Kansas defeats Kansas State, 83-67

  • 6 p.m., March 9, 2018
  • Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO

Friday, March 9, 2018

‘He never gives up’: Marcus Garrett’s hustle propels KU to Big 12 title game

Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) goes to the bucket against Kansas State guard Amaad Wainright (23) during the second half, Friday, March 9, 2018 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas guard Marcus Garrett (0) goes to the bucket against Kansas State guard Amaad Wainright (23) during the second half, Friday, March 9, 2018 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


Kansas City, Mo. — What promised to be an electric semifinal showdown between Sunflower State rivals on Friday night at Sprint Center turned into a slow and sluggish slap contest that featured as many mistakes as memorable highlights.

And then Kansas freshman Marcus Garrett made one of those signature Marcus Garrett plays and pumped enough life back into the top-seeded Jayhawks to run past No. 4 seed Kansas State, 83-67, and into Saturday's Big 12 tournament championship game, where they will face No. 3 seed West Virginia, a 66-63 winner over No. 2 seed Texas Tech on Friday night.

Kansas coach Bill Self compared the play to one made by former KU point guard — and national champion — Russell Robinson.

“Russell was an average ball handler,” Self began. “Average at best. He was our point guard. And people would steal the ball from him. But you knew as soon as they'd steal it that he'd go steal it back and we'd get a layup out of it. That's where he was most dangerous. We don't have enough of that.”

With Kansas leading by just two points and the Wildcats riding a wave of momentum from a 33-foot alley-oop pass from Cartier Diarra to Xavier Sneed that trimmed KU's lead to a single possession, Garrett misfired on a wide-open 3-point attempt and appeared to give the ball to the Wildcats with a chance to take their first lead since early in the first half.

But instead of loafing back on defense, Garrett faked back and then darted into the passing lane for a momentum-changing steal and layup under the bucket. The play sparked a 9-2 Kansas run that put the Jayhawks back in front by nine and brought a calm to the KU sideline and a sense of concession to the K-State huddle.

“Marcus is a competitive dude,” Self said after the victory. “He shoots an airball and then goes, 'Oh, boy, I've got to go make a play.' I wish we would have more of that. I know that we had no momentum and that was something that at least gave us a little bit.”

According to Garrett's teammates, the momentum that came from that sequence was the difference in the game.

“That was huge,” said senior Svi Mykhailiuk, who finished with 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from 3-point range. “That let us calm down. He never gives up and that was huge because if they would've scored, I don't know how the game would've ended up.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self, Devonte' Graham and Malik Newman on KU's Big 12 semifinal win over K-State

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self and starting guards Devonte' Graham and Malik Newman discuss the Jayhawks' 83-67 victory over rival Kansas State in the Big 12 tournament semifinal round.

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Self had an idea: probably a lot like the way it had been played up until that point.

With the Wildcats (22-11) playing without their top two scorers — Dean Wade was held out because of a foot injury, and Barry Brown Jr. left the game and did not return after suffering a nasty poke in his right eye in the game's opening minutes — the Jayhawks played from a position of power for most of the night. The Jayhawks led for 35:28 and trailed for less than three minutes, but they might have had a much tougher task had it not been for Garrett's big play.

Despite delivering one of the game-saving moments of the night, Garrett was a lot less pleased with the team's performance overall than he was proud of his own contribution.

“I don't feel like we played at a high tempo,” said Garrett, who finished 3 of 7 from the floor for eight points, five rebounds and that one steal in 22 minutes. “With the two players gone, we just relaxed and went as the game went. We've got to come out with the mindset that we're playing for March Madness. We've got to play like every game is for the national championship and I don't feel like we did that tonight.”

It's not as if the ninth-ranked Jayhawks (26-7) were terrible. Kansas shot 48.3 percent from the floor, 39 percent from 3-point range and 82 percent from the free-throw line. KU also outrebounded KSU by seven and swiped seven steals during a game it led by double digits for a good chunk of the way.

But it was the team's method, not its measurables, that left the Jayhawks shaking their heads after the victory, their third of the season over their in-state rivals.

“That was not a jubilant locker room afterward,” Self said. “This is the time of year that everybody in America plays with energy and enthusiasm and the game's more alive and we didn't play like that tonight. … What was disappointing to me was we played the second half like it mattered more to them than it did to us and we were just trying to get through it rather than trying to play.”

Timely shooting — Kansas made 11 of 28 3-pointers — and enough plays like Garrett's, though none quite as good as that one, helped the Jayhawks hold off the undermanned Wildcats and sent KU to its 13th Big 12 tournament championship game in 22 years.

Although Self said he was not complaining about the result, it was crystal clear, both through his words and those of the Kansas players scattered throughout the KU locker room, that a similar showing on Saturday would not lead to the same result.

“We're happy we won. There were some good things that happened, but we're going to have to be a heck of a lot better (Saturday) night,” Self said.

Added Garrett, speaking about Self's postgame message: “He was telling us that the teams we play tomorrow, if we come out like that, they'll definitely beat us by 15. We know we've got to go home, get some rest and come back with a different mindset tomorrow night. Because if we come back with the mindset we came out (with) tonight, we'll be losing tomorrow.”

By the Numbers: Kansas 83, K-State 67

By the Numbers: Kansas 83, K-State 67


Joe Joseph 1 week, 4 days ago

Marcus Garrett is among the most poised freshmen Self has coached while at Kansas. His awareness on the court is superb. Really enjoy watching him play.

Justin Kruse 1 week, 4 days ago

Agree! Gonna be fun watching him the next few years!

Steve Zimmerman 1 week, 4 days ago

He shows, if a fresher wants to be in the game, he should start playing good defense. He's in the game because of that. The more minutes he is on the court, the more chance he can elevate his game with confidence. We will only see improvement offensive-wise from Garrett and it has started. Trust the process!!

RJ King 1 week, 4 days ago

Joe I could not agree more. Been saying that all year. Same word, “poised.” I love this kid. Finding his place in the system . . . playimg defence . . . deferring for now . . . doing the little, unnoticed things . . . could not be more pleased for a freshman season.

Bryce Landon 1 week, 4 days ago

I didn't get to see the game, so I had no idea that we nearly blew a 13-point halftime lead before winning by 16. And I see Self working here. He's trying to keep his guys hungry going into the finals against West Virginia.

The fact that we are in the finals at all is a big plus for this motley crew of Jayhawks. I didn't think we would get out of the quarterfinals without Udoka against an OSU team that embarrassed us twice during the regular season, but we've made it all the way to the title game.

WVU will be no slouch. They built double-digit leads on us twice before losing. They're probably still thinking they got jobbed by the refs in Allen Fieldhouse (news flash - they got away with more fouls than were actually called; the free throw disparity should have been much bigger than it actually was). And their bigs swat away everything in sight. And we don't have Udoka to counter their bigs. We'll need nothing short of a supreme effort to beat them a third time. We made it this far, so we may as well win it all.

Marius Rowlanski 1 week, 4 days ago

Not sure why after beating Kansas State for the 3rd time this season Bryce, you seem to want to pick out the negative. We are one step away from winning both the conference championship and the conference tournament championship and by the way, a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA?

I know by the majority of your posts, that you are a passionate fan but try to enjoy the journey. Watch Lightfoot and De Sousa do what nobody expected, playing in the BIG 12 Tournament final. Too many people have sold this team short on too many occasions. The Kansas State game was the first I've been able to watch since winning the conference championship outright.

We shouldn't have allowed Kansas State to get back into the game but Malik hitting a 3 was big for us and we pulled away at the end.

Jerry Walker 1 week, 4 days ago

Garrett - what a good dude. He's looking more and more like one of my favorite Jayhawks of all time - Travis Releford.

Tony Bandle 1 week, 4 days ago

Amazing what Bill has done with basically eight players including a freshman and a high school senior!

1] Big 12 Title by two games in the toughest overall league in America, despite losing two games in Allen.

2] Winning record-setting 14th straight title despite pressure from every side [including alum and fans].

3] Winning 26 games with a chance for more while going for the 2018 Big 12 Tourney Title.

4] Locking up a #1 Seed in the NCAA's with the win against KSU and Dukes loss to Uncle Roy. [I still find this achievement mind boggling.]

5] No Preston, no Coleby, no Whitman, and currently no Dok.

I find it still unfair to expect this group of Jayhawks to go far into the playoffs but, now, I think that anything may be possible from this bunch!!

Tony Bandle 1 week, 4 days ago

PS Just read the box, just three buckets away from seven guys in double figures!!

Kent Richardson 1 week, 4 days ago

Marcus Garrett the freshman who doesn't play like one. And more important is he doesn't think like one. Calm and composed demeanor, no me, always us. Sure enough of himself to speak out about how the team was not mentally strong during the second half. He sure was.

Always aware of where the ball is and how he can get a hand on it. Doesn't back off ever and the only time he seems unsure is when he is open at the 3 line. And he is aware of that too and took two shots during the second half, which were misses, and I thought that was a watershed moment. He already had a make of course and DeVonte has been on him to "just shoot it" and said he makes them in practice. His stroke seems to be like the rest of his game, under control and measured. Well he is a freshman after all.

He's a good ball handler who understands the offense and when he is confident enough to stop deferring look out. I've been saying we are just one more, better than average starter, away from a true title contending team. He is not quite there yet and not experienced enough either. He will get there because he won't let himself stop working toward that goal. When will it be? Probably a year down the road because of limited game experience this season. He will likely deliver a few treys and drives to the rim as he already has as the game dictates.

Keep stealing possessions Marcus and just shoot it.

Jay Scott 1 week, 4 days ago

Garrett will spend this summer becoming a feared shooter. The competition for starting PG will be interesting. Garrett? Moore? Dotson?

Kyle Neuer 1 week, 4 days ago

When that day comes, I think Garrett is going to leave Lawrence a very popular young man. I can't think of a freshman guard that's gotten more playing time in the Self era and he'll only get better, unless he completely screws up.

David Robinett 1 week, 4 days ago

And only 20 wins shy of the Div. 1 lead all-time, if the Internet is correct. We have gained a few each year on KY recently.

Mike Greer 1 week, 4 days ago

Garret needs to start shooting and making 3s the same as Dok needs to make his free throws. Marcus is almost always wide open as his defender is double teaming inside. They have made a conscious decision to leave him alone and guard the paint. Once he becomes a threat to shoot and make 3s, the post is going to open up for Mitch and Silvio, and Dok when he returns to the lineup.

Adrian Meneses 1 week, 3 days ago

I love the fact that he is learning and growing every game within Bill's system. He is the potential to be Bills right-hand man on the court if not next season but definitely by his Junior year, another coach on the court is what i call " a thing of beauty" for future success in our program!! Malik wants to shine which at first it was hard for him to do this season but now has seemed to figure how & when to make that happen with the "1st success of our team mentality". With that being said in reference to next years PG, I believe if he continues to shine as he has of late that will be enough for him to say i proved what i came here(college) and ready for the next step. BUT if with our teams success he is complimentary and plays good instead of GREAT than he might want to return next year and be a leader on next years youngsters!! Imagine Newman, Garrett, Dotson, Vick as potential starting guards!!!

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