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Kansas defeats Texas, 92-86

  • 8 p.m., Dec. 29, 2017
  • Frank Erwin Center, Austin, TX

Friday, December 29, 2017

Three’s Company: Jayhawks hit record 17 3-pointers to top Texas

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) lets out a roar during a break in action in the second half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) lets out a roar during a break in action in the second half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

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Austin, Texas — There were a bunch of reasons to wonder whether 11th-ranked Kansas could kick off its quest for a 14th consecutive Big 12 title on the right foot Friday night at Frank Erwin Center against Texas.

And the Jayhawks had 17 answers during a 92-86 victory that was not quite as close as the final score indicated.

Seventeen times, in 35 attempts, the Jayhawks drained shots from behind the 3-point arc, setting a school record for most 3-point makes in a Big 12 game and keeping the Longhorns from having much of a chance.

“They probably had one of the best 3-point exhibitions I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Texas big man Mo Bamba, who was arguably the best player in the game. “They caught fire. … It definitely shifted the energy of the game.”

Added UT guard Matt Coleman: “It makes it very difficult. It’s like playing the (Golden State) Warriors, almost.”

In many ways, emulating Steph Curry and the boys was exactly the plan for Kansas. KU coach Bill Self told his team as much before tip-off.

“I told 'em before the game we were going to shoot 35 threes,” Self revealed after the game. “I told 'em 40 and then I said, 'Nah, that's too many. They'll shoot 40 if I tell 'em that.'”

Regardless of how many they shot, the fact that the Jayhawks made 48.6 percent of their shots from downtown — well above their season average of 41.5 percent — proved to be a huge factor in Friday's game. Had Kansas made just 13 or 14 3-pointers instead of 17, the outcome may have been different.

But neither that thought nor the idea of changing their strategy entered the minds of the Jayhawks (11-2 overall, 1-0 Big 12), who just kept shooting and shooting and shooting and shooting.

“Coach has been on us about passing up shots and just always staying aggressive, letting it fly and having confidence in ourselves and each other,” said senior Devonte' Graham, who hit 6 of 12 from 3-point range.

Lagerald Vick hit a career high 5 of 8 and Svi Mykhailiuk, who cruised right past the red flames and into white-hot territory during one second-half stretch, also made five triples on 10 attempts. Malik Newman's 1 of 4 clip rounded out KU's 3-point shooting night.

And Udoka Azubuike's double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds — six offensive — rounded out the Jayhawks' overall offense.

The fact that it came at all was a bit of a long shot given the fact that both Self and Azubuike said they were unsure whether he would even play a couple of hours before tip-off.

“I had to make a decision right before the game started,” Azubuike said. “I had a tight, sore back and it was like really painful so it was like a last-minute decision for me. Coach asked me and I was like, 'Yeah, I'll go. I'll just play with pain.'”

Although the pain was there on Friday night, it was not as bad as it was a few days earlier, when Azubuike said he could not even sit down or bend much at the waist.

The fact that he delivered such a Herculean effort in such a crucial matchup — in his first-ever Big 12 Conference game, oh by the way — was enough to earn heavy praise from his coaches and teammates afterward.

As assistant coach Jerrance Howard rumbled toward the team bus on his way out of the arena, he could be heard screaming, “Yeah, Dok. Yeah Dok. Big fella grew up today.”

On the other side of the coin, when UT coach Shaka Smart passed Azubuike in the hallway on his way to the podium, he made sure to offer similar praise.

“Nice game tonight, big fella,” Smart said.

Both comments, along with the performance itself, was special for Azubuike.

“Playing through adversity, playing through pain and all that stuff, that really showed courage and that really meant a lot to me," he said. "I'm happy that we got the 'W' and my teammates encouraged me a lot and I'm excited.”

As for how he got through it?

“When I got into the game, it was just heart,” he said. “I was feeling really serious pain. Nobody thought I was going to play, but I just got in the game spirit and I just had to sacrifice. I don't know if it's long term, but I hope it's not. I hope it's just a temporary situation.”

Although 17 games remain in what figures to be a grind of a Big 12 Conference race, the position the Jayhawks found themselves in on Friday night was anything but temporary.

Once again, for the 27th season in a row, the Jayhawks left their conference opener with a 1-0 record. And that places them, for now at least, in an awfully familiar spot — on top of the Big 12 standings.

Asked if the Big 12 was as good as he had ever seen it, Graham smiled and said, simply, “Oh definitely. No question about that. We've got a lot of teams ranked and on any given night any team can beat anybody.”

Added Self of the road that lies ahead: “It's going to be a great league. I don't know if it's going to be fun, but it'll be fun to cover. There's not going to be very many teams (that) win here, and K-State and West Virginia both got off to great starts tonight, winning on the road. And then Texas Tech has an unbelievable performance at home and we have them next. This is going to be an up-and-down, ebbs and flows (race), can't get too high, can't get too low because there'll always be a tough one the next one.”

Kansas returns to action at 8 p.m. Tuesday night vs. Texas Tech at Allen Fieldhouse.


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Texas


By the Numbers: Kansas 92, Texas 86

By the Numbers: Kansas 92, Texas 86

Comments

Reggie Flenory 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Good win i just hope preston comes back to help add some balance under the boards that's the only thing we're missing at this point we're riding azubuike pretty hard

Blake Phillips 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I'm curious what our roster will look like next year. we seem to have WAY to many players for 2018-2019. Several players are not going to see the court. Should be interesting to see what happens.

Lawson brothers Udoka (maybe) Lagerald (maybe) Lightfoot (I have a feeling he might transfer) Garett Newman (def wouldnt transfer again) De Sousa (almost guaranteed) Preston (probably - especially if he doesn't play this season) Cunliffe (def wouldnt transfer again) Grimes Mccormack Dotson

Gerry Butler 6 months, 2 weeks ago

let me help you out. - - Vick will be gone, he plays steady already off to a good start, projected by some mock drafts in the 1st round - - -Newman - -GONE no, he won't make an NBA club, but will test and land over sea's for a year or two then possibly test the NBA again - - - Preston - - -for sure GONE was considered a OAD coming in, nothing going to change him testing the NBA & will declare , doesn't matter if he plays or not - -actually if he doesn't get to play this year even more reason he will leave. Doke ? - -ya probably a 50/50 with him but if he continues like he has played over this last 4 game stretch he TO will at least test the waters, as we know the NBA drafts a lot on potential . - -You can almost bet when the Staff was recruiting for next years roster they had a really good idea who was coming back - -and recruited as such as a selling point per say to De Sousa & McCormack - -if these two though Doke coming back chances are not as good of 1 of them committing - - same with Vick - -chances are pretty good if Vick declares we have a very solid shot of landing Langford. Word has it he is waiting to see what Vick is going to do - -there will be room on the roster. - -We have one Scholi left for next year. Frontline will not be a weakness next year for sure. -- -ROCK CHALK ALL DAY LONG BABY

Blake Phillips 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Well said Gerry,

  1. Chad Ford says "Billy Preston" is not currently on anyones Draft Board.
  2. Yeah, Vick is probably gone.....
  3. I feel like Udoke will stay.
  4. Curious what Malik will do. (he is not a pro player yet - or overseas IMO) - there are hundreds of players that can average 10ppg - 28min. playing time..... that's not impressive and his rebounding is sub par)

Marcia Parsons 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Have to disagree on Lightfoot. He says he has dreamed of playing for Kansas his whole life. Even if minutes decrease next year, I think he's here to stay.

RJ King 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree. Besides he and Cunliffe are tight. Now that he's seen D1 ball at this level, I suspect his agenda is more along the lines of: enjoy four years of college, play for titles, play for teammates, get a degree. Transferring would not make that better in any way.

Dave Miller 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I thought Dok played a pretty decent game tonight -- then I find out he's playing with a back problem... One can only speculate the game he might have had tonight had he not been playing injured. Well done, Dok!! Well done!!

Eliott Reeder 6 months, 2 weeks ago

We are toast without Dok. Rest up, big fella.

Gerry Butler 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Think about this for a minute and hope NOT for a repeat. - - - -Jo , Jo -- -Back. - -followed him to the NBA. - --- Doke - - -back? - - -oh HELL NO here is hoping just a stiff back and nothing more.

Mallory Briggans 6 months, 2 weeks ago

What is the deal with Sam. Self started Garrett to give the team more energy but offensively his offense is just that offensive .Sam has worked on his defense but offensively he has a better game than Garrett, What Self doesn't need are players who are confused on what their roles are which in turn can affect their confidence . If Desouza and Preston both join the team that will affect the guard rotation Graham Vick and Svi will play that's a given also Newman .Self trusts Garrett more than Sam so as it looks Sam is the odd man out which is unfortunate given he transferred sat out a year practiced with the team only to ride the pine. Its only the first game and styles and match-ups determine who plays and when So I hope to see Sam more moving forward .

Alan Dickey 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I was thinking mostly the same things. If Self had given Cunliffe 10 minutes last night, Vick still could have played 34 minutes, and Newman could have played 25. It seems like playing Graham, Vick, and Svi each 37-39 minutes per game is going to catch up with us eventually. I would like to see Cunliffe worked into the rotation more, unless there is something wrong with him.

Harlan Hobbs 6 months, 2 weeks ago

In his post game interview, Coach Self said that nobody should read anything into the fact that Sam did not play. Coach said that he simply liked the flow of the game as it was and didn't feel like changing it. The fact that he initiated the comment in the interview was clearly designed to nip any rumors in the bud.

So many positives out of this game. It is a big road run and extends KU's streak of conference season opening wins to 27 in a row. Actually, streaks are KU's bread and butter. This year will be KU's 29th consecutive appearance in the NCAA (the longest in the country), and of course 13 consecutive conference championships ties the UCLA record from the John Wooden glory days.

Udoka played through pain and gave a yeoman's performance. Without him, there is no way we could win. Therefore, his sacrifice speaks volumes about his character and the team's chemistry.

I also like Coach Self's approach about the 3's in his pre-game talk to the players. He knew that Dok was ailing and that the inside game would be extremely difficult given the presence of Bamba. By encouraging the use of the 3 pointer in a somewhat humorous way, he took pressure off the team in advance by giving his stamp of approval. Devonte even alluded to that in his post game interview with the announcers, John Schambe and Jay Bilas.

Lastly, you state things pretty well, Gerry, with your comments about next year's team. I also agree with Marcia's comment about Lightfoot. Other than that, I will be surprised if we see Udoka, Vick, or Preston next year. Then, with the loss of Devonte and Svi, we have enough scholarships, as the one KU held back this year went to DeSousa when he reclassified.

Right now, we have three other incoming freshmen, so we should be fine, and if Udoka, Vick, and Preston all leave, then we will have room for another freshman. Langford would be a huge addition to go with Dotson, McCormack, and Grimes.

Dirk Medema 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Back problems are the Achilles Heel of big guys. It affects a lot more than JoJo and Dok. Get lots of stretching and therapy.

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