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Kansas defeats Kansas State, 74-51

  • 7 p.m., Feb. 2, 2021
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

No. 23 Kansas cruises by Kansas State, 74-51, to move to 1-0 in February

Kansas guard Christian Braun (2) delivers a dunk after a steal during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Christian Braun (2) delivers a dunk after a steal during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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It was back to the usual starting five and back to business for the Kansas men’s basketball team on Tuesday night.

The 23rd-ranked Jayhawks rolled past visiting Kansas State, 74-51, to pick up just their second win since Jan. 10 while handing Kansas State its ninth consecutive loss.

“It always feels good to beat K-State,” sophomore guard Christian Braun said after dropping 18 points on KU’s in-state rival. “But this was a little different this year, with us trying to get back on track.”

Throughout the night, you could see evidence of the Jayhawks deliberately working on the things Kansas coach Bill Self has said he wants to see.

Better effort on the glass here. Encouragement for a teammate there. Energy and defensive intensity everywhere.

“At this point, we’ve got no choice,” Braun said. “We’ve got to buy in. We’ve got to listen to Coach, and he’s just telling us to play hard, play free. We all want to win, and we all want to be on the right track.”

Never was that more evident — nor more important to the outcome of the game — than in the opening five minutes of each half.

Kansas raced out to leads of 9-0 and 13-4 in the opening minutes. And the Jayhawks (12-6 overall, 6-4 Big 12) used a strong spurt to start the second half to turn an eight-point edge into one that reached double digits and stayed there for most of the final 20 minutes.

Asked after the game if he saw the type of joy and play-for-each-other mentality he had been looking for, Self said it was there early.

“I thought we were pretty turned up,” he said. “It was better. But the best way to get turned up and have some fun is throw some lobs and catch lobs and dunk in transition, and we’re just not creating near enough of those opportunities — although we got a couple of nice ones tonight.”

Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack combined to score 16 of KU’s first 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, while the rest of their teammates shot just 2-of-12 during the game’s first 13 minutes.

Braun proved to be a willing third scorer and made it known early.

Two of his points came early in the first half, after he picked off a pass near mid-court and raced home for a powerful, two-handed jam that he cocked way back over his head before throwing it down.

“It felt good to get an easy basket for my first one,” said Braun, who finished the night 6 for 11 overall and 4 of 9 from 3-point range. “And it feels good against them, too.”

One possession later, Braun drew the K-State defense with a hard drive down the left side of the paint and then flipped a lob pass over his head to McCormack, who easily finished the possession to put Kansas up 13-4.

“That was one of those, ‘No, no, no, no, yes. Don’t ever do it again,’” Self said after the game. “It was a great pass. That was a great play.”

Braun said he had heard words like those from Self about plays just like that since he first arrived on campus.

“I knew he was there,” Braun said of McCormack. “But that’s something that Coach has been getting on me for since I got here because it’s not always a great pass. It was great today because it worked. But I won’t make a habit of doing it.”

Redshirt freshman Jalen Wilson (10 points in 23 minutes) opened the second half with increased activity and this time had the production to show for it. In a 2:58 stint to open the second, Wilson scored five quick points, including a rhythm 3-pointer from the wing, and helped grow the Kansas lead to 13 before taking a seat.

Wilson nearly had two or three more baskets in that 3-minute stretch, but he elected to pass up a couple of shots and missed short another time.

The knockout blow in this one came midway through the second half, when Braun, who had gotten hot with his outside shot, dished a dime to Agbaji for an alley-oop that shook the rim and put Kansas ahead by 17.

That was part of a 13-1 run that put the Jayhawks up 24 (56-32) and Kansas never looked back from there.

Balance returned to the Jayhawks’ lineup on Tuesday night, and Kansas got enough of a contribution from its bench — particularly from Tristan Enaruna, who Self said might have graded out higher than anyone — to be able to keep that starting five on the bench almost as much as they were on the floor.

While Kansas played well and, more importantly, competed hard in most areas, this one was not without its ugly moments.

Despite that hot start, K-State (5-14, 1-9) cut the KU lead to as few as five late in the first half before the Jayhawks righted the ship and took an eight-point lead into halftime.

“We’ve got to put our foot down earlier,” Braun said. “But it felt good to get back in the win column.”

With KU leading by 22 with just over six minutes to play, K-State’s Antonio Gordon stole the ball from two flat-footed Jayhawks after a missed K-State free throw and laid it in for an easy deuce.

Moments like those, however, were rare. And in the Kansas possessions that followed, McCormack — one of those flat-footed Jayhawks — showed his own displeasure with the lapse by dominating the glass and aggressively attacking the basket for three quick buckets before checking out for good.

McCormack finished with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes, giving him his fourth double-double this season and the fifth of his career.

The capper of the night came when the Allen Fieldhouse crowd, which featured a strong surge of support after the return of students to campus, let loose with a wild roar after walk-on Chris Teahan — another Kansas native — buried a 3-pointer with 1:20 to play that put the Jayhawks ahead 74-48.

The cheer that followed may have been the loudest of the season thus far.

But while the end of this one packed its own punch, it was still the start that brought the Jayhawks the most pride.

“For us to start off that way is really crucial for us,” McCormack said. “Better energy, being back at home and, of course, it was a game that really meant something to all of the Kansas fans and to ourselves. All of that contributed to our energy.”

Next up, Kansas heads to West Virginia on Saturday for a 1 p.m. clash with the 17th-ranked Mountaineers.

Comments

Tony Bandle 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Random Thoughts:

1] Home - ISU. OSU, TT, BU. Away - WV, ISU, KSU, TX. Most likely 4-4 with at the very best 5-3. Say we go 4-4, maybe 1-1 in the Big 12 Tourney so that's 5-5 giving KU a 17 - 11 record. Yep, a 5 or 6 NCAA seed sounds just about right!

2] Since our only elite athlete [Ochai] is incredibly inconsistent, our senior leader and point guard [Garrett] is not wired to be a leader or a point guard, our big men [David and Mitch] are adequate against equal or lesser foes but are dominated by elite centers, our three pointers make or break our offense........all things considered, maybe this team isn't so bad.

3] Just a guess but I think the the odds are 75% / 25% KU gets some sort of penalty next season and our Record setting NCAA appearance streak ends at 31 years.....still, an amazing accomplishment.

4] It's so weird seeing the bleachers behind the bench push up to form a big blue wall, thus giving plenty of room for spatial distancing. What a sucking time to be a KU student basketball fan!!!

Benjamin Shear 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Tony, your 5-5 assessment seems a bit off to me. I believe we can go 6-2 in the last 8 games. Besides Baylor and Texas, the other teams remaining are not leaps and bounds better than KU.

Bill Self also has the best winning percentage against teams he lost to in the last meeting. I can't remember the exact stat, but when he drops a game to a team, he almost always wins the next time. The ISU games will be interesting because of the schedule as well.

Dale Rogers 3 weeks, 1 day ago

6-2 is also what I thought when I looked at the remaining games. That assumes no serious injuries to key players the rest of the way.

Dirk Medema 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Wow Tony. That seems like the most somber list I’ve ever seen from you.

Tony Bandle 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Well, Dirk, on the bright side:

1] We do have a lot of young talent that could suddenly "get it together".

2] We are still in the Top 25.

3] NCAA censure ship is not necessarily a done deal.

4] A mid season slump by KU has happened before but we've gotten hot at the end of seasons many times.

5] The Hawks are beginning to see that, as a team, they are much better as the sum of their parts.

6] They have a chance to avenge three of their four conference losses.

Hey, maybe things aren't so bad after all. :}

Dale Rogers 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Agree. We have lost 6 games, all to ranked teams (if you include OSU at 26 being ranked). Five of those losses were on the road. In our first 16 games, so far, we have played 10 ranked teams and won 4 of them. The remainder of our regular season schedule is the easier part of this season and comes at a time the team seems to be finally coming together, hopefully getting better each game. 6-2 is my guess.

Bryce Landon 3 weeks, 1 day ago

A blowout win over your in-state rival always feels good, no question. It's also nice to get 200 wins in the series well before KSU even gets 100.

But I'm not ready to say that the slump is over quite yet. After all, we beat the Kansas State Wildcats, not the Villanova Wildcats, last night. We're talking about a 5-win KSU team that has a home loss to Division II Fort Hays State on its record.

If we can go into Morgantown on Saturday and get a win, then I'll feel safe in saying the slump is over.

Jerry Walker 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Always great to thump the Wildcats and Weber.

But sorry for this bucket of tepid water...nothing looked much different for the Hawks except some 3-pointers went in against a really bad team.

Rock Chalk Jayhawks.

Blake Brown 3 weeks, 1 day ago

What's missing with these Jayhawks? Team chemistry. I noticed last night during the timeouts, there was little players encouraging others, no smiles or signs of having fun, no real bonding. My take is the extreme COVID life style restrictions they are under has not allowed for them to come together, to share in team outings or even live in the dorm with togetherness as meals are catered in and separation is mandated. Yes, I understand that is true for many other teams, but this one seems to be affected more so as they just do not exhibit that genuine caring for each other and it shows on the floor, especially on the offensive end.

Benjamin Shear 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Obiter Dictum:

-It's hard to believe KSU won a share of the BIg12 title just two years ago.

-Celebrate! We won!

-KSU is terrible this year.

-Bill Self looks tired.

-We should be able to win 5 of the next 6 games. It may only be 4 of them, but it's an easier stretch for the team.

-I've been saying this for a while, and Tony says it too, we are a team that will only win if we make greater than 35% from 3 point range. If we get hot and play defense with energy, we can play with anyone. If not...well teams like Baylor will man-handle us.

-DMack is the only true consistent player on the team. It was great to see him get 10+ rebounds in a game.

-Who is Jalen Wilson? 3 for 13 this game. Sure, he got 10 points, but he just disappears on offense. He seems lost in the sauce.

-Teams that live and die by the 3 can be really dangerous in NCAA tournament time. Let's hope we are the team that gets hot.

Bob Thompson 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Watched the game on ESPN+ and I have to say K-State looked bad. Hope it was that KU was making them look that way. Sometimes it is hard to tell. Can't say anything good about the announcers, talked about almost everything except the game. At one point I timed them for 5 minutes while the teams were playing and nothing..... sad I am paying $5 a month for this. It definitely will be dropped once KU quits playing and not even sure I will start it back up next year.

Benjamin Shear 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Bob agree with both your points. KSU is exceptionally bad this year. So it's hard to tell if we really played that well, or was it just a result of playing an inferior foe.

The commentary was off as well. LB had some interesting stories about his Dad and the experience they went through growing up during the civil rights error. I'd love to hear more of those stories, but not during a basketball game. Yes, the game was never contested, but I wished the game was called and the announcers avoided memory lane. I think this type of "commentary" has made its way into the game because of Dicky V. I don't like it, but no one asked me! :)

Dale Rogers 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Lance Bank is the worst I have ever heard, other than maybe Bill Walton. I managed to find an email address for support at espn and emailed them my thoughts about Lance Bank. Walton is bad but at least tells us more about the game. I really don't care to hear five minutes about Banks' dad's time with Muhammed Ali while the game is being played. Tell me who just fouled and how many they now have. The other announcer did break in a couple of times to tell us that info, interrupting Banks, who didn't seem to even notice.

Blake Brown 3 weeks, 1 day ago

+1 on the announcers- as bad as Vitale or Walton rambling on and on while there is q game happening.

ESPN+ is a horrible way to treat basketball enthusiasts. Can't record in advance, can't FF through commercials and half time and know when to stop, can't review in slow mo, what other than money was our AD thinking of?

Jerry Walker 3 weeks, 1 day ago

I looked up the definition of assshattt and was not surprised to see a picture of Lance Blanks.

Scott MacWilliams 3 weeks ago

Hey folks, If you can stand to wait, you can watch most of the Big12 games on the Big12 website. They cut out the commercials, so you can watch the whole game in about 1 1/4 hours. It takes a few days after the game, but it's a free option. Just scroll down to the bottom of the page, Big12 Digital> Game replays.

Bob Thompson 3 weeks ago

Thanks Scott. I will definitely do that next year.

Edward Daub 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Out here in West Virginia, we hate ESPN+/Big12NOW! (Maybe because the state flower is the satellite dish - old,stale joke). The Picture is often fuzzy and the announcers are awful!

Lance Blanks talks and talks, but never says anything meaningful. One of his quotes "the best players have to be the best players". Then he goes off on the book "The Peter Principle", claiming KU's players have reached their level of incompetence? Farm Out!

I am relishing the Thought of KU stomping WVU (Morgantown Massacre) SAT! Rock Chalk!

Armen Kurdian 3 weeks, 1 day ago

I think we can go 6-2 rest of the regular season, if we run the table rest of the way including the tourney, we may get up to a 2 seed. We keep playing like this, I agree we are a 6. Probably will end up on the 4 line.

Trace Stark 3 weeks, 1 day ago

Rock Chalk! Been out of the loop as of late. Latest prognosis for BT? Hope he's healing well...

Joe Baker 3 weeks ago

1-0 in Feb? Really? Depressing

23 in the nation?

We are either one loss away from dropping out of the top 25 or on the verge of a major win for the season. Pussycats are our defining win of the conference? Ugh

Steve Zimmerman 3 weeks ago

Wow, what a busy column. We won against KSU, folks.

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