Over the course of 12 games in three days, there were at least a few dozen plays at the Maui Invitational that made fans jump out of their seats.
And many of those plays, be they big-time blocks or dunks, deep 3-pointers or high-flying plays in transition, will be remembered for a while.
The 2019 Maui champs had their share of those plays and moments. Here’s a quick look back at the best of the best from where I sat.
1 – Udoka Azubuike’s big-time block of Dayton’s Ryan Mikesell and subsequent Dikembe Mutombo finger wave
On back-to-back plays late in the second half of KU’s 90-84 overtime victory over Dayton in the title game, Dayton coach Anthony Grant put the ball in Mikesell’s hands at the top of the key and told him to drive it to the rim against Azubuike. So he did. And on back-to-back plays Mikesell came up empty.
The first miss was the result of an off-balance shot forced by Azubuike, who slid his feet well and used his big body to wall off any path to the rim. The second miss was more of the same, only this time, instead a Mikesell miss, Azubuike made sure the shot had no chance to go it, swatting it emphatically off the glass and then taking an extra second to wave his finger Mikesell’s way as the Dayton forward got up off the ground.
Azubuike does not get near enough credit for how athletic he is and how well he moves his feet. These were both big-time plays that may have saved the game and definitely kept Dayton from seizing momentum late.
And while his 29 points, ferocious dunks and even the three clutch free throws he drained late will likely all be remembered first when people look back at this game, this block will always be what jumps out in my mind.
2 – Ochai Agbaji’s transition dunk against Chaminade
He entered the game on a bit of a shooting slump and found some confidence by knocking in a couple of deep jumpers and finding a little bit of a rhythm.
Who knows if those early makes created the confidence for Agbaji to deliver one of the 10 best dunks of the tournament. But they surely didn’t hurt.
Late in the first half, with Kansas leading by a dozen, Agbaji’s caught a bit of good luck when a Chaminade player lost control of the ball and it landed like a hot potato right in Agbaji’s hands. Rather than waiting for teammates, Agbaji raced to the other end of the floor looking to finish.
As he took off, it appeared like a tough layup would come next. But the strong and athletic sophomore from Kansas City, Mo., just kept climbing until he was higher than the three Chaminade players hounding him.
One made an attempt to block the shot, but Agbaji gave him no chance, punching it through with two hands and giving the Jayhawks the extra surge of momentum they needed to build a 20-point halftime lead and put the Silverswords away.
Although he has looked a little off in transition so far this season, these are the types of plays Agbaji can make. And that dunk along with his all-around play in this tournament — five turnovers in 103 minutes — should springboard Agbaji into some more big moments in the upcoming weeks.
3 – Devon Dotson’s save in the backcourt of a near turnover vs. Dayton
I know saves don’t often make highlight reels unless they lead to some ridiculous dunk or feature a player going head-first over press row and into the crowd. But this save by Dotson, in a game where so much seemed to be on the line on each possession, was definitely a highlight.
First off, the save was a bit self-serving, as it helped Dotson prevent a turnover that would have been 100% on him.
After losing the ball near midcourt late in the second half, Dotson sprinted back to the far corner of the court by the Dayton basket, scooped up the ball, put it down for one dribble, stopped on a dime before going out of bounds and used his body control and strength to lean backward to keep himself from falling and giving the ball back to Dayton.
The play happened 2 feet in front of my seat, so it’s possible that the angle I had contributed to my thoughts on how impressive this play was. But that angle also gave me the best possible look at the play’s degree of difficulty. Eight or nine out of 10 players probably would have lost the ball there in some manner, be it never picking it up in the first place, traveling or falling out of bounds with it. Dotson did none of those things, which was a credit as much to his competitiveness as his athleticism.
4 – Christian Braun’s alley-oop finish against BYU
When I saw it live, I thought the KU freshman caught a break here and got credit for a vicious dunk on a ball that was all but thrown into the cylinder in the first place by point guard Devon Dotson.
But then I caught the replay — a few hundred times on SportsCenter — and the television angle provided a great look at Braun catching the ball a couple of feet from the rim and flushing it while flying high through the lane.
Braun always has and likely forever will surprise people when he does these types of things. But his teammates and Jayhawk fans know he’s more than capable.
The first of many for the talented, hard-nosed freshman, this one was not necessarily a crucial part of the game, but it served as the exclamation point and likely will be a highlight that Braun and his teammates remember forever.
5 – Udoka Azubuike’s pass to Marcus Garrett that tied the title game at 66 with 4:01 to play in regulation
From a highlight perspective, this is easily the most boring play on this list. But from a basketball IQ perspective, it might be the best.
With KU in the midst of erasing an 8-point Dayton lead with under 8 minutes to play and Azubuike playing out of his mind, with power and patience, poise and purpose, the big man caught a pass in the post and paused.
Instead of turning immediately and frantically trying for another rim-rocking dunk, Azubuike gathered himself, kept the ball high and got his eyes in good position to clearly see and assess the double team that Dayton sent his way.
As the help defender raced over to Azubuike, who had been abusing the Flyers down the stretch, Garrett slipped to the basket and found himself all alone. Azubuike found him immediately and flipped a soft pass to Garrett, who caught it and laid it in all in the same motion.
The bucket tied the game. Kansas never trailed again. And three possessions later, Garrett flipped the script and fired a pass into Azubuike, who did the rest with some nifty post moves to put KU on top for the first time since 58-57 with 9:14 to play.
Kansas still needed overtime to win the game, so you can’t say that this play was the most crucial or the game-winner or anything like that. But in terms of momentum and maintaining control, I’m not sure there was one bigger.
Lahaina, Hawaii — Late in the first half of Tuesday’s Maui Invitational semifinal victory by fourth-ranked Kansas over BYU, Jayhawks fans were treated to something so many of them have been clamoring for for years.
During a timeout, with the Jayhawks leading the Cougars en route to a 29-27 halftime edge and 71-56 victory, KU fan Andrew Sigler was called onto the floor to represent the Jayhawks in a free throw contest against a BYU fan on the other end.
As soon as the DJ calling the contest finished his, “On your marks, get set, go,” routine, Sigler grabbed the first ball and fired it toward the rim granny style.
“I haven’t shot a basketball in a year or two,” Sigler explained. “So I just figured that might be my best chance of actually making a shot. Plus, I kind of wanted to show Dok what it looked like in case he wanted to try it.”
Dok, of course, is KU big man Udoka Azubuike, and the granny style shot is one of a dozen different suggestions Kansas fans have offered up during his Kansas career all with the idea of helping the career 39% free throw shooter cure his shooting woes.
Instead of watching Sigler’s form, which led to the victory with five makes — he got a key chain, some chapstick and “bragging rights” for his efforts — Azubuike no doubt was locked into the timeout huddle on the Kansas bench.
But that did not make things any easier for Sigler, whose father, Jeff, owns Sigler Pharmacy in Lawrence.
“It’s just been so long and I was afraid I was going to embarrass myself so I figured the granny shot was the way to go,” he said. “I was nervous to start off with, but after the first couple I got really nervous and then I kind of calmed down a little bit.”
Asked if he hesitated to say yes when they asked him if he wanted to shoot, Sigler was honest.
“A little bit,” he said. “But my sister and mom talked me into it. This is such a great event. It’s a beautiful location, everyone’s been so nice and the whole island is kind of indescribable.”
As for Azubuike on Tuesday, he finished with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds to help pace the Kansas victory, but was just 1-of-5 at the free throw line.
That brings his total to 7-of-22 (32%) so far this season.
Lahaina, Hawaii — At the time he spoke with the media following No. 4 Kansas’ 93-63 victory over Chaminade in Round 1 of the Maui Invitational, KU coach Bill Self was not sure who his semifinal opponent would be.
That wasn’t an issue for BYU coach Mark Pope and Cougars Jake Toolson and TJ Haws following their 78-63 win over UCLA that earned them a chance at Kansas at 9:30 p.m. tonight in the tourney’s second semifinal.
Because of that knowledge, it was crystal clear mere minutes after securing the Round 1 win on Monday night that all three were looking forward to the challenge.
“Well, listen, Kansas is a great program,” Pope said. “They have a great coach and a great coaching staff. So that's why you come to this tournament. Like, if we didn't want a chance at Kansas we would have gone to some mid-major tournament somewhere. But this is where we want to be and we are learning things about ourselves every day. And this team, we're not backing our way into this season.”
It was not just what the fourth-ranked Jayhawks represent from a big-picture perspective that Pope was geeked about on Monday night. He also was well aware of exactly what taking on that challenge would mean.
“They have unbelievable size,” Pope began. “Today their perimeter was really, really good, really effective getting to the rim and really effective getting shots and sharing the ball and playing with space. They’re long and physical and capable of guarding.”
While that assessment sounded a little more daunting and realistic than rah-rah, neither Toolson nor Haws could wipe the smiles off of their faces when talking about the matchup.
“That's going to be a blast,” said Haws, who scored 15 points on 5-of-11 shooting in 31 minutes vs. UCLA. “That’s an incredible program. They have so much history. It's going to be so much fun. The environment's going to be great tomorrow and we're really looking forward to it. It's going to be a fun night.”
Toolson, the crafty senior who scored 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting against the Bruins, was more excited about what playing Kansas meant than just playing Kansas.
“I mean, I just want to keep doing this,” he said. “It was a great feeling out there tonight. This is one of the best tournaments out there, if not the best. So we’ve got another challenge ahead of us tomorrow but all of us are really excited about it and we’re going to have another chance at it tomorrow.”
KU leads the all-time series with BYU 3-1, but the two programs have not faced each other since the Jayhawks beat BYU, 90-76, in an NCAA Tournament second-round Midwest Regional game in Chicago in 1993.
1 – Marcus Garrett – In addition to having the best final line of the bunch — 8 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds in 28 minutes — Garrett was the one who helped settle the Jayhawks down in the early going, using his superior blend of size and athleticism to get to the rim over and over while Kansas was struggling to find a rhythm on offense.
2 – Ochai Agbaji – After two rough games in a row, Agbaji had a terrific first half that got both him and the Jayhawks going. Didn’t do much of anything in the second half, but Kansas did not need him to. His production should go down as enough to snap him out of his mini-slump.
3 – Udoka Azubuike – Would’ve been much higher if he did anything in the first half. Instead, he played just seven minutes, grabbed just one rebound and did not attempt a shot. That changed in the second half, when he hit 7 of 8 shots and completely dominated the game.
4 – Devon Dotson – Pushed the ball, was tenacious defensively and hit 7 of 12 shots to finish with a team-high 19 points. Those numbers — along with five rebounds — helped hide his one-assist night.
5 – Isaiah Moss – Made 5 of 7 from the floor and 3 of 4 from 3-point range, all while playing just 20 minutes and earning the starting nod in the second half.
6 – David McCormack – A rough start but a strong finish. And it was all about effort. McCormack finished with 10 points in 17 minutes, but grabbed just two rebounds.
7 – Christian Braun – Got a chance to run up and down and actually play and had some good moments. Just 3-of-9 from the floor and he still didn’t look completely comfortable, but did manage to score 7 points and grab 4 boards.
8 – Tristan Enaruna – Didn’t shoot it well, but played 21 minutes and grabbed two rebounds while dishing three assists and recording two blocks.
9 – Silvio De Sousa – Made 2 of the 3 shots he took, including an offensive-rebound put-back, but was out there just 11 minutes and only grabbed two rebounds total.
1 – Udoka Azubuike – 37
2 – Devon Dotson – 36
3 – Marcus Garrett – 34
4 – David McCormack – 28
5 – Ochai Agbaji – 25
6 – Tristan Enaruna – 24
7 – Isaiah Moss – 22
8 – Silvio De Sousa – 16
9 – Christian Braun – 11
10 – Jalen Wilson – 2x
x = broke his ankle 20 seconds into the second game of the season and is expected to be out at least three months.
Lahaina, Hawaii — After playing two big men for the first 3:41 of Monday’s 93-63 victory over Chaminade in Round 1 of the Maui Invitational, Kansas coach Bill Self went away from the larger lineup and barely went back.
Now, things might be headed that way permanently.
“I don’t know that we can stay playing two bigs much longer,” Self said after Monday’s victory. “It’s just not very good when they’re both out there.”
Monday night, for the fourth time in five games, Self went with sophomore David McCormack next to senior Udoka Azubuike to open KU’s win over Chaminade. But after a slow and sloppy start, McCormack was pulled after just 90 seconds.
Junior Silvio De Sousa, who started the lone game McCormack did not, replaced the KU starter in the lineup on Monday and he, too, was yanked after a short stint.
Fourth-ranked Kansas (4-1) played most of the next 36 minutes with a four-guard lineup that featured Marcus Garrett, Tristan Enaruna and even Christian Braun at the fourth guard spot.
That trio combined to play 65 minutes against Chaminade, compared to 46 combined minutes by Azubuike, De Sousa and McCormack.
It also helped Kansas’ offense and defense play with better activity and flow, leading Self to make a change at halftime that might be replicated in the semifinal game on Tuesday night.
Senior guard Isaiah Moss started Monday’s second half in place of McCormack, and the fourth-ranked Jayhawks appeared to have better flow and spacing as a result.
All three KU big men have extensive experience playing the 5 during their college careers. And Self further explained his thinking on the way to the team bus after Monday’s victory.
“Our guys were going, ‘Well, are you going to put Dok back in,’” Self began, referencing the final 13 minutes of the first half when Azubuike sat with two fouls. “I said, ‘Guys, we’ve got three bigs that we’re going to play all at the 5. If we’ve got to put Dok back in now (with two fouls), that means we only have one big.’”
Because of his veteran status, as well as his reliable 3-point stroke, Moss is the most likely player to join the starting lineup if Self does, in fact, go away from the two-big lineup.
“If he can make 50% of his 3s, that’s a huge bonus for us,” Self said Monday after Moss went 3-of-4 from behind the arc.
So far this season, Moss has made 10 of 18 3-point attempts (56%) in four games. As for his thoughts on becoming a starter?
“It doesn’t matter to me,” Moss said Monday. “Any time I’m out there, I’m going to give 100%, coming off the bench or starting. I’m just going to try to give it my all.”
KU’s current roster gives Self options. And versatile pieces allow for a variety of styles.
But after trying to return to a bigger lineup after a few years of playing smaller, faster guards and relying more on transition and 3-point shooting than he ever had in the past, Self appears to be on the brink of continuing to embrace the evolving trend that has shown up at all levels of basketball.
During Sunday’s coaches press conference, bright and early above Ka’anapali Beach in Maui, Kansas coach Bill Self was asked by a couple of reporters to identify a player or two on his team that people might not know much about.
One of his answers made sense and the other seemed crazy.
Because it’s my job to cover and follow every detail of this team, and because so many Kansas fans do the same on a daily and annual basis, there probably wasn’t an answer Self could have given that would not have sounded strange.
But that’s because we’ve talked to, asked about and written about all of these guys — even the walk-ons — so many times in the past couple of years.
For fans of Dayton, Virginia Tech or the casual fan geeked about watching all 12 games of the Maui Invitational with the same excitement, Self’s answers might have actually been helpful.
First, the one that made sense.
“Our most underrated player is a guy named Marcus Garrett,” Self said. “He’s about a 6-5 guard that can do a little bit of everything. Really versatile.”
The Garrett answer makes a ton of sense. Heck, even though Garrett is one of this team’s most experienced veterans and has logged a ton of key minutes for Kansas during the past three years, he’s still a little under-appreciated among the fan base.
Not the team, mind you. Every one of those guys knows Garrett’s value and looks up to him tremendously. But because he’s not a lights-out shooter or a highlight-maker on a regular basis, several KU fans tend to celebrate other players more than the junior from Dallas.
But if there’s one player on this team who knows how to lead by example and grind through anything that comes his way, it’s Garrett. Having a good three games in Maui and landing on the all-tournament team would go a long way toward bringing Garrett some national recognition.
But I can guarantee you that the only thing that matters to Garrett is Kansas winning three games over here, even if he fails to score a single point and is voted worst starter in the tournament (which isn’t a real thing, by the way).
That’s just the way he’s wired and that’s why Self has been such a big fan of his from the minute he stepped on campus.
The other answer Self went with was another starter – sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji.
Agbaji, who has become a fan favorite and recognized on NBA mock drafts in the past 12 months, does not fall into the underrated category like Garrett.
But he might need a big tournament more than any player on this team. In KU’s first four games, Agbaji’s shooting sub-40% from the floor and just 25% from 3-point range and appear to be thinking way too much.
Self has said on multiple occasions in the past week that Agbaji just needs to let go and go play. He talked a lot recently about wanting him to compete with a free mind and there’s no doubt that coming over to Maui could do that for him.
Three games in three days. Grind through it however you have to. Survive and advance. Agbaji said it reminded him of AAU ball and he sounded genuinely excited about the opportunity. And for more than just being on the beach for a week.
The more I thought about this question and Self’s answers, the more I realized he couldn’t really go too many more directions with it.
Having said that, I thought for sure he was going to say Tristan Enaruna, but it might just be too early to heap that kind of praise on a true freshman. Remember, Self likes to push these guys by both building them up and humbling them at times and there’s no doubt that it’s still crazy early in Enaruna’s career.
Other than Enaruna, Christian Braun hasn’t been playing enough to be mentioned and the same goes for David McCormack in some respects, although for different reasons.
Silvio De Sousa got plenty of attention for his off-the-court battle with the NCAA and even the most casual college basketball fan probably has at least heard his name.
And then there’s Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson, preseason All-American and all-Big 12 picks who have had major roles at Kansas before this season. So saying either of their names would’ve been a reach.
Regardless of who Self picked, it should be interesting to see which Jayhawks best respond to the format, pace and style of three games in three days in Maui, starting tonight at 8 p.m. against Chaminade in Round 1.
There was not a much movement at the top of the polls this week, with the top four teams retaining their rankings from last week.
That included Kansas, which remained at No. 4 when the new poll was released Monday, and Michigan State, which held strong at No. 3. Duke and Louisville remained 1-2 in this week’s poll.
In fact, the only change in the top 16 spots in this week’s poll was at No. 5 and No. 6, where Maryland jumped one spot to fifth and flip-flopped spots with North Carolina.
Three Big 12 teams are ranked in this week’s Top 25 (Texas Tech is 12th and Baylor 19th) and Colorado, KU’s first opponent after the Maui Invitational (Dec. 7 in Lawrence) jumped two spots to No. 21.
Kansas will open play in the 2019 Maui Invitational tonight at 8 p.m. against host team Chaminade.
A win there would move the Jayhawks (3-1) into the semifinals on Tuesday night against the winner of the Monday matchup between BYU and UCLA.
While four quality teams sit on the other side of the bracket, all eyes at this tournament are on a potential title-game matchup between KU and Michigan State on Wednesday (which would tip off at 4 p.m. central).
Michigan State opens the tournament against Virginia Tech at 5 p.m. central and, if the third-ranked Spartans win there, they would face the winner of Georgia-Dayton in Tuesday's semifinals.
Here's the rest of this week's AP Top 25
1 - Duke, 6-0, 1,610 (53)
2 - Louisville, 6-0, 1,512 (7)
3 - Michigan State, 3-1, 1,500 (4)
4 - Kansas, 3-1, 1,383
5 - Maryland, 5-0, 1,262
6 - North Carolina, 4-0, 1,260
7 - Virginia, 6-0, 1,232 (1)
8 - Gonzaga, 6-0, 1,222
9 - Kentucky, 5-1, 1,090
10 - Ohio State, 5-0, 1,033
11 - Oregon, 5-0, 1,006
12 - Texas Tech, 5-0, 933
13 - Seton Hall, 4-1, 866
14 - Arizona, 6-0, 716
15 - Utah State, 7-0, 702
16 - Memphis, 5-1, 587
17 - Tennessee, 4-0, 490
18 - Auburn, 5-0, 488
19 - Baylor, 5-1, 450
20 - VCU, 5-0, 426
21 - Colorado, 4-0, 290
22 - Villanova, 4-2, 247
23 - Washington, 5-1, 228
24 - Florida, 5-2, 148
25 - Xavier, 6-1, 139
Others receiving votes: Florida State 137, Saint Mary's 22, Oklahoma 22, Butler 21, LSU 19, Texas 16, Arkansas 13, Michigan 12, Penn State 10, Purdue 10, Liberty 6, Wisconsin 4, Missouri 3, Cincinnati 3, Vermont 2, San Diego State 2, Dayton 1, Mississippi State 1, Georgia 1
1 – Udoka Azubuike – The big fella was fantastic in every way, imposing his will on the overmatched Buccaneers and finishing with 21 eye-popping points on 10-of-13 shooting. His blend of patience and power was a sight to behold.
2 – Devon Dotson – Started the game off with a bang, attacking the basket, being a pest on defense and helping Kansas deliver an early punch from which ETSU never fully recovered. Also hit 6 of 6 from the free throw line en route to a 19-point night.
3 – Tristan Enaruna – So smooth already and getting smoother by the game. His length, poise and all-around ability make him a serious weapon that can strike when opponents have their hands full with Dotson, Azubuike and the rest of the KU starting five. Tallied 4 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals in 24 minutes.
4 – Marcus Garrett – Made 4 of 6 shots, dished three assists and swiped 3 steals. Would have made a push for the No. 3 spot if not for those 3 turnovers on his line.
5 – Silvio De Sousa – Bill Self said De Sousa contributed as much to KU winning down the stretch as anybody. That’s two pretty strong outings in a row for the KU forward who got off to a slow start to the season.
6 – David McCormack – Back in the starting lineup, McCormack played 12 minutes and scored four points and grabbed three rebounds. Not bad but nothing like we saw from him off the bench last Friday night.
7 – Ochai Agbaji – Another off shooting night has Agbaji 3 for 17 in his past two games. He played 34 minutes and he played hard. The shot’s just not falling right now. That’ll change soon enough.
8 – Isaiah Moss – Scored just two points in 17 minutes, but, more glaringly, had two pretty bad turnovers on a night he took just two shots.
9 – Christian Braun – Played eight minutes and had little to show for it. Remains a work in progress but is definitely capable and still worthy of real minutes.
T1 – Devon Dotson – 30
T1 – Udoka Azubuike – 30
3 – Marcus Garrett – 25
4 – David McCormack – 24
5 – Tristan Enaruna – 22
T6 – Isaiah Moss – 17
T6 – Ochai Agbaji – 17
8 – Silvio De Sousa – 15
9 – Christian Braun – 8
10 – Jalen Wilson – 2x
x = broke his ankle 20 seconds into the second game of the season and is expected to be out at least three months.
Three games into his KU career — head spinning, heart racing and time flying — Kansas freshman Christian Braun has gotten a pretty good feel for what college basketball is all about.
There will be new lessons learned — from both successes and failures — pretty much every game and each week for the next three months. But what Braun has picked up during the first month of KU's season has been incredibly valuable and has helped make him a key part of KU’s rotation.
Credit Kansas coach Bill Self for making sure the hard-nosed, 6-foot-7 freshman was ready to absorb everything that has come his way.
“It’s different for sure,” Braun said of playing at the college level. “But I knew coming into it there was going to be a lot of ups and downs. Coach told all the freshmen there were going to be ups and downs all year. But I've learned a lot.”
The biggest thing Braun has learned thus far is simple: don’t take anything for granted.
“The attention to detail you have to have at this level is so different,” he said.
Whether that means devouring the scouting report leading up to each game, watching intently from the bench during the action or executing while on the floor, Braun has learned that there is very little down time in college basketball.
What you might have been able to conquer with size, speed and athleticism at the high school level takes an entirely different focus in college. And while so much of that lesson comes from experiencing it for yourself, Braun has been lucky to learn firsthand from one of the biggest no-nonsense players in the game in teammate Marcus Garrett.
“Super tough,” Braun called Garrett. “All the time. Everything he does. He plays super hard.”
Those same words have been used to describe Braun’s game. Dating back to the summer, both Self and several of Braun’s teammate marveled at just how hard the freshman from Blue Valley Northwest competes.
Whether that’s defending with his nose in the chest of the man with the ball or diving into walls and over tables to save a possession, Braun, like Garrett, knows just one way to play the game. And it’s that mindset that inspired Garrett to compare Braun to himself during the exhibition portion of KU’s schedule.
“I just feel like he can do everything on the court,” Garrett said after KU’s exhibition win over Fort Hays State in which Braun tallied 8 points, three rebounds and three assists in 24 minutes. “He can pass. He’s athletic. He can defend. He can rebound.”
Braun called the comparison “awesome” and said he was thrilled to be linked to such a complete and talented player as Garrett. He also said he understood why Garrett might have said it.
“I don’t know if you’ve watched, but my defense really needs some improvement to be compared to him,” Braun joked. “But I think our mentality, when it comes to the game of basketball, just playing hard and being tough, that’s where we’re most similar.”
Although he finished with 11 points, two rebounds and an assist in last week’s blowout win over Monmouth, the 17 minutes he played in that one more than doubled his minutes played in KU’s first two games of the season.
“He’s just not where he needs to be yet,” Self explained this week, when talking specifically about Braun’s defense. “But how many freshman are? I’m real pleased with Christian.”
And Braun is pleased with where he sits heading into Game 4 of his freshman season.
He’s learning, he already has a spot in the rotation and he knows that if he keeps putting in the work and striving for consistency, more minutes will come
“I think we’ve all had that urgency,” Braun said of wanting to get things right as quickly as possible. “We all want to do our thing and just help the team in any way we can.”
KU and Braun will play host to East Tennessee State tonight at 7 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse on Big 12 Now and ESPN+.
Credit Sam Cunliffe for the Kansas men’s basketball team’s rise in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 poll.
Cunliffe, the former Jayhawk now playing at Evansville, helped the Purple Aces shock No. 1 Kentucky a week ago, sending Kentucky tumbling from the top spot all the way down to No. 9 and allowing a handful of teams to move up.
Kansas (2-1) was one of them, jumping from No. 5 to No. 4 in this week’s Top 25.
The Jayhawks are joined in the top 5 by the only team to beat them thus far — No. 1 Duke — along with No. 2 Louisville, No. 3 Michigan State and No. 5 North Carolina.
Duke received 52 of the 65 first-place votes, with Louisville getting eight, Michigan State four and No. 7 Virginia getting the final first-place nod.
As a result of Kentucky’s loss, every team in last week’s top 10 moved up one spot except for Gonzaga, which stayed at No. 8, just ahead of the Wildcats.
In all, four Big 12 teams appear in this week's Top 25, which also includes seven teams on KU's 2019-20 schedule, eight if you count Michigan State, which Kansas could face in next week's Maui Invitational.
Ohio State had the biggest jump in this week’s poll, followed by No. 14 Arizona’s five-spot climb. Auburn moved up three places from No. 22.
Kentucky’s eight-place fall was the biggest of the week. Villanova was next, losing seven spots to No. 17, and No. 25 Washington fell five places.
Three teams moved into the AP Top 25 this week. No. 20 Tennessee is ranked for the first time this season after knocking off Washington. No. 21 Virginia Commonwealth, the preseason No. 25, is back in the poll following a 2-point win over LSU and a rout of Jacksonville State. And Texas moved in at No. 22 with wins over California Baptist and Prairie View. The Longhorns are ranked for the first time this season.
Florida had a precipitous drop after losing to Connecticut, falling out of the poll from No. 15. LSU was out from No. 23 following its loss to VCU, and Saint Mary’s dropped out from No. 18 after losing to Winthrop at home.
Here’s this week’s complete AP Top 25:
1 – Duke, 4-0 (52)
2 – Louisville, 4-0 (8)
3 – Michigan State, 2-1 (4)
4 – Kansas, 2-1
5 – North Carolina, 3-0
6 – Maryland, 3-0
7 – Virginia, 3-0 (1)
8 – Gonzaga, 4-0
9 – Kentucky, 2-1
10 – Ohio State, 3-0
11 – Oregon, 4-0
12 – Texas Tech, 3-0
13 – Seton Hall, 3-1
14 – Arizona, 4-0
15 – Utah State, 4-0
16 – Memphis, 3-1
17 – Villanova, 2-1
18 – Xavier, 4-0
19 – Auburn, 4-0
20 – Tennessee, 3-0
21 – VCU, 4-0
22 – Texas, 4-0
23 – Colorado, 2-0
24 – Baylor, 2-1
25 – Washington, 2-1
Others receiving votes: Florida State 91, Florida 67, LSU 61, Saint Mary's 55, Evansville 43, Oklahoma 29, Vermont 11, Michigan 11, Marquette 11, Purdue 11, Butler 10, Mississippi State 9, Virginia Tech 7, West Virginia 6, Providence 5, Wisconsin 5, Liberty 4, Arkansas 3, Missouri 2, Connecticut 2, USC 2, New Mexico 2, San Diego State 2, Dayton 1.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.