In what will undoubtedly go down as one of the strangest stat lines of the season, Kansas senior Svi Mykhailiuk, a 21-time double-digit scorer this season, played 36 minutes against TCU earlier this week and only attempted two field goals.
One missed 3-pointer less than 5 minutes into the game. One missed layup before the midway mark of the first half. And not one more shot the rest of the way for a skilled 6-foot-8 scorer who, even after a 1-point performance, is averaging 16.4 points a game.
Sure, Mykhailiuk had experienced off shooting nights this season for the Jayhawks. He only hit 3 of 12 shots and scored 8 points in a loss to Washington. He was a 3-for-10 shooter on his way to 7 points in a home win against Baylor. But two field goal attempts? From a player that so often has played confidently while both draining 3-pointers and driving to the paint?
Maybe KU coach Bill Self got a better sense of what happened after reviewing the game footage, because he didn’t really know what to make of it immediately after the Jayhawks’ 71-64 victory Tuesday night.
“You know what, not really,” Self said Thursday afternoon. “Watching the tape, I don't know that he felt great. He did not look visibly himself. I don't know if anybody else noticed that. There was something. I’m not saying sick-sick. He just didn't seem quite energetic or talkative or himself. When other teams take you away like TCU did, then you’ve got to be able to work through that and adjust.”
Unlike so many previous KU opponents, TCU’s defenders didn’t experience numerous mental lapses and leave a 46.3-percent 3-point shooter open on the perimeter. Mykhailiuk surely would have fired away as usual if the Frogs had been so careless — even if he was a tad under the weather, an excuse Self said Mykhailiuk didn’t even consider admitting.
Defensively, TCU didn’t help much off of Mykhailiuk. In some instances coach Jamie Dixon called for his Frogs to focus so intently on KU’s typical high-volume shooter that the senior from Ukraine would find a man covering him immediately on the catch, sometimes with a second defender shading that way, too (as examined further in Scott Chasen’s 1-3-1 breakdown from the game).
Self credited TCU with making some “subtle” and “clever” adjustments to its perimeter defense to put Mykhailiuk through a more difficult night than most foes.
Mykhailiuk is averaging 13.3 shot attempts per game as a senior. His previous season-low for one outing was nine — twice, in 26 minutes versus Texas Southern, and in 38 minutes against Syracuse.
Even as a junior Mykhailiuk regularly took far more shots. Only once, amid a late-season slump, did he get off fewer than four attempts, when he went 1-for-2 at Oklahoma State while playing just 12 minutes.
From a production standpoint, Mykhailiuk relapsed back to his days as an underclassmen for one night. The lack of chances to get involved and contribute at times visibly frustrated the habitually buttoned-up guard.
But don’t count on this becoming any type of trend. Now 20 years old and far more confident than ever as a senior, Mykhailiuk is equipped to learn from the type of defense with which TCU challenged him, even if future Kansas opponents try and use it as a blueprint.
Now Self, his assistants, Mykhailiuk and his teammates all have seen an opponent take away one of the Jayhawks’ best offensive weapons. They will be able to learn from what went wrong and adjust if/when they run into a similar scheme.
Self, after re-watching the game, pointed out one very simple way Mykhailiuk and his teammates were held back in the quest to get the usually stable scorer at least a few more open looks.
“Think about this. How many shots do our perimeter get off of ball screens where help is forced? Half? Well, we didn't force help off ball screens, because of the way they pre-switched it and did some things,” Self said, while crediting TCU for its strategy.
Whether it was perfect defense, his teammates not actively setting him up, the effects of illness or a cocktail of all three, count on the 0-for-2 line going down as an aberration for Mykhailiuk. KU wouldn’t be 19-5 overall and 7-3 in the Big 12 if it weren’t for the guidance he and fellow senior Devonte’ Graham have brought to the team.
Averaging 15.7 points in league games, Mykhailiuk is the Big 12’s 10th-leading scorer. Against conference competition, only Oklahoma super-freshman Trae Young (4.4 3-pointers a game) does more damage from outside than KU’s fourth-year shooter from Cherkasy, Ukraine (3.5 3-pointers a game). He shoots. He attacks bad closeouts. He sets up his teammates (2.9 assists per game on the year, 3.1 in conference).
And unlike in past seasons, senior Svi is too driven to become bogged down by one subpar performance.
“I think Svi’s been absolutely terrific,” Self said. “He's had an unbelievable senior year. He's been aggressive. But for whatever reasons, (the Horned Frogs) were able to take him away. And I don't know if it was as much us or a combination of us and maybe him just not having that extra oomph to maybe fight through some stuff.”
Mykhailiuk, who averaged 21.8 points in his previous four games, gets a chance to rediscover his offensive impact Saturday at Baylor (1 p.m., CBS).
National Signing Day has arrived for the Class of 2018, but Kansas football coach David Beaty and his staff don’t have to worry much about in terms of which of their recruiting targets will follow through and sign letters of intent.
The time for heightened anxiousness came and went in December’s three-day early signing period, when Louisiana standouts Corione Harris and Anthony “Pooka” Williams joined three other preps and nine junior college prospects in making their commitments official.
Throw in Florida State graduate transfer Mavin Saunders and juco quarterback Miles Kendrick, who joined the program for the spring semester, and the KU staff entered the traditional February signing day with most of its business behind them.
Only four players who had previously announced their commitments to Kansas came into Wednesday unsigned: Blue Valley North defensive end Miles Emery, Louisiana linebacker Ryan Malbrough, Texas prep quarterback Torry Locklin and Coffeyville Community College offensive tackle Reuben Lewis.
That group gained a welcome addition Wednesday morning, though, when Kenny Bastida, an uncommitted three-star linebacker from Deerfield Beach, Fla., decided he would sign with Kansas.
According to Jon Kirby of Jayhawk Slant, Bastida visited KU this past weekend after being recruited by new linebackers coach Bill Miller. Prior to his senior season, Bastida reportedly had offers from Penn State, LSU, Michigan State, Wisconsin, North Carolina State and several other programs. He told Kirby in the past month he visited with coaches from Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Colorado and “a lot of other schools.”
A 6-foot-4, 330-pound tackle originally from Apopka, Fla., Lewis was the first of the group to sign Wednesday morning.
The letter for Malbrough, a 6-1, 180-pound linebacker from Cecilia, La., came through next.
Bastida signed Wednesday morning, as well.
In total, KU’s 2018 class projects to include just nine high school players, 11 from the junior college ranks and one graduate transfer.
Class of 2018 signees
• Reuben Lewis | 6-4, 330 | OL | Coffeyville C.C.
• Ryan Malbrough | 6-1, 180 | LB | Cecilia High (La.)
• Kenny Bastida | 6-1, 230 | OLB | Deerfield Beach High (Fla.)
Below is the list of recruits who KU already had in place heading into February.
• Mavin Saunders | 6-5, 256 | TE | Florida State
• Jeremiah McCullough | 6-0, 205 | S | Hartnell College
• Davon Ferguson | 5-10, 190 | DB | Hartnell College
• Elijah Jones | 6-1, 175 | CB | Ellsworth Community College
• Najee Stevens-McKenzie | 6-3, 225 | DE | ASA College
• Azur Kamara | 6-4, 225 | DE | Arizona Western College
• Jacobi Lott | 6-4, 309 | OL | Tascosa High (Texas)
• Charles Cole | 6-3, 280 | DT | Butler Community College
• Foster Dixson | 6-4, 250 | DE | West Los Angeles Community College
• Stephon Robinson | 5-10, 170 | WR | El Camino Community College
• Mac Copeland | 6-4, 245 | OL | Wichita Collegiate High
• Nick Williams | 6-8, 265 | OL | Ritenour High (Mo.)
• Corione Harris | 6-1, 170 | CB | Landry-Walker High (La.)
• Elmore Hempstead Jr. | 5-11, 175 | CB | Fort Scott C.C.
• Anthony “Pooka” Williams Jr. | 5-10, 170 | RB | Hahnville High (La.)
• Miles Kendrick | 5-10, 200 | QB | College of San Mateo
As Bill Self continues to address his Kansas basketball team’s ongoing rebounding issues, the coach knows one player in particular could do all of the Jayhawks a favor by making a more vigorous impact on the glass.
On the same afternoon Self revealed a lack of effort on the part of Lagerald Vick led to the junior’s removal from the starting lineup, the 15th-year KU coach didn’t hide his displeasure for center Udoka Azubuike’s rebounding of late, either.
A 7-foot, 280-pound sophomore from Nigeria, Azubuike has secured six or fewer rebounds in each of the Jayhawks’ past four games, two of which ended as losses.
It’s the lack of defensive boards in particular that drives Self mad, though, because KU so often has failed to end opponent’s possessions after the first shot attempt. Oklahoma State destroyed Kansas with 26 second-chance points off 16 offensive rebounds on Saturday. In the Jayhawks’ past 11 games, nine opponents have reached double digits in second-chance points. During that stretch dating back to the start of Big 12 play, KU’s foes are averaging 15.4 offensive rebounds a game and scoring 14.9 points a game off those extended possessions.
So what has been lacking from Azubuike, who averages 7.3 rebounds on the year and has pulled down nine or more on nine occasions?
“I’d say just quickness, intensity, athletic ability, want-to more than anything else,” Self listed. “He got a defensive rebound against Oklahoma State on the first possession the other day — and that was it. He got one to start the second half — that’s it. Got two (defensive) rebounds the whole game. He plays a lot of minutes.”
Azubuike has contributed three or fewer defensive rebounds in five straight games. He averages 4.6 boards on defense this season and 3.8 in Big 12 contests.
“It’s great for a big guy to score points, and we love that,” Self said after Azubuike, the NCAA leader in field goal percentage (76.2 percent) made 8 of 11 shots and scored 20 points in a loss to the Cowboys. “And I don’t want to take that away from him by any stretch. But, you know, for us to win, everybody’s got a role and everybody’s got to play to their role. And he knows he’s the biggest guy on our team. He knows he’s the best defensive rebounder. He knows he’s that, so it’s up to him to play to that.”
Looking at season averages, Azubuike’s 4.6 defensive rebounds a game lead Kansas (18-5 overall, 7-3 Big 12), but just barely. Malik Newman gathers 4.5 and Vick is at 4.3. In league games, Newman leads the team with 4.7 boards on the defensive end of the floor, where Vick contributes 3.5 and Svi Mykhailiuk has provided 3.2 on average.
Perhaps playing alongside new starter Lightfoot will make Azubuike a more effective rebounder as Self gives playing bigger a chance, despite a guard-heavy rotation. The move wasn’t made specifically to address KU’s shortcomings on the glass, but it certainly couldn’t hurt a team that has been out-rebounded in 11 of its lsat 12 games.
Self remains hopeful his hulking starting center will begin embracing the idea of becoming KU’s defensive closer, a player capable of ending opponents’ possessions by snatching the first miss out of the air and eliminating second — and sometimes third — attempts.
“And hopefully he will. He hasn’t done that in a while, but I don’t think he’s played poorly,” Self clarified. “I just don’t think he’s played to what he is — and that is the biggest guy on the floor most every night.”
Kansas plays host to TCU (16-7, 4-6) at 8 p.m. Tuesday (ESPN2).
Just four weeks remain in the regular season, and thanks to a Kansas home loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Big 12 men’s basketball title remains very much up for grabs.
The Jayhawks were the most consistent team in the conference over the course of January, and they just may hold on to that label throughout February. But they reminded everyone they are fallible with their loss inside Allen Fieldhouse to the Cowboys, one of the league’s lower-tier rosters.
Stability will take you far in March, and that’s one key quality all of the Big 12’s best teams still find themselves chasing.
Kansas has lost 2 of its past 4 games. West Virginia has not only dropped 3 of its last 4 (the Mountaineers at least dominated Kansas State, 89-51, on Saturday), but also 5 of 7. Oklahoma has alternated wins and losses over its past 4 games and fallen in 4 of its previous 6. Only Texas Tech heads into this week feeling good about its recent play, with 4 consecutive wins — Oklahoma State, at South Carolina, Texas and at TCU.
If one of these four teams can somehow spend the coming month winning all the games it is supposed to — much easier said than executed in the Big 12, of course — it won’t only give KU, Tech, WVU or OU its best shot at a regular-season championship. There is an art to playing with constant effort and striving for excellence on both ends of the floor, and those are the qualities necessary to survive during the precarious NCAA Tournament.
Big 12 standings (8 games remaining)
Texas Tech, 7-3
West Virginia, 6-4
Kansas State, 5-5
Oklahoma State, 4-6
Iowa State, 3-7
Here’s a look at this week’s Big 12 Power Rankings. Each team’s best victories and its losses — good, bad and in between — are considered in this process, using KenPom.com’s ratings to classify the league’s most and least impressive squads to date. Results from all league games also are listed.
Big 12 Power Rankings — Feb. 5, 2018
No. 1 - Texas Tech (19-4)
Kenpom ranking: No. 10
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +3.5
Top-50 & Big 12 wins: No. 18 Nevada (OT), No. 45 Baylor, at No. 11 Kansas, No. 52 Kansas State, No. 15 West Virginia, No. 66 Oklahoma State, No. 34 Texas (OT), at No. 25 TCU
Losses: No. 29 Seton Hall, at No. 27 Oklahoma, at No. 34 Texas, at No. 98 Iowa State
No. 2 - Kansas (18-5)
Kenpom ranking: No. 11
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +1.6
Top-50 & Big 12 wins: No. 30 Kentucky, No. 51 Syracuse, at No. 34 Texas, at No. 25 TCU, No. 98 Iowa State, No. 52 Kansas State, at No. 15 West Virginia, No. 45 Baylor, No. 26 Texas A&M, at No. 52 Kansas State
Losses: No. 88 Washington, No. 32 Arizona State, No. 10 Texas Tech, at No. 27 Oklahoma, No. 66 Oklahoma State
No. 3 - West Virginia (17-6)
Kenpom ranking: No. 15
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +7.2
Top-50 & Big 12 wins: No. 49 Missouri, No. 2 Virginia, at No. 66 Oklahoma State, at No. 52 Kansas State, No. 27 Oklahoma, No. 34 Texas, No. 52 Kansas State
Losses: No. 26 Texas A&M, at No. 10 Texas Tech, No. 11 Kansas, at No. 25 TCU, No. 30 Kentucky, at No. 98 Iowa State
No. 4 - Oklahoma (16-6)
Kenpom ranking: No. 27
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +0.5
Top-50 & Big 12 wins: No. 43 USC, at No. 20 Wichita State, at No. 25 TCU, No. 66 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Texas Tech, No. 25 TCU (OT), No. 11 Kansas, No. 45 Baylor
Losses: No. 47 Arkansas, at No. 15 West Virginia, at No. 52 Kansas State, at No. 66 Oklahoma State (OT), at No. 56 Alabama, at No. 34 Texas
No. 5 - Texas (15-8)
Kenpom ranking: No. 34
Average point differential in Big 12 play: -1.8
Top-50 & Big 12 wins: No. 19 Butler, at No. 98 Iowa State (OT), No. 25 TCU (2OT), No. 10 Texas Tech, No. 98 Iowa State, No. 27 Oklahoma
Losses: No. 4 Duke (OT), No. 9 Gonzaga (OT), No. 24 Michigan, No. 11 Kansas, at No. 45 Baylor, at No. 66 Oklahoma State, at No. 15 West Virginia, at No. 10 Texas Tech (OT)
No. 6 - TCU (16-7)
Kenpom ranking: No. 25
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +2.0
Top-50 & Big 12 wins: No. 49 SMU, No. 18 Nevada, at No. 45 Baylor (OT), No. 98 Iowa State, No. 15 West Virginia, at No. 66 Oklahoma State
Losses: No. 27 Oklahoma, No. 11 Kansas, at No. 34 Texas (2OT), at No. 27 Oklahoma (OT), at No. 52 Kansas State, at No. 91 Vanderbilt, No. 10 Texas Tech
No. 7 - Oklahoma State (14-9)
Kenpom ranking: No. 66
Average point differential in Big 12 play: -4.7
Top-50 & Big 12 wins: No. 21 Florida State, No. 98 Iowa State (OT), No. 34 Texas, No. 27 Oklahoma (OT), at No. 11 Kansas
Losses: No. 26 Texas A&M, No. 20 Wichita State, No. 15 West Virginia, No. 27 Oklahoma, at No. 52 Kansas State, at No. 45 Baylor, at No. 10 Texas Tech, at No. 47 Arkansas, No. 25 TCU
No. 8 - Kansas State (16-7)
Kenpom ranking: No. 52
Average point differential in Big 12 play: -2.7
Top-50 & Big 12 wins: at No. 98 Iowa State, No. 66 Oklahoma State, No. 27 Oklahoma, No. 25 TCU
Losses: No. 32 Arizona State, No. 120 Tulsa, No. 15 West Virginia, at No. 10 Texas Tech, at No. 11 Kansas, No. 11 Kansas, at No. 15 West Virginia
No. 9 - Iowa State (12-10)
Kenpom ranking: No. 98
Average point differential in Big 12 play: -4.3
Top-50 & Big 12 wins: No. 45 Baylor, No. 10 Texas Tech, No. 15 West Virginia
Losses: at No. 49 Missouri, No. 220 Milwaukee, No. 52 Kansas State, No. 34 Texas (OT), at No. 66 Oklahoma State (OT), at No. 11 Kansas, at No. 25 TCU, at No. 34 Texas, No. 7 Tennessee, at No. 45 Baylor
No. 10 - Baylor (13-10)
Kenpom ranking: No. 45
Average point differential in Big 12 play: -1.3
Top-50 & Big 12 wins: No. 22 Creighton, No. 34 Texas, No. 66 Oklahoma State, No. 98 Iowa State
Losses: at No. 16 Xavier, No. 20 Wichita State, at No. 10 Texas Tech, No. 25 TCU (OT), at No. 15 West Virginia, at No. 98 Iowa State, at No. 11 Kansas, No. 52 Kansas State, at No. 38 Florida, at No. 27 Oklahoma
When a visiting team comes into Allen Fieldhouse and leads for close to 38 minutes it’s safe to say the Kansas basketball team had some issues.
The Jayhawks ran into so many problems Saturday against Oklahoma State, in fact, that head coach Bill Self said the Cowboys “whipped” KU in an 84-79 upset.
With Kansas falling at home and Texas Tech handling its business on the road, winning at TCU, the Jayhawks and Red Raiders enter the coming week tied atop the Big 12 standings at 7-3.
Here is a look at five statistics that influenced KU’s latest loss.
Couldn’t corral the Cowboys
Oklahoma State never looked uncomfortable in its win on KU’s James Naismith Court because the Jayahwks couldn’t stop their opponent from making shots.
The Cowboys’ 51.6% shooting was the best mark by a KU opponent this season. It was the second-best percentage of the year for OSU.
By converting on 64% of their shots in the second half, the Cowboys headed back to Stillwater, Okla., victorious and owners of the best single-half field goal percentage by a KU opponent since Iowa State made 64.3% in the first half of a 2016 home win for the Cyclones at Hilton Coliseum.
OSU senior guard Kendall Smith, who entered as a 39.6% shooter on the season, went 10 for 16 and scored a game-high 24 points versus the Jayhawks (18-5 overall, 7-3 Big 12).
Cowboys sophomore forward Cameron McGriff, who arrived shooting 51.4%, converted 7 of 10 shots, with 4 makes on layups and dunks.
KU shot 57.1% from the floor in the second half but it didn’t matter because it couldn’t get the defensive stops it needed in order to recover. OSU converted 14 of its final 18 field-goal attempts.
KU is now 7-20 under Self all-time when its opponent shoots better than 50 percent from the floor.
Usually it’s Kansas who benefits from draining jumpers from beyond the arc, but on this particular Saturday at the fieldhouse, it was Oklahoma State that harnessed the power of the 3-ball.
The Cowboys arrived in Lawrence shooting 33.7% from deep in Big 12 play. They left having knocked down double-digit 3-pointers for the first time in conference competition.
Oklahoma State shot 12 for 27 from long range (44.4%) getting the upset-minded visitors within one 3-pointer of their season-high of 13, which came in November against Oral Roberts. The Cowboys’ 12 makes from 3-point land were the most by a Kansas foe since OSU made 12 in Stillwater versus the Jayhawks to close the 2017 regular season.
KU only made 8 of 22 3-pointers (36.4%) in the loss. On the season, the Jayhawks have made 9 or more from deep 14 times. A cold start in the first half — 1 of 8 from long range — put Kansas in a deficit in a category that so often fuels its offense.
Although the Jayhawks snapped a 10-game streak of losing the battle of the boards earlier in the week at Kansas State, they were right back to their old ways versus OSU.
KU’s players didn’t bring the same activity to the glass as their opponents, and Oklahoma State easily out-rebounded the favored home team, 41-28, making the Cowboys the fourth team in Big 12 play to win the rebound margin by double digits versus Kansas.
The Cowboys so thoroughly out-worked KU on the glass early on that they gathered 11 offensive rebounds on on their first 15 missed field goals, giving them 20 second-chance points and a 30-18 lead.
By halftime the total rebounds read OSU 27, KU 17, and the Cowboys scored 22 second-chance points in the first half. Oklahoma State's 26 second-chance points were the most by a KU opponent this season.
Kansas sophomore center Udoka Azubuike came up shy of his season average of 7.3 rebounds for the fourth straight game, finishing with five.
Another rough showing for Vick
A reliable offensive contributor earlier in the season, KU junior Lagerald Vick shot below 40% from the field for the fourth time in the team’s previous five Big 12 games.
A non-factor in the first half, when he made 1 of 3 shots and turned the ball over twice, it got even worse for Vick in the second. While playing all but one of the game’s final 20 minutes, the athletic 6-foot-5 wing went 1 for 7 from the floor and only made 1 of 4 from 3-point range.
Vick’s final stat line read: 34 minutes, 5 points, 2-for-10 shooting, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 fouls, 3 turnovers, 1 block and 0 steals.
He failed to reach double-digit points for the seventh time in KU’s 10 Big 12 games.
Smith controls crunch time
On various occasions this season Kansas has had issues defending quick, talented perimeter players. The latest such guard to victimize the Jayhawks was Smith.
A 6-3 graduate transfer facing KU for the first time, Smith scored 10 of his game-high 24 points in the final 6:46, empowering Oklahoma State to complete the upset.
Almost every time the Jayhawks seemed poised to make a spurt and narrow the deficit, Smith was there to finish a jumper or a layup and extend OSU’s lead to eight or nine points.
Although he missed the front end of a one-and-one with 31 seconds to go, allowing Kansas to get within three, he responded by sealing the victory at the foul line with two clutch free throws with 0:10 on the clock, giving him a new career-high in scoring (24).
Kansas coach Bill Self is as familiar with the ins and outs of players transferring as anyone in college basketball.
But Self made it clear Thursday during his weekly press conference he isn’t in favor of any changes to NCAA transfer rules that would allow players to leave one university and become immediately eligible at their new school without sitting out for a year.
One such plan that originated within the Big 12, though, would enable players to do so in certain circumstances. A report from Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports this week detailed a proposal to reform NCAA transfer bylaws for those sports currently impacted — football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball and hockey — and begin applying the rules to all Division I sports.
Suggested changes included allowing athletes to transfer and become eligible for competition without taking a redshirt season if their head coach were fired or left the school to take another job. That rule, however, would not allow players to follow their head coach to another school and become immediately eligible.
The proposal also called for players to be able to freely transfer and play immediately if their program received a postseason ban from the NCAA.
Self expressed his concerns about such rules possibly being put in place.
“I think any time when you don't have to sit out is a very, very, very bad rule. I personally think, for instance, and there has been talks that if a coach leaves, allow everybody to leave, but they can't go to the school with the coach. What about an assistant coach? … I guess he doesn't fall into that category. If he takes the players he recruited to go to another school, they'd have to sit,” Self began.
“The thing about it is, with our sport, people talk a lot about a lot of different things with our sport. Competitive balance is good. What you've done is you've just eliminated that with (reforming transfer bylaws).”
The 15th-year Kansas coach also wondered aloud how altered transfer rules would deal with a coach’s retirement.
“That whole team can leave before you have an opportunity to hire a new coach. I don't understand. And I don't understand how that fits into the academic component, where statistics show, unless you have a certain grade point average or whatnot, statistics show when you transfer, not usually all credits transfer, and it takes a little bit longer to graduate,” Self said.
“If we're looking at it from the big picture as to what's best for student-athletes as a whole over time, I would think graduation would be at the top of the list, and then I think competitive balance is right there underneath that,” he added.
According to Dodd’s report for CBS Sports, the proposal is just a preliminary one at this time. Some updated version of it, though, could be considered for legislation by the NCAA this June, as the Division I Transfer Working Group continues to examine possible changes to Division I transfer rules.
While the latest proposal, authored by faculty athletics representatives at Baylor and Iowa State, does not authorize players to leave one school and join another with immediate eligibility, Self has stated previously he is against any such “free agency” in major college athletics. KU’s coach reiterated his stance this week.
“I have strong beliefs on this, as do all coaches across America. The free agency aspect of it, where kids can go wherever they want to go, whenever they want to do it, we are all strongly, strongly, strongly against. It's not because we think it's negative with kids. It creates an environment where now you're actually recruiting players from other teams in handshake lines,” Self suggested. “You have something negative happen to your program, and you just look for a guy at a mid-major that averages 15 (points) a game, we'll throw some bait out there for him.”
Such a reality, Self explained, would be impossible to legislate, because of the ability of all parties to use back channels.
“Everybody’s got a contact that knows somebody,” he said, “and people can contact you.”
As explained in the drafted proposal by Jeremy Counseller, a law professor at Baylor, and Tim Day, professor of molecular pharmacology at Iowa State, the hope is that changes would help student-athletes.
The document shared with CBS Sports suggests players should be entitled to transfer from a university without getting permission of the institution and become immediately eligible for aid and practice upon enrolling at a different school.
KU’s active roster this season includes transfers Sam Cunliffe (Arizona State) and Malik Newman (Mississippi State). Three other players are redshirting this year after leaving other programs to join Self’s Jayhawks: Dedric and K.J. Lawson (Memphis) and Charlie Moore (Cal).
During Self’s 15 seasons at Kansas 14 players have transferred in from other Division I programs (either mid-college career or as graduates) while 16 have left KU for another D-I program. The most recent departures are Carlton Bragg Jr., who left for Arizona State and has since moved on again, to New Mexico, and Dwight Coleby, who joined the Jayhawks as a transfer from Ole Miss and left as a graduate to play at Western Kentucky.
When the arena lights are on and the Kansas basketball team is playing on a national broadcast, the newest big on campus, Silvio De Sousa, has yet to provide his head coach, Bill Self, with much incentive to keep the 6-foot-9 forward on the court.
In six games so far De Sousa never has played more than seven minutes. In the past two weeks, his cameos have ended even more abruptly — 2 minutes versus Baylor, 1 at Oklahoma, 2 against Texas A&M and 2 at Kansas State.
Self would like to have another player to fill in for Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot in the paint. However, the coach admitted Thursday he still hasn’t totally determined what type of role to assign to De Sousa, who arrived in Lawrence in late December after graduating from high school early.
“I’d like for it to develop. He's had a bad last two Big 12 games. You know, he had three turnovers in one minute,” Self began, referencing the freshman forward’s stat line at OU. “The other day, Wade (Dean, at Kansas State) gets six points, and (De Sousa) has a turnover in one minute. He really hasn't had a chance to do much.”
Neither Self nor De Sousa’s teammates have come close to giving up on the 19-year-old from Angola, though, because the former five-star prospect at IMG Academy (Fla.) has displayed both progress and promise during KU practices, behind closed doors.
At times during the past several weeks, sophomore guard Malik Newman has witnessed the big man not resemble the still-learning post player who has only scored 2 points in 18 minutes over the course of six in-game appearances.
Whether it’s “some kind of crazy” dunk out of a screen and roll, soaring to swat a KU teammate’s shot attempt or simply grabbing a defensive rebound and sprinting the other direction to beat every other player down the floor for a dunk, Newman easily recalls examples of De Sousa forcing everyone in the gymnasium to take notice.
“Did Silvio just do that? Wow. I didn’t know he could do that,” Newman narrated of his reactions in those moments.
Self isn’t one to become as enamored with such examples if they aren’t coming regularly. But even the most demanding man watching De Sousa’s every move affirmed the freshman has made noticeable strides since joining the team just more than five weeks ago, instead of finishing out his senior high school season.
“I think his energy level is better. I think he goes after balls better. I think he's an above-average rebounder when he's doing those things,” Self appraised. “And you can just see the wires aren't quite connecting, but they're getting closer. I mean, there's a chance that they may touch each other here pretty soon. They haven't quite done that yet.”
Since being cleared to play for Kansas on Jan. 13, De Sousa’s far more public auditions to join the rotation haven’t looked nearly as encouraging. He committed 3 fouls in 2 minutes against Baylor. He only has attempted and made one shot during his 18 minutes on the court. In five of six games he didn’t secure a rebound. What’s worse, according to sports-reference.com, his turnover percentage (an estimate of turnovers per 100 plays) currently stands at 83.3 percent.
“Right now I would say his head's spinning,” Self said. “I mean, it's spinning. It's going too fast for him. He shows flashes in practice of being terrific. And he is going to be terrific. He just hasn't been able to probably get the minutes nor the opportunities, nor is he quite confident enough for that to translate to the games yet.”
The man directly ahead of De Sousa on the Jayhawks’ depth chart, sophomore Lightfoot, trusts those hints at a more impactful freshman big man will turn into something more substantial for No. 7 KU (18-4 overall, 7-2 Big 12).
“He’s good. It’ll come to him. It’ll click. I remember first getting here. I thought everything was three times the speed. I was like, ‘Whoa. What the heck is going on?’” Lightfoot remembered of his first few weeks in the program. “It’ll come to him. He’s getting so much better each day in practice. And he wants to get better, so it’ll happen.”
While the process might be somewhat frustrating for De Sousa, Newman said the young backup has maintained high spirits.
“We know he’s got it,” Newman declared. “It’s just a matter of time of him getting comfortable in the system and just him translating from the high school to the college level, and just going out there and relaxing and playing.”
It’s possible Self could provide De Sousa with more game minutes to work through his miscues in the weeks ahead. The coach conceded Thursday he needs to keep the freshman in the game for longer stretches.
Self expressed that possible shift on Feb. 1, the date he for weeks has referenced as a mile marker for when he would have a better grasp of what this season’s roster could become.
But De Sousa has shown his coach just enough in practices to make Self delay his appraisal for the time being.
“I think we have a better idea of it. But we're still not a complete team until he starts giving us more,” Self said, “because he's very capable of being one of the better 6-7, 6-8 guys in our league.”
De Sousa’s next opportunity to prove himself worthy of more minutes comes Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, when Kansas plays host to Oklahoma State (13-9, 3-6).
Kansas maintained its spot atop the Big 12 standings Monday night by catching rival Kansas State off guard with some zone defense in a 70-56 road victory.
The Jayhawks (18-4 overall, 7-2 Big 12) could have fallen into a tie for first place with the Wildcats (16-6, 5-4) had K-State successfully defended its home floor.
Instead, KU hit the midway point of the conference schedule in a familiar position — with the rest of the Big 12 looking up at the perennial champion.
Here are five statistics from the Jayhawks’ latest Sunflower Showdown victory that stood out.
Defending the ’Cats
K-State had a chance to beat Kansas in Allen Fieldlhouse earlier this month because the Wildcats shot 49 percent from the field and went 13-for-26 in the second half.
The Jayhawks didn’t allow their rivals to get so comfortable in the rematch. K-State converted just 21 of 65 shots in the home loss, as KU came away with its second-best field goal percentage defense of the season, 32.3 percent. It was also the second-worst shooting performance for K-State.
Although junior Dean Wade still put up 20 points, KU did enough to get Wade, a 56.6-percent shooter on the season, to miss 10 of his 18 shots.
Barry Brown’s tear through the Big 12 hit a major bump, too, as KU became the first conference opponent to limit him to single digits, with 9. Brown, the second-leading scorer in league play (21.2 points per game), shot 4-for-16 and only got to the foul line for one free-throw attempt.
K-State’s 56 points were the second-fewest by a KU opponent this season.
The streak is over
Not the Jayhawks’ run of Big 12 titles, of course. That streak looks like it could reach 14 in the weeks to come. Actually, KU put an end to an unattractive slump Monday in Manhattan.
In each of the 10 games before it, Kansas players gathered fewer rebounds than their foes. The skid ended at K-State with the Jayhawks securing 41 boards to their rivals’ 31. The importance of that tally wasn’t lost on seniors Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte’ Graham when they spotted it on the post-game box score.
KU’s offense — in good ways and bad — actually helped make the winning rebound margin possible. The Jayhawks’ 14-for-20 shooting in the first half meant there weren’t many misses available for the Wildcats. Same goes for KU’s 12 turnovers — no shot attempt, no chance at a rebound. As a result, Kansas out-boarded K-State, 22-12, in the first half, when the home team only had 8 defensive rebounds.
The Jayhawks drew even on the glass in the second half, allowing them to maintain the big margin.
Malik Newman’s career-high 10 rebounds led the team, while Mykhailiuk grabbed seven and Mitch Lightfoot added five off the bench in 20 minutes.
The +10 differential in KU’s favor put an end to the longest rebound-margin losing streak in the Bill Self era.
The 2017-18 KU roster doesn’t feature the type of double-double frontcourt players that highlighted teams of years past.
However, KU’s backcourt proved it can put up big numbers in multiple categories, as well. Both Graham (16 points, 11 assists) and Newman (13 points, 10 rebounds) achieved double-doubles at K-State.
It was the first such achievement of Newman’s career and the third for Graham (every one coming this season).
All of their Kansas teammates combined have posted nine double-doubles over the course of their college careers. Udoka Azubuike leads the way with five. The big man’s most recent one came at Texas in the Big 12 opener (13 points, 13 rebounds).
Graham and Newman became the first KU teammates to record double-doubles in the same game since Landen Lucas and Kelly Oubre Jr. (2015).
De Sousa still playing catchup
Self, since freshman forward Silvio De Sousa arrived on campus in late December, has pointed to early February as the first time the Jayhawks will really know what kind of team they have. Self said that because he knew De Sousa’s assimilation from the high school game to the Big 12 would not be easy. It would inevitably take time for the freshman big man to adjust to everything.
Kansas will play its first February game on Saturday against Oklahoma State (11 a.m. tip-off, CBS). And De Sousa still has a long way to go before making a real impact.
The 6-foot-9, 245-pound forward logged only 2 minutes Monday at Kansas State, contributing nothing statistically — unless you count his 1 foul and 1 turnover.
Twenty seconds after checking into the game in the first half, De Sousa didn’t get out to the perimeter in time to defend a successful Wade 3-pointer.
Next, in a less-than-20-second span, De Sousa turned the ball over and fouled Wade as the K-State veteran scored on the first-semester Jayhawk.
De Sousa might have the size and tools to give Kansas more in a few weeks, but he isn’t there yet.
Disparity in shot attempts
It’s a good thing the Jayhawks came through with one of their better defensive efforts, because K-State attempted 19 more shots than the visitors.
Kansas was not just better defensively than the Wildcats on the night, it had a far more effective offense, too. While both teams made 21 field goals, KU did it on 46 attempts and K-State put up 65.
Various factors led to the discrepancy: KU’s 16 turnovers to K-State’s 7; K-State’s 11 offensive rebounds to KU’s 7; the Jayhawks shot 26 free throws, while the Wildcats only attempted 11.
But the bottom line was Kansas made the most of its possessions, scoring on 31 of its 67 (46.3%). K-State came away with points on 25 of its 66 possessions (37.9%). And the Jayhawks did it while posting season-lows in both field goals made (21) and attempted (46).
More news and notes from Kansas vs. Kansas State
- Surprise zone keys Jayhawks’ win at Kansas State
- Tom Keegan: Malik Newman finds his role, confidence through rebounding
- Notebook: Udoka Azubuike heckled during warmups; KU wins again on Kansas Day
- The Keegan Ratings: Svi surpasses 20 points for third consecutive game to top ratings vs. Kansas State
- Matt Tait's Postgame Report Card
- Road-tested Jayhawks beat K-State in Manhattan
The Big 12’s reputation took a serious hit this past weekend, with the midwest league that appeared deep and competitive during the past several weeks coming up on the losing end of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, 6-4.
The perceived lower-tier teams in the conference so often dominated by Kansas weren’t the only ones to blame, either. Oklahoma’s road loss at Alabama, West Virginia’s home defeat against Kentucky and TCU’s misstep at Vanderbilt makes one question just how well the top of the Big 12 actually stacks up with the rest of the country.
The Mountaineers, who had looked so solid for much of the year, now have dropped four of their past five games.
OU followed up a win over Kansas with a loss to an Alabama squad that might be the eighth-best team in the SEC.
Baylor, ranked as high as No. 16 in the AP Top 25 in November, had dropped seven of its previous nine games.
Selection Sunday is now just under six weeks away and the Big 12 overall looks vulnerable.
WINNERS - 2018 BIG 12/SEC CHALLENGE
Kansas, 79-68, vs. Texas A&M
Texas Tech, 70-63, at South Carolina
Texas, 85-72, vs. Ole Miss
Kansas State, 56-51, vs. Georgia
Kentucky, 83-76, at West Virginia
Alabama, 80-73, vs. Oklahoma
Florida, 81-60, vs. Baylor
Tennessee, 68-45, at Iowa State
Vanderbilt, 81-78, vs. TCU
Arkansas, 66-65, vs. Oklahoma State
Here’s a rundown of the Big 12’s most NCAA Tournament-ready teams as of late January, ranked from first to 10th.
Each team’s best victories and its losses — good, bad and in between — are considered in this process, using KenPom.com’s ratings, to classify the league’s most and least impressive squads to date.
Big 12 Power Rankings — Jan. 29, 2018
No. 1 - Kansas (17-4)
Kenpom ranking: No. 9
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +0.9
Top-50 wins: No. 25 Kentucky, at No. 26 TCU, No. 43 Syracuse, at No. 42 Texas, No. 35 Kansas State, at No. 14 West Virginia, No. 36 Texas A&M
Losses: No. 91 Washington, No. 28 Arizona State, No. 11 Texas Tech, at No. 22 Oklahoma
No. 2 - West Virginia (16-5)
Kenpom ranking: No. 14
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +6.2
Top-50 wins: No. 49 Missouri, No. 2 Virginia, at No. 35 Kansas State, No. 22 Oklahoma, No. 42 Texas
Losses: No. 36 Texas A&M, at No. 11 Texas Tech, No. 9 Kansas, at No. 26 TCU, No. 25 Kentucky
No. 3 - Oklahoma (15-5)
Kenpom ranking: No. 22
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +1.0
Top-50 wins: No. 48 USC, at No. 19 Wichita State, at No. 26 TCU, No. 11 Texas Tech, No. 26 TCU (OT), No. 9 Kansas
Losses: No. 47 Arkansas, at No. 14 West Virginia, at No. 35 Kansas State, at No. 68 Oklahoma State (OT), at No. 56 Alabama
No. 4 - Texas Tech (17-4)
Kenpom ranking: No. 11
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +2.6
Top-50 wins: No. 18 Nevada (OT), at No. 9 Kansas, No. 35 Kansas State, No. 14 West Virginia
Losses: No. 32 Seton Hall, at No. 22 Oklahoma, at No. 42 Texas, at No. 116 Iowa State
No. 5 - Kansas State (16-5)
Kenpom ranking: No. 35
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +3.1
Top-50 wins: No. 22 Oklahoma, No. 26 TCU
Losses: No. 28 Arizona State, No. 135 Tulsa, No. 14 West Virginia, at No. 11 Texas Tech, at No. 9 Kansas
No. 6 - TCU (15-6)
Kenpom ranking: No. 26
Average point differential in Big 12 play: +2.4
Top-50 wins: No. 44 SMU, No. 18 Nevada, No. 14 West Virginia
Losses: No. 22 Oklahoma, No. 9 Kansas, at No. 42 Texas (2OT), at No. 22 Oklahoma (OT), at No. 35 Kansas State, at No. 92 Vanderbilt
No. 7 - Texas (14-7)
Kenpom ranking: No. 42
Average point differential in Big 12 play: -2.6
Top-50 wins: No. 30 Butler, No. 26 TCU (2OT), No. 11 Texas Tech
Losses: No. 4 Duke (OT), No. 7 Gonzaga (OT), No. 24 Michigan, No. 9 Kansas, at No. 51 Baylor, at No. 68 Oklahoma State, at No. 14 West Virginia
No. 8 - Baylor (12-9)
Kenpom ranking: No. 51
Average point differential in Big 12 play: -3.1
Top-50 wins: No. 23 Creighton, No. 42 Texas
Losses: at No. 12 Xavier, No. 19 Wichita State, at No. 11 Texas Tech, No. 26 TCU (OT), at No. 14 West Virginia, at No. 116 Iowa State, at No. 9 Kansas, No. 35 Kansas State, at No. 21 Florida
No. 9 - Oklahoma State (13-8)
Kenpom ranking: No. 68
Average point differential in Big 12 play: -4.9
Top-50 wins: No. 20 Florida State, No. 42 Texas, No. 22 Oklahoma (OT)
Losses: No. 36 Texas A&M, No. 19 Wichita State, No. 14 West Virginia, No. 22 Oklahoma, at No. 35 Kansas State, at No. 51 Baylor, at No. 11 Texas Tech, at No. 47 Arkansas
No. 10 - Iowa State (11-9)
Kenpom ranking: No. 116
Average point differential in Big 12 play: -5.6
Top-50 wins: No. 11 Texas Tech
Losses: at No. 49 Missouri, No. 217 Milwaukee, No. 35 Kansas State, No. 42 Texas (OT), at No. 68 Oklahoma State (OT), at No. 9 Kansas, at No. 26 TCU, at No. 42 Texas, No. 10 Tennessee
Kansas proved up for the so-called Big 12/SEC Challenge Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse, where the No. 5-ranked Jayhawks followed up a road loss at Oklahoma by taking care of Texas A&M.
The Jayhawks’ 15-2 advantage in fast-break points stood out, for sure, but there were plenty of other numbers that told the story of a 79-68 victory over the Aggies.
Here are five statistics that leapt off the box score for KU.
The Jayhawks cashed in on at least 12 3-pointers for the ninth time this season in their latest home win.
Connecting on 12 of 26 from downtown versus Texas A&M, KU’s 46.2% accuracy — a more-than-welcome success rate — was only the seventh-best shooting display of the season for the marksmen of Kansas, currently hitting 40.7% on the year.
As often has been the case at Allen Fieldhouse, KU came out firing for an early lead. Four different Jayhawks had drained a shot from beyond the arc before the midway point of the first half.
In the first five minutes, Kansas went 4-for-6 on 3-pointers, with both sophomore Malik Newman and senior Svi Mykhailiuk knocking down a pair. This season, KU is now 28-for-43 (65.1 percent) on 3-pointers taken in the first five minutes of games inside the fieldhouse.
Making the opponent pay
For the second straight game KU thrived off of its opponent’s mistakes.
Although scoring 22 points off 16 Oklahoma turnovers wasn’t enough for a Jayhawks road win four days earlier, they put the Aggies in a double-digit hole early by routinely feasting on A&M’s giveaways.
KU benefited from 14 Aggies turnovers to the tune of 24 points. A&M, though, only managed 5 points off KU’s 9 turnovers.
The Jayhawks’ 19-point advantage in the category was the most since throttling Toledo and out-scoring the Rockets by 25 in points off turnovers.
Over its last six games, KU has averaged 17.7 points off turnovers
Marcus Garrett’s 2nd-half scoring
The same freshman who had scored 6 or fewer points in each of KU’s previous 15 games led the team in scoring during the second half against A&M.
Marcus Garrett, who entered averaging 3.9 points on 42% shooting and 19% 3-point accuracy, made all four of his shot attempts in the second half — including a 3 from the right corner — to give Kansas 9 points in 11 minutes off the bench.
Garrett’s scoring outburst proved timely, as well, with typical leading scorer Devonte’ Graham going 0-for-7 in the half.
The 6-foot-5 freshman guard’s 9 points in the win were the most for Garrett since scoring 10 versus Oakland in late November. His career high of 13 came Nov. 21 against Texas Southern.
An effective driver for KU off the bench, Garrett had made just 5 of 27 3-pointers (18.5%) before confidently draining one off a Graham pass against the Aggies.
In five of their previous six games the Jayhawks led by double digits at some point. Each time that KU built at least a 10-point cushion, though, it resulted in a single-digit win or a loss (at OU).
Kansas had no such issues in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Once Graham knocked down a 3-pointer with 9:58 to play in the first half, the home team had a double-digit lead for good. That’s right, A&M, didn’t even cut it back to single digits at any point during the final 29:58 of play.
KU’s ability to keep an opponent at bay led to its first double-digit win since beating Stanford, 75-54, on Dec. 21.
Not many freebies
Free throws were the primary subject most who follow KU basketball wanted to talk about earlier this week, in wake of Oklahoma’s Hack-A-Dok strategy and the free-throw struggles of the Jayhawks’ starting center, Udoka Azubuike.
However, Azubuike didn’t get a single shot at the foul line during his 22 minutes.
The rest of his teammates didn’t get many free-throw tries, either. Kansas attempted just 11 as a team, making 7. It was the fewest free-throw attempts for the Jayhawks since Big 12 play began.
In league games, KU is averaging 20.8 free throw attempts per game and 13.9 makes (66.9%).