Kansas defeats Harvard, 75-69

  • 2:15 p.m., Dec. 5, 2015
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Real-game pressure’: Jayhawks handle Harvard’s heat

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) celebrates with Kansas guard Devonte' Graham after Grahams' dunk during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) celebrates with Kansas guard Devonte' Graham after Grahams' dunk during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.


There certainly was angst in the Allen Fieldhouse stands during crunch-time on Saturday, with No. 4-ranked Kansas University and 22 1/2-point underdog Harvard tied at 56 with 7:35 to play.

No trepidation existed in KU’s huddle, however. 

The (6-1) Jayhawks actually relished the opportunity to win a nail-biter against the (2-6) Ivy League school.

“Coach (Bill Self) was smiling. He was like, ‘Embrace it. Smile ... Enjoy these dogfights because this is what we need,’’’ KU junior forward Landen Lucas said after the Jayhawks’ 75-69 victory.

“That’s the stuff coach does,” Lucas added after grabbing eight rebounds in 24 minutes on a day the Jayhawks were out-boarded, 39-31. “He likes competing. That was a competitive game and we won. It wasn’t a pretty game, but we got it done.”

Senior forward Perry Ellis — he scored the first five points as the Jayhawks built a 16-point first-half lead — accepted a pass from Lucas and hit a bucket and foul shot to bust the 56-56 tie with 7:17 left. 

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Bill Self on KU's trouble in putting away Harvard

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self speaks with the media about the Jayhawks' 75-69 victory over Harvard, a game which included the Crimson tying the game late in the second half and KU getting out-rebounded 39-31.

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Ellis then hit a jumper to up the lead to 61-56 at 6:22. 

The game was far from over, but KU never saw its lead dip below three points (:26.8 seconds) the rest of the way.

“Fans will think I’m nuts ... I thought we played pretty well,” Self said. “We got the ball exactly where we wanted it. We didn’t have any big guys score the ball very well today (Ellis had 12 points off 5-of-11 shooting and Lucas five, 2-2 shooting). We missed a lot of free throws (KU was 13 of 25; Harvard 12 of 15) that obviously could have made the game less interesting late.

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Mason, Graham, Lucas discuss KU's narrow win over Harvard

Kansas basketball players Frank Mason III, Devonté Graham and Landen Lucas speak with media members about the Jayhawks' tight 75-69 victory over Harvard, Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

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“(But) we needed some late-game pressure put on us and real-game pressure. We had some individuals that didn’t have great games. As a team I didn’t think we played awful. I thought our defense was pretty good (Harvard hit 43.9 percent to KU’s 47.5 mark). We didn’t rebound the ball other than Landen. (But) I don’t leave here discouraged at all because I know we can make free throws and I know we can make layups,” Self added.

The closeness of the game made Self tighten his rotation the final half. Lucas, who missed Tuesday’s 94-61 win over Loyola because of a big toe injury, played 19 minutes the final half, grabbing six rebounds while guarding rugged Zena Edosomwan, who had 10 points and 11 boards. 

Ellis played 17 minutes the second half, while Jamari Traylor played one minute and Cheick Diallo two, Carlton Bragg and Hunter Mickelson none.

“Landen was by far the best player in the game,” Self said. “He did a great job on No. 4, Zena. He’s a monster. Landen didn’t even need traps for the most part.”

Lucas — he said his left big toe was “a little sore, but not giving me too much trouble,” — knew his job was to get some rebounds on a day the Crimson dominated the boards.

“It’s something I really take pride in,” Portland, Oregon junior Lucas said of rebounding. “I really enjoy it. Whenever we are kind of struggling in that area, I feel he (Self) knows when I get out there that’s going to be one of my top priorities, just going after the rebounds. Making sure my man doesn’t get it is Part One. If it’s an opportunity for me to get it myself, it’s Part Two.”

Frank Mason III (career-high tying 21 points, five assists, four steals) and Devonté Graham (12 points, four boards, three assists, three steals) played 20 and 19 minutes respectively the final half to go with Ellis’ 17 minutes. Wayne Selden, Jr., who had foul problems went 10 minutes the final half, finishing with nine points and four assists in 22 minutes.

“Me being here so long, I can kind of tell how coach is feeling in certain situations. I think that was the way the game was flowing,” Lucas said, not surprised at all by his second-half playing time. “When I got in there I was able to defend No. 4 and try to help out on the glass. It’s something we needed. I felt like he (Self) recognized that and kind of rolled with it after that.”

Self was asked about the use of the bigs.

“I love Cheick, but Cheick couldn’t guard No. 4 as well as Landen,” Self said. “We can say Cheick and Carlton are the two best prospects we have with our big guys without question. You go 2-for-8 (combined) and you are not great defensively and the majority of shots are in pretty tight. They had some opportunities. Probably the game situation is the only reason they didn’t play more. We decided to go with three bigs the second half for the most part. Fortunately Landen played as well as he did defensively and rebounded the ball.”

Lucas said the youngsters will benefit.

“This is good for them,” Lucas said. “Cheick’s last game ... after the first half we cruised through it. This was his first time out there really against a solid team, a really good team. Guys like Carlton and him ... they will learn. This is what we need because we know we need them going forward, going into March. If we can come out with a win we can learn, they’ll learn and they’ll grow.”

Lucas said KU, in the final analysis, should have built on its early 32-16 lead.

“If you give any team confidence, they are going to end up being more aggressive,” Lucas said. “They did a great job with that. We can’t let teams stay in it that long, especially with the home-court advantage we have. We shoulda cut them out in the first half. We didn’t. They got confidence and stuck around. They’re a good team.”

KU did have receive clutch play from Graham, whose three gave KU a 64-58 lead at 5:41 and Mason, who stretched a four-point lead to 67-60 with a three at 4:31.

Lucas hit a shot to up a five-point lead to 71-64 at 1:44. Graham and Mason went four of six from the line in the final :36 seconds as KU held on.

“Frank and Devonté’s perimeter defense was exceptional,” Self said. “Frank and Devonté were good. Everybody else ... we kind of pieced it together. We’ve got to tighten some things up and have got to be able to throw it into somebody and be able to make a basket,” he added.

KU will next meet Holy Cross at 7 p.m., Wednesday in Allen.

— See what people were saying about the game during’s live coverage

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Harvard

By the Numbers: Kansas 75, Harvard 69

By the Numbers: Kansas 75, Harvard 69


David Robinett 6 years, 8 months ago

I just don't believe that Lucas would have more rebounds than Hunter for the same amount of minutes played. Plus we would definitely get more offense from Hunter.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 8 months ago

Numbers don't lie, Landen Lucas is a far superior rebounder than Mickelson is. Mickelson has always been a terrible rebounder even when he was at Arkansas.

Steve Zimmerman 6 years, 8 months ago

The title or content or somewhere in HCBS wording,.. I'm sure there's a term "Harvard's freshmen" somewhere. Real Game Pressure by Amaker's Freshmen perhaps? Pathetic... they played 3 freshmen, 20-30 minutes, shooting 30%-60% against our Juniors, Seniors. Diallo? Might as well hand him back over to NCAA! Our bigs got dunked here & there? This is good for our youngsters? My goodness. I do think HCBS is nuts. Even if we won in the end. Bragg might as well think to transfer. He won't develop his game here. This is going back to HCBS system which will not prioritize or use players skills, but rather make them stick to his game plans.

Joe Ross 6 years, 8 months ago

The problem with anticipating wins against what you perceive to be lower-caliber opponents is that you get out of the mindset of stepping on the gas. Then when big games come, you are out of the habit of playing at your best, and you get overcome by talent more on your level.

Kansas needs to take every opponent seriously, value every possession in every game, and always...always push to play to your potential.

Someone might ask, "Do you think they're tanking on purpose?" No, but that isn't the point. The point is that they are not approaching the game with a purposeful mindset. Just ASKING for an upset in March, and all this talent going to waste.

Brett McCabe 6 years, 8 months ago

This team has enough veterans to know better. Not sure what's going on right now.

Aaron Paisley 6 years, 8 months ago

When has this group demonstrated that ability in their careers?

Mark Lindrud 6 years, 8 months ago

I put a good part of this on coaching. You get your team to have the mindset that you step on your opponent's throat and not let up until it is over. Too many times we play down to lower competition, instead of crushing their spirit early.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 8 months ago

I'm reminded of the veteran team with the Morri that lost to VCU in San Antonio. The inability of this team to finish at the rim and poor fT is unnerving. There is no way any team can consistently win against top competition, such as in the NCAA tournament, with the FT and rim numbers we often produce.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 8 months ago

I agree. I saw it again in the 2nd half, Self kept looking down his bench for an answer and there just wasn't one. He finally found 5 players who did just enough to win but that was rough to watch.

Barry Weiss 6 years, 8 months ago

We do struggle with finishing at the rim. The only one who shows he can, in his limited time, has been Cheick. I suspect he will get more minutes like Embid did as he gains some more experience. Our FT percentage was horrid and having Selden go out with foul trouble all made this a close game.

Suzi Marshall 6 years, 8 months ago

Diallo was 1-5. Three of the misses were at the rim. Diallo is the worst FT shooter on the team and we certainly don't want him on the court during crunch time because of it.

Sam Burns 6 years, 8 months ago

How do you break down game film and teach the young players if they're sitting on the bench watching "too slow"- Landen play? How do you decide they're playing poorly in 1 or 2 minutes playing time? Another thing I don't understand is when we played 3 bigs. Is Svi a big now? Yes, he switched and started playing against one of their bigs on defense, but that doesn't make him a big. We have six bigs, Perry, Cheick, Carlton, Hunter, Jamari, and Landen. No three of them played together at any time during the second half. I watched the game three times to see when I missed it. Svi played when Wayne was out. I would be really interested in seeing Carlton, Cheick and Perry play together if we're needing rebounds. Just thought some of you may be wondering that too. I'm afraid Harvard's freshmen will be experienced and awesome by Feb.......Ours will be trying to decide whether or not to transfer! And the top recruits will be noticing.

Mark Lindrud 6 years, 8 months ago

Watching Diallo and Bragg play together has gotten me excited and should be happening a lot more. It is almost like a no fly zone for basketballs trying to get in the bucket.

Joe Joseph 6 years, 8 months ago

Like other commenters, I'm not sure what to make of this team right now.

The entire front court plays so small on offense. There's literally no one you can throw the ball to on the block without expecting some horrendous outcome. And yet Self continues to clog the lane with them making it all the more difficult for KU's guards to penetrate. He has recruited himself into playing a style that doesn't fit the strengths of this team.

Harvard got easy buckets near the rim because they spread the floor and unclogged the paint. Their bigs actually rolled aggressively to the rim. Of course, lazy defense didn't help either.

Diallo and Bragg have to find ways to stay on the floor for this team to be at its best. Diallo for defensive purposes and Bragg for offensive.

Mike Tackett 6 years, 8 months ago

Sad part, Harvard didn't have their best player. Will be a long, long season. Don't see a Fina Four in this groups future.

Steve Zimmerman 6 years, 8 months ago

Sadder truth, we have ailing players (Ellis, Lucas) and healthy & athletic freshmen - but the coach chose to bench the later. What's the point? Some might argue our coach is a genius. It doesn't take a genius to figure out something's wrong in his system, fortunately. Perhaps I don't see his plan, but why playing your seniors that are not 100% healthy, and not anxious, athletic, talented recruits against a team full of freshers & sophos?

Jonathan Unruh 6 years, 8 months ago

I believe Hunter Moves quicker and rebounds better. Plus his shot blocking ability is far superior than other two post players. Why can't coach play him more? He was outstanding this summer.

James Smith 6 years, 8 months ago

Cmon we have BS one of the greatest coaches in the game right now. He will lead us to the promise land! He knows what he is doing.

Sam Burns 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes, James, we do still have Bill. We miss Danny and the other assistants that we had. Someone needs to be helping out. That was quite possibly the worst job of player substitution and development we've had since the Topeka YMCA game!!!! (sorry, I couldn't pass up the YMCA quote)

Tony Bandle 6 years, 8 months ago

Celebrating my 60th year as a Jayhawk [being a native Missourian I should get extra credit for not going over to the "Dark Side"].

This is early December and hopefully we have 33 more games to go. Let's give these guys a little more time to find themselves before we force them all to transfer, fire Bill Self and turn Allen Fieldhouse into a terrarium.

This was Chieck's SECOND game and Brannen wasn't even suited up. I know they're off to a horrible start by some posters standards [Maui Tourney Champion, probable #2 ranking, 6-1 record with only loss to likely undefeated @1 team which they could have beaten] but life is sometimes a S@@T Sandwich without the bread.

Settle back and enjoy the ride.

Jesse Doll 6 years, 8 months ago

THANK YOU TONY! I literally created an account so I could reply to your post. I find it a little ridiculous how "fans" can write off this team when it's the first week in December. I think HCBS knows what he's doing. I'm glad someone else feels the same way I do. We're not going to destroy every team by 30. Take it easy and enjoy the season. I for one still think it's going to be a great one.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 8 months ago

Hard to enjoy the ride when you know how a bumpy start eventually ends up. Am hoping for the best but I am just not seeing anything different than the last few years so far.

Mark Lindrud 6 years, 8 months ago

I will go with Rodney on this. We are talked about being a Final Four team, but not playing like one. A team with a losing record and we don't overpower them, but keep them in the game. That worries me.

Kent Richardson 6 years, 8 months ago

I will grant you extra credit for your becoming enlightened. I was born and raised in Kansas and have lived in Misery for many years. The politics in both states is so screwy I am constantly saying, what the f***?

The Harvard game was like one of many by the top teams so far this year. I find myself saying the same thing.

Of course we will improve but this early it's hard to say what the ceiling will be.

We post on this forum because we are truly passionate about the Jayhawks. The prettier or more sexy the wife or girl friend is the more we like it! When she is plain or ordinary we still love her but seldom think "I'm glad she's homely."

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 8 months ago

This time last year, Kelly Oubre was never going to break into the starting lineup and was going to transfer at the end of the season due to lack of playing time. KU was losing Connor Frankamp who many thought should have been starting over Frank Mason and others.

As usual, Joe and Tony sum things up pretty well. This will end up being the best KU team since 2008. The defense is back, the pace is up, the talent is off the charts, and we have experience. Oh, yeah, we also have certainly one of the best coaching staffs in the country.

Will check back with you in March and see what you are saying then.

Harlan Hobbs 6 years, 8 months ago

Oh, by the way, I am with you Tony as a 60 year + Jayhawk. Did you ever think that we would live this long? As my father used to say, "If I knew that I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

Keep brightening up our days, Tony.

Jared Reeves 6 years, 8 months ago

HCBS is delusional. He would rather us not score points, just to get us in tight games. I think he played Lucas on purpose so we wouldn't score inside (yet scoring on the inside was still the focus). Lucas did fine on defense, one-on-one; but can't defend the pick and roll, which is how they attack him. So, his benefit of defense is somewhat negated.

"(But) I don’t leave here discouraged at all because I know we can make free throws and I know we can make layups,” Self added. HCBS doesn't understand the strength of his team is the guards, not Perry Ellis (at least not when playing good big guys). Our bigs have never been able to score close against good competition. We will not make layups in this situation in the future. Also, one game of poor free throws isn't a big deal, but two in a row is a trend.

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