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1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-OU II

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) celebrates a three during the first half, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) celebrates a three during the first half, Monday, Feb. 19, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Kansas shot 16 for 29 from 3 against Oklahoma. Crazy thing is, the Jayhawks probably should've made even more. Today’s 1-3-1 blog takes you through the Sooners’ defensive lapses, several of which were caused by freshman sensation Trae Young. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.

Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.


Play of the game: The first one, no less —

It’s hard to find a singular play of the game in a 30-point blowout. Yet no play proved more indicative of the final result than the first one.

Literally, the first one.

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On KU’s first offensive possession — and for the entire game — the OU guards were switching on defense, not unlike what KU does. As Devonte’ Graham came around a screen from Svi Mykhailiuk, Christian James switched off with Kristian Doolittle.

Mykhailiuk popped around a Udoka Azubuike screen and James was slow reacting. He faded all the way to the right side of the free throw line before trying to sprint out to contest the shot, with no clear path to do so.

The shot itself rolled in and out, but it was promising for the Jayhawks to get such a wide-open look on their very first play.

Sixteen 3-pointers later, the performance was less promising and more of a bloodbath.


A trend: Why so many? —

OU’s defense wasn’t limited to a single or even a single group of gaffes.

So it almost feels crazy to say, but, in a game the Jayhawks shot a blistering 16 for 29 from 3, I’d tell you they should’ve made more — a lot more.

Let’s go to the film.

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The first play I’ve tagged, coming just over four minutes into the game, actually showed a pretty heady play by Graham.

On the first part of the play you can see Graham, on the wing, looking at the ball. He saw the OU defense react to Malik Newman’s drive. Kameron McGusty was guarding Newman and James came off Mykhailiuk by a few steps to help.

Now it was Graham's turn to step into Mykhailiuk's shoes.

Knowing how the OU defense would play the drive, this time from Mykhailiuk, Graham positioned himself back a few feet of the 3-point line. It's a very valid strategy, and one employed by one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the NBA: the Houston Rockets.

Here's the synopsis: Want an open 3-point look? Take a step back.

So when Mykhaliliuk took his turn driving — and James went to help — Graham was wide open from about 24 feet.

Nothing but net.

The second play was a lot simpler. It was a breakdown the Sooners were guilty of all night, yet for whatever reason didn’t work to correct.

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Halfway through the shot clock Lagerald Vick dribbled to his left and came off a screen by Azubuike. It was a fairly broken play, evident by the visible confusion of Azubuike at the beginning of the play, who gestured as if to ask, “What’s going on?”

Vick went past the screen, yet for some reason Rashard Odomes decided to go under it.

That would have been the correct way to defend it had the ball handler been someone like Marcus Garrett (26.5 percent on 3s), but it certainly wasn’t for Vick, a 37.5 percent 3-point shooter entering the day.

Vick, of course, knocked down the jumper in rhythm.

The final play had a similar element, but really it was just one of laziness.

The Jayhawks targeted Trae Young’s defense in Norman and for good reason. With the load he carries on offense, it would be impossible for him to compete at an extremely high level consistently on the other end.

Mykhailiuk took Young off the dribble early, getting to the basket for an easy layup in the opening minutes of the game. But Young, who was responsible for KU baskets on several possessions, did no worse job defending than on a possession midway through the first half.

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Graham caught a pass from Mykhailiuk and took a dribble to his right. Mitch Lightfoot came out to set a screen, meaning Young should’ve attempted to try to go over it to keep the guard from getting a wide-open shot — similar to the Vick play.

The funny thing is, it doesn’t even look like Lightfoot thought he’d have a chance to screen Young.

Before Young even tried to get around Lightfoot, the KU big man had broken from his screen and was rolling toward the hoop. The action, which can be referred to as a slip screen, ended up entirely removing Young from the play. Young inexplicably went under where the screen would have been and got caught up on Lightfoot's body.

Graham picked up his dribble, paused for a full second and put up the shot. He missed the shot — KU did miss 13 3s on the day — but the Jayhawks got the rebound back.

Would it shock you if I told you they hit a 3 on the ensuing possession?


One that stood out: Gotta get back —

Everyone knows a college basketball court is 94 feet long. A quick Google search reveals it’s also about 50 feet wide.

Case in point, it’s easier to get across one way than it is the other, especially when the other guy isn't running very hard.

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Less than four minutes into the game, Young had a fast-break layup attempt contested by Mykhailiuk and missed. Azubuike got the rebound and threw the ball ahead to Newman.

Young fell down under the hoop and was slow getting back down the court. That left KU with a five-on-four advantage. The play was pretty simple.

With Young jogging back behind Azubuike and stopping at the top of the key, he essentially put himself on Mykhailiuk, who James was already guarding. He pointed back toward the hoop to signal for someone to pick up Vick, but it was already too late.

On the play, each of the Sooners had to make a decision:

  • McGusty had to choose between Graham and Vick. He chose Graham, probably the right call.
  • James had to guard Mykhailiuk.
  • Jamuni McNeace, OU’s lone big, waited for Azubuike, who would've otherwise had an uncontested dunk.
  • Doolittle stopped the ball, picking up Newman.

That meant Vick could traverse a majority of the 50 feet on the baseline and still catch the ball, turn around and have a wide-open path to the hoop.

Oh, and the basket capped off a 10-0 start for the Jayhawks, who would still outscore the Sooners by 20 more from that point on.


1-3-1 breakdown: KU 77, WVU 69

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 83, ISU 77

1-3-1 breakdown: Baylor 80, KU 64

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 71, TCU 64

1-3-1 breakdown: OSU 84, KU 79

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, K-State 56

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 79, TAMU 68

1-3-1 breakdown: OU 85, KU 80

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67

Reply 3 comments from RJ King Scott Chasen Plasticjhawk

1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-ISU II

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) swoops in for a bucket against Iowa State forward Cameron Lard (2) during the second half, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) swoops in for a bucket against Iowa State forward Cameron Lard (2) during the second half, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

Lagerald Vick's best play on Tuesday didn't even show up on the stat sheet. Today’s 1-3-1 blog explains just how the junior guard got some of his mojo back in KU's 83-77 win in Hilton Coliseum, plus what Marcus Garrett did against Iowa State to excite KU coach Bill Self. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.

Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.


Play of the game: Just get a stop —

In the midst of a late-game meltdown-that-wasn't-really-a-meltdown that prompted KU coach Bill Self to say his team played like it had never been coached, the Jayhawks were still firmly in control of Iowa State.

Despite missing the front ends of two one-and-ones — and fouling twice the other way — KU led by five with less than 20 seconds remaining. The Jayhawks were a stop away from essentially putting the game on ice.

Here's how the ensuing sequence went down.

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Lindell Wigginton dribbled down the court and was picked up by Devonte' Graham. With no Iowa State players in the paint — and thus no KU players guarding them there — there wasn't any back-side help, so Graham had to keep Wigginton in front of him, something that has been a problem for KU guards this year.

Unable to get by Graham, Wigginton passed the ball off to Donovan Jackson, who popped off a Cameron Lard screen at the top of the key. Mitch Lightfoot switched onto Jackson, and Lard pulled Lagerald Vick away to make sure he couldn't help.

It was down to a one-on-one matchup and Lightfoot came out on top.

Lightfoot, who most likely played late-game because of his free throw shooting (82.4 percent on the year) as compared to Udoka Azubuike (41.7), stayed on his toes, bouncing around and taking a small hop back as Jackson faked like he was going to drive.

Jackson stepped back and pulled up for a 3. Lightfoot contested the shot, forcing him into an airball that was rebounded by Lagerald Vick, who passed it right out to Graham.

The Jayhawks were far from perfect in their late-game execution, but on the final sequence, just about everything worked to perfection. And considering some of the woes they've had this season, it certainly was a step in the right direction.


A trend: Bouncing back —

Vick's skid since the start of Big 12 play had been anything but under-the-radar. Yet the junior started to show signs of life against Iowa State that should give fans reason to be optimistic moving forward.

Vick, whose activity level on the court drew criticism from Self — and cost him a spot in the starting lineup — made one of the biggest plays of Tuesday's game being exactly that: active.

via GIPHY

With right around seven minutes left and KU up seven, Azubuike blocked a shot by Lard, but the ball bounced right to Wigginton. As the ball slid through Wigginton's hands, Vick pounced, breaking away from his box out of Zoran Talley Jr. and getting the tie up.

And what better way to follow up that play than with another on the other end?

The very next trip down the court, Graham dribbled the ball to his left and passed it off to Vick. Vick, who Self said earlier in the season should exploit mismatches and drive more, turned the corner on Nick Weiler-Babb and exploded to the rim, finishing with a tough lay in over Lard.

via GIPHY

While there were plenty of plays to choose from, the final one I've highlighted wasn't as flashy as a basket — or even a jump ball. It was simply the effort that Self has demanded of him all season.

With Weiler-Babb pushing the ball up the court in transition, the KU defense wasn't properly matched up. KU's wings were in the right spots, but Graham wasn't in great position and Lightfoot had to slide over to defend a potential shot at the rim.

With Vick's man, Soloman Young, still well beyond the 3-point line, Vick didn't have any guarding responsibilities. So as Weiler-Babb drove toward the hoop, Vick dropped down from the 3-point line and jumped to rebound the ball — above the rim, the way Self wants.

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Vick, who scored 16 points on the day, didn't get the board, but he kept Lard from hauling it in cleanly. The ball ended up in the hands of Malik Newman, and KU took it the other way.

Self was more complimentary of Vick's effort after the game, but he stopped short from a ringing endorsement.

"I actually thought they tried to guard," Self said of Vick and Newman, "and their energy level was better."

Regardless, Vick's play was a welcome sign to KU fans — and at least one former player, too.

"Guys are starting to play better," said guard Sherron Collins, whose jersey will be retired in Allen Fieldhouse next week. "Vick is coming back. He's coming along."


One that stood out: 'A play ... that nobody's made all year' —

Speaking of things that don't show up in the stat sheet, Marcus Garrett is the perfect example of a player who may not post big numbers, but can make a big difference on the court. The Iowa State game was in fact a perfect representation of that idea.

Garrett had only three points, one rebound and one assist against the Cyclones, yet he had a plus/minus of +18, more than three times as high as any other KU player.

(A score of +18 given the final score means the Jayhawks outscored their opponents by 18 points when he was on the floor and were outscored by 12 points when he was off it.)

"He made a play the other night that nobody's made all year," Self said, "nobody's made all year for us."

That play — coming late in the first half — showcased Garrett's high IQ.

Garrett was guarding Jackson on the perimeter. Jackson lobbed the ball to Lard (listed 6-9, 225 pounds) in the post, who started to back down the smaller Lightfoot (listed 6-8, 210).

via GIPHY

"(Garrett is) guarding a good offensive player, but he knows exactly how far he should dive," Self said. "He waited for him to bounce it, took it on the first bounce or second bounce."

Garrett watched the ball the whole way and swooped in and made a play on the ball. He wasn't finished, though, sprinting down to the other end of the court in transition in a sequence that eventually led to a Newman 3-pointer.

“He’s not scoring 25 points or getting 10 rebounds or anything like that,” said Graham. “Just the little plays.”

Not bad for a freshman.


1-3-1 breakdown: Baylor 80, KU 64

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 71, TCU 64

1-3-1 breakdown: OSU 84, KU 79

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, K-State 56

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 79, TAMU 68

1-3-1 breakdown: OU 85, KU 80

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67

Reply 2 comments from Len Shaffer Plasticjhawk

1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-Baylor II

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) is sent back to the bench by an official and his teammate Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) while protesting a call during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2018 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) is sent back to the bench by an official and his teammate Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) while protesting a call during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 11, 2018 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Udoka Azubuike snapped his head back and dropped the ball on the ground. Today’s 1-3-1 blog explains what went into his frustrations, plus how each of his fouls happened in Baylor's 80-64 win over the Jayhawks. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.

Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.


Play of the game: An untimely own goal

Ever have one of those days where you can’t just catch a break?

You might have more in common with the KU men’s basketball team than you think.

“God, could anything more go wrong," said KU coach Bill Self, "on a day you get guys injured in warmups to basically dunking the ball for the other team.”

Not much, as it were.

Despite only scoring 20 points in the first half, the Jayhawks gutted their way back into the game against Baylor, an 80-64 loss. They pulled within two on a 3-pointer from Devonte’ Graham and did so again after a jumper by Lagerald Vick.

His next points didn’t quite go so well.

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The own goal — or perhaps ‘Self-basket,' if you'd rather — was a perfect representation of KU’s inability to get over the hump. It also didn’t come by pure happenstance.

KU was in a 2-3 zone, which can create rebounding issues in of itself. The guards flew all around the court as Jake Lindsey dribbled and settled into more natural positions as he passed the ball to Mark Vital.

Vital attacked the hoop, and Udoka Azubuike moved to contest the shot. Svi Mykhailiuk probably could’ve done so just fine, especially with no Baylor players in the corner to worry about, but he slid past Vital.

Baylor’s Jo Lual-Acuil had inside position and, since Azubuike wasn’t there to block him out, had a straight shot to get the rebound. Vick had to hustle to try to get between him and the ball, but as he jumped up to get the rebound, he actually knocked it back into the hoop.

The play killed KU's momentum, preventing them from having a chance to tie the game — or take the lead — on the next possession. They pulled within two one more time, but that was as close as it got.


A trend: Hands off —

If Vick's mishap was frustrating, Azubuike's day put him on a whole other level.

The 7-foot, 280-pound big man picked up his fourth foul at the 17:54 mark in the second half of Saturday’s game. Self had plenty to say about that one — and all of them.

Let’s take a look at the first.

via GIPHY

There’s no real way to sugarcoat this one. It’s a flop, and it isn’t a particularly good one.

Azubuike made contact with Lual-Acuil’s chest. A half-second later, the big man fell onto the floor and the charge was called..

“Hey we’ve gotten some calls, too, so I’m not saying we haven’t benefited from some whistles,” Self said with a laugh. “But that was one of the biggest flops I’ve ever seen. I mean the guy fell down a full second after supposedly there was contact.”

But Azubuike does wear some of the call — mostly because of the predictability.

“The whole deal, everybody knows that he’s going to lead with his left shoulder when he’s on the left block,” Self said. “He’s got to be smarter than that, to do that.”

Not all the fouls on Saturday were that embellished.

After defending Lual-Acuil well in the post, Azubuike was called for a foul for shoving Vital in the back.

via GIPHY

It was a clear foul — Azubuike put both hands on Vital’s back — but it probably wouldn’t have been called if Vital had a better base and didn’t fall. It also would’ve been avoided entirely if… well... hear it from the coach:

“His second foul was a loose-ball foul. No one’s fault,” Self said. “The rebound goes through (Graham’s) hands. If (Graham) rebounds the ball, it never happens.”

Azubuike’s third foul didn’t have any such explanation. It was fairly standard, as he didn’t get into defensive position on the baseline quick enough and then had to jump forward to contest a shot by Vital, sending him to the ground in the process.

His fourth foul was the opposite. There wasn’t a loose ball, or even a live ball to go after. Really, it may have been the culmination of some frustrations earlier in the game — more on that in a second.

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“The one that disappointed me,” Self said, “he just ran and ran right up a guy’s back, which was obvious. Easy call.”

Again, there was probably a little bit of an embellishment from Lual-Acuil, who was boxing out Azubuike on the play. But Azubuike didn’t do himself any favors.

He put both hands on Lual-Acuil and shoved him. The ball went in the net, but Azubuike still got tagged with the foul on what was a day full of frustration.

“I’m not saying they were bad calls. I’m not saying that at all,” Self said. “I’m just saying, just a little bit unfortunate in that particular game.”


One that stood out: Boiling point —

Before Azubuike’s fourth foul — 12 seconds before, in fact — he was standing under the hoop and letting out some frustration.

The bugaboo that caused it? A mishap between he, Graham and Mykhailiuk that allowed a rebound to bounce right to the Bears for an easy putback.

via GIPHY

There were a few elements to this play that caused the rebound.

Earlier in the possession, Graham (6-2, 185 pounds) switched onto the bigger Tristan Clark (6-9, 240). When Clark and Vital stood near each other later in the possession, Mykhailiuk (6-8, 205) made a smart play, nudging Graham off the bigger man so that he could use some of his extra size in guarding him.

But Graham never really left the area, instead stepping toward Lual-Acuil and then hanging around the basket to go after the rebound.

Had Graham ran out to the perimeter, he could’ve boxed Vital out or even potentially discouraged him from going after the rebound in the first place. Given how well Mykhailiuk executed his boxout, Azubuike would’ve snagged the board without a problem.

Instead, Graham hung by the basket. The putback went up and in. Azubuike caught the ball and snapped his head back in frustration. He set the ball back down rather than tossing it to Graham and then ran back down the court.

Oh, and a tidbit pointed out by KU basketball beat writer Matt Tait, take a look at the top of the screen at the end of the play.

Mykhailiuk was ready to run. Graham was pushing the tempo up the court throughout the entire second half. But Azubuike slowed it all down by dropping the ball in frustration. Those are the types of things that will drive not only a coach crazy, but disrupt the whole team in the process.


1-3-1 breakdown: KU 71, TCU 64

1-3-1 breakdown: OSU 84, KU 79

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, K-State 56

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 79, TAMU 68

1-3-1 breakdown: OU 85, KU 80

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67

Reply 1 comment from Marius7782

1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-OSU

Kansas head coach Bill Self reacts to a call during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self reacts to a call during the second half, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The 1-3-1 breakdown from KU’s 84-79 home loss to Oklahoma State explains how the Cowboys were able to steal 24 seconds away in the final minute-and-a-half, plus a look at some of the plays leading up to Lagerald Vick’s benching. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.

Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.


Play of the game: Every second counts —

As a college basketball fan I’ve always been confused as to why teams don't play the clock more. Think of the following scenario:

There are 45 seconds left in the first half. KU has the ball, inbounding under its own hoop. What happens next?

In this scenario, KU will almost always hurry to get the ball inbounds and take a quick shot to secure the 2-for-1 — a concept that allows KU two of the last three possessions of the half. The Jayhawks might get the ball back with seven seconds or so remaining, but two attempts at a shot, even if they're only shots that would go in 25 percent of the time, still give them a pretty good chance to end up with some points.

But Oklahoma State doesn't have to comply.

Since the clock doesn’t stop on a made field goal in the first half, the other team could legally stall for five seconds — or semi-legally stall for even more time — and minimize that difference. Oklahoma State did exactly that in the second half on Saturday, and it turned out to be pretty important.

via GIPHY

There is 1:08 left when the shot goes in.

There is 1:03 left when the referee starts his five count.

There are 58.2 seconds left when the shot clock starts.

There are 55.2 seconds left when KU takes its foul to give.

Doesn't the clock stop in the second half, though? If you're like me, you were a little confused about the ruling.

However, the NCAA rules only state that the scorers stop the game clock when “a goal is successful (clears the bottom of the net) in the last 59.9 seconds of the second period or any overtime period,” leaving a loophole of sorts for baskets that are counted just before the clock dips under a minute.

So the shot goes in at 1:08 and should be inbounded by 1:03, but the Cowboys are — likely intentionally — slow getting to the ball, leaving time for players to get into the right positions and, more importantly, taking nearly 15 percent of the remaining time off the clock.

But wait, there's more.

Since KU wasn't in the bonus yet, the Cowboys got another chance to inbound the ball. It looked like KU was trying to foul on the ensuing inbound, but the Cowboys were able to go end to end and score with just over 48 seconds left.

All in all, the Cowboys were able to run 20 seconds off the clock and score two points on the exchange. Considering how they started the possession, up six with just under 70 seconds to play, they probably would've taken either result, let alone both.

Oh, and don’t believe me that coaches use these things to their advantage? Watch Bill Self’s reaction on this play.

None by Scott Chasen


A trend: So what about that start? —

If a player is going to rack up 32-plus minutes, mistakes are going to happen. It’s almost impossible to play that many minutes in a game — let alone to average it for a season — and not have lapses. Yet not all mistakes are created equal.

A mistake with six minutes left in the first half when you haven’t gotten a breather all game can be forgivable. Mistakes one or two minutes into the game? Not so much.

Unfortunately for Lagerald Vick, he didn't even last that long.

Let’s take a look at the first possession of Saturday’s game.

via GIPHY

KU was switching on the perimeter, evident by how the guards defended the action by Oklahoma State. Vick even pointed for Svi Mykhailiuk to swap onto another defender at one point, so there were no misunderstandings by the players. At least until the end of the play.

Jeffrey Carroll came off a pair of screens. Devonte’ Graham had no chance to fight through them all the way out to the perimeter, but he didn't have to. Carroll became Vick's responsibility, with a nearby Udoka Azubuike sagging into the paint.

Vick didn't recognize what was happening — even after Graham bumped into him from behind — until it was too late. He gave up a wide-open 3-pointer to a player who had hit at least two of them in 11 of his last 13 games. KU got bailed out by a miss.

I’ve included what happens next in the GIF because it feels just as important. Vick runs down the court, catches a pass and pulls up for a 3. He had the opportunity to drive by a forward who was closing out, but it’s not a terrible look.

But when you compound it with what came before — and add in what happens next — it starts to be a part of a trend.

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Self was probably already about to blow up, but the explosion could’ve at least been delayed to the under-16 media timeout. KU allowed an offensive rebound on its second defensive possession, which featured several players standing around, but there was no need to panic, at least until it happened again with four KU players in and around the paint.

While Vick shouldn’t have necessarily been the one who came up with the rebound, he had already started walking away from the play as if the board were secured. Then he stood around for the rest of the possession, becoming the target of a Self hand-gesture after the Cowboys finally scored.

Now watch what happened next.

via GIPHY

A big thank you to Michael Coover (@MichaelCoover) for pointing this play out on Twitter.

Again, by itself, this play wasn't too big of a deal. Vick dribbled the ball off his foot and it went out of bounds. It happens.

But given the way he started the game, giving up an open 3 and an offensive rebound and missing a 3-pointer early in the clock, that’s the type of effort, or lack thereof, that will drive a coach crazy.

And if there are that many plays like that in the first 184 seconds of the game, it’s not hard to figure out why Self might want a different body in the starting five.


One that stood out: One more from the end —

Earlier in the year, when KU defeated Texas in Austin, I pointed out a pair of instances where Texas coach Shaka Smart disadvantaged his team by putting his best defensive player on the inbounder…

Once…

None by Scott Chasen

Twice…

None by Scott Chasen

And three times...

None by Scott Chasen

When Texas switched to a man-to-man defense, KU ran offense to get the 7-foot Mohamed Bamba isolated onto Graham on the perimeter, meaning the big man was away from the hoop and couldn't help on drives and rebounds.

It’s a little thing, but it’s something that resulted in points for KU on two out of three possessions. Point is, it mattered. And so did this.

None by Kyle Cornish

Kyle raises an interesting point I thought it would be fun to explore.

With only 14.2 seconds left and KU down 3, the strategy wasn’t all that complicated: Go for a steal and then foul. There wasn't much time to waste.

Oklahoma State put KU between a rock and a hard place.

via GIPHY

As Kyle points out, the Cowboys seemed to want to inbound the ball to Kendall Smith, who was being guarded by Graham (four fouls). Smith came off a screen and caught the pass. Graham couldn't foul or he’d be out of the game.

The Cowboys were ultimately able to run four seconds off the clock with this strategy, as Graham was only able to haphazardly poke at the ball and chase after Smith until Marcus Garrett took the foul. But by that point, nearly one-third of the remaining time had bled off the clock.

So going back to Kyle’s question, why wasn’t Graham on the inbounder? He doesn’t really have the length to bother a passer — as would Vick or Mykhailiuk, who guarded the play — but that hasn’t stopped KU in the past.

In thinking about the most iconic moments of Frank Mason’s KU career, three immediately came to my mind. The game winner in Madison Square Garden was first. His dive into a table at K-State followed by an improbable return to the play and steal was second.

"Those plays define seasons," Self said at the time.

If you’re like me, the third play you remember is what he did in triple overtime against Oklahoma. Mason crowded Buddy Hield on the sideline as he went to inbound the ball. He jumped up and down, swarming Hield and eventually knocking the ball away and coming up with a controversial game-winning steal.

There are some obvious differences, including where the ball was being inbounded, but it's an interesting question to ask: With four fouls, should Graham have be put in the same situation? Will he be next time?

We’ll just have to wait and see.


1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, KSU 56

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 79, TAMU 68

1-3-1 breakdown: Oklahoma 85, KU 80

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67

Reply 1 comment from Alan Walker

1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-TAMU

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) tries to shrug off Texas A&M center Tyler Davis (34) on his way to the bucket during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) tries to shrug off Texas A&M center Tyler Davis (34) on his way to the bucket during the first half, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The 1-3-1 breakdown from KU’s 79-68 win over Texas A&M features a Bill Self-style player making a Bill Self-style play, an analysis of one slumping player and a highlight from one of KU’s most consistent guards. If you have any plays or sequences you’d like to see GIFed please tweet @ChasenScott or comment below.

Previous breakdowns can also be found at the bottom of this story.


Play of the game: He does what he does —

While the Jayhawks played most of Saturday's game comfortably in front of the Aggies, it wasn’t until a play with about 2-and-a-half minutes left that the game felt truly over.

With 2:45 to play and the Jayhawks up 11, Svi Mykhailiuk pulled up for 3 but missed. Udoka Azubuike tapped the rebound away to Marcus Garrett, who reset the possession with a pass out to the top of the key.

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KU coach Bill Self has praised Garrett for his ability to steal extra possessions, a trait that was on display on this play. However, one thing aiding Garrett in crashing the glass was something that has actually hurt the KU offense when he’s been in games this year.

Despite hitting a 3-point shot earlier in the game, Garrett was practically unguarded as he ran from corner to corner. The Aggies had two big men in the game, but 6-10 forward Robert Williams opted to stay in the paint instead of following Garrett to the perimeter, leaving the KU freshman with a free run to the hoop on the offensive glass.

If Williams had kept sight of Garrett, he might have been able to seal him off and haul in the rebound when Azubuike poked the ball away. Williams might have even been able to discourage Garrett from going for the rebound in the first place.

Instead, Garrett ran to the rim, hauled in the board and, rather than going right back up, passed the ball out to Malik Newman. Newman scored to put KU up 13, effectively ending the game in a sequence that certainly factored into Self’s comments after the game.

"Thought he was, other than Svi, the best player in the game," Self said of Garrett, who also finished with nine points on 4-for-4 shooting. "I thought he played great. Best game he's had in a long time."


A trend: Disappearing act —

Few would’ve predicted the recent slump of Lagerald Vick after non-conference play. Vick, who opened his season with a 23-point outburst against Tennessee State, crossed the 20-point threshold five times in non-conference play — and once more in the Big 12 opener — showing impressive growth after a season in which he did so only once.

However, since the Big 12 opener against Texas, Vick has been in a massive slide. Self has had conversations telling his wing he needs to do more, something that hasn’t yet materialized in games.

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Vick, averaging 7.0 points over his last eight games after averaging more than 17 over his first 13, received a pass from Devonte’ Graham around the free throw line.

Like the game against Washington, when Vick was left open over and over by design of the Huskies' zone, he had plenty of room to operate and put up a floater.

No Aggies contested the shot, yet at the last minute, Vick attempted to thread a pass to Silvio De Sousa, who was completely caught off guard by the move.

Watching from the sideline, Self barked over at the junior.

“Hey Lagerald,” he said, “Shoot it.”

The next possession, that's exactly what Vick did.

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This time, Vick received a bounce pass from Mykhailiuk and turned and shot right away.

That aggressiveness was more of what Self wanted to see, but Vick actually had Newman wide open on the right wing. And if he had held the ball just a second more, Graham was sprinting to the right corner, meaning one of either Newman or Graham could’ve gotten off a wide-open 3-pointer.

Still, the one thing Vick did well on the play was that he didn’t hesitate. Self was unhappy that Vick didn’t drive later in the game when he had mismatches against the Aggies' bigs, but there may have been even bigger problems at work.

When Newman was slumping earlier in the season, Self spoke on several occasions about how he was overthinking things on the offensive end, sometimes leading to hesitancy and other times poor decision-making.

It’s tough to watch the following play and see anything other than a player going through something similar.

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With the Aggies not matching up in transition, Newman was able to float a pass to Vick on the wing. Savion Flagg attempted to intercept the ball but missed, leaving Vick wide open for a 3-pointer.

Rather than taking an escape dribble — one dribble to his right to fully clear the defender — and pulling up, Vick used the first bounce as if it were a hesitation dribble, allowing the defense to react and rotate as he took one more step forward.

(Note how Jay Jay Chandler — No. 0 — rotated onto Azubuike, allowing Aggies forward Tyler Davis to rotate out to Vick.)

The swingman ultimately made his own shot more difficult, having to settle for a contested jumper over the long arms of the 6-10 Davis.

KU actually got the rebound on the air ball and scored later on the possession, but that wasn't the point. Instead, Vick was caught in between taking a 3-pointer and driving the rim, almost as if he were thinking about what the right play to make would be vs. simply making the right one.

Vick finished with 10 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 31 minutes.

"I thought he was better," Self said, "but I don't think he put his handprint on the game."


One that stood out: Just like a quarterback —

It’s a pretty simple principle of basketball: If one player is doubled, somebody is open.

It may not be the best option — such as a poor shooter in an uncomfortable area — but sometimes it's exactly the opposite, a nightmare for the defense.

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After gaining control of the ball in the backcourt, Graham dribbled to the top of the arc, where he was almost instantly doubled.

Immediately Vick flashed open, but the 7-foot Azubuike running by Graham actually blocked his sight from that option.

Just like a good quarterback, Graham stayed calm under pressure and went through his progressions. On the replay you can almost see his eyes bounce from Vick to Azubuike out to Mykhailiuk at the 3-point line.

Graham pump faked to Vick to force the defense to commit. He then floated the ball out to Mykhailiuk, who took care of the rest.

“Obviously it wasn't really good in the first half," said Aggies coach Billy Kennedy of the team's 3-point defense. "It just seemed like every bounce, every play, they made it. That's the mark of a really good team."


1-3-1 breakdown: Oklahoma 85, KU 80

1-3-1 breakdown: KU 70, Baylor 67

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1-3-1 breakdown: Three under-the-radar moments from KU-Baylor

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) has a laugh with official John Higgins during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (10) has a laugh with official John Higgins during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Down the stretch of Kansas’ claw-it-out home win over Baylor, it seemed like the then-No. 10 Jayhawks couldn’t get a stop.

Well, they couldn’t.

For a four minute stretch, starting at the seven-minute mark in the second half, the Bears scored on nine — yes, nine — straight possessions, but it wasn’t all bad defense, at least in a traditional sense.

On two of those possessions, the Bears were helped out by offensive rebounds, one of which led to a KU foul and another to a Baylor 3-pointer. So when it came time for the Jayhawks to come up with a stop, they needed not only to force the Bears into a miss, but to close out the possession with the ball.

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Clinging to a one-point lead with less than 10 seconds left, Devonte’ Graham was matched up on Manu Lecomte, who was all-but certain to take the final shot.

In the corner, Lagerald Vick guarded Jake Lindsey, who had attempted only one shot on the day and wasn’t much of a threat. Lecomte drove into the lane, and Udoka Azubuike moved over to help contest the shot.

Vick did his job, executing on the fairly standard defensive rotation to get into position to defend and box out Baylor 7-footer Jo Lual-Acuil. Vick’s positioning wasn’t perfect, but he was able to nudge the big man forward under the hoop enough to prevent the easy putback.

Graham grabbed the board and was fouled. KU held on to get the win.

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So let’s talk about Silvio De Sousa —

KU coach Bill Self has talked plenty about the potential of playing with two big men in the lineup now that Silvio De Sousa is eligible, at least for a few minutes each game.

The first look at what that might entail came against the Bears, though the stretch lasted all of one-minute and 40 seconds.

While it remains to be seen how effective the lineup will be, it was actually pretty solid on a first go-around. Offensively, KU went to a high-low look and got De Sousa involved with an early touch. Baylor was in its zone, though, so there wasn’t much room for him to operate.

(Keep in mind this was Baylor’s hybrid 1-3-1 zone, meaning Self wasn’t putting De Sousa in the middle of it like he would with Vick in a standard 2-3 zone.)

The result wasn't pretty.

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Yet there were some positives.

Early in the game, the Bears aggressively doubled Azubuike in the post. He made a couple nice plays, finding cutters for baskets, but it allowed the Bears to dictate where the ball was going and foul quickly without fear of Azubuike being able to go up and score.

With De Sousa in the game, all the newcomer had to do was walk toward the hoop to keep his defender from leaving. Azubuike had a chance to go one-on-one in the post, though the result was simply a foul and free throws instead of a basket.

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Finally, on defense, there wasn’t much to look at. The Bears only had two offensive possessions with De Sousa and Azubuike in the game, but they struggled to get the ball inside at all on the first and had to settle for a Lindsey 3-point jumper.

Now, watch the second possession.

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There was a little hiccup on the baseline, when Svi Mykhailiuk incorrectly expected Udoka Azubuike to follow a shooter out to the corner, and another when Malik Newman didn't rotate late in the play after De Sousa recovered (note that De Sousa actually points to where Newman needs to go), but ultimately KU did a solid job until the end.

The final part of the play — De Sousa fouls his man trying to grab the rebound — came because the freshman ran in to get the rebound instead of just putting his body into his man, at which point Graham or Newman would’ve come up with an easy board.

But that's a forgivable mistake. And fixable, too.

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No calls in Allen Fieldhouse? —

Opposing fans on Twitter — and coaches, occasionally — seem to have no problem calling out the Big 12 referees.

In non-conference play, there wasn’t much reason to do so with regard to KU. However, recently, the Jayhawks have been getting to the line more — check out the statistic below from Chris Stone — which means the Twitter conspiracists are back.

None by Chris Stone

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OK. So the play above is probably a foul, especially the way it looks in real-time. But if you slow it down, the no-call is a little more understandable.

Azubuike, who comes off his man to contest the shot, takes a step forward and leaps up to try and block the ball. There’s a lot of contact, but it’s actually fairly close to being legal, had Azubuike maintained absolute verticality.

In any event, though, teams should never rely on an official to bail them out. Fran Fraschilla, who called the game for ESPN, previously made the point that all coaches hope for is a fair whistle down the stretch. While there's certainly no disagreement here, a point made by Self after the K-State game is just as valid.

"I would guess over the course of the game (and season)," Self said, "it would pretty much balance out."

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