Kansas defeats Georgia, 65-54

  • 9 p.m., Nov. 22, 2016
  • T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, MO

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Perimeter-oriented attack carries KU past Georgia

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) goes wild after a dunk during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Josh Jackson (11) goes wild after a dunk during the second half, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2016 during the championship game of the CBE Classic at Sprint Center.


— Regardless of what head coach Bill Self wants or even what Kansas basketball fans expect, it would behoove those following the Jayhawks to embrace one reality sooner rather than later.

This Kansas team, at least through five games, appears as if it will go as Frank Mason III, Devonté Graham and Josh Jackson go on most nights. Luckily for the Jayhawks, that trio went very well on Tuesday during a late-tip, 65-54 victory over Georgia in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic championship game at Sprint Center.

Mason, Jackson and Graham combined to score 48 of KU’s 65 points on 18-of-39 shooting from the floor. That same trio scored all but two of KU’s 35 first-half points on 12-of-24 shooting from the floor.

After the final horn sounded, KU’s top guns were honored by the Sprint Center public address announcer for earning three of the five spots on the CBE Classic all-tournament team.

Wearing their white CBE championship T-Shirts, Graham (14 points, four steals, 36 minutes), Mason (19 points, three steals, 37 minutes) and Jackson (15 points, 11 rebounds, 35 minutes) walked to mid-court to collect their individual hardware before being joined by their teammates to hoist the tournament trophy.

Jackson was named the tournament’s MVP, though you’d never know it from his slow stroll and humble smile.

“So much fun,” said Jackson, when asked what playing with Graham and Mason had been like thus far. “They make the game so much easier. I’m not gonna lie, sometimes I’m able to take plays off because I know those guys, I trust ’em so much to score.”

Sophomore guard Lagerald Vick was the only other Jayhawk to score in the first half, which made sense given that he was the player who spent the most time playing with KU’s triumphant trio in this one.

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Kansas coach Bill Self addresses the media after the Jayhawks' 65-54 win against Georgia in Kansas City, Mo.

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Vick finished with nine points and eight rebounds on a night when KU’s big men again struggled to produce and stay on the floor. That made KU’s four-guard lineup even more important.

“If we didn’t have Frank and Devonté and Josh, that would’ve been a pretty lopsided loss,” Self said, stating the obvious.

Although the scoring punch provided by KU’s top trio did not at all eliminate the continuing struggles of KU’s big men, it did prevent the Jayhawks from falling victim to those struggles. But not immediately.

After jumping out to leads of 17-0 and 25-3 in the same building in a 20-point win over UAB one night earlier, the Jayhawks (4-1) started a little sluggish in this one. Georgia (3-2) was quicker to the glass on both ends when shots missed and made five of nine to open the game with a 10-5 lead.

Soon thereafter, Kansas found its form on the defensive end and that led to several transition opportunities and easy buckets for the Jayhawks, who hit UGA with a 13-4 run to take a 15-12 lead at the under-12 timeout.

To that point, Jackson and Mason accounted for all of KU’s points, often times perfectly setting up each other for easy points at or near the rim.

As he hinted at Monday night, Self went to freshman center Udoka Azubuike early on Tuesday, subbing the 7-footer in for Landen Lucas at the 16:35 mark of the first half.

During his first three minutes on the floor, Azubuike made the move look good, blocking a mid-range jumper and barreling into the Kansas bench to try to save the swat. Seconds later, however, Azubuike, who finished the game having played just five minutes total — mostly, Self said, because he had very little experience with playing zone defense — joined Lucas in picking up his second foul and both big men went to the bench, leaving Carlton Bragg Jr. (3 points in 10 minutes) and Jackson to man the Kansas frontcourt.

Both teams spent good portions of the game playing zone defenses, as foul trouble again plagued the Jayhawks in the first half.

“For pride, we’d probably rather play man,” Jackson admitted. “But to win the game, we had to go zone and it worked.”

Added Mason of KU’s 2-3 zone: “It worked pretty well for us. Hopefully we don’t have to play zone again. We take pride in our man-to-man.”

The first six fouls called on Kansas went against the Jayhawks’ first three big men, with Lucas picking up two fouls 32 seconds apart and watching from the bench as Azubuike quickly followed with two of his own just 43 seconds apart. Not to be outdone, Bragg got his second on a sloppy over-the-back call on an offensive rebound he had no shot at getting.

That forced Self to turn to junior Dwight Coleby for a little size to match the Bulldogs’ beef, and the Bahamas native gave Kansas nine good minutes to end the first half.

Get this. Before fouling out with three minutes to play, Coleby basically matched, in 20 minutes, what Lucas, Azubuike and Bragg did combined.

The junior from the Bahamas finished with two points, four rebounds, four blocks and an assist. The other three? Three points, four rebounds, one block and one assist in a combined 25 minutes.

“He did great,” Mason said of Coleby. “We’re all happy for him and hopefully he can get in the rotation more going forward.”

Added Self, asked what went wrong for his starting frontcourt on Tuesday night. “Everything. Dwight was by far the best big we had and he had two points and four rebounds. They’re just not playing very well and not playing very smart. They’re good kids and they want to do well, but, for whatever reasons, they both have really struggled.”

Self said after last Friday’s home-opening win over Siena that he was looking forward to Wednesday because it will mark the end — at least temporarily — of one heck of a hectic stretch to open the season.

When he wakes up today, Wednesday will have arrived and the rest of the season will be in front of him, with three of the most talented players in the country leading the way.

“We’re 4-1 and we’re fortunate to be that,” Self said. “We need to go home. We play on Friday, obviously, and can catch our breath maybe after that. I think if anything our guys are mentally fatigued as much as anything.”

By the Numbers: Kansas 65, Georgia 54

By the Numbers: Kansas 65, Georgia 54

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Georgia


Reggie Flenory 5 years, 7 months ago

This front court is starting to worry me Lucas has seemed to regress a bit, and Bragg can't establish him self consistently and the fact that a 6'8 240 pound pf was able to keep our bigs in foul trouble is a problem we are almost better letting udoka start and taking our lumps with him this year.

Brett McCabe 5 years, 7 months ago

I have no horse in this race, so it doesn't matter who plays or plays well, but I do remember last season that Landen really struggled at the first of the season - remember that Hunter was getting the starts. Landen learned how to play with Perry and then came on strong. Maybe something similar happens this year?

Rob Bedford III 5 years, 7 months ago

I think Landon started playing well because opponents began double teaming Perry.

Dale Rogers 5 years, 7 months ago

I think the main reason Lucas started playing better is the officials backed off their early-season focus on physical play. Lucas plays a very physical game and he's getting called on those same plays that were allowed late last season. No wonder the kid is confused and frustrated... the zebras are telling him he can't do what has made him successful in the past. Typically the refs back off by start of conference and hopefully that will be the case this season as well.

Tyler Capone 5 years, 7 months ago

It'd be nice if our 5* Sophomore could do something well. Also, if our two centers could stay out of foul trouble in the 1st half that would help.

Daniel Kennamore 5 years, 7 months ago

Can someone explain to me why Lucas continues to get starts when he can barely play a full minute of game time without fouling?

I was at the game tonight and the people around me all started making bets on how long he could go without fouling the last couple of times he re-entered the game.

He does absolutely nothing to justify any playing time at all when he is an auto-foul machine.

Gerry Butler 5 years, 7 months ago

hmmmm, wasn't we saying almost the same thing about Landen LAST YEAR? then he turned it around and played solid and the players was asked NOT THE FANS who they would rather have starting and they said Landen. - -Agreed he is smellin it up pretty bad right now, but tell me how it justifies going right to the trash talkin on him already? - -Let me guess you are one of the one's who was on him last year right? and then praising him later? It's ALL of the big men NOT just Landen, time to relax jussssssssssssssssst a tad True maybe Landen shouldn't be starting but you tell me - -WHO should be starting at this point in his place? Have you seen someone who is hands down better then him production wise that deserves to start over him? Is there someone that much better then him defensively to deserve to start over him? - -I think IN TIME Udoka is our future in the post but right now - -we have no other options, and sure the hell shouldn't be pointing out Lucas - -It is the ENTIRE front court. Bragg, Udoka, Landen, all of them is doing next to nothing right now so ease up on Landen. let us look at the entire picture not just one

Dale Rogers 5 years, 7 months ago

I agree with Gerry's comments. Also, Lucas is having to adjust the new way the officials are calling the inside game. He's getting called for fouls on things he did routinely last season and was not called for. He's getting called for doing the things that made him successful. He just needs a little time to adjust. And, by start of conference the officials will have backed off the tight calls just like they have every recent season in the past. Give the kid a break. He can't adjust without getting in there and playing. Sitting him at this point would be counter-productive and probably hurt the team's future. Landen Lucas will end up this season being a major asset to this team. Just my opinion.

Sehar Rana 5 years, 7 months ago

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Andy Godwin 5 years, 7 months ago

“For pride, we’d probably rather play man,” Jackson admitted. “But to win the game, we had to go zone and it worked.” Self avoids the zone like the plague, but was pleased and actually surprised, as was Fran Fraschilla, to see that KU played a lot of zone. It was by far KU's best defense against Georgia who went scoreless for long stretches. Both Frank and Josh mentioned pride (coach speak), so apparently Self is willing to swallow his pride now and then and play to his talent level. I guess that is why his teams have won nearly 600 games (596-189) and a dozen Big XII championships. We all knew it would be hard if not impossible to replace Perry's offensive numbers, but I never thought the interior defense and rebounding would suffer this much with his graduation. Landen is Landen, a very intelligent and savvy but not overly athletic big man, but Bragg's early performances has raised the most concern. I predicted before the season that the bigs would ultimately dictate if KU has a chance to make splash in the NCAAs, so here is hoping that Lucas regains the reliable form (defense, screens, rebounding, and occasional scoring) he showed towards the end of last season and that Bragg can pick up some of the scoring lost with Perry. Freshman post players, not named Embiid, normally struggle their first year in Self's system, so here is hoping Azubuike will figure it out sooner than later. Talent wise, he has the potential to fill a huge hole, but only time will tell if it is this year.

Dale Rogers 5 years, 7 months ago

In my opinion if you can play effective man and effective zone defense then that is just that much more the opponent has to prepare for and that much more likely you can shut them down. Bill Self is a master at adjusting as a game progresses, an area I always felt Roy was weak at. This just gives Bill another defensive weapon in his arsenal.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 7 months ago

I loved the zone defense. It proved more effective than the man-to-man has been in quite awhile. Remember, we got to the 2012 Final Four on the strength of a zone, but haven't been that deep into the NCAA Tournament since. I want to see Self make the zone permanent, especially since our frontcourt is apparently a huge Achilles' heel.

Pius Waldman 5 years, 7 months ago

First I often wonder why some coaches consider having to play zone defense a plaque and resent having to do so. Coach said they probably practiced zone for 5 minutes yet playing zone definitely helped win the game. That should be a part of a team defense all the time. Secondly a coach can use different ways to encourage players when they make mistakes. One is to take the player out of the game and holler at him. Another way is to remind the player in a positive constructive way. I honestly think that sometimes players play to prevent mistakes rather than to be aggressive and accept sometimes mistakes will be made. Right now it appears that Bragg is definitely not being aggressive and plays not to make mistakes.

Brock Wells 5 years, 7 months ago

Georgia has 2 guys that scores all their points and the guard had 2 points on 1 for 10 shooting. They are not a good shooting team. The zone defense is false gold because a good passing and shooting team will get good shots all day long (just like we did against their 2-3 zone) plus its hard to rebound out of. Unless your Syracuse and recruit for length needed to make the 2-3 zone effective consistently... but they have 1 N.C. since coach Boeheim has been there and we all unfortunately know why they won.

Barry Weiss 5 years, 7 months ago

I think its time to sit Lucas. Whether its his foot or his head, he is just not performing and it does not appear he is really putting out the effort. He just jogs back on defense, rarely breaks a sweat, I don't know, if his numbers are no better than Dok, I'd rather Dok get the reps with the starters. We are going to need an aggressive big in conference and beyond. Dok should start with Colby and Lucas fighting for minutes after that. Another game we were out rebounded. At least Dok and Colby get blocks. But we have the best back court in the land, Josh is wiggieish and we have the best coach in the land. If we could just get the 5 position solidified, this team could go deep in the dance. Rock Chalk baby!

David McNickle 5 years, 7 months ago

I don't feel Lucas is that much different than last year. Difference is Bragg, so far, has been a jump shooter that provides 0 presence in the paint. Lucas just needs to stop getting 3 fouls a game setting picks. Bragg needs to realize he's not a shooting guard. I thought Coleby looked serviceable last night. He, at least, went after some boards.

Gerry Butler 5 years, 7 months ago

You know some people, now not saying possibly here but heard some talking last year trash on Perry. Huh, kind of funny how some don't realize what an asset Perry was last year huh. Some not realizing how bad we now see how we miss his offensive production. Now coming to light maybe for some, Ya maybe some people didn't give Perry the credit he deserved cause people crackin jokes sayin he had been here looked like he had been here forever, maybe because he wasn't flashy, maybe because he a lot of times didn't really show a lot of emotion maybe because he didn't have a lot of spectular plays - - he was just pretty consistent that's what he was. - -usually anywhere from 12-15 points a game - - -anywhere from 6-8 rebounds a game.Isn't it funny that sometimes people don't realize exactly how important someone is till after they are gone,

Barry Weiss 5 years, 7 months ago

I would be surprised by anyone trashing Ellis. He was great in the paint. Now with him gone, Lucas's limitations are even more apparent. With Ellis, we could get by with a limited big at the 5. Now with Ellis gone, we NEED a big at the 5 that can be a force. Dok is physically that person and he needs to start so he can be up to speed by conference time. That's my 2 cents.

Dale Rogers 5 years, 7 months ago

Exactly why good head coaches make millions and the rest of us post comments.

Tim Orel 5 years, 7 months ago

One thing that might help is the referees getting into mid-season and late-season form. Granted, our players are committing fouls, but it doesn't help when the referees are anticipating fouls and calling them, when the replays are showing they aren't fouls. Sure, replays are able to slow things down, and refs have to call them in the moment, but refs are paid money to get things right and not take players out of games. I'm looking forward to refs getting the calls more consistently correct as well as the players getting their bodies and hands more consistently where they're supposed to be.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 7 months ago

I thought the exact same thing, Tim. The "moving screen" foul they called on Landen in the second half was an anticipatory call. Paul Janssen is the referee who called it, and he is notorious for anticipating calls. Some go in our favor and some go against, so it may balance out. However, the inconsistency between how calls are made early in the season versus late in the season is atrocious.

I agree with those who mention the difference without Perry Ellis in the lineup. He played both inside and outside, and he took a lot of pressure off Landen as Landen improved in the second half of the conference season last year.

Landen is one smart dude, so I expect that he will shake off the cobwebs a little and try to be more aggressive on the boards and on defense where his strengths are. Then, when the officials start to let them play a little, he will be fine.

The biggest disappointment thus far has been Carlton. However, his attitude and demeanor lead me to believe that things will start to click for him soon.

I remember a couple of years ago when people were complaining about Kelly Oubre early on. He struggled, and several suggested that he would probably transfer after the year was over. Instead he became a "one and done" and was drafted in the first round.

Ray Buckingham 5 years, 7 months ago

Basketball in general is in a transition toward smaller, faster lineups. Everyone (coaches and players) is still figuring out how to best play with a small lineup. Bigs - Landon and Carlton - look a little lost to me as far as learning and to how they fit into this different system. It isn't the High-Low offense they are used to. Udoka not so much because he doesn't have the experience of playing in the High-Low. Direct evidence is the high number of fouls so far. Still, after watching a lot of other teams this week in early season tourneys, KU looks pretty darn good. By Big XII play, I think we will be watching a well-oiled machine.

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