam by the Longhorn player that went viral last night. If Diallo keeps improving, I suspect that he will be in the starting lineup by the time conference play starts.

By the way, Cheick, no need to send your highlight reel to Mali on tape. Burn it on DVD, or better yet, see if someone posted it to YouTube and have your family watch it that way.

Damian Glaze 3 years, 11 months ago

Agree with everything you said except I would add another cause for concern that hopefully, gets worked out over the next three weeks. That is Cheick showed that he may be foul plagued in more games than not. Once we get into league play he will likely get one or two bad whistles during a game just because he is a freshman. And every official in the world is aware of who he is due to that NCAA BS. When it comes to playing against the flopping Iowa State and other teams with veteran players, my gut tells me he is going to be on the bad side of close calls majority of the time. The real test for Cheick will be to intimidate and be in the minds of players that enter the middle WITHOUT getting the stupid or bad foul calls. Keep in mind I don't think this is just a Cheick thing, but an aggressive freshman basketball player thing.

Matt Foster 3 years, 11 months ago

Does anyone have a link to a replay of the game (not ESPN3)?

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