Tuesday, January 13, 2015


Column: Kelly Oubre Jr. makes plays on both ends of floor

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) looks to save a ball knocked out of bounds off the opening tip on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) looks to save a ball knocked out of bounds off the opening tip on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


All the players and all the spectators who spent Tuesday night inside hotter-than-usual Allen Fieldhouse are at risk of hearing whistles for days. That’s what invaded their ears all night and they weren’t of the wolf variety.

Ref’s whistles, too many of them, gave the game a feel of a faucet being turned on, then off, then on, then off.

In part, Kansas University freshman Kelly Oubre Jr. can be thanked for the ugly play, because his contributions at both ends. When he saw a clear path to the lane, he drove there and defenders fouled him. Another stoppage in play on the way to KU’s 67-57 victory against Oklahoma State.

Postgame: Kelly Oubre Jr. on his defense, near scuffle vs. OSU

Kansas freshman Kelly Oubre Jr. talks about his passion for defense, a near confrontation with Le'Bryan Nash and much more after the Jayhawks' home win over Oklahoma State.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self talks KU's 'long,' 'bad' game vs. OSU, which lacked any flow

Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self speaks with the media following the Jayhawks' win over Oklahoma State, a game Self described as both "long" and "bad," due to the lack of flow.The KU coach said he was discouraged by the technical fouls his team picked up, as well.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Mason, Oubre and Alexander discuss technicals, style of play vs. OSU

Kansas University basketball players Frank Mason III, Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre Jr. meet with the media following the Jayhawks' 67-57 home win over Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks discuss the technical fouls, the style of the game and Alexander's highlight jam.

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Box score

At the defensive end, Oubre played a role in the Cowboys so often looking so unsure of themselves. Oubre stands 6-foot-7, but is armed with a 7-2 wingspan. Mix in quick feet and it makes for a defender who can alter passes the way a long-armed leaper blessed with good timing can change shots.

At times, you can almost read the mind of a ball-handler from a KU opponent: “Where’s Oubre? Where is he?”

It looks that way at times because Oubre is trying to make it look that way all the time.

“I try to get out in the passing lanes, alter their passes, make them go a step further out away from the scoring area,” he said. “Just throw off of their offense a little bit.”

Oubre has 17 steals in 283 minutes. KU’s other three wings — Brannen Greene, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Wayne Selden Jr. – have combined for 18 steals in 936 minutes.

Oubre had his rough moments Tuesday, as illustrated by his four turnovers. So did just about everyone else from both sides. Oubre also contributed 14 points, six rebounds, three assists, a blocked shot and two steals. He made just 7 of 12 free throws, cheating himself of a big scoring night. Still, he reached double figures for the fifth time in the past seven games.

He has a hunger to score, all right, but his emotions run higher when makes a defensive play. He takes more pride in disruptively influencing a game.

“Definitely, I do,” Oubre said. “I know that my defense controls my offense, so once I’m locking in on defense and getting my intenstity up on the defensive end and getting stops, that’s what leads to my scores.”

Oubre kept his cool at a time when Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash gave him reason to lose it. Oubre and Nash bumped into each other in front of the KU bench and Nash put his palms into Oubre’s chest and gave him a little shove, earning a technical. Jamari Traylor and Cliff Alexander, one technical foul away from an ejection, got into Nash’s face and barked. The ref called a technical on one of the players. After a look at the monitor, the technical was given to Traylor.

“It kind of motivated us to play our game on the defensive end,” Oubre said.

As for the other end, at which KU shot .372 overall, .250 from three and .696 from the line and committed 16 turnovers, Oubre said,  “The game was so amped us for us we kind of lost our heads.”

Fellow freshmen Alexander and especially Devonté Graham again made big contributions on a night sophomores Perry Ellis and Selden continued their offensive struggles, combining to make 3 of 15 shots. Ellis had five turnovers as KU improved to 14-2 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12. Oh well, many in sports believe it takes a particularly ugly one to bust a slump and both players had ugly ones.

For Oubre, the way to avoid shooting slumps starts with denying the other team points.

“My goal is to be a great defensive helper or great defensive stopper,” Oubre said.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Oklahoma State

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Oklahoma State, 67-57

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Oklahoma State, 67-57


Suzi Marshall 5 years ago

KO probably could use more reps in practicing FTs. He's leaving alot of free points on the court.

Steve Zimmerman 5 years ago

For now, it won't be feasible. It'll take him lots of foot work drills and quick explosive elevation to become n-1 slasher. He's too slow and his elbow gets stuck all the time. He should try to extend it instead of forming shooting position. And that makes him very vulnerable target.

Dirk Medema 5 years ago

When they wave off the FT, one Kelly made, do they wave off the attempt altogether or just the make?

Realistically, there is only an extra point or 2 from the stripe for Kelly in this game (70% or 80%), which wouldn't have made a difference in this game. That being said, there are plenty of games that will be decided by 1 or 2 points. Even recently, we've won a NC by our performance at the stripe (14 of 15 in 2008) as well as lost one (2003? less than 50%, 12 of 30). For the past couple weeks the team had been shooting FT's really well.

Allison Steen 5 years ago

I made this comment on another article, but wanted to reiterate on this one: I am super impressed Oubre so easily kept his cool and immediately walked away from the confrontation. Smart kid

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

Oubre instigated it, there was ababsolutely zero reason for Oubre to bump Nash. It was a stupid decision that escalated an already tense situation and got a teammate hit up with a technical and was lucky it didn't get Cliff ejected.

Allison Steen 5 years ago

oh come on. he barely bumped him, that happens all the time when you are guarding a player. I'll see that happen 15 times in a game. NASH was in the wrong. Not to mention, it wouldn't have been Oubre's fault if Cliff was ejected. Cliff needs to take responsibility for his own actions and he knows better than to go over and raise hell. Keep it together.

Aaron Paisley 5 years ago

Of course Oubre kept his cool, that's what instigators do when they are deliberately trying to get a reaction out of someone. He created a situation that got a teammate T'd up and almost got another teammate ejected for picking up a second T. Had Oubre just gone past Nash and not bumped him, there was more than enough to room to avoid Nash, none of that incident happens in front of the bench. If Oubre wasn't wearing a KU uniform and pulled the same move against KU, everyone would be calling him a dirty player and an instigator.

Allison Steen 5 years ago

I think you're being a bit dramatic. And no, under no circumstance if things were reversed and Oubre had reacted the way Nash did I would be like "oh its cool. Nash started it so going ahead and shove another player." No. Its not acceptable. I don't mind a slight nudge, but to straight up shoved someone after you're barely touched isn't cool.

Allison Steen 5 years ago

And even if he was slightly in the wrong. I am still impressed he walked away after getting shoved like that.

Suzi Marshall 5 years ago

So am I, even the bump when he got to Nash. KO was cool after getting the T against Nash. Alexander and Traylor should have given KO a high five instead of confronting Nash.

KO is a through-back to Bird, MJ, Magic days when gamesmanship and good trash talking were king.

Arthur Ankeney 5 years ago

I loved KO again in this game. His defensive awareness, speed, and long arms will bother the best players in the Big XII (X?). I wish we would have seen him matched up with Forte some, though I do think Selden and Graham both did a good job bothering him. I also loved his aggression on the offensive end. In a game that's being called close, it may be ugly, but slash to the rim and get yourself to the free throw line. He didn't shoot a great percentage, but getting those fouls to pile up and get to the FT early and often will lead to success. His outside shot looks pretty decent as well. It seems a bit line-drivey for my liking but the release is quick and good form. It seems when he gets a half second more he is really able to knock it down so as he gets more comfortable with less time I think we'll see his outside shot fall even more.

Dale Rogers 5 years ago

If you go back and watch the replay it's obvious that Oubre intentionally bumped Nash. He altered his direction slightly and leaned into him. I was very surprised the officials didn't pick up on that when they reviewed the incident. Fortunately they missed it.

Dirk Medema 5 years ago

Oubre was walking towards where the official was standing; where he would (potentially) have been inbounding the ball, so he was most definitely making a movement within the normal flow of the game. Did he lean? Maybe ever so slightly, but there are all sorts of times during the game when players bump into each other walking around the court. If it was a conscious move, it's actually pretty good gamesmanship - jerking the chain of a player that has a history of going off. It's essentially the same thing that happened to Embiid last year, and unfortunately seems to be a direction that 'Mari is heading.

'Mari is the one that I'd be more concerned about. He has a toughness born on the street, but unfortunately isn't necessarily smart. He can defend his teammate without going after the opponent. He also needs to realize that he has developed beyond the enforcer role of the past (5 aggressive fouls) on the way to whatever energy he can provide and into an actually skilled player with valuable O weapons. He fouled out of the BU game in part because of at least one aggression/enforcer foul/block. It's a completely different game if he's able to stay in the game and continue to dominate the soft belly of the zone like he had in the first half. Unfortunately, I don't think he really understands his value to the team.

It's like we need put 'Mari and Perry into a meat grinder and make a sausage of a smart & strong player. Maybe Cliff can be that player, but we will ultimately be limited by how much both 'Mari and Perry can become smart & strong players.

Erich Hartmann 5 years ago

Dirk, that's a great take & summation. Personally, I think its hard to put something in someone's personality that they dont possess: aggressive mindset and being demonstrative is simply not part of Perry Ellis. Elijah Johnson did not have Tyshawn's personality. Withey needed a year and a half to become aggressive enough.

It is a bit easier is to temper down a kid who already possesses such aggression and swagger: Sherron, Tyshawn, Thomas Robinson, Frank Mason. Occasionally there is a kid too ornery to even reel in a bit, the classic KU example being Josh Selby, who simply, and bullheadedly was out to prove his skillset everytime he took the floor. I wonder if Greene suffers the same mindset?

Justin Daniel 5 years ago

If there is a player on this team who might be ready to enter the NBA draft in June (I personally do not think there is, just yet) it would be Kelly Oubre. If he continues to develop his game and be more and more assertive he could carry us, like we thought Wiggins would, in postseason play.

Michael Sillman 5 years ago

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Oubre intentionally bumped Nash in the hope of getting a rise out of him. That is one reason why he played it so cool after getting shoved.

To me that's a smart move. I like the fact that we have at least one hard edged guy on the team. Those are the players that win championships.

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