Saturday, January 14, 2017

Jayhawks hold off Oklahoma State, 87-80

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) swats a shot by Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte III (13) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) swats a shot by Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte III (13) during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.


With a balanced effort from its starting five, No. 2-ranked Kansas basketball scraped together just enough offense to defeat underdog Oklahoma State, 87-80, Saturday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse.

The visiting Cowboys, desperate for a marquee victory, out-played the Jayhawks throughout the first half, leading by as many as 11 points. However, led as usual by senior point guard Frank Mason III, KU eventually wore down OSU down the stretch to win its 16th consecutive game.

Though many of Mason’s shots didn’t connect (6-for-16 from the floor and 1-for-4 on 3-pointers), he led the team in scoring for the 13th time this season, with 22 points.

His longtime backcourt partner, junior Devonte’ Graham, proved just as important for KU (16-1 overall, 5-0 Big 12) versus the Cowboys (10-7, 0-5). Graham scored 17 of his 21 points in the final 20 minutes of a game the Jayhawks never led in the first half.

Freshman sensation Josh Jackson had his shooting issues, too (5-for-13 field goals, 10-for-17 free throws), but contributed 20 points, 11 rebounds and four steals.

Though foul trouble kept him on the bench for a stretch of the second half, junior wing Svi Mykhailiuk scored 14 points in the win. Steady senior post presence Landen Lucas added seven points and 12 boards as KU extended the nation’s current best home-court winning streak to 52 games, including 49 at the field house.

Here’s a quick look back at some of the action:

• The game turned when: Kansas finished the final few minutes in solid fashion, particularly with its late-game defensive stops and rebounds.

After 2-for-11 3-point shooting from the home team in the first half led to a 40-36 deficit at the break, and the Cowboys didn’t fold as the Jayhawks mounted their rally.

Once KU finally took a lead in the second half, Oklahoma State kept fighting, and the Jayhawks didn’t lead by more than six until the final minute.

It took key buckets in the final four minutes from Graham and Jackson and a handful of free throws from Jackson, Mason, Graham and Mykhailiuk to keep OSU — led by Jeffrey Carroll’s 23 points — from pulling off the upset.

• Offensive highlight: After an 11-for-27 first half, Kansas eventually got more shots to fall after intermission.

Though OSU maintained its halftime lead early in the second half, the Jayhawks found an easy score in one of Bill Self’s trademark plays.

On a baseline out-of-bounds set following an OSU foul, Mason watched the play he has run countless times in his career play out in front of him. On this occasion, Mykhailiuk benefited from the action, as the junior cut hard from the right corner, using the final screen to elevate and finish an alley-oop with authority.

The dunk put Mykhailiuk in double figures and got the home crowd making the kind of noise it is known for, with the OSU lead trimmed to 47-43.

• Defensive highlight: Seconds after Graham swooped in for a layup that gave Kansas its first lead of the game, 50-49, he was so charged up the 6-foot-2 junior guard turned into a rim protector.

Making sure OSU didn’t take the lead right back, Graham skied in the paint to swat away a Brandon Averette layup attempt. It was just one of many crucial plays by the veteran in the final half, as Kansas bounced back from a slow start to keep OSU winless in the Big 12.

• Key stat: Assists. As in KU didn’t have enough of them. The Jayhawks’ season-low 11 assists in the victory show just how difficult it was for Kansas to score at times against the Cowboys.

KU also benefited from its 16 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points.

• Up next: The Jayhawks make their 2017 ESPN Big Monday debut in Hilton Coliseum, which should be the most hostile environment they’ve seen this season, Monday night at Iowa State (8 p.m.).

By the Numbers: Kansas 87, Oklahoma State 80.

By the Numbers: Kansas 87, Oklahoma State 80.

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

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Oklahoma State


Barry Weiss 3 years, 4 months ago

Great game. Hard to believe the Cowboys are in last place in the b-12, they looked pretty tough. Starters were awesome as usual.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

You got it Barry. The bench (Bragg and Vick) combined for 3 points, 7 rebounds and 3 turnovers. That must be the lowest output from the bench in Self's tenure at Kansas.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 4 months ago

ya, its gonna probably catch up with us later this month. I did read Coach is giving the players an extra day off and shorter practice since the starters are having to play major minutes. That is working....but if we get foul trouble we won't have the option.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 4 months ago

KU is on schedule for 9-0 at home,6-3 on the road.[my guess losses at West Virginia [Huggy Bear is tough at home], Iowa State [Hilton Magic and the curse of #1] and Okie State [Bill's Kryptonite]. As long as Bliss coaches Baylor, we will prevail against the Bears.

Count a loss in Lexington for a 11-2 non conference schedule and a 3-0 Big 12 Tourney, you;re looking at a 29-5 record and a high seed in the Midwest Regional at Kansas City played to a packed house of Jayhawk faithful.

Of course, I could jump on Suzi's train and go 33-1 and NCAA Crown bound!!!

Eric Bernauer 3 years, 4 months ago

Bliss? As in fired in 2003 Dave Bliss?

Your faux pas caused me to look up to see what Bliss is doing now. He now is head coach at Southwestern Christian University. Life is full of irony.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 4 months ago

Tony, I'd like to introduce you to the new coach at Baylor University, meet Scott Drew. Scott, this is Tony; Tony, this is Scott. :)

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

You don't get it wrong often Tony but when you do....

Suzi Marshall 3 years, 4 months ago

We are nearly half way to that 33-1 record, which I'm holding strong.

Bryce Landon 3 years, 4 months ago

Let's not kid ourselves into thinking this was a great win. We didn't play hardly any defense, we shot ourselves in the foot repeatedly with turnovers and defensive breakdowns, we missed several free throws in the second half that could have given us a double-digit win, and it took us 25+ minutes to finally get the lead. It doesn't matter that Oklahoma State is "better than their record indicates" - when you play at Allen Fieldhouse, you should never have that much trouble getting a win against a team in rebuilding mode like OSU.

And if by this point in the season the players can't put together a solid defensive effort from start to finish, then something is very wrong. Either they aren't as talented as we were led to believe, or they just don't have the "want-to" to play defense that previous teams had, or Coach Self's defensive system just doesn't work as well as it used to anymore. As recently as the 2012-13 season we consistently had the best defense in the Big 12. But ever since the seniors on that team (Withey, Young, EJ and Releford) left, opposing teams not only don't fear going against our D, they look forward to it.

Something has to change - the mindset of the players, Self's recruiting, Self's defensive philosophy - something has to change. Because if it doesn't, we won't be sniffing another Final Four, let alone winning another national title, any time in the forseeable future. And while we continue to hang our hats on the 2008 championship and the 2012 title game appearance, other programs like Kentucky, Duke, and UConn will continue to rack up titles and leave us spinning our wheels.

Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 4 months ago

Especially when they beat us in #FG attempts and the FG% itself. We got bailed by FTs. That's too damn lobsided, lucky for us. But it's not a surely great win at all. If we keep thinking we can win every game by 'turning up the heat' (late game in the last minutes, or some say solid fashion; oh boy.. seriously, the team might just forget about marching along 2nd round of the tournament this year.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

Kansas 30/45 66.7%

OSU 11/14 78.6%

I agree that we got bailed out by free throws. That might be the key stat of the game. I think you both got it right Bryce and Steve.

Noah Oone 3 years, 4 months ago

Agreed. Something has to be done so that our team starts playing at a higher level. They got there last year but fell short.

David Robinett 3 years, 4 months ago

I agree Bryce, but the irony is head coach Bill Self will be chastising the number one team in the land come Monday.

Marius Rowlanski 3 years, 4 months ago

I had no idea that Mitchell Solomon had such a polished inside scoring game. Solomon was pretty much unstoppable when he got inside position. If he hadn't been limited by fouls, Oklahoma State might have walked away with a victory.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 4 months ago

that is exactly why I am very worried about Baylor and their bigs. we absolutely need to be lighting up the rim with 3's to counter the beating I think we will take in the paint.

Noah Oone 3 years, 4 months ago

By themselves, opposing bigs are not at an advantage. Crazy you say? Not really. Except for a couple of individual back to the basket moves (a jump hook is hard to stop even when you have a shot blocker), most every time they score on us is on a defensive breakdown or an offensive rebound. It is important to note that dribble penetration by the opposing perimeter players is by far the number one reason why opposing bigs are scoring. When they beat Devonte or Svi and get in the lane, it puts everyone else in a bad spot, which leads to an easy basket.

To summarize: keeping the opponents perimeter players out of the lane prevents the easy baskets by opposing bigs.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 4 months ago

they are both equally important, you will see. we've had bigs beat on us all year and it was the big doing it. I don't deny the drive and dish puts it on them too, but you are mistaken to think interior size and length is not an advantage.

Noah Oone 3 years, 4 months ago

No, it is because of poor defensive positioning due to dribble penetration. Of course size is an advantage - my point is that we are not at a disadvantage, as per my post down the page. And no, it is not the opposing bigs that are the ultimate cause - it is the guards that create the opportunities. I mean, Solomon is not Karl Anthony Towns back to the basket scorer. His baskets came from poor rotations and blowbys. Thats what has been happening all year.

Harlan Hobbs 3 years, 4 months ago

Free throws didn't bail us out. Our poor percentage in the second half kept us from winning this game by 15 points.

We have a way of making average inside men for our opponents look like world beaters. Not a good sign with the likes of the better Big 12 teams coming up.

Barry Weiss 3 years, 4 months ago

very good points Harlan, I totally agree.

Tony Bandle 3 years, 4 months ago

Bryce, Bill's defense has always relied on a dominant force in the middle to cover up cutters getting away from KU's aggressive back line. The guards in past weren't that much better at D but they had the stopper at the rim. Throw in the fact that there are three and sometimes four guards out there and the situation is even more pronounced. Landen is doing his best but it;s asking a lot.

Whatever defensive improvement is possible is going to have to be at the point of attack, whether it be fighting harder through screens, better footwork, etc.I just don't know how much is possible at this stage in the season.

Our best strategy may be to keep the score in the eighties and make sure we have at least one more point than the other guy!!!

Noah Oone 3 years, 4 months ago

A rim protector is nice, but in my opinion, that is a crutch and an excuse for our perimeter players to play lazy defense. People say "that allows them to go for steals". I understand that point but the rim protector is still in danger of getting in foul trouble. In short, a rim protector would not solve our problems and they never would. You have to keep the opposing guards out of the lane - simple as that.

There are a lot of teams that made the final four without a Joel Embiid or Jeff Withey type of player. Michigan St. in 2010 and 2015, Butler in 2010 and 2011, Villanova in 2009, Kentucky in 2011, Ohio State in 2012, Michigan in 2013 (for the most part - they played 4 out 1 in like us with McGary in the middle who was not an elite shot blocker by any means), UConn in 2011 and 2014, Oklahoma in 2016 and Villlanova in 2016.

Question: Were all of those teams at a physical advantage when compared to our current roster? I don't believe so. The key is to have a committment to keeping the other team out of the lane and do that by staying down in a defensive stance and moving their feet. Even with Joel Embiid and Withey, we still lost games and struggled at times, specifically in 2013-2014. It is much more important to have great perimeter defense than a rim protector.

Jerry Walker 3 years, 4 months ago

" It is important to note that dribble penetration by the opposing perimeter players is by far the number one reason why opposing bigs are puts everyone else in a bad spot, which leads to an easy basket...

The key is to have a committment to keeping the other team out of the lane and do that by staying down in a defensive stance and moving their feet." -- Noah

You're spot on, Noah.


Steve Zimmerman 3 years, 4 months ago

I beg to differ in our opinion on "The guards in past weren't that much better at D". Have you forgotten '06-'08 team? Or, Vaughn et al? Not to take away our win, but this game gives a taste of what might come our way when dealing with a team that is athletic, can run, dribble drive, can pass, does a lot of pick and roll. We still got beat to the basket. This game also exposes our weaknesses, as Tony pointed out, our guards don't guard well (Mason walks around, Vick, Josh got out out-positioned easily); they would rather drive n kick the ball out instead of passing inside; they use bigs to facilitate passing/screening instead of pick-n-rolling with bigs. Playing 30 minutes each game should've given these kids more solid condition. Mason, although he seems to be the best scorer/PG in our team, has flaws. He needs to do his best to involve others, as a PG. I wish coaching staff tell him to stop challenging 2-3 defenders.

Mike Greer 3 years, 4 months ago

I've asked this question before, who was our rim protector last year? It wasn't Ellis, so what's missing? Also, 3 of the starters are the same and did they do a better job last year? Is it depth of bigs, or rule changes, changing the defense.

Nick Kramer 3 years, 4 months ago

Josh Jackson's defense is really good for a freshman, but we lost a LOT of size depth and defensive experience, with guys schooled in Bill Self Team D principles. Wayne, Perry, Jamari, Hunter - only Greene was a liability. Also - with so little depth, the current team can't body up and contest shots as aggressively (to avoid fouls). Harder to give 100% on each play when you're going 38 - 40 minutes, too.

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