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Boeheim says Graham’s monster effort, not poor Syracuse defense, the reason for KU’s victory

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a three during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at American Airlines Arena in Miami.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a three during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at American Airlines Arena in Miami. by Nick Krug

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said after Saturday's 76-60 loss to No. 2 Kansas in Miami that he heard, on more than a few occasions, that the Orange would not fare well playing their signature 2-3 zone defense against the Jayhawks.

But while Syracuse did, in fact, fall to the Jayhawks — in game which the Orange led for just 2:15 and not at all for the final 27:54 — Boeheim was quick to point out that it was not KU's 3-point shooting or the struggles of Syracuse's zone that cost his team.

“Overall, we did a good job on their shooters. I mean, really, except for (KU senior Devonte') Graham,” said Boeheim, noting that KU players not named Graham shot just 4-of-18 from 3-point range. “They shoot 35 percent from the 3 (11-of-31) and they (were) shooting 47 coming in here.”

Graham, of course, more than made up for the off day from his teammates, connecting on 7-of-13 triples himself en route to a career-high tying 35-point outburst that carried KU to victory.

But even his 54 percent clip from deep was more about big time shots made by the KU senior than a failure by the Syracuse defense, according to Boeheim.

“We believe we can stop people from the 3-point line if we play our defense properly,” he said. “It's interesting that Kansas was shooting 47 percent against six teams that played man-to-man. But everybody says, '(You) can't play zone.' Well, obviously you can't play man-to-man either. People don't get that.”

So many of Graham's 3-point makes came from well beyond the 3-point line and in nearly the same spot above the top of the key.

When asked after the victory why he found room to shoot in that area, Graham unknowingly added support to the Syracuse coach's claim.

“That's just what they're supposed to do,” Graham said of the way Syracuse defended the Kansas offense. “When we run our 2-3 zone, when the ball goes to the middle, we fan out. You have to leave someone open, and it's usually the guy at the top. I was just trying to stay ready to shoot the ball.”

After misfiring on his first three 3-point attempts of the game, Graham caught fire from there, connecting on seven of his next eight 3-point attempts before missing his final two.

Each long-range bomb that fell softly through the American Airlines Arena nets brought serious energy and momentum to the Kansas bench and crowd and had the opposite effect on Boeheim and the Orange.

Even with that, Boeheim, somehow, was asked after the game if he was “happy with the defense you guys played on Devonte' Graham.”

“He got 35,” Boeheim said. “I guess we weren't too happy with that. ...This would've been, I think, a fairly close game if we would've shot a little better. But Kansas is a tremendous team.”


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By the Numbers: Kansas 76, Syracuse 60

By the Numbers: Kansas 76, Syracuse 60

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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 76, Syracuse 60

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) delivers on a lob dunk over Syracuse forward Matthew Moyer (2) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at American Airlines Arena in Miami.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) delivers on a lob dunk over Syracuse forward Matthew Moyer (2) during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017 at American Airlines Arena in Miami. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of KU’s 76-60 victory over Syracuse in Miami at the Hoophall Invitational.

Offense: B+

Enough Jayhawks had rough nights to bring this down a notch. And the team, as a whole, got off to a rough start. But the fact that Devonte' Graham tallied 35 for the second game in a row and Lagerald Vick was terrific both as a scorer and as a facilitator in the middle of the zone brought the high-scoring Jayhawks to the brink of the A range.

Defense: A

Syracuse made just five field goals in the first half and shot 32 percent for the game. Syracuse's 2-3 zone got all the attention, but it was the KU defense that won this game. That, and stellar senior Devonte' Graham, of course.

Frontcourt: C+

Silly fouls by both Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot put the Jayhawks in a hole early and Clay Young came in to play nine strong first-half minutes to bail the team out. Even with that, neither Azubuike nor Lightfoot perfomed the way they're expected to, even though they each made a few good plays.

Backcourt: A-

Devonte' Graham by himself brought this into the A range and the rest of the KU backcourt had an up-and-down kind of night.

Bench: B

Give Young a ton of credit for the minutes he played. And Lightfoot was good early in place of Azubuike but could not find a rhythm and stay on the floor. Marcus Garrett looked a little overwhelmed from start to finish and played the least impressive game of his young career.


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Bill Self full of respect, jokes for Syracuse counterpart Jim Boeheim

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim yells to his players in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Syracuse won 78-75. (AP Photo/Nick Lisi)

Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim yells to his players in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Syracuse, N.Y., Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. Syracuse won 78-75. (AP Photo/Nick Lisi) by Matt Tait

They've faced each other just once during their Hall of Fame careers, with Jim Boeheim topping Bill Self in overtime of the CBE Classic championship game in Kansas City, Mo., back in 2008.

But just because they rarely have been stalking opposing sidelines of the same venue during their careers does not mean that Self and Boeheim are unfamiliar with each other.

In fact, the relationship that exists between the two coaches set to square off at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Miami, is based largely on their mutual respect of one another and their common desire to make college basketball as great as it can be.

“To me, Jim is one of the brightest guys that we have in our game,” Self said this week. “In basketball coaches' worlds, when he says things, we usually listen.”

While having that kind of respect and attention from their players is the goal of any head coach, Self said his experiences with Boeheim have come mostly off the court.

“He's been very good with the NABC board over time with ideas, beliefs,” said Self of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, which he currently is serving as its president. “Of course, he's been unbelievably good with USA Basketball over time. He's one of the best talent evaluators I think that we've seen, as evidenced through that.”

Saturday's clash will be just the second meeting between these two coaching giants and Kansas trails the overall series with Syracuse, 3-2. The Orange have won the last two meetings, including a victory in the 2003 national championship game in New Orleans.

Self, of course, was only a part of one of those games, but that has not stopped him from finding ways to compete with Boeheim elsewhere.

While the two have crossed paths on the recruiting trail from time to time, they generally are not heated rivals for top prospects. So Self had to get creative and make a positive competition out of a painful experience for both shortly after arriving at KU.

He shared the details of that story during his regular weekly press conference on Thursday.

“ I don't go that far back (with Boeheim),” Self said before firing a playful jab. “But I know the year that we lost to Bucknell (in the 2005 NCAA Touranment), they lost to Vermont (in the tournament). And I've always told him I thought Bucknell was a lot better than Vermont that particular year.”

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The James Sosinski Story: How a former UMass QB is getting a chance with Kansas basketball

James Sosinski's KU football head shot.

James Sosinski's KU football head shot. by Matt Tait

One semester of basketball at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix was all it took for James Sosinski to draw interest and scholarship offers from mid-major programs all over the West Coast, according to his former coach Daven Vo.

And now the KU football player turned potential KU basketball walk-on is on the brink of joining the No. 2 ranked team in the nation.

Whether it's as a full-time walk-on or as more of a practice player remains to be seen.

But KU coach Bill Self said Tuesday night, after his team's 96-58 victory over Toledo, that Sosinski, a backup tight end for David Beaty's Kansas football team, had practiced with the Jayhawks once and would essentially try out the rest of the week to see if there was a way the Jayhawks could use him.

According to Vo, that chance is all the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Sosinski will need to impress the Kansas coaches.

In describing Sosinski as “a baller at heart” during a phone interview with the Journal-World on Wednesday night, Vo gushed about the skills, character and work ethic of KU's potential new player.

“I know I'm selling him like he's this cadillac,” admitted Vo, now an assistant at nearby Butler Community College. “But he truly is one of my favorite guys I've ever coached. When he came to us, I was like, 'Where've you been all our life?'”

Vo also answered that question during the interview.

After starring as an all-state quarterback at Hamilton High in Chandler, Ariz., Sosinski accepted a football scholarship to play quarterback at UMass. After red-shirting during his freshman year and injuring his foot shortly thereafter, the Arizona native developed a desire to return home following summer workouts.

“I had been all over him because I knew he wasn't happy at UMass,” said Vo, who served as the South Mountain head coach for seven seasons. “He was too far from home.”

After returning to his home state and joining Vo's program, Sosinski was forced to sit out a semester because not enough of his credits transferred with him. So while waiting to join the basketball team at South Mountain, Sosinski worked out with a former football player who discovered something unexpected during their sessions. Sosinski was fast. Like, crazy fast.

After being clocked in the 4.40-4.45 range in the 40-yard dash, Vo said it was then that people started selling Sosinski on the idea that he could make a lot of money playing football, perhaps as a tight end in the mold of a Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates.

When the second semester of the basketball season rolled around, Sosinski hit the floor and made an immediate impact. In his first game, Vo said Sosinski faced two future high-major players, “and dominated them.”

Two games into his time at South Mountain, Vo said Sosinski received a scholarship offer from Washington State. Soon thereafter, an offer from Oregon State came. And more followed. But he chose not to take any of them.

“He really didn't know which one he wanted to do,” Vo said. “He was being told that football was a gold mine, but he loves basketball. He's a baller at heart.”

That conundrum eventually led him to Kansas, where he joined Beaty's squad before the recently completed 2017 season and, ultimately got in touch with Self and the KU basketball coaches in the past week or so.

"This is no disrespect to James," Self said Thursday during his regularly scheduled news conference. "But if he's a guy that we have to rely on to help us, that doesn't seem good. So we're looking at him as a practice guy who can come in and be a big body in practice."

As for when he might make a decision on what role Sosinski could play, Self explained that the whole experiment was still in its infant stages. After having Sosinski at practice on Mondya, KU played Tuesday and was off Wednesday.

"We haven't even completed the tryout yet," Self said. "I'm going to let him practice the next two days. We'll decide next week if we want to keep moving forward with it. He seems like a really nice kid (but) this is not a strategic move to add depth when you go on the road and play. That's not it at all. We're looking at it as a practice-type thing. If he can get to the point (where he can play) maybe a minute or two here or there, I guess that's possible. But that would be no different than putting Clay (Young) in or Chris (Teahan)."

Vo said KU's staff reached out to him to ask about Sosinski and Vo told them many of the same things he said during Wednesday's phone interview.

Vo said Sosinski was strong, had good touch on his jump shot, could pass well and was incredibly intelligent. In addition, he noted that Sosinski once played on the AAU hoops circuit with current KU forward Mitch Lightfoot.

“James has a lot of high-level basketball experience," Vo said. "The nice thing that Coach Self is going to have is a guy who will know the drills and will be able to do them right away. He's really smart. He's a quarterback. man. He's seen play books three times thicker than what KU runs. So I think he really would be able to come in and fit in right away. Is he gonna dominate? At that level, no. But he could come in and look like he'd been with them for three months.”

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A quick glance at Devonte’ Graham vs. Frank Mason through 6 games

Frank Mason III, shown here in a Sweet 16 victory over Purdue, and Devonte' Graham, shown during Tuesday's blowout of Toledo, are not exactly carbon copies of one another, but Graham has raced out of the gate much the way his predecessor and former teammate did a season ago. (Nick Krug photos)

Frank Mason III, shown here in a Sweet 16 victory over Purdue, and Devonte' Graham, shown during Tuesday's blowout of Toledo, are not exactly carbon copies of one another, but Graham has raced out of the gate much the way his predecessor and former teammate did a season ago. (Nick Krug photos) by Matt Tait

If you're looking for a definitive sign about just how talented and impressive this Kansas basketball offense has been during the team's first six games of the season, look no further than the most recent list of the team's top scorers.

Even with his 35-point outburst in Tuesday's 96-58 victory over Toledo — a point total that's worth at least two games by the balanced Bill Self scoring standards — Graham still sits just fourth in overall scoring at 15.8 points per game.

Technically, Graham is in a tie for third, with Lagerald Vick, and both are just one point behind Udoka Azubuike for second. But even after a 35-point explosion that came just a few games into the season, Graham is still looking up at a couple of teammates in the scoring column.

Not that he cares much.

In fact, one of the big reasons Graham sits where he sits is because he spent the first handful of games chasing assists instead of shots.

The bottom line is this: Graham can get a shot pretty much any time he wants one. And he has the green light to take just about any shot out there. But instead of abusing that freedom and making it all about him, Graham continues to prove that he's a team-first guy and will, almost without fail, take whatever is given to him.

If it's a night like Tuesday, when the shot was falling and the opponent had no answer, Graham is happy to keep pumping up shots and racking up points.

If it's not there, or even if something better is — say a hot streak from Svi Mykhailiuk or an obvious size advantage for Udoka Azubuike — then Graham will almost always go there instead.

That's what makes him so talented and tough to stop and what makes second-ranked Kansas so dangerous, among other things.

Graham, like Frank Mason III before him, is the unquestioned driver of the bus. He makes Kansas go, he leads them in good times and bad and the whole reason he's even still here was because he wanted the opportunity to do just that.

He's getting it, in every way possible now that he's a senior, and nights like Tuesday's, where he scored a career-high 35 points and controlled nearly every aspect of the game, have inspired some around the country to exclaim that Graham is doing a heck of a Frank Mason impersonation so far.

While the goal for Graham was never to be Mason — only to have a similar season — it's only natural to want to compare the two given their status as senior point guards who had been around Bill Self's program for a while and were in the position of leading the team both on the court and as the face off of it.

With that in mind, here's a look at how the two stack up through six games of their senior season, with Mason clearly having the edge in scoring — but, again, Graham has not exactly been looking to score so far — and Graham getting the edge in assists, rebounds and turnovers, all in fewer minutes.

Where Graham's season goes from here is anybody's guess. The competition will get tougher and the demand for him to score more also might rise.

But if he can keep up anywhere close to this pace, it's going to bode well for his journey of following in Mason's footsteps and for KU's quest to get back to the Final Four.

First 6 Games Points Rebounds Assists Turnovers 3-Pt Shooting FG Shooting Minutes
Devonte' Graham, 2017-18 15.8 4.8 51 15 13-of-36, .361 33-of-74, .446 33 mpg
Frank Mason III, 2016-17 21.5 4.3 30 18 12-of-25, .480 45-of-82, .549 35 mpg
Reply 16 comments from Surrealku Dirk Medema Tom Ballew Steve Bryan Forever2008 Stupidmichael Alan Dickey Matt Tait Gerry Butler Pius Waldman and 2 others

Postgame Report Card: Kansas 96, Toledo 58

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a shot over Toledo guard Marreon Jackson (3) during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) pulls up for a shot over Toledo guard Marreon Jackson (3) during the first half on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of KU’s 96-58 rout of Toledo on Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: A+

I mean, the Jayhawks shot 75 percent in the first half, 9-of-11 from 3-point range, and nearly topped the 100-point mark. This is simply one of the most impressive offensive stretches in recent memory for a KU team.

Defense: A

While KU's offensive output will draw the headlines and get most of the talk in the days to come, the defense should not be overlooked. KU was terrific early on, forcing the Rockets into a season-high 14 turnovers in the first half and forcing a pair of shot-clock violations. It wasn't just the numbers that illustrated how strong KU was defensively in this one. At the start of the second half, you would've had a hard time determining which team was up 29 and which was down 29 by the effort put forth by Kansas.

Frontcourt: A

Udoka Azubuike and Mitch Lightfoot were solid but unspectacular on a night when it really didn't matter much what they did. Lightfoot gave great minutes early, taking a charge and recording a tip-in, and Azubuike delivered plenty of his signature, rim-rattling dunks that showed just how big the difference is between Kansas talent and Toledo talent.

Backcourt: A

Graham delivered a career-high 35 points and almost could not miss. Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman were pretty good, too, even if you didn't notice. That strong performance from the KU defense also was spearheaded by the backcourt.

Bench: A

Lightfoot was solid, Marcus Garrett packed a lot into his 24 minutes, including just one shot, and the KU walk-ons got in on the fun once again.

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The value of Devonte’ Graham’s leadership displayed in 39 seconds

Kansas sophomore guard Malik Newman (14) smiles with senior Devonte' Graham (4) during a free throw Tuesday in an exhibition game vs. Pittsburg State at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas sophomore guard Malik Newman (14) smiles with senior Devonte' Graham (4) during a free throw Tuesday in an exhibition game vs. Pittsburg State at Allen Fieldhouse.

There was a moment during last Friday's 102-59 Kansas victory over visiting Oakland that demonstrated perfectly the value of Devonte' Graham the leader.

Late in the first half of the easy Kansas victory, sophomore guard Malik Newman caught a pass in transition and hesitated near the 3-point line. Newman's indecisiveness cost KU the possession and he was whistled for traveling when he finally did decide to act.

As the Jayhawks walked back down the floor on defense Graham glared at Newman and told him, in so many words, to drive the ball instead of hesitating. Newman tried briefly to explain himself, but was not interested in having a long discussion about it. That worked out well because Graham wasn't interested in hearing it.

After a few seconds of chatter and a couple of subtle eye rolls, the Jayhawks forced a missed jump shot and the rebound came to Newman.

Guess what happened next?

Rather than passing, hesitating or even so much as looking anywhere else for instruction — to Graham, to the bench, etc. — Newman raced the ball up the floor, drove hard to the rim and finished a layup through contact for an old-fashioned three-point play.

That put the Jayhawks (5-0) up 53-24 with 1:07 to play in the half, but the score hardly mattered. What was most important was the fact that Graham's, we'll call it encouragement, worked to perfection and inspired Newman to get aggressive.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) gets in for a bucket past Oakland guard Stan Scott (12) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Malik Newman (14) gets in for a bucket past Oakland guard Stan Scott (12) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The crowd roared, Newman remained stoic and Graham looked pleased.

KU senior Svi Mykhailiuk, who has been around his good friend Graham for three-plus years, said that style of leadership is a staple of Graham's.

“When somebody messes up, he doesn't yell at them and show everybody that he messed up in the game," Mykhailiuk said. "He'll just calmly say something or help him out in that way because he knows, when you do that, you just pull the confidence down of players.”

On the very next possession, Newman swiped a steal and again drove hard to the rim for a layup that put KU up 55-24 with 51 seconds to play in the first half.

In 39 seconds of game clock, Newman had come to life, thrown up five points and snapped out of a pseudo funk that had plagued him during the first few games of the season.

It's not as if Newman has looked bad out there. Far from it. More that he has looked passive, unsure and a little hesitant.

Whether the exchange with Graham and the sequence of events that followed winds up being responsible for putting Newman on track remains to be seen. But the early returns sure look promising.

Not only did the first-year Jayhawk respond to Graham's prodding with back-to-back drives to the bucket, but he also drove to the rim with purpose for another layup and 3-point play during the opening minutes of the second half.

After this one, with the crowd again roaring and Newman's teammates high-fiving him on his way to the free throw line, Graham stood near mid-court with both arms flexed in support of his buddy.

That's leadership. That's experience paying off. That's why Bill Self has called Graham as good a natural leader as the program has ever had.

And that's why Graham, when he could be caught up in getting his and trying to put up gaudy offensive numbers, is constantly on a mission to get his teammates going and inspire this team to play its best.

Graham can win Big 12 player of the year honors without the help of his teammates. But he can't achieve his ultimate goal of winning a national title without them.

“When people make mistakes, he can easily show you where you messed up and help you fix it quick," said KU freshman Marcus Garrett. "That's what makes him so good, he's just able to help everyone else and do what he needs to do on the court. It seems like he's been through everything before, which he has, so it makes it a lot easier, having someone like him.”

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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 102, Oakland 59

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) gets up for a lob dunk against Oakland forward Isaiah Brock (10) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) gets up for a lob dunk against Oakland forward Isaiah Brock (10) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 24, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of KU’s 102-59 win over Oakland on Friday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: A-

It wasn't as electric as Tuesday's 3-point barrage against Texas Southern, but it was pretty darn efficient. And the Jayhawks earn extra credit for sticking to the game plan of pounding it inside to Udoka Azubuike (when he was out there) and fulfilling their coach's wish of proving they can score inside when they need to, as well.

Defense: B-

The Grizzlies got into the paint plenty and mostly struggled on offense because they flat-out missed shots. Kansas was OK defensively but also missed a few too many assignments, struggled at times with communication and lost its intensity in the second half while playing with a huge lead.

Frontcourt: A

Azubuike set the tone with a wildly effective first five minutes and Mitch Lightfoot did a terrific job of keeping the bar high while spelling the big fella for the next eight minutes. Lightfoot was incredibly active in the first half — and with a purpose — and Azubuike showed throughout the night why he's such a tough player to handle when he gets near the rim.

Backcourt: B

Downgraded for their ole' defense, the KU guards were as good as they needed to be to win this one going away, but hardly left anyone oohing and ahhing the way they're capable of doing.

Bench: B+

A relatively quiet night for Marcus Garrett (this time on the stat sheet, too, until garbage time) combined with Lightfoot's best game of the season to date brought this one to the brink of the A range.

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Postgame Report Card: Kansas 114, Texas Southern 71

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) raises up the Fieldhouse after a string of buckets during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) raises up the Fieldhouse after a string of buckets during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. by Nick Krug

Quick grades for five aspects of KU’s 114-71 rout of Texas Southern on Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Offense: A+

55 percent from the floor, 53 percent from 3-point range, a school record 19 made 3-pointers, just seven turnovers and 17 offensive rebounds. All of that, and so much more, led to an easy and entertaining night for the Kansas offense, which enjoyed seven players reaching double figures.

Defense: A

Coach Self can nitpick this one, but I'm not going to. Any time you beat somebody by 40 points while limiting them to 37 percent shooting and a -16 mark on the glass, you're going to get an A from me. This was never a game and even though the KU offense was a big reason for that, the defense certainly did its part to help.

Frontcourt: B

Udoka Azubuike fnished one rebound shy of a double-double (20 points and 9 boards) and made 9 of 12 shots from the floor. All of those numbers are good but Self seemed a little less than thrilled about Azubuike's overall night. Add to that the fact that Self pointed out the 3 rebounds by Mitch Lightfoot in 23, while adding, “He's got to do better,” and KU's thin frontcourt gets a passing grade but not an A.

Backcourt: A

Of KU's guards, Graham shot it the worst (6-of-16) but made up for it with 11 assists. Malik Newman, meanwhile, shot 4-of-6 from 3-point range but also took a couple of bad shots and turned it over twice. There were a few things from the KU guards that were far from perfect — particularly their energy in the second half, but, hey, human nature, right? — but nothing that even threatened to take this down from a solid A.

Bench: A

We might as well call this the Marcus Garrett grade and he was terrific. Thirteen points, 11 rebounds, active as always. What a luxury it is for the Jayhawks to have a player like Garrett, who is so steady and wise beyond his years and can fill in at any one of KU's four guard positions.

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Jayhawks jump to No. 3 in latest AP poll

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) delivers a dunk before South Dakota State guard Tevin King (2) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) delivers a dunk before South Dakota State guard Tevin King (2) during the first half on Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

On the heels of a victory in Chicago over then-No. 7 Kentucky, the Kansas men's basketball team moved up one spot to No. 3 in this week's Associated Press poll.

The top two spots remained the same, with Duke (4-0) and Arizona (3-0) staying put, and Kansas leapfrogged Michigan State (2-1), which fell from No. 3 to No. 4 following its loss to Duke in Game 1 of the Champions Classic last week in the Windy City.

Kentucky (3-1), meanwhile, fell for the second consecutive week, dropping to No. 8 after its loss to KU and an uninspired home victory over East Tennessee State last Friday night.

Kansas (3-0) returns to action this week for a pair of games, starting with Tuesday's home matchup with Texas Southern and a Friday night clash with Oakland at Allen Fieldhouse.

In all, the latest AP poll features three teams from the Big 12 Conference ranked in the Top 25 and four others who are receiving votes.

As has been the norm, Kansas is far and away the torch bearer for the Big 12, with the Jayhawks holding down a spot in the Top 5 and Baylor and West Virginia coming at No. 22 and No. 23.

Complete AP Preseason Poll:

1 - Duke (54)

2 - Arizona (11)

3 - Kansas

4 - Michigan State

5 - Villanova

6 - Wichita State

7 - Florida

8 - Kentucky

9 - North Carolina

10 - USC

11 - Miami, Fla.

12 - Cincinnati

13 - Notre Dame

14 - Minnesota

15 - Xavier

16 - Texas A&M

17 - Gonzaga

18 - Purdue

19 - Louisville

20 - Seton Hall

21 - Saint Mary's

22 - Baylor

23 - West Virginia

24 - UCLA

25 - Alabama

Others receiving votes: Virginia 93, Texas Tech 81, TCU 36, Northwestern 20, Nevada 19, Providence 11, Maryland 9, Michigan 9, Texas 7, Creighton 6, Oklahoma 5, Temple 4, Arkansas 3, UT-Arlington 2, Rhode Island 1, Belmont 1, Stephen F. Austin 1.

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