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Friday, March 24, 2017

Notebook: Jackson excites with double-double; Coleby is first big off bench

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) looks to pass while defended by Purdue forward Vince Edwards (12) during the second half, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) looks to pass while defended by Purdue forward Vince Edwards (12) during the second half, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

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— The Kansas men’s basketball team may very well have the national player of the year on its team in senior guard Frank Mason III, who scored 26 points on 9-of-11 shooting and added seven rebounds and seven assists in 35 minutes during Thursday’s Sweet 16 showdown with Purdue.

But if there were an award for the most unstoppable player in college basketball, one of the Jayhawks might win that, too.

For the second consecutive game, in front of an adoring and roaring pro-Kansas crowd, freshman guard Josh Jackson showcased skills that make him a nightmare for opponents to both game plan for and play against and helped lead Kansas into Saturday’s Elite Eight against Oregon (7:49 p.m.) with a 98-66 victory at Sprint Center.

Not all of what Jackson showed worked out for the Jayhawks’ second-leading scorer. But so many of his rebounds were the result of his athletic advantage and more than half of the seven shots he missed would have been highlights had they gone down.

Just like in the last game, a 90-70 victory over Michigan State in the second round Sunday, Jackson had plenty of moments when he shot himself in the foot or played just a touch out of control. Those moments kept Jackson’s line in check on a night when the Boilermakers could not.

Despite recording a double-double of 15 points and 12 rebounds to go along with four steals, two assists and four turnovers, all Jackson wanted to talk about after the game were his teammates, how hot their playing and how excited they are to be moving on.

“Right now, I think everybody on our team’s confidence is pretty high,” Jackson said.

As for the much-talked-about showdown between his old friend Caleb Swanigan and his teammate Frank Mason III, two finalists for most national player of the year honors, Jackson was happy to offer his thoughts on that topic.

“I think (Mason) settled a lot of debates a long time ago in my opinion,” he said of Mason’s big night compared to 18 points, seven rebounds and six turnovers for Swanigan. “But, tonight, if that didn’t; I don’t know what to tell you.”

Added KU senior Landen Lucas, who was matched up with Swanigan for most of his minutes on the floor: “Tonight should show that (Mason’s) the player of the year.”

Coleby gets the call

One big question entering Thursday’s battle was whether junior forward Dwight Coleby’s big game last weekend to help Kansas knock off Michigan State was enough to move him up in the rotation.

KU coach Bill Self answered that question at the 15:11 mark of the first half, when he inserted Coleby into the game for Lucas, who picked up his first foul after a series of successful defensive stands against Swanigan early on that produced a travel and a three-seconds in the lane call.

Coleby stayed in until the 9:42 mark, when Lucas returned and delivered a mixed bag of results, picking up a bucket on a post-up and saving a possession with his hustle but also fouling once and offering much less resistance to Purdue’s bigs than Lucas did.

For the game, Coleby finished with two points, one rebound, one assist and four fouls in 13 minutes. Carlton Bragg Jr., added six rebounds and one block in six minutes.

Home sweet home

Thursday’s victory improved KU’s all-time record in Kansas City, Mo., to 220-81, including a 35-7 mark inside Sprint Center.

“It’s definitely a problem for other teams, at least in my opinion,” Jackson said of the loud and proud KU crowd. “I feel like we’re the only ones in there. The crowd was great tonight and hopefully even better Saturday.”

Added Devonte’ Graham, who tied Mason with 26 points on 5-of-9 3-point shooting: “It's unbelievable. You know, playing here in KC is great. The crowd’s behind us and they give us so much momentum and energy throughout the game. It's just great to be here.”

Playing third- and fourth-round games 40 minutes from campus was a season-long goal for the Jayhawks, who earned the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region after winning a 13th consecutive Big 12 title and racking up a second straight 30-win season.

KU’s first game in Kansas City came all the way back in 1899 when the Jayhawks lost to Kansas City YMCA, 16-5, in February of that year.

Before moving over to Sprint Center, KU won 81 of 106 games in Kemper Arena, including two in the 1988 Final Four. KU is now 3-0 all-time in NCAA Tournament games played at Sprint Center, with the first two coming in first- and second-round wins over Western Kentucky and North Carolina in 2013.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self, Frank Mason, Devonte Graham discuss win over Purdue

After the Kansas basketball team advanced to the Elite Eight with a 98-66 victory over Purdue, Kansas coach Bill Self, and guards Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham, talked about their Sweet 16 win, their strong second half and their shooting.

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Quick quack

Kansas, of course, will spend most of Friday and a good chunk of Saturday scouting and preparing a game plan for its Elite Eight opponent. But a couple of Jayhawks had an early read on the Ducks (32-5) as soon as Thursday’s game went final.

“I know a lot about Oregon,” said Lucas, a native of Portland. “It’s my hometown. Grew up watching 'em all the time. Big fan. My dad played there. They’re a good team, athletic team. I feel like we match up pretty well with them. They match up pretty well with us so it’ll be fun to go out there and participate in what’s gonna be an up-and-down match-up.”

Added Jackson: “I’ve seen ‘em a couple times this season, watched the (Michigan) game earlier. I think the one thing that we gotta do, instead of making the game super fast, we probably gotta slow the game down a little bit.”

This and that...

The Jayhawks now lead the all-time series with Purdue, 4-2, including a 3-1 record in NCAA Tournament meetings.... Kansas on Saturday will play in its 23rd regional final in school history and seventh under Bill Self.... Self is 2-4 at Kansas in Elite Eight games and 2-6 all-time.... The Jayhawks are now 13-2 this season against teams that made the NCAA Tournament.

By the Numbers: Kansas 98, Purdue 66

By the Numbers: Kansas 98, Purdue 66

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


More news and notes from Kansas vs. Purdue


Comments

Steve Zimmerman 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Lucas had an awesome night, despite his low stats. He made Caleb's life miserable out there. Plus, Josh always ready to sandwich Swanigan. Great defensive efforts!!

Marius Rowlanski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

There are plenty of heroics and fantastic plays to go around but simply stated, Mason is one tough blah blah and without him, this would only be a good team. The smallest but toughest starter flatly refuses to lose.

I don't want to try and place him in the list of great Jayhawks until some time has passed but if he isn't somewhere in the all-time top 10 then pigs can fly.

Agree, Steve, Lucas was awesome although it didn't show up in the statistics and Coleby once again showed why Coach Self wanted him on the team....

Bill Dunn 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Frank's great, but top ten all time? KU has had 28 consensus all americans, and many more first team AAs. Just a few- Ray Evans, Charlie Black, Charlie,Black, JoJo, Dave Robisch, Clyde, Wesley, Bill Bridges, Collison, Darnell Valentine, Danny, Paul Pierce, LaFrentz, Gooden, Simien, Cheron, Bud Stallworth, Brandon Rush and the list goes on. Frank is outstanding, but don't know how he's top ten all time. Oh yeah, Wilt-

Mike Greer 8 months, 3 weeks ago

A lot of what Lucas does, and Jackson as well, doesn't show up in the box score. There's no box for effective screens, no box for guarding, no box for hustle, no box for effort, and no box for just flat out frustrating the other teams best players.

Mike Greer 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Josh played well, but I thought he was trying too hard early in the game. Trying to make something out of nothing on offense. Not so much in the rest of his game, but on offense I thought he could have played a little smarter early on. Overall he played great and I'm so glad he's a Jayhawk!

Marius Rowlanski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Josh is so good that it's easy to forget that he is a freshman and playing in his 1st/only NCAA tournament. I thought it was more nerves then trying to hard but only Josh could answer that question.

Jim Stauffer 8 months, 3 weeks ago

While I agree Frank is the ignition switch on this team, I also believe this is a unit that functions as such. Every piece is in place and does its job. That was especially true last night and you see what happens when Mason, Graham, Svi, Josh, Vick, Lucas, Coleby and Bragg all pitch in and play hard and efficiently. There have been many teams in the past that did not completely buy into Coach's plan. This one does and he turns them loose to put the plan into effect.

Bryce Landon 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Play the hot hand. Coleby has the hotter hand than Bragg right now, so he's the one who gets to play.

Marius Rowlanski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Agree but I wish Coleby learned how to play without some of the ridiculous fouls he makes. If he had been healthy all season, that probably wouldn't be an issue.

Coleby could be a key player next year. I don't see him starting but getting 10 to 15 minutes every night.

Dirk Medema 8 months, 3 weeks ago

We've played the last 2 games against teams with big, strong frontline players that Coleby matches up with better. There will be others that will be a better match for Bragg, though Carlton played well Thursday as well.

Harlan Hobbs 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Lots of great tidbits in the comments and the article. I'll just add that, while Swanigan is a super talent and his life story is one to admire, he and other opponents need to think twice about engaging KU in "trash talk." Remember the adage, "Don't wake a sleeping bear."

After Swanigan chirped a lot early and probably should have gotten a technical for one of his taunts, KU put it in high gear and turned a close game into a 30+ point blowout.

Will be interesting to see how Oregon handles it. Last year, they taunted Duke's bench and Coach K when they beat them in the Sweet Sixteen, and then OU and Buddy Hield set them packing in the Elite 8. Brooks is probably the key in that regard, as he is a "trash talker" extraordinaire.

Bottom line for me: You have Bill Self against Dana Altman. If it comes down to the coaches, which it rarely does, KU wins, period.

Tyson Ailshie 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree with everything you said and will add this. Let them trash talk us. I love it. It only gives our players more edge and will to win. I think they invite it. So I say to the Ducks, quack away. We'll see what happens when the chips are down.

Kurt Eskilson 8 months, 3 weeks ago

" If it comes down to the coaches, which it rarely does, KU wins, period." To paraphrase, in the case of Baylor, "… which it always does, KU wins, period."

Marius Rowlanski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Kansas players also engage in trash talking. I look at it as just being a part of the game but when Miles Bridges got into Mason's face, all he did was poke the tiger one time too many.

Great line:

"Bottom line for me: You have Bill Self against Dana Altman. If it comes down to the coaches, which it rarely does, KU wins, period."

Tim Orel 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Out of curiosity, has there been any talk about that freshman 5* player who committed to Washington and has now asked out of his letter of intent now that Washington kicked their coach to the curb? Does anyone know if he's interested in KU again? IIRC, KU was on his short list. Or are we all set for next year?

Jerry Walker 8 months, 3 weeks ago

His name is Porter and he's Mizzou bound. The new MU coach has just hired his father as an asst. coach. Washington has released him from his LOI. He has a younger brother as well.

Len Shaffer 8 months, 3 weeks ago

That's scary. That means Misuse may make it all the way to .500 ...

Marius Rowlanski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

I know we have at least one more scholarship to give. Earlier in March, Coach Self offered a scholarship to Shakur Juiston, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward from Hutchinson Community College.

I'd like to see him go after Illinois recruit (decommitted) Jeremiah Tilmon.

Porter stated.: Playing for Mizzou 'could be real, real special' so it's pretty obvious where he is going. If you want to be a really big fish in a really small pond then I hope it's just as special as he thinks it will be.

Harlan Hobbs 8 months, 3 weeks ago

Well, there goes my comment in a different article about Porter. I was speculating that UW might hire Porter's current high school coach and former UW star, Brandon Roy, to try to keep Porter. I guess that was too "outside the box", even for UW. In any event, I didn't expect KU to be in the mix.

That's fine. Porter will be a one and done, and we won't be playing Mizzou unless the people who set the matchups for the Big 12/SEC competition try to schedule it. I would imagine that KU would not agree to such a game, as the logical matchup continues to be KU/UK.

Marius Rowlanski 8 months, 3 weeks ago

West Virginia's last possession against Gonzaga will be placed somewhere in the bottom 10 moments in NCAA history. Maybe a slight exaggeration but I briefly thought I felt this wave of frustration pass over me - epicenter: Morgantown West Virginia.

Len Shaffer 8 months, 3 weeks ago

You said it, Marius. As great a coach as Huggins has been over the years, it's hard to believe that his players weren't better prepared for that last possession. Even though they didn't have any timeouts left, couldn't Huggins have signaled or somehow made it clear to them that they didn't need to try several wild, desperate threes with 25 seconds to go in the game?

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