Kansas defeats Pittsburg State, 89-66

  • 7 p.m., Nov. 4, 2015
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

No more nerves: Freshman Carlton Bragg shines in debut

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) delivers on a dunk during the first half on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. (15) delivers on a dunk during the first half on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Carlton Bragg tossed and turned in bed on Tuesday night, hours before his exhibition debut with Kansas University basketball team.

“I couldn’t sleep. I went to sleep about 1 and got up earlier than usual. I had a lot of nerves for my first college game. It was good, though,” Bragg, KU’s 6-foot-9 freshman power forward from Cleveland said after erupting for 14 points off 7-of-12 shooting and grabbing six rebounds while playing 21 minutes in KU’s 89-66 rout of Pittsburg State in Allen Fieldhouse.

He was able to make it through the day on Wednesday without having to call back home.

“I dealt with it myself,” Bragg said of nerves.

In fact, to soothe himself, he went to the Kansas Union to play the piano, a hobby of his that he displayed at the 2015 Late Night in the Phog.

“Yes, yes, a lot,” he said of the sweet tunes having their desired effect.

The McDonald’s All-American — who also said running through the layup line in pre-game warmups helped a lot — turned in several highlight-reel plays. He dished a high-low pass to Hunter Mickelson for an easy bucket and also ripped a powerful two-handed dunk and a one-hander off a pass from Perry Ellis (22 points, 12 boards).

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Dealing with Cheick Diallo situation, Bill Self had busy day

After discussing his team's exhibition opener against Pittsburg State, which exposed some weaknesses of Kansas, coach Bill Self details how busy and disappointing a day he had leading up to the game, due to being in constant meetings regarding the eligibility of freshman Cheick Diallo.

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“I thought he was the best player in the game,” KU coach Bill Self said of Bragg. “He played with energy. He played with a smile on his face. I thought he did terrific for a young kid out there. What Perry gave us was his standard. I thought he (Bragg) was the best player in the game. All our players did, too, in the locker room.”

Self loved Bragg’s touch on the high/low dish.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Graham, Ellis and Bragg on victory over Pittsburg State

Kansas basketball players Devonté Graham, Perry Ellis and Carlton Bragg discuss the Jayhawks' first exhibition of the 2015-16 season, an 89-66 victory over Pittsburg State.

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“It looked like Marcus or Markieff making that play,” Self said of the Morris twins, who were effective as juniors on the high/low. “I don’t want to get giddy saying this is the ultimate performance, but he has been consistently good.”

Soph guard Devonté Graham (seven points, eight assists, eight rebounds) said he loved Bragg’s enthusiasm.

“The energy he brings to the court ... he’s always smiling. He kind of took that role that I had last year,” Graham said.

Bragg said the smile is by design.

“My high school coach told me, ‘Always keep smiling. Your face should never change on the court,’’’ Bragg said.

He was asked about the white adidas headband he wore during the contest. Not many players in the 13-year Self era have worn headbands.

“It took a lot of hard work to get this headband He (Self) finally decided it was cool,” Bragg said with a smile. “I had to prove it to him. It’s part of my game,” he added, noting he’s worn one, “my whole life.”

Self said his headband rules are simple.

“My rule is whatever they wear every day in practice and high school ... they can do that once they get here. They just can’t change who they are once they get here,” Self said. “Aaron Miles wore one, too. J.R. Giddens wore a headband in his time here. If a guy wants to wear something to call attention to himself that he’s never done, we’re not going to go for that. He (Bragg) didn’t have to negotiate,” Self added.

Frank Mason III had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists and Hunter Mickelson 10 points, six rebounds and four blocks in 13 minutes for the Jayhawks, who hit just four of 19 threes and 48.6 percent of their shots overall to Pitt State’s 28.2 percent.

“Our perimeter play was deplorable,” Self said. “Frank, Devonté had good stretches. Our five main perimeter guys played ... that’s as poorly as we can play. They exposed us. They were quicker than us. We didn’t guard the ball. We didn’t slide very well. Those are great things to be pointed out. Now we know we can be exposed very easy.”

KU will next meet Fort Hays State at 7 p.m., Tuesday in Allen.

— See what people were saying about the exhibition during’s live coverage.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Pittsburg State


Suzi Marshall 5 years, 5 months ago

I said this in the article that focused on Ellis and will say it again. Bragg looks far to good to be on the bench. My best is Self will move Ellis to the 3, especially given the poor performance from Selden/Mykailiuk/Greene, especially if Diallo becomes eligible.

Speaking of Diallo, Self sounded really disappointed in the interview about Diallo Amazing he spent the whole day in meetings on this...November 4 and we are still working on this?

Kent Richardson 5 years, 5 months ago

I have been so nailed by the 3 guard lineup I had not thought of Perry being at the 3. Hmmmm. Bragg and Mickelson are still the big need for us. How they go we will also.

Robert Brock 5 years, 5 months ago

Ellis does not have the ball-handling skills to play the 3. Also, I cannot imagine Perry attempting to defend a 3. You might need to add a laugh-track plus Benny Hill music.

Kent Richardson 5 years, 5 months ago

Or a box of Kleenex and a bottle of booze.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 5 months ago

I'm w/Robert on this one. His 3 pt shot has steadily improved but last night clearly showed where he is the most effective. Being able to hit the three point shot on occasion opens up his inside game.

Watching Selden, Greene and Svi seemed like just about every game they played in last year. Willing to chalk it up to jitters but for two juniors and one sophomore, I was expecting more.

Easily the best surprise of the night was Bragg. He might not have Alexander's size but he was instant channeled energy.

Benz Junque 5 years, 5 months ago

The play of Bragg and Mickelson makes me much less concerned about the Diallo decision. If he is available, great for KU. But they will be just fine without him and there are not any season goals, including a national title, that cannot be accomplished without Diallo.

I hope we hear soon so that Diallo and Self can stop getting questioned about it and fans can relax.

Rodney Crain 5 years, 5 months ago

We need Diallo to go deep in the NCAA tournament, without his rim protection we cannot bank on 13 mins. from Hunter each game to be our rim protector. I am a fan of Hunters, and he did alot while he was in there, but let's not kid ourselves we need Diallo. I do not see how we can win a national title without him.

Bragg did really well but it comes down to defense like it always does to keep a freshman on the floor in Self's system. He was out of position a few times and missed a box out or two as well. Good start but just cause he looked good against PS, in a exhibition, does not mean we will be fine without Diallo.


Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 5 months ago

No disagreement but Bragg had one of the best Allen Fieldhouse debuts in quite some time. Korea certainly helped but it was good to see. I would much rather have Diallo then be without him but I think we will go further in the NCAA going back to 2013. And yes...that's not exactly a ringing endorsement. I believe Mickelson will show why HCBS gave him a scholarship this year.

Ali Zaidi 5 years, 5 months ago

Bragg really does look like he could be special. His play was outstanding, but as the article mentions, his attitude was really what made him stand out. He was the first freshman I've seen in a long time at KU that really looked like he was having a great time. That is a mentality I feel we have been missing in the past few seasons.

The pressure on these kids to win is pretty intense, so having a fun-loving, confident post player like Bragg is just what our team needs. That positivity is infectious.

Marc Frey 5 years, 5 months ago

This was Pitt State. I will wait until we play some bigger schools before wondering about a lineup. Right now, I would worry about Diallo. We rarely get a favorable deal out of the NCAA in these issues.

Mick Allen 5 years, 5 months ago

Bragg was impressive. What we didn't see last night, that I have seen before, is his ability to consistently hit the 15 to 18 foot jumper. His mechanics are text book on his jumper. He is extremely slender. Before he is through here I can see Hudy putting another 20 to 25 lbs on him easily. As far as his ability to play inside, all he lacks now is some strength. I agree, his obvious enthusiasm on being on the court, is hopefully contagious.

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