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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Not fool’s gold, KU making the most of three-point shooting

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) puts up a three over UMKC guard LaVell Boyd (4) UKMC guard Isaiah Ross (2)during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) puts up a three over UMKC guard LaVell Boyd (4) UKMC guard Isaiah Ross (2)during the first half, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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Frank Mason, Devonte' Graham and Josh Jackson went out of their way Tuesday night in Allen Fieldhouse to try to set up teammates Udoka Azubuike and Carlton Bragg with beautiful passes, but the big men had trouble finishing.

So it wasn’t as if the nation’s top perimeter trio went into the night looking to dominate the scoring, it’s just that when they put up their shots, they went in.

Most of Jackson’s came close to the rim, all of Graham’s from long distance and Mason mixed in a little of both.

Regardless of where they were taken on the court, they were smart shots and most of them went in.

Mason and Graham combined to make 12-of-15 three-pointers and the three combined to go 25-of-34 from the field. They combined 67 points to lead Kansas to a 105-62 rout of UMKC.

“That basket looks awfully big to Frank and Devonte' and I thought Josh had his best game since he’s been here,” Kansas coach Bill Self said after his 600th victory.

Kansas made 15-of-27 three-point shots and in the past four games has made 54-of-96 for a .563 percentage. In the first five games, Kansas made 30-of-100. You can do the math on that one.

Graham and Mason have combined to make 32 of 48 threes in the past four games, an outrageous .667 percentage.

In the past, Self has called the three-pointer “fool’s gold,” but it doesn’t apply for this stretch because they haven’t fallen in love with taking long shots, they’re just making them at an amazing clip.

Self pointed out that UMKC played a matchup zone and Long Beach State and UNC-Asheville played a lot of zone as well, daring Kansas to shoot from the outside. Opponents might become leary about that strategy the way the Jayhawks are shooting. It’s not by accident that they steadily have improved.

Mason, Graham and the rest of the returning perimeter players put in a lot of time working with assistant coach Kurtis Townsend on expanding the range on their shots.

“It helps a lot with confidence when you know you have that range,” Graham said. “Then guys will respect you and then it makes the game easier. They will try to push up and guard you and then we will use our quickness to get by them.”

Mason didn’t let the team’s slow start from beyond the arc change his perception of anything.

“I knew all along we had good shooters on the team,” Mason said. “We work really hard every day throughout the summer, every day of practice, and we put a lot of reps in. I knew at some point in time we would get it going.”

The veterans also know hot shooting doesn’t carry every night, so they aren’t fooling themselves in any way.

“There’s going to be a game where we’re not making these shots and we’ll really find out what kind of team we are and if we can get stops and defend,” Graham said, beating his coach to that quote by about 10 minutes, always a good sign. “We’re just going to stay aggressive, keep passing how we’ve been passing it and keep shooting.”

They’re doing what their coach wants them to do and Self enjoyed the way they did it. Still, he didn’t enjoy it as much as when the Jayhawks made 2-of-17 three-pointers and 9-of-19 free throws and still found a way to defeat then-No. 1 Duke at Madison Square Garden.

“To me that was by far the best performance we’ve had because we didn’t play well but we made the other team not play well,” Self said of the Duke game. “I think so many times when you make shots you kind of take the foot off the gas in other areas.”

Tuesday wasn’t one of those times.

By the Numbers: Kansas 105, UMKC 62.

By the Numbers: Kansas 105, UMKC 62.

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


More news and notes from Kansas vs. UMKC


Comments

Suzi Marshall 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes Jackson played a great game but so did all the others. When Lucas is on the floor with any 4 of the 5 guards and they are clicking on all cylinders their basketball IQ is so high it's like watching an equivalent of a Basketball Mensa Society meeting. Bragg is getting close and is only about a quarter step off the mark. It is so much fun watching this team perform.

I'm looking forward to reports, like Self would tell us, over the Christmas break on things they will be working on. We will probably need to wait until the pre-season is over and conference play commences with TCU.

Dale Rogers 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I hope Bragg isn't too down on himself and realizes he's getting it back. I don't recall any game where so many of the camera shots of Bragg showed him not smiling. He needs to get back to having fun.

Ben Kane 7 months, 2 weeks ago

yeah we look great against a bottom dwelling team with no inside size and yet our bigs are still struggling.

fools gold to use this game to judge anything except the growing confidence level of players like Jackson.

Harlan Hobbs 7 months, 2 weeks ago

You nailed it, Suzi. As strange as it might seem with stars like Frank, Devonte, and Josh, the key to the season is the return to form for Landen and Carlton, and perhaps Udoka. Kansas is a very good team without them, but to win a championship, they have to come up "big".

Mallory Briggans 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The one thing that is evident is our players are learning to stay out out foul trouble ....Jackson has learn especially to play smarter Mason is even more under control and last night his turnover mistakes were non-existant ...The unselfishness is a sign that this team is about team and not about all the preseason honors that have bestowed Mason Jackson and Graham....they are having fun and winning ....and the fact Vick has excelled to where he is not reserved for garbage time. Svi is on the rise...and to think Lucas is banged up Dok is still learning and Bragg has been in a funk ....Coleby has given us minutes as well as Lightfoot ...we are gonna only get better

Jay Scott 7 months, 2 weeks ago

The comments here today are as impressive as the play on the court was last night....

Barry Weiss 7 months, 2 weeks ago

I still would like our FT shooting to improve.

Glen Miller 7 months, 2 weeks ago

Most of the better teams will play more man to man, outside of Baylor and I believe West Virginia runs some zone. Don't quote me on that one. The zone opens up the outside. We are taking advantage right now, but we still need our bits. Their confidence seems to growing, sometimes in inches instead of feet. Its true we haven't played top notch teams the last 4 games....... but we are not just beating these teams, we are destroying them. 30 and 40 point wins with almost 100 points each night out is something we just haven't seen a lot of. I am not foolish. I saw what a team with one good big has done to us. There will be teams with multiple bigs that can play and we will not beat them by 40. However, with our guard play..... I just don't see 5 guys who can all play and shoot just having a collective off night. The odds that Mason, Jackson, Vick, Svi and Graham all playing poorly seems low.

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