At times, the United States/Kansas University men's basketball team played sloppy in the World University Games. It wasn't always pretty to watch. That's what a stretch of eight games in 10 days will do to players.
But the Jayhawks dug deep, and earned the first U.S. gold medal at the games in 10 years with an 84-77, double-overtime victory against Germany on Monday at Yeomju Gymnasium.
The big three — Kansas senior forward Perry Ellis and junior guards Wayne Selden Jr. and Frank Mason III — combined for 59 points, scoring 38 of USA's 46 points in the second half and overtimes.
Mason was dominant in the final minutes, scoring 11 points in the last 14 minutes with game-tying free throws in regulation, driving for a game-tying layup in the first overtime and assisting on the go-ahead three-pointer from Selden in the second overtime.
Any time the Jayhawks faced a deficit in the tournament, they fought back with their defense and turned it into points.
KUsports.com's Tom Keegan wrote a great column on the "next play" approach that helped the Jayhawks earn the gold and gain some momentum heading into next season. One key point he made is that if people want to downplay this tournament, they certainly can find reasons to do so.
But the top teams that the Jayhawks played — Turkey, Brazil, Serbia, Lithuania, Russia and Germany — would all be solid mid-major teams at the NCAA level. They couldn't match USA's athleticism, but they had size, strength, maturity and some had played together for years. Regardless of their level, winning eight games in 10 days against any level of teams is an incredible accomplishment. You can't do that by accident or luck, and the Jayhawks certainly deserve recognition for their gold.
Every time the Jayhawks fell into a deficit, they somehow found ways to fight back. It was easy to see they were a tired team. Germany made some clutch shots. But they simply willed themselves to a victory, whether it was through some key steals on defense, a dominant performance on the glass, or clutch baskets in the final minutes. If there's one thing that should carry over from Korea to next season, it's their ability to close out games.
Three reasons to smile
1 – In the final minutes, when the Jayhawks had to score, fearless Frank Mason delivered. Mason scored 11 points in the final 14 minutes. Down five with about three minutes left, he drained a three after missing his first three shots of the fourth quarter. Then he made two game-tying free throws and scored six points in the two overtimes.
“He’s a pretty good player,” Germany's point guard Konstantin Klein said of Mason. “He’s got good ball-handling skills. He can penetrate. He can shoot the ball. He’s the best point guard in the tournament. He did a pretty good job.”
2 – The Jayhawks controlled the glass against the top rebounding team in the tournament. Germany's players prided themselves on dominating the glass, which helped push them toward the top of most defensive statistics, forcing opponents into one shot possessions. But the Jayhawks couldn't be denied on Monday. They won the rebounding battle, 59-46, with 23 offensive boards, which led to 22 second-chance points (25-16 rebounding advantage in overtimes). Ellis had 10, Selden and Mason both had nine, Lucas finished with eight and Moore added six.
It was an offensive rebound by Selden that set up Mason's game-tying free throws in regulation, otherwise Germany would've had the ball with a two-point lead and just 27 seconds left.
3 – The Jayhawks walked away from the World University Games with a gold medal and no long-term injuries. After sophomore guard Devonté Graham went down with a quad injury before the tournament, freshman forward Carlton Bragg broke his nose in the second practice in Korea, and Ellis "tweaked" an ankle, there were questions about the risk vs. reward of playing this hard in July.
But Ellis' ankle is fine (though he did get a black eye in the semifinals). Bragg played without a mask for the last few games and will likely have surgery soon to repair his nose. Graham went on the trip, had fun, and should be ready to go by the fall. All in all, a very successful trip without any harm done for the upcoming season.
Three reasons to sigh
1 – It doesn't take a trained eye to see that the Jayhawks were exhausted and it affected their shooting. For the first time since arriving in Korea, Selden looked human on offense, shooting 6-for-28 from the field and 2-of-11 from deep. Ellis was 6-of-21, Moore went 2-for-10, and Mason finished 6-of-13. The Jayhawks shot 32 percent (27-of-85) and only 22 percent from three (5-of-23).
2 – I know it's a love and hate relationship with the fan base, but the Jayhawks will miss Nic Moore and Julian DeBose's contributions to the team. Moore never shot the ball well in the tournament (he shot 42 percent from deep at SMU last year), but he was a leader from day one with KU players. His relentless hustle was contagious for the Jayhawks and he made some big defensive plays, whether it was rebounds or steals, in crunch time.
DeBose brought energy off of the bench and he played well when paired up with KU freshman Lagerald Vick in the backcourt. I don't think it's easy fitting into a team where you're the only new guys, but they both did just that.
3 – Tom Keegan pointed it out on Twitter, and I couldn't agree more. It's a shame that the NCAA doesn't have international rules for the end of the games. In FIBA games, teams have a limit of two timeouts per team in the final two minutes. It was refreshing to see exciting games finish with flow instead of endless timeouts and reviews at the monitor. I know the 30-second shot clock received the biggest headlines for college basketball this upcoming season, but I was happiest seeing the adjustment on media and team timeouts.
That's a wrap from Korea. After eight games in 10 days, the Jayhawks are off until a Nov. 4 exhibition game against Pittsburg State at Allen Fieldhouse.
Thanks for reading all of our coverage on KUSports.com. If you missed it, Tuesday's Lawrence Journal-World had a front page and special section commemorating the gold-medal run. For those not in our paper's delivery area, call 785-843-1000 to get a copy.
When the United States' men's basketball players traveled to South Korea on June 29, they weren't quite sure what to expect from the competition.
Not many people knew what to expect from the Jayhawks, playing without four players — Devonté Graham, Brannen Greenne, Cheick Diallo and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk — who are expected to play regular minutes this season.
But nearly three weeks later, the Jayhawks have proven themselves on the international stage, defeating Russia, 78-68, on Sunday to advance to the gold-medal game to play Germany.
KU junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. has been the star of the show, and he stepped up with his own personal 5-0 run to give USA a lead in the fourth quarter that it would never give up. He finished with 22 points, continuing his aggression on drives and sharp shooting from the perimeter.
Senior forward Perry Ellis scored a game-high 23 points, fighting back after a slow 1-of-7 start from the field. Junior point guard Frank Mason III added 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. Off the bench, junior forward Landen Lucas had another strong game with seven points, five rebounds and two assists.
After watching their 12-point lead turn into a one-point deficit in the fourth quarter, the Jayhawks turned up their defense — like they have all tournament — and pulled away for a semifinal win. Selden and Ellis carried the offense in the second half with big baskets, while the rest of their teammates stepped in with timely baskets. Once again in this tournament, the Jayhawks just ran past their opponent in the final minutes.
Three reasons to smile
1 – When the Jayhawks needed some offense, Selden and Ellis stepped up. If I took a poll of KU fans on who needs to step up next season for the Jayhawks to make a deep run in the postseason and win another conference title, Ellis and Selden would probably lead the list. They were dominant on Sunday, combining for 45 of the team's 78 points, including some of the biggest baskets in the fourth quarter.
"My teammates found me," Selden said. "It’s so easy to play off Frank because he can go by anybody in the country — anybody in the world. It’s good to do that. I just feed off him. Wherever he goes, that means my man has to help and he’s really the one that gets me in the lane."
2 – For the second straight game, the Jayhawks played air-tight defense down the stretch. It's not like the Jayhawks are practicing all week, preparing for these opponents. They have a small scouting report and they've been executing it to near perfection in the past few games.
In the fourth quarter, Russia made three of its first four shots, jumping to a 62-61 lead. Afterward, Russia was held to 1-of-7 shooting with three turnovers.
"Yeah, just do what we did yesterday," Lucas said of the message when Russia went on a 13-0 run. "And that’s was guard. It starts on the defensive end. The rest will come and I think we did that again today."
3 – With their backs against the wall, the Jayhawks responded with a 17-6 run to win the game in the final minutes. If there was any question about their killer instinct in this tournament, the Jayhawks have stepped up when it matters most. Selden hit a step back three to take the lead, grabbed a defensive rebound and ran down the court for a spinning layup.
Following a Russia turnover, SMU senior guard Nic Moore hit a deep jumper, then Perry Ellis responded to a Russian layup with a bucket of his own.
"I have a lot of confidence in Wayne," Mason said. "He’s showed it all tournament. He’s been the best player here so far. Hopefully he can keep that going tomorrow and get the gold."
Ellis added: "We’ve been in that situation before. Wayne has stepped up. He made shots. It was big."
Three reasons to sigh
1 – It's tough to find negatives in Sunday's win. The Jayhawks didn't play a perfect game, but it was probably their best all-around game of the tournament. But since we need to find something, the Jayhawks are having some problems with foul trouble. Moore and senior forward Hunter Mickelson both had to sit on the bench at various points with fouls.
Fortunately, the bench (Lagerald Vick for Moore, Lucas and Carlton Bragg for Mickelson) stepped up with quality minutes.
"I thought Landen was terrific again," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "I thought Hunter was terrific again. I thought Carlton gave us great minutes. I thought Lagerald gave us great minutes. It was the best game we played, without question."
2 – The Jayhawks had a rough start, trailing by four at the end of the first quarter. It took the Jayhawks a few minutes to adjust to Russia's length and size in the lane. Ellis started 1-of-7 from the field trying to shoot over them and fight for position in the paint. USA shot 5-of-19 in the first quarter (26 percent).
"They were tall," Lucas said. "Then their four-man could shoot all of the time so they definitely were tough."
Mason added: "I think that’s the biggest team we’ve played. They played great together. They had a great point guard, which got everyone involved in the game. He made plays for them. They’re a good team, but we’re just happy we got the win."
3 – The Jayhawks had a bad stretch after taking a 12-point lead, watching Russia go on a 13-0 run over five minutes. In Russia's big run, the Jayhawks missed seven shots and turned the ball over five times.
Of course, Selden stepped up with some clutch plays afterward, but the Jayhawks need to protect big leads better.
The Jayhawks will play Germany in the World University Games gold-medal game at 9 p.m. Monday (7 a.m. CDT) at Yeomju Gymnasium. Germany (6-0) leads the tournament in rebounding with 50.5 boards per game and ranks second in points allowed (53.5).
It's the 17th time the U.S. will play for the gold medal in the World University Games, first time since 2005 when it was led by guys like Randy Foye (Villanova), Shelden Williams (Duke), Gerry McNamara (Syracuse) and Craig Smith (Boston College). The U.S. is 13-3 in gold medal games and owns a 4-0 record against Germany.
In bracket play, Germany beat Canada, 79-73, and Brazil, 59-49.
The game will be broadcast by ESPNU and we will have a live blog, just like any regular season game, right here on KUsports.com.
The United States men's basketball team passed its first test in the medal round, using its defense to roll past Lithuania, 70-48, on Saturday at DongKang College Gymnasium.
The Jayhawks only led by three points entering the fourth quarter, but opened with a 25-2 run, playing suffocating defense and taking advantage with their transition offense.
KU junior point guard Frank Mason III led with 18 points, seven rebounds, four assists and four steals, while junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. added 13 points and five rebounds, and senior forward Perry Ellis chipped in with 11 points and six boards. Off the bench, junior forward Landen Lucas added seven points and nine rebounds.
The Jayhawks played their best defense of the tournament, which is saying something because they've played some good defense. Landen Lucas and Hunter Mickelson did a good job of clogging the paint and preventing Lithuania's guards from driving and kicking for open looks. Then with good rebounding (USA won the glass, 45-36), USA's guards were free to take risks on the perimeter. The reward: 13 steals (six from Nic Moore). The offense was up and down, but Frank Mason and Wayne Selden stepped up with big baskets in the fourth quarter.
Three reasons to smile
1 – The Jayhawks played their best stretch of basketball in the fourth quarter. Before the final 30 seconds of the contest, the Jayhawks held the No. 1 scoring offense to just two points in the fourth quarter. USA went on a 27-2 run stretching back to its last basket in the third quarter, but just suffocated everything out Lithuania's guards and post players.
"We were actually great in the first quarter for the most part, average in the second, awful in the third and then that’s the best quarter that we’ve played in the fourth," Kansas coach Bill Self said.
2 – Kansas junior forward Landen Lucas stepped up in a big way for the Jayhawks. Lucas has been up and down in the tournament, but this was his peak (so far). He affected shots defensively with his size, fought in the post with physicality, and grabbed nine rebounds while scoring seven points. The Jayhawks had trouble stopping Lithuania's guards from driving into the paint until Lucas and few other forwards clogged it up.
“Landen, to me, he played to his strengths today,” Self said. “He’s really a good player when he’s playing to his strengths and playing with energy, and being a good screener, a good rebounder and a ball-mover. Then he’ll score when he does those things.”
3 – KU junior point guard Frank Mason had his best game of the tournament on both sides of the ball. SMU guard senior Nic Moore started the decisive 27-2 run in the second half, but Mason was the catalyst. He had a game-high 18 points (even after hurting his wrist a little bit), grabbed four steals, crashed the glass for seven rebounds and dished four assists.
Mason set his teammates up for easy buckets and even chipped in with seven points in the fourth quarter.
“Frank can get his shoulders past just about everybody," Self said. "When he bails the defense out by not driving it, he’s not near as effective. But tonight he got in there. He doesn’t get in there as much as I want, but the bottom line is the kid is still playing 35 minutes a game. In the course of a regular season, if he’s playing 30 minutes a game, more rested, I think he can really get in there.”
Three reasons to sigh
1 – It's been this way for just about the entire tournament, but the Jayhawks struggled to shoot the ball for most of the game. In the middle two quarters, USA shot 32 percent from the floor (9-of-28). Moore was 3-of-10 and Ellis went 5-of-18 from the field. Of USA's 70 points, 40 were in the paint and 16 were on fast-breaks.
The shooting woes even spread to the free throw line on Saturday, with the Jayhawks shooting 9-of-17 from the charity stripe (including 1-of-6 from Selden).
2 – It didn't hurt as much because Lithuania couldn't hit a shot, but the Jayhawks had problems stopping penetration in the first half. I thought Lithuania certainly had its open looks, but just missed all of them.
“It took a little while for us to figure it out,” Lucas said of Lithuania’s offense. “By the fourth quarter, we had a way to guard ball screens and we kind of just got them out of the rhythm of things. We guarded very well.”
“We weren’t making open shots,” Lithuanian center Egidijus Mockevicius added. “We were setting screens and did everything that we could, but we just weren’t making them. I bet it’s just a bad day or something. You can’t do anything about it.”
3 – The Jayhawks had some problems with turnovers, committing 17 on Saturday. Again, it didn't hurt the Jayhawks in the game, but they have to be better with the basketball against Russia and Germany/Brazil. Fortunately for KU, Lithuania only scored nine points off of those 17 turnovers.
The Jayhawks will face Russia in the World University Games semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Sunday (4:30 a.m. CDT) at DongKang College Gymnasium. Russia is one of the three undefeated teams left in the tournament (along with USA and Germany) and is right behind the U.S. in nearly every category on offense and defense.
The game will be broadcast by ESPNU (props to anyone who wakes up for it) and we will have a live blog, just like any regular season game, right here on KUsports.com.
For the final pool play game of the World University Games, the United States men's basketball team ended on a strong note, dominating Switzerland for a 96-57 victory at DongKang College Gymnasium.
In terms of seeding and advancing into the medal rounds, there was nothing on the line for the Jayhawks. This one was all about pride, and the Jayhawks proved this tournament meant a lot to them, putting on a show in at the end of the first half, then turning the game into a dunk contest in the third quarter.
Kansas University junior guard Wayne Selden Jr, who has already done so much for the Jayhawks in this tournament, had four dunks in the wild third quarter.
Florida Gulf Coast senior guard Julian DeBose led the squad with a team-high 18 points, while Selden added 16, and senior forward Perry Ellis and freshman guard Lagerald Vick both had 11 points.
The Jayhawks pulled away with an 18-0 run at the beginning of the third quarter, shooting 59 percent from the floor in the rout.
The Jayhawks did what they needed to do — and then some. After a close game against Serbia, they found an early rhythm on offense and were tough to stop, shooting 59 percent from the floor and 59 percent from the three-point line. It was a good tune-up for the medal rounds, and the Jayhawks had every player get involved.
Three reasons to smile
1 – In the blowout, nobody played more than 20 minutes. Kansas coach Bill Self said his team played really tired against Serbia on Wednesday. The Jayhawks received evenly-spread minutes in Thursday's win followed by an off day on Friday to prepare for today's quarterfinals matchup against Lithuania.
Selden played the most at 20:11, then the next starter was SMU senior guard Nic Moore with 16:24.
2 – In the medal rounds, the Jayhawks are going to need big contributions off of the bench and Julian DeBose and Lagerald Vick proved they can do that. DeBose couldn't miss, scoring 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including three buzzer-beaters. Vick has made great strides in this tournament and had 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting with seven rebounds.
The more those two guards off of the bench can help Selden, Moore and KU junior guard Frank Mason III, it bodes well for the Jayhawks.
"Lagerald can be an elite player," Self said. "The thing about our team right now, now you add Nic Moore, which he’s obviously a good player. But we don’t three really, really good perimeter players with us. I mean really good — Devonté (Graham), Svi (Mykhailiuk) and Brannen (Greene). It could be fun. It could be fun on the perimeter.
"We need a big guy to step up. Cheick (Diallo) is not here obviously and Dwight (Coleby) is not here but Dwight has to sit out next year. But we need to get our big guys to continue to progress. Hunter (Mickelson) has shown unbelievable signs of doing that. I’m excited about it.
"I think Lagerald has a chance. Now there’s no guarantees, but if he can get to where he can play to his athletic ability and be able to react instead of think, which right now, he’s thinking way too much, I think he could be a terrific player."
3 – After shooting the ball so poorly against Serbia at times, the Jayhawks couldn't miss on Thursday. In the first three quarters, USA shot 36-for-54 (67 percent... not a typo). Obviously, Switzerland wasn't a top team in the pool, but with the tight rims, it's always a good sign when the Jayhawks can shoot that well.
“It’s a lot easier to play when you make shots," Self said. "We shot it so bad yesterday. Today the guys were relaxed and it seemed like they made just about everything they threw up there.”
Three reasons to sigh
1 – It's hard to find a lot of negatives in a 39-point win, but KU junior forward Landen Lucas has looked out of sync for the last two games. After picking up a start against Serbia, Lucas didn't play in the second half of that game, then he was one of the two scoreless players (along with Evan Manning) on Thursday. Lucas was 0-for-2 from the floor in 13 minutes with two rebounds, an assist and a block. Remember against Chile — three games ago — Lucas was strong with nine points and eight rebounds.
2 – USA had a big lead in the first quarter, but had a bad stretch helping Switzerland get back into the game. Obviously the bad stretch didn't have an impact on the game, but the Jayhawks led 23-8 with 3:14 left in the first quarter, then Switzerland cut the margin to 29-24 with 7:43 remaining in the second quarter.
“Of course, coach got us on a little bit," DeBose said. "When we get in the game we can’t let the team fall out, we have to pick the team up. I did my best. Next time I got in, I changed that.”
3 – I'm nitpicking, but the Jayhawks didn't play great defense in the first half. With the Jayhawks' offense rolling, they had a chance to set up their defense on the other end. But there were a few stretches where they couldn't get multiple stops in a row. In the second half, when the Jayhawks turned up the pressure, they had 12 turnovers and forced Switzerland into poor shots.
"We didn’t guard anybody early on," Self said. "Guys were just kind of out there trading baskets. If we’re going to have a chance to advance from this point forward, you can’t trade baskets."
The Jayhawks will play Lithuania in the World University Games quarterfinals at noon today (10 p.m. Friday CDT) at DongKang College Gymnasium. Lithuania is the No. 1 scoring offense in the tournament, and the Jayhawks are statistically No. 2, so it should be a high-flying matchup between two teams that can really score the ball.
The game will be broadcast by ESPNU and we will have a live blog, just like any regular season game, right here on KUsports.com.
Gwangju, South Korea — More than 6,000 miles away from Lawrence, across the Pacific Ocean, Kansas University men’s basketball players have been supported by a number of fans who do the Rock Chalk chant at the end of games or chant “U-S-A” during the games.
Drew Mountain, 30, was one of those fans Wednesday in USA’s 66-65 victory against Serbia.
Mountain graduated from KU in 2008 and now teaches English as a foreign language to freshmen at Dong-a University in Busan, Korea.
Despite the 14-hour time difference from Korea to Lawrence, Mountain tries to watch as many games as he can through Slingbox, a TV streaming device.
“Not most (games) live, but when I can,” Mountain said. “Sometimes I’ve been known to have the game minimized in my podium while I’m lecturing. Kind of a surprise to students. But you do what you can. You have to keep up.”
Mountain lives nearly 200 miles away from Gwangju, where the Jayhawks played Wednesday, but he couldn’t turn down the trip to see his favorite college basketball team.
“I think family back home told me maybe sometime in the spring, April or May, and queued me up,” Mountain said. “Then I realized the tickets were only $8,000 (South Korean) Won, which is about $8 (in the) U.S. So it was a no-brainer. I got a day off. I figured I’d come see them play Serbia.”
The opportunity to see the Jayhawks on foreign soil was too good to pass up for John Keenan and Olivia Williamson — even if that meant changing travel schedules.
Keenan, a 2011 grad from KU who lives in Overland Park, has family in Seoul and rearranged his trip this summer with his girlfriend to coincide with some of the Jayhawks’ games.
“I was super excited,” Keenan said about finding out about KU’s trip to South Korea. “I started bragging to all of my friends about it. I told all of my friends 100 times. They’re all pretty jealous to be honest. I’ve been SnapChatting them every day, just showing them like where we are.
“We were really excited. Words can’t really describe how excited we were when we found out they were playing here.”
Keenan and Williamson took the bullet train from Seoul at 6:30 a.m. to watch the Jayhawks play on Tuesday afternoon, then stayed in Gwangju for a night to watch Wednesday’s game.
“I think it’s pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Keenan, a Shawnee Mission West grad. “I feel like it’s a pretty personal look at the game. Every time you go to a KU game, whether it be Sprint Center or Allen Fieldhouse, you’re kind of far back.
“(Tuesday) we were at Muan Indoor (Gymnasium). I think it’s a very personal experience. It’s cool to watch it with all of the Korean people. They seem pretty supportive of each team.”
With only 1,800 seats at Muan Indoor and less than 3,000 at DongKang College Gymnasium, fans can hear coaches yelling and players talking on the bench.
“We were talking about that gym (Tuesday), it was like the size of my high school gym,” said Williamson, from Osage City, who has three years left in KU’s school of nursing doctorate program. “It was crazy. It was like a personal KU basketball game. It was real cool.
“(Kansas coach) Bill (Self) acknowledged me yesterday, and I about had a heart attack. I’ve been bragging to everyone. We were right on the front row yesterday, and they were all just sitting right below there, and Bill obviously saw us with our KU shirts on. That was really cool.”
Sitting in the stands an hour before the game against Serbia with a chance to watch the Jayhawks in person, Mountain had a smile across his face.
“Just incredibly psyched,” Mountain said. “Proud day to be a Jayhawk in South Korea, for sure.”
In a game that had more twists and turns than a Stephen King novel, the United States men's basketball team outlasted Serbia in a 66-65 thriller on Tuesday at DongKang College Gymnasium.
The game featured 12 lead changes and 14 ties, but the Jayhawks finished as the last unbeaten team in Pool D, punching their ticket to the World University Games quarterfinals.
Kansas University junior guard Wayne Selden provided the heroics, swishing a game-tying three-pointer and sinking the game-winning free throw in the final minute. He scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in the final quarter.
Kansas senior forward Hunter Mickelson was Selden's sidekick in the fourth quarter, scoring six points and assisting on Selden's game-tying shot.
The Jayhawks didn't play their best, but they received their toughest test against Serbia. In the last six minutes, they battled back from a seven-point deficit, lost a five-point lead, and still found a way to win.
Mickelson had 14 points and seven rebounds, KU point guard Frank Mason III finished with 12 points, six rebounds and four assists, and senior forward Perry Ellis added seven points and nine rebounds.
In a battle of the last two unbeaten teams in Pool D, the Jayhawks were the last ones standing. The offense has been up and down, and it was no different on Wednesday. Against Serbia's zone, USA struggled to find ways to score. But in the fourth quarter, the Jayhawks made enough plays to find a way to win. On the other side of the court, it's impressive to see how well the Jayhawks are defending the ball. For nearly the entire tournament, the Jayhawks have defended at an extremely high level.
Three reasons to smile
1 – KU junior Wayne Selden Jr. is in full takeover mode. Selden put together a nice string of games in February last year, but this is another level. He's attacking the rim with force. He's shooting the ball well. He's playing strong defense on the perimeter. And he's doing it all when he's logging 38 minutes a game.
He's the leading scorer in the World University Games, and it's not really that close. He's shooting 67 percent inside of the 3-point line (21-of-31). The only thing he hasn't done is draw up a few plays.
If he can carry this momentum into next season, look out.
"Wayne’s probably had the best tournament here of anybody playing in the tournament so far," Kansas coach Bill Self said after Selden had 21 points and seven rebounds vs. Serbia. "He stepped up and made a huge shot. After we had the game and gave it away, then he came back and won it for us.”
2 – Mickelson has proven he can handle more minutes, and could be a candidate to pick up minutes at the five this winter. Going up against some big and physical Serbian forwards, Mickelson shined in crunch time. He led all of the USA forwards in minutes, scoring 14 points with seven boards. During this tournament, he's just played to his strengths. He goes after rebounds hard. He affects shots on the defensive end, and he runs well after setting high ball screens.
"At this point in time, even though it’s early, you can certainly see that you can have confidence to play him at the five this year," Self said.
3 – The Jayhawks were in a tough pool, and are still undefeated. Turkey, Brazil and Serbia aren't pushovers. At times, all three of those teams looked better than the Jayhawks. But the Jayhawks kept finding ways to win. This tournament means something to the players. They fought for a gritty victory against Serbia. They even felt a little disrespected before the contest.
“There was chatter that we had no chance,” Selden said. “We were baffled because we’re 3-0, just like them. We really wanted to go out and compete against these guys. That’s a really tough team. They’re grown men. We’re still getting there, you know. We’re still trying to get to their level of maturity. We really got stops down the stretch and made big buckets down the stretch.
"I think we have a chip on our shoulder in every game that we play in now because USA hasn’t done well in these in the past. We really want to do well."
Three reasons to sigh
1 – The Jayhawks struggled mightily against Serbia's zone defense. For the middle two quarters, there was nothing USA could do right against Serbia's zone. The Jayhawks shot a combined 10-for-37 from the field (27 percent). USA's forwards (Perry Ellis, 2-for-11; Landen Lucas, 0-for-3; Jamari Traylor, 1-for-3; Carlton Bragg, 1-for-3) had trouble creating space, and the guards just couldn't get shots to drop.
"It was just kind of a mixture of things," Mickelson said of the zone. "They changed things up. They had different guys, you know. We did pretty good going off there at the beginning. We had a couple of guys get to the high post, drop to the low post and get some baskets. Our up top screens are really good because it allowed our guards to get down there and dish down low. They were changing things up but like we had guys screening up top and moving the ball. I think that really helped."
2 – There were a lot of off nights for the Jayhawks. Self said it was the most tired he's seen his team on this trip. It certainly played out that way for more than a few guys. SMU senior guard Nic Moore missed his first nine shots, Ellis was 2-for-11 from the floor and Mason scored 12 points, but wasn't as effective as he usually is.
3 – The Jayhawks failed to close the game out and lost a five-point lead in the final minutes. If Selden didn't provide Wednesday's heroics, the storyline would be how the Jayhawks struggled down the stretch. Serbia scored on four straight possessions to tie the score in the last two minutes and take a three-point lead. Meanwhile the Jayhawks missed two shots and gave up a couple of offensive rebounds.
The Jayhawks will play Switzerland in their final pool play game at 10 a.m. Thursday (8 p.m. Wednesday CDT) at DongKang College Gymnasium. USA has already secured top seed in Pool D, while Switzerland earned its first win of the tournament with a 57-48 victory over Chile on Wednesday.
The game will be broadcast by ESPNU and we will have a live blog, just like any regular season game, right here on KUsports.com.
From the opening tip, the United States men's basketball team dominated in a 106-41 victory against Chile on Tuesday at Muan Indoor Court. The Jayhawks made their first five shots, and SMU senior guard Nic Moore sparked the squad with four three-pointers in the first half, finishing with 15 points.
The Jayhawks were just the faster and stronger team against Chile. They won the rebounding battle, 52-28, and forced 23 turnovers. KU junior guard Frank Mason III, who had big stretches of points at the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third, scored a game-high 23 points while junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. added 18 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
It was one of those games where the Jayhawks were in control midway through the second quarter, but they never let up, keeping their focus and intensity.
KU senior forward Hunter Mickelson had 16 points and five rebounds, junior forward Landen Lucas had a game-high 14 rebounds and six points, senior forward Perry Ellis finished with nine points and eight boards and freshman forward Carlton Bragg had seven rebounds and two points after earning his first start of the tournament.
The Jayhawks did just about everything they wanted, scoring 58 points in the paint with 31 second-chance points. They had to run up the score to gain an edge in the tiebreaker system, in case of a three-way tie in the standings.
Off the bench, KU freshman guard Lagerald Vick had six points and Florida Gulf Coast senior guard Julian DeBose added seven points and three boards.
Against the weakest team they've faced in the World University Games, the Jayhawks looked sharp and focused in the rout. They shot the ball well, rebounded well, executed a run-and-jump defense in the second half to speed the game up a bit. It was one of those fights that should have been called in the first or second round, but they were forced to go all 12.
Three reasons to smile
1 – For the first time since the Jayhawks arrived in Korea, they shot the ball really well. USA shot 53 percent in the win (42-of-79), including 39 percent from deep (12-of-31). The big key was Mason and Moore drilling shots. They haven't shot the ball well (Moore was in deep foul trouble against Brazil and Mason has a sore wrist), but they combined for 38 points on 13-of-22 shooting. Selden was 6-of-7 from the floor, including 3-of-3 from three.
Chile went to a 2-3 zone early in the game and the Jayhawks just shot their way around it with solid ball movement from side-to-side.
"Yeah, just moving it, getting the ball from side to side," Moore said. "Everyone contributing. It’s fun to blow out a team like that. It shows that we can do it but we still have got work to do."
2 – Moore and Lucas had strong bounce back games. Lucas only played three minutes against Brazil and Moore was in foul trouble throughout, going scoreless with five turnovers in 10 minutes. Both of them returned to the court with some fire. Lucas cleaned up the glass with seven offensive and seven defensive rebounds. Moore shot lights out, grabbed two steals and had just one turnover in 25 minutes.
But for Moore, there was no extra motivation to play better.
"Man, I just wanted a ‘W,’" Moore said. "It doesn’t matter. If I would have fouled out and had zero points again, I’m still happy at the end of the day."
3 – Helped by the score getting out of hand, minutes were distributed more evenly, giving some of the starters a rest. Selden played the most at 27 minutes but that's a big step down from when he only sat eight seconds in the victory over Brazil. Mason and Moore played a little more than 25 minutes, Ellis played 21 and everyone else was under 20, helping keep their legs fresh after an off day and two games in two days coming up.
"It gives us some resting time and it definitely gets the younger guys in there to see how it really is and just everybody out there to be able to play a lot of minutes and have fun," Moore said. "Now we can laugh on the bus and just everybody being in good spirit."
Mason added: "That helped out a lot. That gave other guys a chance to get in, get some experience on the court and run up and down, and make a couple of plays. I’m happy for them."
Three reasons to sigh
1 – Of course, we're going to have to nitpick from a 65-point win, but the Jayhawks probably need a bigger contribution from KU senior forward Jamari Traylor. Not that it was going to affect the outcome, but Traylor was held to two points and two rebounds with four turnovers in 14 minutes. He's had some great practices and provided a nice boost off of the bench in Sunday's win over Brazil, but just couldn't find his rhythm against Chile.
2 – The Jayhawks scored 58 points in the paint but only made 15 trips to the free throw line (I told you we were going to have to nitpick!). One of the main reasons the Jayhawks didn't get to the line more is because the forwards didn't get many catches in the post. It was mostly guards driving and kicking, or just simply driving to the rim. USA's forwards had some nice hi-low ball movement, but they didn't really get a chance to get too involved.
"We didn’t really throw it inside," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "That’s the thing. We struggled with it last year. We’re struggling with it right now. A lot of it’s our guards. Our guards being able to throw the ball to big guys and our big guys deliver. I think we’ll get better at it but that’s something that we’ve still got to do a better job.
"Like Perry scored nine points today. He didn’t play as many minutes because he’s got a sore foot but he scored nine points and I think if we threw him the ball more he could’ve had 15 so easily. So we’ve got to do a better job with that."
3 – Chile was the weakest team the Jayhawks have played in the tournament, but now they have to turn around in less than 24 hours and face undefeated Serbia. Maybe it's a good thing to get extra rest and get every player involved before a big game. But it's going to be a drastically different game with Serbia's physicality and veteran savvy. How will the Jayhawks adjust?
"We’ve heard that they are a good test so we’ve got a real one tomorrow," Moore said. "Always excited to get out there and play against good teams. We’ll see how it is tomorrow so hopefully we come ready to play."
In a battle of the last two Pool D unbeaten teams, the Jayhawks will face Serbia at noon today (10 p.m. Tuesday CDT) at DongKang College Gymnasium. KUSports.com's Benton Smith did a great breakdown of the Serbian team and how it matches up against USA statistically.
So far at the World University Games — and in the three exhibitions that preceded it — Team USA/Kansas has remained unscathed against its international competition.
Bill Self’s Jayhawks, SMU’s Nic Moore and Florida Gulf Coast’s Julian DeBose pulled away late in two Kansas City warmups against Canada, ran away with a scrimmage against China and improved to 3-0 in pool play by blowing out Chile while most of us slept last night in the U.S.
So far, so good, for sure. But tonight (Wednesday in Gwangju, South Korea) the KU/USA contingent faces its most difficult opponent yet: Serbia.
The U.S. and Serbia — both 3-0 — are the only two unbeaten teams in Group D.
Serbia beat Switzerland, 58-41; toppled Chile, 69-43; and handled Turkey, 61-43.
Clearly, Serbia and the U.S. are winning with different styles of basketball. The Serbs have stifled opponents, keeping all three to point totals in the low 40’s, while Team USA’s scoring has gone up in each World University Games contest. There’s no way that trend will continue against Serbia. But a grind-it-out, defensive game never made Self sweat, either.
As KU’s coach told our Bobby Nightengale Jr. after the Chile rout:
“Tomorrow will be a big-boy game, without question. Serbia is one of the best teams here.”
With that in mind, here’s a look at how USA and Serbia compare statistically at the World University Games, entering this matchup, which could end up determining the winner of Group D — you can watch the pool-play showdown live on ESPNU at 10 p.m. tonight, and follow along at our live blog.
FIELD GOAL %: USA, 93/204 (45.6%); Serbia, 68/182 (37.4%)
2-POINT FGs: USA, 70/136 (51.5%); Serbia, 50/117 (42.7%)
OPPONENT FG%: USA, 60/177 (33.9%); Serbia, 44/165 (26.7%)
- Serbia is the only team in the field holding opponents below 30%.
3-POINTERS: USA, 23/68 (33.8%); Serbia, 18/65 (27.7%)
OPPONENT 3-POINT %: USA, 19/74 (25.7%); Serbia, 6/62 (9.7%)
- As you probably already guessed, no one at the World University Games has defended the 3-point arc like the Serbs.
FREE THROWS: USA, 44/61 (72.1%); Serbia, 34/56 (60.7%)
POINTS PER GAME: USA, 84.3; Serbia, 62.7
POINTS ALLOWED PER GAME: USA, 56.7; Serbia, 42.3
- Serbia leads the entire field in points allowed; the U.S. ranks fourth.
REBOUNDS PER GAME: USA, 46.3; Serbia, 47.7
- The U.S. and Serbia rank third and second, respectively, in the field, with Germany leading the way at 53.0.
OFFENSIVE REBOUNDS PER GAME: USA, 15.3; Serbia, 16.0
ASSISTS PER GAME: USA, 11.0; Serbia, 10.7
TURNOVERS PER GAME: USA, 16.7; Serbia, 15.7
STEALS PER GAME: USA, 13.3; Serbia, 10.7
BLOCKS PER GAME: USA, 1.7; Serbia, 1.7
FOULS PER GAME: USA, 17.7; Serbia, 20.7
Serbia’s outstanding defensive numbers might be a bit skewed due to two of its games coming against Switzerland and Chile, both winless, but defense is easier to maintain from game to game than hot shooting.
The Serbs have a few individuals who have stood out so far — and for comparison’s sake, we’ll include the numbers of some USA players with each case.
Aleksandar Marelja leads the team in scoring, with 14.0 points per game, which ranks seventh overall at the World University Games.
- Team USA’s Wayne Selden Jr. leads all players in scoring (20.0), and Frank Mason III is second (16.7).
A 6-foot-9 forward, Marelja also leads the Serbs with 7.7 rebounds per game (seventh among all players), and has shot 57.1% from the field (eighth).
For the U.S., Perry Ellis averages a team-best 7.3 rebounds (tied for ninth).
Selden has made 22 of 37 shots (59.5%, sixth).
However, Marelja has been a non-factor from 3-point distance, where teammate Dusan Kutlesic has shot 4-for-7 (57.1%).
- The U.S. doesn’t have a player in the top 10 in 3-point percentage, but Selden has made eight, and Moore is right behind him, with seven.
Stefan Pot leads the low-key Serbia offense in assists, at 3.3 (tied for ninth).
- Mason’s 4.0 assists lead Team USA.
Pot also has drawn 6.3 fouls per game (third), a category in which his teammate Milan Milovanovic also ranks high (4.3, tied for eighth).
- Mason leads all players, with 8.3 fouls drawn a game.
The most active perimeter player for the Serbs, Pot averages a team-best 2.7 steals (tied for sixth).
- No one from the U.S. ranks in the top 10.
Big man Milovanovic has had issues with taking care of the ball, giving it away 3.7 times a game (tied for fifth-worst mark).
- The USA has avoided this dubious top 10.
Sports reporter Bobby Nightengale and I don't have a lot of free time to experience Gwangju and Korea beyond our daily Team USA basketball coverage. It's unfortunate, because as we ride our shuttle buses between sites, I'm spotting so many photo opportunities and places I'd love to check out. Beautiful, small gardens are squeezed into the tiniest city plots, trees are well tended and trimmed, everything seems very clean and this place is the epitome of high tech. They are well wired but also very energy conscious. When I first opened the door to my hotel room, I couldn't figure out how to turn on the lights. No amount of pushing buttons would help. I finally figured out that slipping the room card into a wall slot turned on the room power. This means that when you leave your room, no matter what lights or devices you have on, as soon as you pull your key card, everything shuts down. It's a great system, but it makes it hard to charge camera batteries when I'm not in the room.
Our first day at the Convention Center, where the Main Press workroom is located, we noticed the escalators were not working, so we took an elevator. Later we watched someone approach the non-moving escalator and as they stepped onto it the stairs starting moving. Brilliant. Except you do need to pay attention that you are approaching the correct up or down escalator. I was about thrown backwards trying to go up a down flight. Guess I couldn't translate the arrow logo with a slash through.
Even our buses have the latest tech gear. On our ride to Muan today, a 40-minute ride to the basketball arena, the wide-screen TV was showing a local Korean TV show. There were only 3 of us on the bus, but a Korean gentleman and I were enjoying the show. Unfortunately, he was also the driver so I decided I better put on my seatbelt.
Speaking of buses, we had a difficult time locating our media shuttle bus after the opening ceremonies. Thousands of people streamed out of the stadium and headed for buses. Since we couldn't spot the media bus we were pointed to a bus that would take us to the city bus terminal and from there we could catch a taxi to our hotel. We got in line and as I squeezed into the bus stairwell a Korean woman snuck between Bobby and I. We were already overpacked. I had just witnessed and photographed another packed bus where police yelled at the driver and for passengers to get off because it was overcrowded. I was worried that would now happen to me. Our bus driver tapped my shoulder and pointed out the door. I pointed to Bobby, who was ahead of me and said. "I'm with him," hoping that what I said sounded like "No way I'm getting off this bus," in Korean. I managed to keep my camera bags around my shoulder and push forward. The driver closed the door and we were off.
I may have mentioned this already, but it's worth repeating. Everyone here is so kind and helpful and they speak English, as much as is possible, to communicate with us. I can't reciprocate speaking Korean so I bow often, smile a lot and thank everyone profusely. We were informed that you bow to approximately 35 to 45-degree in Korea and a 90-degree bow in Japan. It's now become a routine and I'm afraid I over do it. But I've also noticed a similar action by Koreans offering a gesture of respect toward us. It's the two-fingered peace sign and a big smile.
It only gets slightly annoying when I'm trying to take a natural, unposed photograph. I really hope my bowing technique isn't just as annoying.
Bobby and I got an hour of free time recently and we went in the golf driving range just down the street. It's basically a city block of green artificial turf with giant nets maybe 100 feet or more high on all sides. You can see these driving ranges from miles away in several locations throughout this city of 3 million. The clubhouse has two levels to tee from with maybe 50 tees on each level. You pay approximately $8 for 40 minutes - all the balls you can hit. After hitting, a new ball is delivered from below ground. Neither of us really golf, but it seemed like a quick way to experience this unique cityscape and apparently very popular Korean activity. All 100 tee spots seemed full.
That's all I've got for now. Here's a photo of Wayne Selden Jr. from today's 106-41 Team USA win over Chile.
For the second straight game, the United States men's basketball team played strong defense. KU junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. provided the offense in an 81-72 victory over Brazil at DongKang College Gymnasium.
Selden sparked the Jayhawks in the second quarter, scoring eight points in a 14-0 run that gave USA a lead it would never give up. He finished with a team-high 23 points.
In the second half, Selden received some help offensively from junior point guard Frank Mason III (15 points, eight rebounds, seven assists), senior forwards Hunter Mickelson (11 poitns, eight rebounds) and Jamari Traylor (10 points), and freshman guard Lagerald Vick (eight points, six rebounds).
Kansas senior forward Perry Ellis added nine points and eight rebounds, but sat for most of the second half with a "tweaked ankle." Florida Gulf Coast senior guard Julian DeBose had three points and KU freshman forward Carlton Bragg had two points.
Wayne Selden Jr. gave the offense a lift with some dynamic plays in the second quarter, and the USA defense did the rest. For about six straight quarters now, the Jayhawks have played some stellar defense against two good opponents. They're making it tough on opposing guards to drive and kick, and they're rebounding well to limit teams to one shot per possession. For the most part the offense has been boom-or-bust, but Selden carried the Jayhawks through some struggles on Sunday.
Three reasons to smile
1 – Against a big and physical Brazilian front court, the Jayhawks cleaned up on the glass. Brazil out-rebounded Chile by 34, and the Jayhawks responded by out-rebounding Brazil, 50-27. USA grabbed 16 offensive boards, including a combined nine from Ellis and Mickelson. With how strong the Jayhawks have been playing defense, it's huge they can hold teams to just one shot on each possession.
2 – When the Jayhawks needed a guard down the stretch, freshman Lagerald Vick stepped up big. Vick is a great athlete but he's still pretty raw. Of course, that's the way most freshmen are. Instead of going through individual workouts, Vick was called upon in the fourth quarter when SMU senior Nic Moore fouled out, and he drilled two big shots to lift the Jayhawks.
“Everyone was there when they were freshmen," Selden said. "They really didn’t know what to do. They didn’t really know their way. This game was a real good foot in the door for him.”
Mickelson added: "We’re trying to advance and get points up and just be better. Having guys like that step in that young and do great things like that, hopefully that’ll carry over to the future."
3 – Selden has played out of this world in the first two games. He looks like a new and improved version of himself. Kansas coach Bill Self said he looks more bouncy and healthier. He certainly looks more aggressive and when his shot is falling like it was on Sunday, he proved how dangerous he can be. He had 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals, five fouls drawn and four turnovers in 39 minutes and 52 seconds on the court.
"So far he’s been having a great tournament," Mickelson said. "He’s kind of in that rhythm. We definitely need him to stay with it. He definitely helped us out because some other guys might not be going and you can kind of give it to him and he can get his own thing going and kind of work with the team after that. It was great having that."
Three reasons to sigh
1 – The Jayhawks have struggled to get off to good starts, and it was no different on Sunday. They had no rhythm in the first quarter, going 3-of-11 from the field with nine turnovers in 10 minutes. They played well on defense, and only trailed by one at the end of the first quarter, but in the two games, they've combined for 23 points on 8-of-25 shooting with 14 turnovers in 20 minutes of first-quarter action.
"We just have to play through them," Selden said. "You’re going to do that sometimes, you know. We were careless with the ball at times. But we really stepped up our defense so we got some of those possessions back."
2 – Foul trouble forced big minutes from Selden and Mason. When Moore picked up his third foul in the second quarter, the Jayhawks were forced to keep Mason and Selden on the court to play alongside Vick or DeBose. With a thin backcourt, Moore's fourth foul in the third quarter was costly, as well as his fifth foul (and second technical) in the fourth quarter. Selden sat for eight seconds and Mason played 38 minutes. Both are far from ideal for the Jayhawks.
3 – A lot of it can be blamed because of the bad start, but the Jayhawks finished with 22 turnovers. The Jayhawks were a little loose with the ball in the second half (six turnovers in the third quarter and five turnovers in the fourth). They were working with a lead for the entire second half, and they never seemed in jeopardy of losing it, but they will struggle against top teams if they can't hold onto the ball.
The Jayhawks will travel to Muan Indoor Court for the first time to play Chile at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday (12:30 a.m. CDT). Chile (0-2) is in last place in Pool D, losing by 45 points to Brazil and 26 points to Serbia. Chile is led by 6-foot guard Diego Silva, who has averaged a team-best 17 points per game. Chile struggles on the glass, getting outrebounded, 56-27, by Serbia. Against Brazil, Chile was outrebounded, 54-20.
The game will not be broadcasted because it's at a different gym, but we will have a live blog, just like any regular season game, right here on KUsports.com.