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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor closing the lane on defense

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) stuffs a shot from Connecticut guard Sterling Gibbs (4) during the first half on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) stuffs a shot from Connecticut guard Sterling Gibbs (4) during the first half on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

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— Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self’s search for quality post play alongside Perry Ellis kept coming up empty early in the season. It ended long ago and was stuffed deeper into the past Saturday night at a block party at the expense of Connecticut.

Reserve Jamari Traylor had the loudest block when he sent one whistling off his hand with the velocity of an Eric Hosmer line drive and into the stands. Traylor did what he usually does when he makes a highlight. He looked to the bench because he enjoys watching his teammates celebrate his feats almost as much as enjoys giving them something to celebrate.

What Traylor saw was a pair of freshman teammates with huge grins. Cheick Diallo was wagging his index finger. Carlton Bragg Jr. was jumping over and over with balled fists.

It was an amazing play made possible by Traylor building up a head of steam in defensive transition and leaping so explosively.

“It pumps energy into the room, gets us more in tune defensively, and when we’re energetic on defense, we can pretty much play with anybody and lock guys up,” Traylor said.

It was one of three blocks for Traylor, who knows his role and has been playing it well lately. It was the most exciting of KU’s seven blocked shots during Saturday night’s 73-61 victory that sent the Jayhawks to their first Sweet 16 since 2103. But none was bigger than Landen Lucas’ first of three. It came on UConn’s first shot on an aggressive drive to the hoop by Sterling Gibbs.

It served as an early statement that the lane is closed for Kansas foes.

“If we want to win, that’s what’s going to win,” Traylor said. “Defense wins championships. We have to bring it every night. We just had to take it to ’em and we did a great job of that.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Self, Ellis and Selden discuss KU's second-round victory over UConn

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, as well as Jayhawks Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden Jr., answer questions from media members following the Jayhawks' 73-61 victory over Connecticut, which advanced KU to its first Sweet 16 since 2013.

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To say the least. Inside the three-point arc in the first half, the Huskies made just 3 of 21 field-goal attempts, a remarkable statistic.

Making the paint a frustrating place for opponents to score ranks at the top of reasons Kansas has rattled off 16 consecutive victories. Traylor throws some of the credit for that the way of Lucas.

“Landen’s turned into a great shot-blocker down there,” Traylor said. “He’s a force to be reckoned with on the block. Guys’ can’t score on him. He’s a lock-down defender down there.”

It seems like 100 years ago that Lucas had trouble making easy shots and arrived at the scene a step late on defense. He has improved during the season it’s easy to forget he encountered those troubles earlier this season. It’s rare for a player to improve to the extent he has and it’s a blast to watch it unfold.

During his two games in Wells Fargo Arena, Lucas totaled 50 minutes and produced 22 points, 20 rebounds, blocked five shots and made 8 of 11 field goals and made 6 of 7 free throws.

His line from Saturday’s game — six points, 12 rebounds, four assists, one turnover, three blocks and a steal — demonstrates how much his game has grown.

Maryland, KU’s possible next opponent (if the Terrapins move past Hawaii on Sunday), has far more size than either Austin Peay or UConn, but with the growth of his confidence, Lucas won’t shy away from the challenge and Traylor will be ready to give him a hand.

— See what people were saying about Kansas vs. UConn during KUsports.com's live coverage


More news and notes from KU’s win over UConn




By the Numbers: Kansas 73, UConn 61

By the Numbers: Kansas 73, UConn 61

Comments

Len Shaffer 3 years, 8 months ago

There were so many impressive aspects to this game that it's somewhat ridiculous to say that one was the most impressive, but I'll do it anyway: I thought the best thing was the lack of fouls.

Given that UConn was the number 1 FT shooting team in the nation, I was thinking going into the game that the key would be to limit how many times they could get to the line. Well, KU succeeded at that beyond my wildest (and I'm guessing even Self's wildest) dreams. I mean, 13 fouls for an entire game?!?!? That's freaking amazing! And the fact that UConn only got to take 11 free throws certainly went a long way towards KU's easy victory.

Given that lack of fouling, that makes the fact that the Huskies went only 3 for 21 inside the arc even more incredible. What a tremendous display of solid defense with limited fouling.

Two down, four to go!

Kit Duncan 3 years, 8 months ago

It also helps when the officials let both teams play and don't interrupt the flow of the game with ticky-tack calls.

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 8 months ago

How did UConn go 3 for 21 inside the arc if their overall shooting stats were 21 for 62 with 10 for 22 from out side the arc? By my math, 21 minus 10 equals 11 total makes inside the arc...and since 62 total attempts minus 22 deep totals equals 40 total misses....therefore, it seems UConn went 11 for 40 inside the arc.

Perhaps I'm dealing with math from a different century. I don't recall a single game since 2103.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 8 months ago

Good analysis Len.

To Mr. Keegan's point, the lack of fouls goes hand and hand with keeping UConn outside the paint . They were relegated to being a 3 point shooting team for the most part, and although they made a number of them to keep them in the game, I was never that concerned about a total comeback. Credit to the coaching staff for a great game plan.

Michael Potter 3 years, 8 months ago

When your Aunty Alexa can afford new boobs and posts on KU BOOBs, let us know.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 8 months ago

Just watched this crapola: Oregon v St. Joe. Strong performance against an average Iowa team.. Win and move on so they did what they should have. Better than watching St Joe CHOKE against Oregone..not but by much though.

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