Washington defeats Kansas, 74-65

  • 8 p.m., Dec. 6, 2017
  • T-Mobile Center, Kansas City, MO

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Zone-busted: Washington’s strategy flummoxes No. 2 Kansas

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) and Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) fight for a rebound with Washington forward Noah Dickerson (15) and Washington guard Matisse Thybulle (4) during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017 at Sprint Center.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) and Kansas forward Mitch Lightfoot (44) fight for a rebound with Washington forward Noah Dickerson (15) and Washington guard Matisse Thybulle (4) during the second half, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017 at Sprint Center.


Kansas City, Mo. — For the second game in a row, Lagerald Vick in the high post proved to be a massive story line for the Kansas men's basketball team.

But this time, instead of the junior guard giving KU's opponent fits, it almost looked as if Washington wanted Vick to be there.

That was the recipe all night for the upset-minded Huskies, who led No. 2 Kansas for 28:53 and ran away at the end, 74-65, at Sprint Center.

“We're not going to lose by the 3-point shot,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said of his team's plan for Wednesday night. “And we just tried to make it a focus to take that away from the game. If (Vick) gets 50 points by scoring twos, then that's what we're going to go with. Trust me, it's hard seeing a guy (score like that) when he makes three or four in a row. But we just forced him to miss a couple.”

Vick poured in a career-high 28 points, on 12-of-23 shooting, but was unable to carry a Kansas offense that shot 45 percent for the game, but just 25 percent (5-of-20) from 3-point range.

“They just took everybody away but Lagerald,” KU coach Bill Self explained, “and they said, 'Lagerald, see if you can beat us.' Even though Lagerald got numbers, they weren't real numbers because they dared him to make a layup a lot of times.

“Obviously, that was a good strategy and we didn't attack it very well and that's my fault. They were quicker and bigger and tougher and they deserved what they got tonight. And we deserved exactly what we got.”

The unlikely victory for a team that entered Wednesday as a 22-point underdog set off a raucous celebration that started in the tunnel back to the locker room, with water flying and bodies jumping, and was still going nearly 15 minutes after the final buzzer sounded.

Audible roars from the Washington locker room could be heard throughout the bowels of the venue that has not been kind to KU of late.

KU (7-1) now has dropped three of its last four games at Sprint Center, with last season's Sweet 16 spanking of Purdue and an exhibition win over Missouri earlier this season representing their only successes during that stretch.

“I can't blame this one on Sprint Center,” Self said. “The blame goes on the shoulders of me and everybody else that was out there playing. We just weren't ready to play.”

Vick's opportunity to shine presented itself on the very first possession of the game. After sprinting to the high post upon seeing his team win the opening tip, Vick caught a soft pass from Devonte' Graham near the free throw line, immediately attacked the rim and flipped a feathery lob to Udoka Azubuike, who rocked the rim for the first points of the game.

Most nights, that kind of play would set the tone for the rest of the way. Not Wednesday.

Although Vick kept working in that high post area, he was the only Jayhawk.

There was very little about Wednesday's loss that would be described by anyone as pretty.

Even Vick, who had by far the easiest time finding his offense, still struggled to knock down shots, finishing 12-of-23 from the floor, with most of the misses — and makes — coming mere feet away from the rim.

“I'm not going to leave out of here thinking anybody played well,” Self said. “Nobody did. The way that they defended (Vick), anybody in that situation would've put up numbers because they forced him to shoot. I'm glad we had him in there but the numbers are fake because of how they defended him.”

Trailing at the half for just the first time all season, Kansas was held 18 points under its first-half average for the season and entered the locker room down, 36-34.

Things did not get much better for Kansas when the two teams returned to the court. Washington opened the second half with a 14-8 run to build a lead of as many as eight points — 50-42 — before really pouring it on down the stretch.

KU tightened up with each passing minute and Washington's confidence seemed to grow throughout the second half. Even still, KU climbed to within one, at 53-52, with 9:45 to play. That inspired Hopkins to call a timeout and his team responded to that breather with a 7-0 run that pushed the UW lead back to eight.

From there, Washington's lead grew to as many as 14 and Kansas never again pulled closer than six.

The Huskies' final bite came when guard David Crisp drilled a 3-pointer as the shot-clock buzzer sounded to put UW up 73-59 with 2:12 remaining.

The reason the shot hurt KU so much — other than on the scoreboard — was because it came after a scrum under the bucket that looked like it might lead to a Kansas steal. Instead, after corralling the loose ball on his back, Washington big man Noah Dickerson fired a pass out to Crisp at the top of the key and Crisp stepped right into the 3-pointer.

Crisp was whistled for a technical foul for his prolonged celebration but Graham, who scored just three points on 1-of-8 shooting, carried his off night to the free throw line and missed both freebies.

“You could see this coming if you were a coach,” Self said. “When we're energized and moving the ball and everybody's playing with energy, I think we're a real nice team. But when we're not, we get average real quick.”

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Washington

By the Numbers: Washington 74, Kansas 65.

By the Numbers: Washington 74, Kansas 65.


Steve Zimmerman 4 years, 9 months ago

Graham looks like he's under the weather tonight. UW is long and pretty good 3pt shooter. It seems as if coach wanted us to lose this one. Sigh..

Gary Wilson 4 years, 9 months ago

They handled the zone well enough. The defense was atrocious though.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 9 months ago

KU handled the zone well enough? We shot 25% from the three-point line and almost every shot was contested. Vick didn't do nearly as well at the high post as he did against Syracuse. Vick shot 12 of 23 but most of those misses were within 10 feet or less of the basket. You can bet that every team we play the rest of the season will use the zone against Kansas at some point if only to slow us down.

I would've thought Our win against Syracuse would have prepared us for Washington but instead, Washington learned from Syracuse mistakes.

Bill Kackley 4 years, 9 months ago

I agree about the defense. We just wnt out there thinking we could win by just showing up with Kansas on our jersies.

Bryan Mohr 4 years, 9 months ago

Oddly similar to Oregon game last year. Oregon: 74-60 score, KU 5-25 from 3. UW: 74-65 score, KU 5-20 from 3. Same court for both, Sprint Center. Devonte "Hot-or-Not" Graham 3 points against Oregon, 3 points against UW. Oregon uses match-up zone defense. UW uses zone defense. Bill Self sticks with man-to-man despite opponent burning it (what's new).

Dee Shaw 4 years, 9 months ago

Oh well. Just make sure this doesn’t happen in March when KU’s season really starts.

Craig Carson 4 years, 9 months ago

unless KU can get Preston and or DeSousa, zone defense and getting Azibuike in foul trouble will be the proven formula to beat KU

Allan Olson 4 years, 9 months ago

Wow were we exposed in several crucial ways by a quick, disciplined UDUB team. They took away Doka with ease, because he is most always in the same spot on offense. No need to find and chase him. Then our two bigs commit four "no-reason -for" fouls and sit for half the first half. Poor Clay Young was then worked over in the paint. If a much more mobile and talented Preston could play, he might have scored 30 along with Vick. Hope some inside talent gets here soon so this strategy will not work again.

Craig Carson 4 years, 9 months ago

UW didnt really take away Azibuike..when he was in the game, he scored with ease over their bigs and they had trouble scoring inside because of his defense..Azibuike took himself out of the game with 2 foolish early fouls (1 was a bad call, the other was just him being foolish)..If Preston had played, this score would have been the other way around since Self wold have had some front court options..the interior defense and rebounding would have been better and KU would have controlled the paint..

Jerry Walker 4 years, 9 months ago

One of the most glaring stat lines - other than Vick - we shot only 2 free throws and they were the result of a technical foul. And it was not the fault of the officiating.

Rae Bricil 4 years, 9 months ago

believable considering i think we were in the bonus about half way through the second half.

David McNickle 4 years, 9 months ago

Fran kept calling UW's defense a 2-3 zone and they started out in that but as the game progressed they looked like they were in a 1-2-2 or 3-2 and a couple of times they looked like they were in a 2-2-1. Makes me think this was more of a matchup zone. We waited until 4 minutes left in the game to run any type of man-to-man offense. Zero penetration, no transition points, very few FT's, 5-20 from 3, and lackluster defense. Great job by UW's coach and not so good of a job by Self and Graham for not recognizing what was going on. Just wish we would work a little zone defense ourselves. Especially being shorthanded.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 9 months ago

agreed. It sure appeared to me to be more of a 3-2 zone. Very effective.

Pius Waldman 4 years, 9 months ago

"Even though Lagerald got numbers, they weren't real numbers because they dared him to make a layup a lot of times" Self says

Guess what layups count and if you make enough you win the game. Most coaches would encourage easy shots. If Vick had been aggressive and scored 50 chances we would have won the game. Maybe one way to beat the crappy zone.

Honestly Washington plays great and hit their shots. Some say losing can be a benefit so lets hope so.

John Strayer 4 years, 9 months ago

My thoughts exactly. What contributed to Vicks hesitation in the game on so many possessions. IF the defense is not going to guard you, why not pile up as many points as you can until you force Washington to change their defense scheme??? Looked like KU kept trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole. Is that a coaching issue? A Vick issue? Why not keep taking what Washington was giving? I'm at a loss. Vick and a smarter Dok, could have beaten this team alone.

Damian Glaze 4 years, 9 months ago

EXACTLY!!!! Vick could have easily had 50 points if he played with the mindset Bill said he needed to when they let him have five footers. This was strictly coaching. I would have adjusted to put Svi in the middle because we know that dude has no problem pulling the trigger. I get it he is a better 3-point shooter than Vick, but in this game, we needed someone with the catch-turn-and-shoot mentality in the middle of the freakin' key. That was the weakest zone I have ever seen against KU and we let it beat us. Hopefully a lesson learned.

Kelly Pierce 4 years, 9 months ago

I was thinking the same thing about putting Svi in the middle. Vick just seemed so unsure of himself.

Dee Shaw 4 years, 9 months ago

Pius, losing or winning now means nothing. Who cares. It's ok either way. It's not like college football if you loose in the regular season your season is over. Thank God. One reason why I dislike college football so much. At least with college basketball you have a true tournament in March that means everything to fans. If you look at regular seasons then the 1988 team was a disaster. Finished the regular season 20-10. Nobody associates that team to the regular season. They associate that team as National Champs because what they did in March to win 6 games. If you look at the regular season than the 2010 KU team was one of the greatest teams in KU history, 29-2. That team is remembered by loosing to Northern Iowa in the second round of the tournament and being a disappointment. I have come to realize and understand all these games in November, December, January and February really mean nothing. It all comes down to March Madness. Like it or not teams are judged on what they do in the tournament.

John Strayer 4 years, 9 months ago

Agree...but the most unsettling aspect of this for me is not that KU lost...but how they lost. It looked like they weren't even competing...on the floor and in the coaching box.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 9 months ago

Washington's zone deserves all of the credit for stifling KU's offense, but ma gawd, KU's defense was SWISS CHEESE last night!

Damian Glaze 4 years, 9 months ago

Washington deserves credit for sticking to their plan. However, that zone was as weak as KU will ever see. Any team that allows you to get the ball in the middle that low in the key EVERY POSSESSION is plain and simply gambling. We weren't prepared for it; and Vick didn't have the attack mentality when he was wide open damn near every time he touched the ball inside of 10 feet. We were lazy and we didn't coach this one up at all.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 9 months ago

Washington's zone targeted all of KU's relative strengths. Vick didn't have the attack mentality because he's not particularly good at attacking off the bounce. My guess is the Washington coaching staff noticed that and "gambled" by leaving Vick open in the middle of the floor. Give them credit.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 9 months ago

This is what the b-12 will look like as far as athletes that we will face. That zone was very good, our adjustments or lack thereof after half just did not work. If anything, Washington made better adjustments at the half and came out really taking the ball to the hoop and forcing even more fouls. Our guards were not able to penetrate into the zone and break it down, other that the pass inside to Vick. We really needed to dribble drive it into the middle better.

This is what will happen on nights where our 3 ball game is off AND our bigs get into foul trouble and have to play soft defense. This also exposed thin we are in the front court and need Preston asap.

David Friend 4 years, 9 months ago

Barry Weiss Spot on. We will lose 4-6 times this year because we will not shoot well and our bigs will get into early foul shooting. This is who we are.

Craig Carson 4 years, 9 months ago

getting Preston cleared to play and possibly adding DeSousa will dramatically change who this team is...the defense was swiss cheese, but I fear its not so much an issue of pure effort as it is a lack of personnel..the defense was solid when Azibuike was on the court, its when he came off that the offense became predictable and UW pounded the ball inside for easy buckets and kick outs to open 3's

Robert Brock 4 years, 9 months ago

The Jayhawks’ defense lost this game. Poor effort!

Ryan Patti 4 years, 9 months ago

If Graham wasn't white-hot vs. Syracuse, we would've lost that one too. I'm not sure if we had a basket in transition. Have to figure out how to beat zones.

John Brazelton 4 years, 9 months ago

OMG!!! KU was beaten by a second rate PAC-12 team. Fire Girod, Fire Zenger and definitely, Fire Bill Self, because he can't coach worth a lick! Please, posters, start coming up with a HUGH list of replacement coaches, because Bill Self needs to be replaced immediately. He shouldn't be allowed to coach another KU basketball game!

Joe Joseph 4 years, 9 months ago

Literally no one is saying such things.

Tony Bandle 4 years, 9 months ago

No offense guys but doesn't anyone recognize sarcasm any more?!!!

Bill Corrigan 4 years, 9 months ago

Considering how well Washington was shooting from distance, particularly in the second half, (and with the Jayhawks never finding the range for their shots), even if Billy Preston and Sam Cunliffe had been available last night, I don't think the game result would have been any different, although the final score may have been closer.

Craig Carson 4 years, 9 months ago

id have to disagree with you..Cunliffe may not have made a difference but Preston definately would have..Preston is a much better scorer, rebounder and defender than Lightfoot....When Azibuike and Lightfoot had to sit, UW fed the ball inside and started pulling away and KU literally became one dimensional on offense...It would have given Self the option of playing both Preston and Azibuike at the same time if he saw the 3s werent falling..UW was hugging the 3 point line all night cause KU didnt have an inside game for a chunk of the game....not saying KU blows UW out if Preston plays, but they at least squeak out a 8-10 point win..Preston adds a dynamic to this team that no other player does..UW would have had no answer for him and it probably opens up the shooters for more open 3s..

Damian Glaze 4 years, 9 months ago

I slightly disagree. With a 6'10" Preston catching that ball in the middle of the key, turning and looking for a two man game with Adok and/or Mitch, the Washington defense would have had to collapse more giving a few more open looks on the perimeter. Because Vick was timid in the middle they let him go unchecked while maintaining their perimeter defense. That is the big difference and it could have had an impact on our offense. I also think we would have rebounded much better.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 9 months ago

Sorry Bill, but I have to disagree also. As the team is right now, with only Azubuike as a true big, we are going to see other teams adapt to our glaring weakness. With Preston, we would still be thin but at least we would 5 more fouls to distribute between Azubuike, Lightfoot, and Preston.

No disrespect to Clay Young (who would start on many Division I programs), but Sam Cunliffe will bring a lot more to the game with his athleticism and is able to both shoot the 3 or drive the lane. To be completely honest, for KU to have a realistic chance of winning it all this year, they will need Preston and Silvio. Otherwise, our bigs will have to play soft on defense to avoid fouling out.

Craig Carson 4 years, 9 months ago

until Kansas can add some more size, this will be a constant fear for KU fans...Azibuike getting into early foul trouble and the team not making enough 3s to compensate...the defense overall was shotty at best..UW had way too many open 3's..they exploited KU's lack of depth too..this will be a problem all year...all of a sudden, the game against a now ranked ASU team on Sunday seems a lot more important cause dont think for a second that ASU coaches didnt watch this game...and for the record, KU didnt handle the SU zone very well either....GRAHAM handled the zone well seeing as how he scored nearly half our points that game..but Azibuike also wasnt saddled with foul trouble that game either so KU played a lot better defense..I hope KU can add Preston soon, but Im already looking forward to next year when KU will finally have a REAL front court again..seems like forever since they've had a deep front court that could rebound

David McNickle 4 years, 9 months ago

I thought UW disguised their zone defenses really well. They opened up in a 2-3 but within a couple of minutes switched to a 3-2/1-2-2 and basically matched up with the wings. Look where most of the 3's came from last night. The corners. Good thing is, Washington runs this defense constantly and works on it everyday in practice. Other teams can switch over to play a zone against us, but this isn't something they practice primarily. I'm guessing this is why Self rarely ever switches over to anything besides man. Good thing we saw these zones twice before Baylor.

Len Shaffer 4 years, 9 months ago

"... the defense overall was shotty at best ..."

Shotty??? Do you mean shoddy, or sh*tty?

Craig Carson 4 years, 9 months ago

sh*tty might have been the better word..UW had a TON of wide open uncontested shots..its like KU couldnt string together more than 2 stops in a row..UW was either hitting a wide open jump shot or banging the ball inside and shooting FT....this is NOT going to be one of Selfs better defensive teams this year

Michael Sillman 4 years, 9 months ago

I’ve never been impressed with the atmosphere at the Sprint Center. It’s a couch potato crowd that sits on their hands waiting for something to happen.

We saw the difference between Graham and Mason. Mason was a grinder who was going to do whatever was necessary to get his points. His consistency and lack of emotion was amazing.

Graham is an emotional streaker. If things are not going well, he has difficulty adjusting. Hopefully he’ll become more of a grinder by tournament time.

Alan Dickey 4 years, 9 months ago

FT Rate is a big problem for this team. We rank 349th out of 351 teams in this category. Specifically, this year, we are attempting 20.4% as many FTs as we are attempting FGs. Last year, KU’s FT Rate was 36.0%. We went to the line 76% more often last year than this year. Big, material difference. Jackson St. and Sam Houston St. are the only teams that shoot fewer FTs than do the Jayhawks. By comparison, ASU, who we play next, has a FT Rate of 55.9% (#1 in the nation), which does not bode well for our thin front court. Washington's FT Rate is 9th in the nation at 47.4%.

Last year, Mason’s FT Rate was 48.4%; Lucas’s was 47.5%; Jackson’s was 40.3%; Svi’s was 16.8%, and Graham’s was 25.1%.

This year, Graham’s FT Rate is 28.3%; Azibuke’s is 29.9%; Vick’s is 18.9%; Newman’s is 15.5%; and Svi’s is only 7.9%. The highest of those is 6% lower than the team average last year. Svi is going to the line less than half as often as he did last year.

Some of those numbers are unacceptably low. At last some of our guys need to be more aggressive in driving at the hoop if we’re not going to hit 45% of our threes every game.

Craig Carson 4 years, 9 months ago

the issue is with the personnel..Mason and Jackson were super aggressive and could draw fouls with Mason putting players like Lucas in spots where he could draw fouls also...right now we have a team full of shooters who'd rather hit 3's than go to the rim..that has to change..the ASU game will be interesting..I dont look for another 5-20 3 point shooting performance, but Azibuike is gonna need to play super smart and not pick up fouls..if he can do that, Ill go with KU..but if Lightfoot and Clay play as many minutes as Azibuike, it could be lose #2

John Geissal 4 years, 9 months ago

I live in"Champaign, and when Self was coach at Illinois a friend of mine pointed out after an upset loss, similar to this one, that Self coached teams, even at Tulsa and ORU, would throw in a "Stinker" so the team would not get to full of themselves. Let's hope it works again.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 9 months ago

I think that's just the nature of team sports. You're not always going to have your best stuff. And, sometimes, your stuff is plain bad. I don't buy the notion that coaches intentionally hope for, or try to bring about bad games.

Jaybate used to be big on the whole, "Self is bringing them out flat on purpose," garbage. I don't buy it.

Craig Carson 4 years, 9 months ago

this game felt more like an lack of personnel exposure than simply a "stinker"..its one thing if a good team has an off night, but its another when the off night is due to an issue (no front court depth) that cant be fixed..right now, there is nothing KU can do to fix its lack of front court depth and any game in which Azibuike doesnt log 34 minutes, could result in a KU loss

David Rust 4 years, 9 months ago

We were a house divided last night. My family has been UDUB Football season ticket holders since 1959 and my wife is the granddaughter of former KU Captain Lyman Corlis. I have been a KU B-ball fan since the days of Danny Manning, and we are both avid fans come March. I thought Washington's game plan was outstanding, and they stuck with it for 40 minutes. I fully expected KU to make runs both at the end of the first half and with about 8 minutes to go in the game. Noah Dickerson impressed me with his efforts on the glass. Those calling for Bill Self's job are being a bit dramatic. I find him to be an outstanding coach and person. Good luck KU, and hopefully UDUB can make it back into the tournament this year. GO DAWGS!

Mallory Briggans 4 years, 9 months ago

Its ironic that the basketball team took on a walk-on from the football team ......12 straight losses for that young man....

Craig Carson 4 years, 9 months ago

and not to sound arrogant but, this win for UW will be the crown jewel in an otherwise 20-14 NIT season for them LOL

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