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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Big week looms for Kansas hoops

Kansas coach Bill Self is escorted off the court as West Virginia fans rush the court after defeating the Jayhawks 74-63 on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.Va. The rematch will be Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas coach Bill Self is escorted off the court as West Virginia fans rush the court after defeating the Jayhawks 74-63 on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, at the WVU Colliseum in Morgantown, W.Va. The rematch will be Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

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A pair of victories this week would greatly assist Kansas University’s basketball team in its quest for a 12th-straight Big 12 Conference regular-season championship.

“We actually are not in a bad position. We’re playing teams ahead of us. I guess our destiny is in our own hands,” KU senior Jamari Traylor said after Saturday’s 75-56 victory at TCU.

He was speaking before Oklahoma suffered an 80-69 loss to Kansas State on Saturday night that dropped the Sooners into a tie for second in the standings with KU and Texas at 7-3. The Jayhawks will travel to Norman, Okla., on Saturday for a 1:30 p.m. contest against the Sooners.

West Virginia, which travels to KU on Tuesday for a 6 p.m. tipoff, has sole possession of first place at 8-2. Baylor and Iowa State are still in the thick of things at 6-4. The Jayhawks have games remaining against the Bears in Waco, Texas, and Iowa State in Allen.

“We’ve got to be focused, make sure every game is important to us and buckle down,” Traylor said after grabbing seven rebounds and scoring six points against the Horned Frogs.

The West Virginia game will be a rematch of KU’s 74-63 loss to the Mountaineers on a snowy Jan. 12 evening in Morgantown, W.Va.

“We’ve got to take care of the ball. They go out there and force a lot of turnovers,” Traylor said. The Jayhawks committed 22 turnovers against the Mountaineers’ full-court press. “We also had a lot of breakdowns defensively against them. We had a terrible game defensively.”

West Virginia actually managed a double-digit victory versus KU on a night the Mountaineers hit 33.3 percent of their shots and went 3-of-12 from three. Jaysean Paige torched KU for 26 points off 6-of-13 shooting. He was 14-of-17 from the line.

“That was kind of the start of our little lapse where we played tired,” KU coach Bill Self said.

That was the first of three straight road losses in the league, the others at Oklahoma State and Iowa State.

“You can’t play tired against those guys. They’ll kick your tail,” Self said. “We’ve got to be better, attack them better. At least we get two days to prepare this time. Last time we had one (after winning at Texas Tech). We’re excited about it. It should be an unbelievable atmosphere in the fieldhouse (with first place on line). It’s certainly a huge game for us with league implications.”

For the first time in a long time, the Jayhawks left a road venue with smiles on their faces Saturday. KU outrebounded TCU, 46-25. Self thinks senior Traylor set the tone with his efforts on the glass.

“To me, the best player in the game was Jamari Traylor. He gave us energy, stole extra possessions for us. That gives us confidence,” Self said. “We were a lot better. We were really good on the glass. We’ve got to tighten up some things and make some shots, but I think we can do that.”

Senior Perry Ellis hit 11 of 14 shots and grabbed 10 rebounds in 34 minutes.

“Perry is so efficient. He is so solid,” Self said. “I thought he went after the ball. I thought he rebounded so much better. I thought he played really well.”

Traylor would agree.

“We knew we had to get him the ball. We hadn’t been doing that lately,” Traylor said. “He just wanted to go out and be aggressive. We were giving him the ball. He demanded it, actually. He knocked his shots down when he had his chances. That’s Perry.”

Traylor realizes his own role this week will be to continue to bring energy to a KU team in the midst of a fierce battle for the league crown.

“I have to be aggressive, give my team chances to score more points,” said Traylor, who had five offensive rebounds Saturday. “It’s what I’m here for. I’ve got to be energetic. Guys see me flying around there, talking, being energetic, being hungry and wanting to win ... I feel that’s contagious, and guys will do the same thing.”

Guys like Carlton Bragg Jr. and Cheick Diallo, who had five rebounds apiece Saturday while playing 10 minutes apiece.

“When Jamari gets offensive rebounds, that changes everything with second shots,” Bragg said. “I’m following Mari’s footsteps. He’s teaching me along the way. We’ve got to buckle down and get focused. This is where it all starts. We have big games coming up. We have to focus. and we need to get the wins. We’ll do whatever it takes to get ’em.”

Comments

Brianna Zaleski 5 years, 11 months ago

I know it was only TCU, but we sure did look better on Sat. Here's hoping that our little funk is over and the boys see that it all starts on the defensive end and w rebounding. If we play our hearts out on those two ends, our offense will more than take care of itself.

Joe Ross 5 years, 11 months ago

The TCU game was much better, yes. They outplayed us for the first ten minutes of the second half, however. Kansas begins the second halves with lulls. We can change this if we recognize and address it.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 11 months ago

"I guess our destiny is in our own hands,” KU senior Jamari Traylor said...

Gotta disagree w/ you, Jamari. Destiny was ripped from your hands when you got punked by a bad Oklahoma State team. Win on Tuesday and Saturday, and destiny will be back in your hands.

Michael Lorraine 5 years, 11 months ago

Is this the best this conference has ever been? Six ranked teams, 3 in the top 10, 7-3 in the Big 12-SEC challenge. 7th place KSU has lost 9 games all against ranked opponents and beat number 1 OU.

Barry Weiss 5 years, 11 months ago

it is brutal this year, particularly the bottom has improved.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 11 months ago

I just saw where Oklahoma State lost at Texas Christian. The Horned Frogs - a last-place team that we just swept - beat a Cowboys team that beat us by 19 in Stillwater. The fact that OSU just lost at TCU makes that 19-point smackdown an even worse look for us.

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 11 months ago

Kansas has the ability to make any guard or team look like an All-American or National Title Contender, respectively.

Terrence Cernech 5 years, 11 months ago

“That was kind of the start of our little lapse where we played tired,” KU coach Bill Self said.

IMHO this statement addresses the biggest factor in the balance of the Hawks' season. For me the biggest concern with KU is the way Frank Mason is utilized. If I were to coach a team against KU I would attack Mason relentlessly since he is NOT a point guard. His assist total is ridiculously low for as much as he has the ball and with the talent around him. KU plays tired because Mason is tired and beat up....and he always has the ball. Having watched the Hawks since Self arrived there are two factors critical to their offensive success: having a high-low game and getting the ball to the second and third side. With Mason that does not happen enough to be highly efficient. He has no confidence in KU's post players and won't give them the ball even when they are open and the offense dictates that he do so. He is reluctant to give Selden the ball preferring a two-man game with Graham or Ellis. He consistently drives into trouble and throws up bad, circus shots which are frequently blocked or just miss. He seems to be unable to drive and dish. His defense is erratic and perplexing. His best defensive game was vs OU and Hield who went for 46 pts.
It may well seem as though I am singling Mason out and blaming him for all the Hawks' inconsistencies. He's not. But he is the main contributor because of the way Self is using him.

Terrence Cernech 5 years, 11 months ago

KUHC Bill Self appeared to have figured it out in their last game vs TCU. Fact: KU has a deep and talented roster Fact: KU has no super-star ala Buddy Hield. Fact: KU has been playing "tired" Fact: HC Self is first and foremost a defensive coach, if you don't play D you don't play (much)

Basketball axiom: teams that press don't like to be pressed.

KU came out against TCU with consistent ball pressure and full and 3/4 court ball denial. IMHO for the balance of the season nobody on KU's roster needs to play on average more than 25 minutes per game. They need to reduce the number of minutes that they play with Mason and Graham on the floor together. Mason appears to be a bad influence on Graham who plays a much more complete game when mason is not in the game. They are both talented and capable players, but are not superstars who can be counted on to excel every time out. I would like to see KU play like they did in the opening segment vs TCU, i.e., full court, ball denial pressure for the entire first half. At halftime see where they are and make the necessary adjustments. Whenever a KU player fails to do their defensive assignment sub them out, play as much of their roster as they can, let everybody have a taste. When they get the ball on defense, attack the rim and play full court open offense, let their talent and athleticism loose. In such an offense even Greene would get some open looks, maybe enough to offset his defensive deficiencies. Lucas, Bragg, Diallo, Mickelson, Traylor all would just have to protect the rim and then run from rim to rim to get open dunks and offensive rebounds. With the open floor Seldon, Svi, Mason and Graham, even Vick, would find open lanes to the hoop and open threes in transition. The energy would be way up and if not, you just don't play this game. I would take KU's top ten players as opposed to WVU's top ten. That's just my opinion. You are free to disagree.

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