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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Keegan

Tom Keegan: Brutal first-half stretch doomed KU

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) is fouled on the way to the bucket by Villanova forward Daniel Ochefu (23) during the first half, Saturday, March 26, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. At left is Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33).

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) is fouled on the way to the bucket by Villanova forward Daniel Ochefu (23) during the first half, Saturday, March 26, 2016 at KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. At left is Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33).

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— Sure, there were chances at the end, a five-point, second-half lead, even. But the reality is Villanova won Saturday night’s Elite Eight game in the KFC Yum! Center by making Kansas University lose it, 64-59, with as bad a seven-minute stretch of basketball as it had played in months.

Somehow, Villanova played such smart, tough defense that for 6 minutes and 55 seconds of game clock, Kansas went scoreless and turned it over eight times.

The anatomy of a breakdown that befuddled KU’s offensive purpose and stole their composure with a 13-0 run: 

Wayne Selden Jr. turnover. Carlton Bragg Jr. turnover. Frank Mason III missed three-pointer. Perry Ellis turnover. Mason turnover. Ellis turnover. Mason turnover. Selden turnover. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk missed three-pointer. Ellis turnover. Devonté Graham missed three-pointer.

The drought finally ended at the 3:46 mark of the first half when Mason made 1 of 2 free throws. By that time, a 16-12 lead had turned into a 25-16 deficit.

Naturally, Kansas didn’t run away and hide. The Jayhawks (33-5) compete too hard to quit. Not surprisingly they even went ahead in the second half, using a 9-0 run to go up five points.

But unlike what happens to some opponents that get caught in KU’s wake, that just made Villanova play tougher, strengthened the Wildcats’ resolve to continue shutting Ellis out of the game, holding him to a season-low four points.

“It starts with him,” said Villanova reserve forward Mikal Bridges, who had five steals on a night Kansas turned it over 16 times. “He’s the heart and soul of their team. To break them, we had to break him to get everything started.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

After season-ending loss, Self, Ellis and Traylor describe what went wrong vs. Villanova

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self, as well as KU seniors Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor, describe the issues that came up for the Jayhawks in a 64-59 loss to Villanova in the Elite Eight. The loss, one game shy of the Final Four, ended KU's season, and the careers of ...

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Villanova broke Ellis by mixing its preferred man-to-man with a zone defense and by sending a guard from the weak side to steal passes intended for him in the post and on pick-and-pops. It worked beautifully and created the harsh reality that if Kansas was not going to get hot from long range, it was not going to win the game. The Jayhawks made just 6 of 22 three-pointers.

“I think we were just anxious, extremely hyped and we were shooting it kind of hard, shooting it back rim or over the rim, stuff like that,” said Kansas sophomore guard Devonté Graham, who led the Jayhawks with 17 points and seven rebounds. “We just couldn’t knock down shots we normally do. Wayne missed a couple of threes and so did I. We just couldn’t knock them down.”

In truth, Graham was knocking them down to the tune of 5 of 9, but didn’t have any company. The rest of the team made 1 of 13 shots from beyond the arc.

Graham fouled out with 34.1 seconds left when he was diving for a loose ball.

“I tried to split a double-team,” Graham said. “The guy hit my arm and the ball went flying out and I went and dove for it. At first I thought he was calling a travel, but he said I tripped the guy and he called a foul on me. Of course I didn’t agree with it, but it is what it is.”

Graham and coach Bill Self looked shock on earlier foul calls against the team’s only player who brought a hot shooting touch with himSaturday.

“A couple of them were definitely not fouls, but I can’t comment on the refs,” Graham said. “...I can’t talk about the refs. Coach told us not to say anything about the refs.”

Instead, Graham talked about how much he’ll miss seniors Ellis, Jamari Traylor, Hunter Mickelson and Evan Manning.

“It was a great season,” Graham said of one that included KU’s 12th consecutive Big 12 title and a 17-game winning streak that ended Saturday. “Hate to have it end like this, but overall, it was a great season. I’ll miss the guys. They know we love them. We’ll still be brothers forever.”

This was a close bunch of tough competitors that ran into another close bunch of tough competitors and only one team could advance. The NCAA Tournament ends in sadness for 67 of the 68 teams, the ugly side of such a great event.

— See what people were saying about KU's Elite Eight loss during KUsports.com's live coverage


More news and notes from KU’s Elite Eight loss to Villanova


By the Numbers: Villanova 64, Kansas 59

By the Numbers: Villanova 64, Kansas 59

Comments

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 7 months ago

The last 3 years in a row, Kansas bowed out of the tournament when the team's biggest guns went silent. Wigeon's vs Stanford, Ombre vs WSU, and now Ellis vs. Nova. Just like how we remember the 4-16 at the rim vs Stanford, we'll remember the 1-12for Selden and Mason from 3.

Going forward to next year, it seems Self will be making some major changes even though we should have several returning starters. We sure could have used Greene. When on earth could he not get himself ready for the NCAA's? Greene has a stubborn/lazy streak in him that is not compatible with Bill Self. Does Selden have the off season work ethic to become a confident shooter from distance, like Hield did, or is he better off going to the NBA as a second round draft pick? If Mykailiuk comes back, one would think he'll move into the 2-guard slot, moving Graham to the point. Mason's shooting is too much of a liability.

Bragg and Diallo need to get ready to step up big next year. The team could use a couple of major signees, such as Jackson and Maker.

KJ Quartermaine 3 years, 7 months ago

Wayne is likely gone, according to an article jus placed on tis site. So you won't have to worry about his off-season work ethic unless you follow the NBA

RJ King 3 years, 7 months ago

Suzi, I think you're being a bit harsh on Greene. We have no idea what is going on with his back. Likely it is a completely separate issue from any of Greene's "character issues" (however you judge those).

We have no idea whether or not he did everything possible to prepare for the tournament. I'm guessing he did, because everything Brannan has done suggests that he - at the very least - desperately wants to compete. Stubborn, yes. Lazy, I don't think so.

It seems more likely that he altered his gait, or compensated his movements in some way, because of the bad hip. These things are often lingering and compounding in nature. I'm giving the kid the benefit of the doubt, and wish him a healthy, restful off season.

David McGee 3 years, 7 months ago

Speaking of Greene, I wonder if he'll be in a KU Jersey next year. I don't like the vibes he sends out. Passive aggressive sort.

Gerry Butler 3 years, 7 months ago

Where is it you think Greene will go? he is going to be a Senior- - can't transfer to another D1 school, would have to sit out a year -- that's not happening- - not going to transfer to a D-2 I think it's not even a topic about him returning, you need to worry more about losing SVI which when he 1st came here he stated he was here for only 2 years- -things may have changed have to wait and see- - Wayne is more likely then not gone, think he has hit his ceiling as far as NBA potential goes, not going to benefit him to come back for hus Senior year would be nice but feel he is gone

KJ Quartermaine 3 years, 7 months ago

Put 2 and 2 together. Greene wasn't playing because he was in the doghouse again. I'm guessing Self has finally had enough. It does NOT matter if Greene is entering his senior season. This is Self's decision. Scholarships are one year deals. Self can cut ties at any point. It's not always the player's decision

RJ King 3 years, 7 months ago

Do you really think the bad back was a cover up? Why would Self be candid about the doghouse before, but then make up a story this time?

The "doghouse" conspiracy amounts to a 5-game suspension starting with the Big-12 tournament. If an infraction was that serious, Brannan would not have accompanied the team to Des Moines or Louisville. I would buy a one-game cover-up, but not the stretch it was.

I think the hip injury led to other issues. A Greene recovery is a win-win. We will be lucky to have his shooting in our arsenal next year.

KJ Quartermaine 3 years, 7 months ago

Didn't have to be a serious infraction. Self has already basically stated that Greene has been in-and-out of his doghouse since his freshman season. So it wouldn't be that far-fetched to think he did something yet again off the court to aggravate coach. Coaches at the D1 level are never candid when it comes to infractions. It's always, "We handled it internally," i.e., Greene's early-season suspension. We never did get the official reason as to why he was suspended for six games, later reduced to five

Brianna Zaleski 3 years, 7 months ago

We played great D. Of course, so did they. But we should win when we hold them to 64 pts. This game wasn't lost in the 1st half alone. What about when we go up 5 in the 2nd half, then immediately let them go on a 9-0 run. Or after that, when we were down 4, we got stop after stop after stop, but we couldn't score to save our lives. Missing front ends, wide open 3's all game. Frustrating. And the refs did us no favors. It seems like every close call went Villas way. Every time we needed a pinch of luck, we got stymied. Can't blame the refs tho, like I said earlier, you hold V to 64 pts, you have to win that game... Great season, Elite 8 is nothing to be ashamed of. Not to mention the many other accomplishments. Rock Chalk

Calvin Miller 3 years, 7 months ago

Keegan's veiled comment says it all "Somehow, Villanova played such smart, tough defense that for 6 minutes and 55 seconds of game clock, Kansas went scoreless and turned it over eight times." Nova hacked and grabbed their way into that lead--the worst stretch of officiating that I can recall in a KU game. Graham's first 4 foul calls were absurd. The 2 "steals" by Nova at the top of the key were fouls---Selden had the same play in the 2nd half and was called for a foul. Ellis could barely hold onto the ball due to being hacked so much---how does a consistent scorer make of only 2 buckets when he averages 17.
Graham's comments reinforce how bad the reffing was-Coach said not to say anything about the officiating.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 7 months ago

This game was a great game with a lot of physical stuff from both teams which kept me on the edge of my seat. The steals and blocks were clean for the most part combined with two fast moving teams...... what a game.

Hey early on there was trouble on the horizon. Villanova came in with a game plan I cannot remember ever being exposed to...

KU being down a few points in the first half and at half time never was a worry. Their second half power plays most always saw us through. They have the stamina.

During the first half when we had to sit and watch Villanova successfully keep the Jayhawks restrained by a "swarming" mechanism I began to believe Bill and the Jayhawks were in trouble. This swarming was when a group would swarm on wherever the ball went thus stopping KU ball handlers from playing their game. Our daughter described it as " moving in a pack" rather than something conventional like one on one.

Keeping the Jayhawks first half scoring way down the first half was also not a good sign. Two of the watchers in this house were confident KU would bounce back as always. I was not so sure because this pack like defense was much too effective for my liking. In addition to a couple of big effective Villanova players.

This pack defense following the ball and effectively creating congestion in the paint was killing the Jayhawks. I had strong reservations whether or not Villanova could keep this level of intensity throughout the entire game. I also feared for the Jayhawks if that level of intensity was the order of the day. Sure enough it was the order of the day.

How could anyone come up with a defense against the "pack tool" ? Nonetheless the Jayhawks as always won a lot of games... again .... looking forward to next season.

RJ King 3 years, 7 months ago

Saw the same thing. 'Nova did a GREAT job getting back on defense. Time and time again they created a "wall" of four that prevented any outlet pass or fast break. The "wall" almost looked like some type of punt return formation. That took away one of our greatest strengths and forced us to play slow.

Then they stifled our half court offense by rendering Ellis ineffective and dared us to score from the perimeter. Which we didn't.

Kristen Downing 3 years, 7 months ago

I just hope Self does not screw Landen and slowly replace him with a shiny new penny player. He improved too much and deserves to be able to continue that improvement.

RJ King 3 years, 7 months ago

Pretty sure it'll be Landon's job to lose next year. We don't know what Coleby looks like in practice, or how fast Azubuike will develop. Diallo is likely gone (?), and if he stays, Bill has shown that he will play whoever gives the team the best chance of winning game by game.

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