Kansas defeats UC Irvine, 78-53

  • 8 p.m., Dec. 29, 2015
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Big deal: KU front court delivers late to beat UC Irvine

Kansas guard Frank Mason III celebrates with forward Hunter Mickelson (42) after Mickelson converted a bucket after a UC Irvine foul during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III celebrates with forward Hunter Mickelson (42) after Mickelson converted a bucket after a UC Irvine foul during the second half, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Bill Self playfully slapped 7-foot-6, 300-pound giant Mamadou Ndiaye on the backside as he interacted with the UC Irvine junior seconds after the final horn sounded in Kansas University’s 78-53 victory over the Anteaters on Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.

“The big fella ... I got a little nervous shaking hands with him in the handshake line. He was huge. I’ve never seen anybody that big before,” Self gasped after the Jayhawks held the Senegal sensation to limited damage — 12 points, eight boards and two blocks in 26 minutes.

“To see Landen (Lucas, eight points, four boards, one steal 15 minutes) and our guys guard him ... he was a full head or taller than all our guys,” Self added.

The (11-1) Jayhawks, who led by just two points, 28-26, at halftime, outscored the (10-5) Anteaters, 50-27, the final half. KU wound up out-rebounding an Irvine team that also boasted 7-2 Ioannis Dimakopoulos (two threes in two tries, 10 points with two boards),  6-10 Mike Best (four points, two boards) and 6-10 Jonathan Galloway (two points, one board, 17 minutes) 35 to 28.

“We didn’t come close to attacking them the first half, I think just because he was in the game,” Self said of Ndiaye, an imposing presence in the Anteaters’ zone defense. “We never thought about getting the ball in the middle. We were so passive.”

KU senior forward Perry Ellis, who had one point the first half — “not even a player, not even a factor,” Self said — finished with 14 points and nine boards.

“Lights out second half,” Self stated of the 6-foot-8 Ellis.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self on KU's big men, Big 12 slate and more

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self takes questions from the media after the Jayhawks' 78-53 win over UC Irvine to close out 2015. Self discusses KU's front-court rotation, as well as the upcoming Big 12 schedule and more.

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Ndiaye’s presence was on display early when he swatted a shot of 6-10 Hunter Mickelson into the stands. Mickelson provided six points, three steals, two boards and a block in 11 minutes.

“It was tough. He was really big and really skilled,” Mickelson said of Ndiaye, who hit three of five shots and six of nine free throws. “I just tried to hit him high and not let him get down low on the post, hold him high enough so our guards could dive in and steal (KU had nine steals; Ndiaye suffering three turnovers).

The 6-10 Lucas was also up to the challenge against Ndiaye.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Ellis, Mason and Graham on KU's win over UC Irvine

Kansas Jayhawks Perry Ellis, Frank Mason III and Devonté Graham meet with the media following a 78-53 victory over UC Irvine at Allen Fieldhouse.

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“There’s nothing you can do to prepare for that situation,” Lucas said. “He’s something I’ve never seen before. His elbow was at my face (level) every time. That’s not the most pleasant thing to find out.”

The Jayhawks had interesting exchanges with Ndiaye in the handshake line.

Lucas, Brannen Greene (10 points, 0-2 from three on a night KU hit five of 17 threes) and Wayne Selden, Jr. (eight points, seven boards, five assists) all hugged the big guy.

“I told him, ‘Good game,’’’ Lucas said. “We went at it during the game. It was competitive and stuff.”

Sophomore guard Devonté Graham (nine points, three assists), whose three threes the first half as well as Frank Mason III’s eight tallies kept KU ahead by one bucket at the break, made Ndiaye laugh.

“I said, ‘Good job, big fella.’ I guess that’s why he said, ‘Good job, little fella,’’’ Graham said. “It was fun. I didn’t have to go against him. It was more the bigs. It was unique. He was actually huge.”

Noted Ellis, who hit four of seven shots and four of four free throws the final half, good for 13 points: “It was different, man. The first half I was hesitant. We were all hesitant in driving. We just came out and attacked the second half.”

KU, which has won 11 straight Big 12 regular-season titles, will open conference play against Baylor at 3 p.m., Saturday, in Allen. KU will then meet Oklahoma at 8 p.m., Monday in Allen. If KU beats Baylor, the Jayhawks figure to move up to No. 1 in the AP poll on Monday. Oklahoma would likely move up to No. 2 with a home win Saturday against Iowa State. No. 1 Michigan State lost to Iowa on Tuesday night.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. UC Irvine

— See what people were saying about the game during's live coverage

By the Numbers: Kansas 78, UC Irvine 53

By the Numbers: Kansas 78, UC Irvine 53


Reggie Flenory 5 years, 3 months ago

Now time for big 12 play let's get it on!!!!!

Joe Joseph 5 years, 3 months ago

Conference play time! Self better pull the reigns back and tank, so Kansas can make it beyond the first weekend come tourney time!!

(sarcasm font)

Danny Hernandez 5 years, 3 months ago

Now the "Nervous" Season begins. As long as the team continues to play lock down D one game at a time, Kansas will be celebrating a 12th Big 12 title. OU & ISU have great offensive players but our guys should be able to handle them. I like how Brannen's changing his game. Couldn't be coming at a better time. Hunter's a lot more confident & improving his offensive game too. He doesn't have to do too much offensively though every little bit helps. I can see him good for 6-8 points a game from here on out.

Mike Riches 5 years, 3 months ago

We have a brutal January with games against five currently ranked teams. Our schedule gets a little softer in February, though not much. This will be a tough Big 12 season and I hope other teams beat up on each other like last year. The good news is we still have a pretty high ceiling with Diallo and Bragg, but if they're not getting a lot of playing time against UC Irvine, it's hard to see that changing against the likes of Oklahoma and Kentucky.

Jim Stauffer 5 years, 3 months ago

The amazing thing about us sports fans is our inconsistency. Take me for instance, I have always insisted a season long performance such as winning the conference is a much bigger task (home and home schedule) than getting hot at tourney time and doing well over a 6 game span.

Yet, our recent failures in the tourney have caused me to say I don't care about the conference, I just want to get to the Final Four again. We just seem to crave the dessert we have been denied the longest.

How about we do both.

Kent Richardson 5 years, 3 months ago

We can score and we can defend. Our three guard is the best in the conference. Hunter and Landon are our top two bigs. Not talking about ceiling. Hunter plays bigger in blocks and scoring than even Cheick. We really need Cheick and Carlton to be more of a positive impact and I can see them being that. Bill relieved Perry with Carlton last night and if Carlton can hold serve while he is in we are looking much better.

Frank and DeVonte are our rocks. Frank is all conference and AA material.

Perry and Wayne will take us to the promised land or Branson. It's up to them. I think they both want it. Seoul Man and the Designer.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 3 months ago

Even as impressed as I was with Lucas against UC Irvine, I'm a long way away from considering him one of our two best big men. He just isn't consistent enough with this play.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm with you Jim and Bryce. This team has a very good chance of doing special things. I think that we will enjoy the ride.

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