Friday, December 18, 2015

KU perfect against Big Sky

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets the Jayhawks' attention during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Sprint Center.

Kansas head coach Bill Self gets the Jayhawks' attention during the first half, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015 at Sprint Center.


Kansas University takes a 16-0 all-time record against Big Sky Conference basketball teams into today’s matinee against Montana, set for a 1 p.m. tipoff in Allen Fieldhouse.

The Grizzlies, who staked claim to a share of the conference title in 2014-15 — coach Travis DeCuire’s first year at the Missoula, Montana, school — bring a 4-5 record to town.

It’s a sub-.500 mark that makes some wonder if the No. 2-ranked Jayhawks (8-1) will be forced to sweat more than their fans, who will be trying to break the Guinness world record for “largest gathering of people wearing holiday sweaters.”

The old mark of 1,175 was set at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom in 2014, presumably at a soccer match.

“Well, they (Griz) have been a little bit inconsistent, kind of like us,” KU coach Bill Self said. “They’ve obviously had the last shot against Gonzaga at Gonzaga to send it to overtime and had the lead with a minute left, and then Gonzaga had a player, a freshman, make a couple of plays to actually give them the lead back.”

The Grizzlies indeed fell to Gonzaga, 61-58, on Dec. 8 in Spokane, Washington, and followed that with a 92-62 loss to Washington on Dec. 12 in Seattle.

Montana has wins over Boise State (74-72), Carroll (70-61), San Francisco (62-50) and Great Falls (79-59) and also has lost to San Jose State (64-61), North Dakota State (73-53) and Pepperdine (69-63).

“They’re very good and experienced inside, got a guy that can certainly score on the block and plays well beyond his standing height,” Self said of 6-foot-8 senior Martin Breunig, who averages a team-leading 18.3 points and 8.8 boards.

“They’ve got some quick guys on the perimeter (including 5-10 junior Walter Wright, 10.6 ppg; 6-2 freshman Michael Oguine, 9.9 ppg and 6-4 junior Brandon Gfeller, 9.7 ppg),” Self added.

Oguine is looking forward to the opportunity.

“I guess up until this year I’ve been a fan of the game, obviously, and I’ve kind of been like a nerd, just following all the big teams and seeing what they’re doing,” Oguine said in an article on the school’s official website. “We have a chance to actually step on the court against a big-time team like Kansas.”

The last time the Griz defeated a nationally ranked team was in the 2006 NCAA Tournament. UM defeated No. 20 Nevada, 87-79, to advance for the first time in school history. The last time Montana defeated a ranked opponent in the regular season was at Stanford in 2002. The Griz defeated the Cardinal, 70-68.

“It’s another opportunity to play in front of a crowd that will be energetic,” DeCuire said. “It’s another opportunity to play against a team that will be playing in the postseason, and we want to come back a better basketball team.”

As for the task at hand ... “For us, we just have to be disciplined, and go out and not make mistakes. If we don’t beat ourselves, we can play with anyone,” DeCuire said. “That’s the biggest thing for us to overcome is mental mistakes that cost us. If we can minimize those, we’ll be fine.”

KU and Montana have played just once before. The Jayhawks prevailed, 68-56, on Dec. 1, 1962, in Allen. KU’s last game against a Big Sky team was this year’s opener, a 109-72 victory over Northern Colorado on Nov. 13.

“It (KU basketball) reminds me of Montana basketball,” DeCuire told the school’s website. “A lot of high-low, some inside out. When you have what they have, which is good perimeter players around good post play, it makes you pretty difficult to guard.”

Effective passer: KU freshman forward Carlton Bragg Jr. had assists on three straight baskets in the second half of KU’s last game — an 82-67 win over Oregon State a week ago in Sprint Center.

“Yes, Carlton is a good passer. Carlton has good feel to pass the ball,” Self said of the 6-9 freshman from Cleveland. “If there’s a high-low, he’s going to throw it — regardless if it’s remotely open or not. I think he’s proven that. But I do think he has good vision and I do think he has good feel. Landen (Lucas) is not a bad passer, but he (Bragg) and Jamari (Traylor) are probably our two best-passing bigs.”

Next to Perry: Senior forward Hunter Mickelson has heard Self say KU’s second big man in the lineup needs to be able to complement senior Perry Ellis.

“He’s obviously a great scorer and a great player. So, obviously, if I have any opportunity to move the ball around and get him a shot, then that’s kind of what I’ll want to do,” Mickelson said.

“I guess that’s what the offense does naturally. But yes, I think when we play together, I think we complement each other well. It’s just kind of how we play. Defensively, I can guard the biggest guy. That way, he doesn’t pick up fouls, so he can be in the game longer.”

This, that: Located in Missoula, Montana, with an enrollment of 13,358, Montana is 4-5 after its 79-59 home win against Great Falls on Dec. 15. ... Last year Montana won the Big Sky Conference regular-season title and advanced to the NIT. ... Montana is 4-0 at home and 0-5 on the road in 2015-16. ... Montana averages 66.9 ppg and allows 66.8 ... The Grizzlies make 5.9 threes per game and average 13.0 assists and 5.8 steals. They are second in the Big Sky Conference with a 64.4 free-throw percentage. ... Breunig’s 61.5 shooting percentage is second in the Big Sky. ... Kansas leads the Big 12 in scoring offense (90.0) and field-goal percentage (.522). The Jayhawks also rank in the upper half in the league in scoring margin (fourth at +21.7), three-point field goal percentage (second at 46.9), three-point field goals made (second at 9.3), rebounding defense (third at 32.0), assists (second at 19.1), turnover margin (second at +4.7), steals (third at 8.4) and assist-to-turnover ratio (third at 1.6). ... Kansas will travel to San Diego State to face the Aztecs with tip-off slated for 10 p.m. (Central) Tuesday. The game will be televised on the CBS Sports Network. Kansas will return home for its final game of the 2015 calendar year, as the Jayhawks host UC Irvine at 8 p.m., Dec. 29, on ESPNU. ... KU, 11-time defending Big 12 regular-season champion, will then open conference play when it hosts Baylor on Jan. 2 at 3 p.m., on CBS.

Probable Starters


F — Fabijan Krslovic (6-8, Soph.)

G — Martin Breunig (6-8, Sr.)

G — Michael Oguine (6-2, Fr.)

G — Brandon Gfeller (6-4, Jr.)

G — Walter Wright (5-10, Jr.)

KANSAS (8-1)

F — Perry Ellis (6-8, Sr.)

F — Hunter Mickelson (6-10, Sr.)

G — Frank Mason III (5-11, Jr.)

G — Wayne Selden Jr. (6-5, Jr.)

G — Devonté Graham (6-2, Soph.)


Jared Reeves 6 years, 4 months ago

BS can be pretty funny. "If there’s a high-low, he’s going to throw it — regardless if it’s remotely open or not. I think he’s proven that."


Phil Leister 6 years, 4 months ago

"The old mark of 1,175 was set at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom in 2014, presumably at a soccer match."

Gary, presumably at a soccer match? Because they play soccer in the UK? Way to interject commentary in there based on your perceived notions of the UK. It wasn't done at a soccer match. It was done on the school's campus in a parking lot. Sorry but things like this-the lack of research- make this website read like a high school editorial sometimes.

Kent Richardson 6 years, 4 months ago

Looking first for no injuries.

With an undersized line up and allowing a mid 60's scoring line Montana may pack it in and zone us. This approach has been effective against us but not for a whole game. We shoot too well so we would have to be our own worst enemy and lackadaisical on defense. Sounds like a fairy tale.

What Hunter said regarding other bigs complementing Perry is telling. Perry can't guard inside without fouling which we know but to have the team acknowledge it is surprising. Also another, not surprising, tell is the team strategy that post scoring goes through Perry which explains why not many plays other than lobs are ran for our post players. Hunter has created his mid range jumpers and so has Carlton.

Carlton's passing ability gives us a weapon that I hope develops and keeps working. Instead of just being a pick your poison challenge for defenses regarding our guards we can add in our forwards. If Carlton is effective then the sky is the limit.

Have some fun today guys.

Kent Richardson 6 years, 4 months ago

A lot of us will not be able to watch today due to the cable TV deal. I can watch the Shockers play Seton Hall or UNC/UCLA. Love you Roy, lol, you could have won the Texas game with a little more discipline from your troops.

Robert Brock 6 years, 4 months ago

Diallo has had several days of practice since his last (poor) game. He needs more game experience - with his hearing-aid turned up and Coach Self yelling, "let the game come to you, Big Fella !!!"

Commenting has been disabled for this item.