Friday, December 29, 2017


Tom Keegan: Jayhawks adjust appropriately to long arms of Longhorns freshman

Texas forward Mohamed Bamba (4) rejects a shot from Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) during the first half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Texas forward Mohamed Bamba (4) rejects a shot from Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) during the first half on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.


Austin, Texas — Playing against him or watching him from the stands, it’s always a good idea to keep at least one eye on Texas freshman big Mohamed Bamba, who brought his 7-foot-9 reach from Harlem, home of basketball magicians, to the Big 12 for one year of highly entertaining play. 

Bamba’s  location on the court might deceive you into thinking he’s not in the play, but the second you let your eyes drift away from him, you’re liable to miss something special.

His magic isn’t of the back-to-the basket, blindfolded, half-court shot or the pass-it-off-the-elbow variety. It was more along the lines of appear out of nowhere and stretch his Gumby-like arms as long as he needed to make the play.

One long stride, a longer reach, a quick jump and he’s back in the play, his wrist, not just his fingertips, well above the square and he’s blocking a shot that seemed out of his defensive domain when a Jayhawk went up for it.

Bamba played his first Big 12 game Friday night at Frank Erwin Center against visiting Kansas and made it a memorable one for everyone in attendance.

Kansas won the game, 92-86, on the strength of 3-point shooting, and Bamba kept the Longhorns in it, flirting with a triple-double. Bamba dominated the paint in the first half and finished with 22 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocked shots.

“The guy could block the sun,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Told of Self’s comment, Bamba said, “I’m glad he felt that way. I guess that means my presence was felt, but it really wasn’t enough.”

Bamba made sure the Jayhawks didn’t run away with an early lead. Every time it looked as if KU might have one of its blink-and-you-missed-it spurts, Bamba would block a shot, or turn an offensive rebound into two points. 

By halftime, Bamba amassed 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocked shots, keeping the Longhorns within 37-34. 

Bamba rejected three shots put up by Udoka Azubuike, including two hook shots. He also swatted shots from Lagerald Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk and Malik Newman.

Jumpers, hooks, drives, Bamba is an equal-opportunity shot-blocker.

“Man, he blocked everything, it seemed,” Kansas senior guard Devonte’ Graham said. “A couple of them might have been questionable (meaning goal-tending non-calls), but it was tough to get in the paint and make floaters or layups. We definitely weren’t getting any layups with him in there.”

In the second half, Azubuike did a better job of using his strength advantage by getting closer to Bamba when he scored on him.

“We told him shot-blockers like to have space and when you put a body on them it’s hard for them to jump,” Graham said.

Azubuike applied the lesson.

Bamba scored 11 early points, when Azubuike, nursing a sore back, started slowly, gingerly. But for much of the game, Azubuike played him to a near standstill in every area except shot-blocking. 

Bamba covers so much space that it enables Texas defenders to defend the 3-point line aggressively. The Longhorns came into the game with the nation’s 10th-ranked 3-point-percentage defense (.282).

That didn’t keep Kansas from catching fire from long distance in the second half (11 of 20, 17 of 35 for the game) and that’s how the Jayhawks scored an impressive road victory.

Bamba’s the reason Texas didn’t get blown off its own floor.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Texas

By the Numbers: Kansas 92, Texas 86

By the Numbers: Kansas 92, Texas 86


Russell Holloway 4 years, 11 months ago

It was really interesting to watch Bamba play. He could be pretty lethal by the end of the season. He is like a skinny, taller Dwight Howard type player. I have a feeling that he may have lit a fire in Azubuike.

Kerby Rice 4 years, 11 months ago

I was very impressed with Bamba. Although I think the most impressive thing may have been the piece either before or after a commercial when he said that he scored a 30 on his ACT!

Robert Brock 4 years, 11 months ago

In Lawrence, for the return bout, expect de Sousa to spend a little bit of time leaning on Bamba. LIke Keegs mentioned, a guy has a hard time jumping when he is off balance. ‘Buike can’t be the only one doing the leaning - he might get into foul trouble.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 11 months ago

Silvio must have his amateurism certified by the NCAA... Which means he still isn't eligible.

This must be Chrismas.The gift that keeps on giving.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 11 months ago

When it happened, I was sure that the Bamba block in the second half when the ball was just a couple of feet from the basket was goal tending, and Coach Self clearly agreed by his demonstration from the bench. However, after watching the replay, I must say that the ball didn't appear to be on its downward arc. It was one of the most awesome blocks that I have ever seen and reminded me of the legendary Wilt Chamberlain.

Statistics update. Osetkowski got 17 points, not the 47 that were predicted by one of our posters who shall remain nameless.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 11 months ago

Osetkowski got about as many as Travis IIRC. Good job again by Svi and Garrett. Gs defending the 4.

Dirk Medema 4 years, 11 months ago

The Gs have also learned to use their length and quickness in their help side D which allows Dok to play in front.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 11 months ago

Marvelous observations, Dirk.

By allowing Dok to front Bamba, Texas didn't try to lob the ball to Bamba. My guess is that if the situations had been reversed, Bill Self would have tried to lob the ball given Bamba's enormous wing span.

Andy Godwin 4 years, 11 months ago

He would have looked very good in a KU uniform. Miss having a rim protector to cleanup defensive breakdowns. Bamba is one of the most impressive. Tom, maybe do a story on Self’s top 10 recruiting misses (coming down to KU in final 3), #1 - Trae Young, etc.

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