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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Notebook: Jayhawks lead Big 12 standings at halfway mark

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) goes into the seats trying to save a ball during the first half, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) goes into the seats trying to save a ball during the first half, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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These are the games that get remembered when a team rips off a streak that is talked about in every conference town and at the beginning and end of every college basketball season.

Third-ranked Kansas took a huge step toward winning a record-tying 13th consecutive Big 12 Conference regular season title with its 73-68 victory over No. 2 Baylor on Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

And that thought never really crossed the minds of the Jayhawk players until it was over.

“We haven’t even talked about that,” KU coach Bill Self said after the victory. “We mentioned it before the season, you know, ‘Hey, do you want this to be the team that doesn’t do it,’ or whatnot. And we know it’s gonna be hard.... If we hadn’t have won tonight, obviously, we weren’t out of the race, but we know it would’ve been more of an uphill climb. I think (when) you get three or four more games into it then guys will start thinking about that more.”

Added KU senior Frank Mason, shedding a little light onto why the topic rarely comes up: “I think everyone knows what position we’re in and we’ve gotta make it happen.”

Despite the fact that they have not talked much about continuing the streak, the Jayhawks (20-2, 8-1 Big 12) were well aware of how big Wednesday’s victory was toward achieving that goal.

“It was big,” Graham said. “It was for first place. We knew we had to come out and get that W so we could remain in first and now we just need to take that momentum and keep it rolling.”

Lucas big late

After a rough first half in which he struggled to get the ball in the basket, Kansas forward Landen Lucas, who, once again, stayed out of serious foul trouble, delivered a couple of monster buckets that Kansas absolutely had to have.

The first came with Kansas leading, 57-56, with just under six minutes to play. Lucas buried Baylor big man Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., in the paint and caught the ball deep enough to find an easy finish. The second, which came in the final two minutes and put Kansas up 70-66, came with Lucas using his lower-body strength to just power his way to the rim.

“He was struggling at first in the first half," Graham said. "Everybody talked to him in the locker room at halftime and told him it was his half, the second half, and (we were) just trying to keep throwing him the ball and telling him to go straight up and finish through the contact. He came through with some big buckets.”

Added Self: “He didn’t dunk it on anybody, but he did a good job twice of backing guys down and showing a nice touch. I thought he was really good. He flipped a switch at halftime and I thought he was great.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self talks about 73-68 win over Baylor, defense in final minutes

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self discussed his team's 73-68 win over Baylor on Wednesday, KU's defense down the stretch and finishing 2-1 against three straight ranked opponents.

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Self also was pleased with the minutes that Mitch Lightfoot (2 points, 2 blocks in 5 minutes) and Dwight Coleby (6 rebounds in 6 minutes) gave in support of Lucas up front.

“I thought Mitch looked like Dwight against Kentucky and Dwight looked like Mitch against Kentucky tonight,” Self said. “They were still good minutes that they got us... It was a good team win.”

Newman ill

Self said after the game that red-shirt transfer Malik Newman, who cannot play this season, was not in attendance on Wednesday because he had the flu and team doctors told him to stay away.

Absent in the physical sense, Newman was not fully removed from supporting his team, as he watched on television and Tweeted throughout.

Meanwhile, sophomore Carlton Bragg Jr., also was not in attendance on Wednesday night as he continues to serve an indefinite suspension that has kept him out of KU's past two games. Asked if there was any change in Bragg's status, Self said, "No, no, no. He's still suspended indefinitely."

Self on Vick report

Asked about a recent report from the Kansas City Star in which sophomore guard Lagerald Vick reportedly was the subject of a KU investigation into whether he hit a female student in late 2015, Self read a prepared statement and offered no details about anything relating to the report.

“I have been told that I cannot comment on a university investigation or whether one is or is not taking place or has ever taken place,” Self said. “Due to previous practice by the university and the athletic department, I would not be giving any details of such investigation. What was reported was reported. I haven’t been made aware of anything.”

Vick played 14 minutes and was 0-of-4 from the floor, 0-of-2 from 3-point range and added one rebound, one assist, one turnover and a foul.

This and that...

Kansas now leads the all-time series with Baylor, 28-4, including a 14-0 mark in Allen Fieldhouse.... KU now has won at least 20 games for the 28th consecutive season.... The win gave Self nine consecutive home wins over top-five teams, which is the longest active streak in the country.... KU’s 10 fouls were the fewest by a KU team in conference play since 2011, when KU committed just seven fouls against Iowa State.... Mason’s 12-for-12 night at the free throw line was the most free throws made without a miss since Darnell Valentine also went 12-for-12 against Oklahoma in 1980.

By the Numbers: Kansas 73, Baylor 68

By the Numbers: Kansas 73, Baylor 68

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


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Baylor


Comments

Doug Cramer 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Great performance these last two games !

Matthew Coleman 2 months, 3 weeks ago

At the halfway point of the conference season, I was wondering where we stand in the title race. With West Virginia two full games back and with them coming to our place next, my focus was mostly on Baylor as our key rival.

Of the 9 remaining games for both Baylor and KU, (with the exception of the one remaining game against each other in Waco) both teams have the same 8 opponents down the stretch.

Baylor has 5 remaining home games, we have 4.

Our toughest road games will be at Baylor, at Okie State, and at KSU. Their toughest road games will be at Iowa State and at Okie State.

Of course anything can happen on a given night, but their road looks slightly easier down the stretch.

I think we are the better team, our players are mentally tougher and we have the better coach. As has been mentioned before, we took a big step toward the title through our potent play last night.

Tracy Ohmart 2 months, 3 weeks ago

According to what ESPN said, not only is coach Self's streak of beating top five teams at home the longest in the nation, no other D1 head coach has ever done that. Congratulations to coach Self and all of his teams!!

Bryce Landon 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Something that should have been said about Lucas was how he turned the ball over late and fell down, only to get back up, race down the court, and alter an Ishmail Wainwright 3-point attempt that might have given BU a one-point lead and perhaps even enabled them to win the game. That, in my mind, might have been a bigger play than any bucket he scored tonight or even Graham forcing BU into a turnover with 1.3 seconds left.

Dale Rogers 2 months, 3 weeks ago

While it's not mentioned in this article, this tweet does point it out. And I agree, that was huge. https://twitter.com/jessenewell/statu...

Dale Rogers 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Here's another. Hopefully LJW won't delete this because it's from a competing outlet. http://kuhoops.com/ku-basketball-news/130267264/

Jay Scott 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Alert the Sierra Club!!! Call Greenpeace!!! Another species in the animal kingdom is seemingly extinct!!!

There are no recent sightings of the Poultrus Diminutae. Could it be that the Chicken Littles have gone the way of the Dodo Bird?

Could this have been caused by a lack of a January basketball losing skid and the solid football recruiting class? Or is it Global Cooling/Warming/Whatever?

Matt Tait 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Yep. Late deadline got us there. Sorry about that.

Mallory Briggans 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Lucas' value on the court is becoming more and more evident.....DOK being gone and Bragg absent ....the tandom of Mitch " Lightweight"...and Dwight Coleby ...A.K.A...."Edward Scissorhands " will have to do.....Mitch has to get stronger and Dwight has to focus on the task of ball security ......but both did give good effort ....so thats a positive

Mallory Briggans 2 months, 3 weeks ago

also not much was made about Trevon Duvall being at the game last night... Given he has Baylor and Kansas in his top 5 he was able to look at both programs on the floor ...Duke is rumored to have the inside track but he has made to vists ...Latenight and last night ....also Trae Young said he would announce before this week is up......

Mike Greer 2 months, 3 weeks ago

If you're a prospect and you see what the team can do and what the coach can do and read just about any quote from Josh Jackson, the only way you could not pick KU is if you are only interested putting in your obligatory year of purgatory before you can enter the NBA draft. Josh seems to really enjoy playing for Coach Self and Kansas and he makes that very clear.

Gary McCullough 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Collins had 36 consecutive made free throws. And I thought Calvin Thompson had about the same during the 84-85 season. So the 12 for 12 shooting FT isn't as impressive as a multi-game streak. Let's see how France does in the future.

RJ King 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Simien had a pretty good streak too, I recall.

Matthew Coleman 2 months, 3 weeks ago

What a gritty, focused performance! Wow. The combination of head - adjusting to Baylor's length and size, and heart - the indomitable will to win ... just left me amazed.

Add the clutch, gamer swagger of Graham to JJ's NBA skills and work ethic (how about that offensive put back late?!) to Mason's stone cold killer mentality and leadership, Lucas's growing consistency, Svi's growing confidence and Vick's freakish athleticism - this is a national title contender. Can they continue to improve? Can Svi, Vick, Coleby and Lightfoot take some big steps forward? If we can stay healthy and continue to gel as a team - the sky is the limit.

Bob Bailey 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Mason hurt his knee third game back. Spoiled his FT that night and the following game. He was great again last night!

Jonathan Allison 2 months, 3 weeks ago

This team is reminding me of the 2012 national runner-up team.

We had a shallow bench, we relied heavily on experience and on our stars, we had role players who had perfected their roles, we gutted out a lot of close wins and come from behind victories, we got a little good luck here and there, and we "overachieved" all year.

That year it was Taylor, TRob, Withey, Rele, Elijah, Young, and Teahan as our 7 man rotation. Frosh Tharpe and Justin Wesley barely saw the floor.

All year it was amazing to watch KU win over and over despite such a small margin for error.

I feel the same way watching this KU team.

Harlan Hobbs 2 months, 3 weeks ago

Certainly good comments by all. Matthew, I like your analysis of the remaining schedule. I agree that, on paper, we have the tougher road as OSU and KSU have always been tough road games for us. Therefore, assuming that Baylor gets their revenge against us in Waco, I may have to be pulling for WVU to knock them off in their rematch in Waco. Not likely to happen though.

Barring anything way "out of the box", Baylor has a pretty good chance of "running the table" in my opinion. My only caveat is that, in the past, they have always seemed to stub their toe somewhere along the way. However, give their size, it will be extremely hard to beat them.

Of course, I could hearken back to last year when we were the only team in the league to go undefeated at home, and we beat OU twice who was generally considered to be our primary threat. Therefore, we can expect some surprises along the way. A win at Waco would likely seal the deal for KU.

Finally, Bryce, your observations about Landen show that you watch the games closely and look for perhaps the "little things" that lead to success. Good insight.

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