The Day After: Lapping the Longhorns
For a little more than 10 minutes — and, really, most of the first half — the Texas Longhorns walked into Allen Fieldhouse, flexed their muscles and looked like a team more that ready to knock off the Kansas Jayhawks.
But KU, this time buoyed much more by the talent of its top four than the mystique of Allen Fieldhouse, absorbed UT's best shot and then delivered one of its own to pick up an impressive 76-67 victory over a good Texas team.
Perry Ellis, Wayne Selden, Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham were far from perfect on Saturday. But they did what this team needed them to do and did it without hesitation. Had they been at all tentative during the final 30 minutes the way the entire team was in the first 10, there would be no celebration for Bill Self's 200th victory in Allen Fieldhouse and KU's temporary funk may still be a hot topic.
As it stands, those four delivered big time and the KU fan base can breathe easy at least until Monday night, when KU heads to Ames, Iowa, for what promises to be a heck of a test at Iowa State.
I've talked a lot this season about the KU veterans and how, after three or four years of playing for Bill Self, they should know exactly what is expected, play with a sense of urgency and be the type of players who benefit from the seasoning they've experienced during their previous years of college basketball. On Saturday, after a couple of inexplicable outings at West Virginia and Oklahoma State, the KU upperclassmen did just that. They were poised, they were tough and they didn't blink even on a day when Texas got off to a white hot start. That experience and the result that came from it should only toughen up this team, which figures to make them an even tougher out down the stretch.
Three reasons to smile
1 – KU's three-point shooting came back to life and might have been the biggest reason this team was able to come back and knock off Texas. After hitting just 11 threes and shooting 26.2 percent (11-of-42) behind the arc in its previous two outings, KU connected on 10 threes against the Longhorns and shot 40 percent (10-of-25), which included a 6-of-12 mark from three-point range in the impressive second half. Devonte' Graham and Wayne Selden both hit some huge threes and each guy looked perfectly in rhythm when they took their big shots, something that had been missing in the past couple of weeks.
2 – Led by Landen Lucas and Perry Ellis, KU's bigs were terrific on the offensive glass and out-rebounded Texas, 13-5 on the offensive glass. Lucas continues to leave a lot to be desired on the offensive end, but any time you can go out and grab six offensive rebounds in a big game against a big team, your coach is going to absolutely love you and he's going find minutes for you. That's where Lucas is at right now and if he can continue to put out that kind of effort, he's going to continue to play no matter how bad he looks on offense.
3 – Frank Mason got up from that nasty fall he suffered late in the game. As if the slightly struggling Mason needed any more reasons to be off of his game, he took a tough fall late in the win over the Longhorns and stayed down on the floor for a couple of minutes before getting up. In general, all of the abuse Mason takes during a game, during a season and probably even during practice, is no reason to smile. But the fact that this guy continues to prove he can take it and play through it is great news. Mason wasn't great shooting the ball on Saturday. He finished just 3-of-14 from the floor, including 1-of-5 from three-point range. But he chipped in eight rebounds, made 6 of 7 free throws and finished with 13 points in 39 minutes. You hate to see Mason take the punishment, but you have to love seeing your team led by such a physically tough player.
Three reasons to sigh
1 – After playing double-digit minutes during the past two games and looking just a wee bit better, freshman forward Cheick Diallo returned to the single-digit minute mark against Texas, this time playing a big, fat zero. I know KU fans are up in arms about this and most of them blame Bill Self for his unwillingness to play the raw freshman in big spots. But the reason that Diallo's latest step back is a reason to sigh falls on Diallo's shoulders if you ask me. I know that's not the most popular opinion, but with Diallo's tools — size, length, athleticism, etc. — don't you think Self would absolutely love to play the kid if he thought he could? The bottom line is this: Diallo obviously is not doing enough to convince Self that he can be counted on in Big 12 games, and, barring something drastic happening, I don't see that changing any time soon. Self also sat Hunter Mickelson and Svi in this one and it's clear that the KU coach is trending toward playing veterans who have proven they can handle it over youngsters with potential.
2 – Brannen Greene can't get going. After coming back from his suspension with renewed focus, effort and energy, Greene has kind of disappeared during the past few games. A few weeks ago, when Greene first started showing his ability to drive the ball and create for others, I thought the addition to his game was great news. But he hasn't been able to get going from three-point range ever since and that included Saturday when he finished 0-for-2 with an air ball. If Self's going to shorten his bench, which might not be the worst thing for this team, he's going to need Greene to perform better in order for it to work.
3 – Late in the game, while trying to identify one of KU's defensive highlights, I was pretty surprised to see that the Jayhawks had just one steal and two blocks in this game. Maybe that speaks to the athleticism of the Longhorns, who were better able to get out and away from the Jayhawks than most teams. Still, it's not as if the Longhorns are the only ultra-athletic team KU is going to face the rest of the way and the Jayhawks are going to have to find a way to create some more turnovers via the steal than they did on Saturday. The blocks come and go and KU does not exactly have a serious shot-blocking threat in the paint, so that was less surprising. But I'm sure there aren't too many people happy with KU's one-steal performance, especially at home.
One for the road
KU's tough come-from-behind victory over Texas on Saturday...
• Gave KU head coach Bill Self a 200-9 record in Allen Fieldhouse.
• Made KU 56-9 following a loss in the Self era, including a 32-6 record following a conference loss.
• Gave Kansas its 34th-straight win in Allen Fieldhouse, marking the fourth-longest home court winning streak in school history.
• Made KU 738-109 all-time in Allen Fieldhouse.
• Made Self 368-81 while at Kansas, 575-186 for his career and 16-8 all-time versus UT (16-6 while at Kansas).
• Made KU 2,169-834 all-time.
The Jayhawks will head out on the road Monday night for a Big Monday showdown with Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. The 8 p.m. tip off on ESPN will mark the first meeting this season between these two preseason Big 12 title favorites.
— See what people were saying about KU vs. Texas during KUsports.com’s live blog.
More news and notes from Kansas vs. Texas
- Veteran’s day: KU’s top four help Jayhawks sink Texas
- Keegan: Longhorns wise to be wary of Ellis
- Shaka Smart: Give KU credit that UT couldn’t finish what it started
- Bill Self picks up win No. 200 at Allen Fieldhouse
- Notebook: Mason survives another hard fall
- Prep standout DeAndre Ayton dazzles in Lawrence
- Keegan Ratings: Ellis’ huge day propels comeback