Kansas defeats Fort Hays State, 86-57

  • 7 p.m., Nov. 7, 2017
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bill Self, Jayhawks OK with imperfect dress rehearsal in 86-57 win over Fort Hays State

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham, left, stuff a shot from Fort Hays State forward Hadley Gillum (4) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Lagerald Vick (2) and Kansas guard Devonte' Graham, left, stuff a shot from Fort Hays State forward Hadley Gillum (4) during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.


On Broadway, the goal of a final dress rehearsal is to run through the material as smoothly and flawlessly as possible.

At Allen Fieldhouse, it’s a bit of a different story.

As expected, the Kansas men’s basketball team on Tuesday night closed out its exhibition season with an easy-on-the-scoreboard, 86-57 victory over Fort Hays State. But there was very little about KU’s seventh exhibition victory since the end of last season that anyone would consider smooth.

And KU coach Bill Self was just fine with that.

“I think, in a final tune-up, it’s better if it doesn’t go perfect,” Self said after the victory that featured a sluggish first half that ended with Kansas leading by just five points. “I’d rather play good in the first one and not as good in the second one. I actually thought we got a lot better this past week but we didn’t look very good tonight. Hopefully we can get the guys’ attention by (the regular season opener on) Friday.”

And therein lies the reason Self was OK with the result of Tuesday’s game, even if he was not as pleased with the individual parts that led to it.

Having a sloppy showing fresh in their minds figures to inspire increased attention to detail during the final few days before things begin for real.

“I think it always works that way,” Self said. “No matter what you do last, you remember that. That can be motivation one way or another, so hopefully we’ll have their focus starting (Wednesday).”

It wasn’t just Self who thought Tuesday’s finale was sloppy and sluggish. Pretty much everyone in a Kansas uniform both saw and contributed to the performance and realized as soon as the final horn sounded that what they showed Tuesday would not cut it most nights.

Senior point guard Devonté Graham, who led the Jayhawks with 27 points and eight assists on 8 of 12 shooting (6 of 10 from 3-point range) admitted after the game that he was merely glad to move past the team’s final exhibition contest.

“I’m just glad we got it over with,” Graham said. “Now we know how we have to come out, how we have to start games in order to be successful. We just didn’t come out with energy. We came out real flat. That was basically it. We didn’t come out how we should’ve.”

Very little of the first half went the way the Jayhawks hoped and expected it would.

Rather than playing loose and letting their obvious size and athleticism advantages carry the day, Kansas looked lethargic on both ends. Lazy passes, undisciplined defensive possessions and a general lack of juice kept Kansas in second gear while the Tigers hung around and played with a nothing-to-lose attitude, growing more confident with each made basket.

At one point, after a hard back cut and strong 3-point play by Lagerald Vick (12 points, five rebounds, 30 minutes) on a precision pass from Billy Preston (11 points, 5 of 6 shooting, 23 minutes) with just less than five minutes to play in the half, the Jayhawks appeared to be on their way to opening up a sizable lead at 28-23 and with all kinds of momentum.

Forty-six seconds later, though, after a pair of deep and courageous 3-pointers from FHSU guard Trey O’Neil — one over Malik Newman and another with Preston’s outstretched arm staring him in the face — Fort Hays State regained the lead and the momentum.

Kansas closed the half on a 10-4 run, with Newman and Graham accounting for all 10 of those points. But the largest deficit the Tigers faced in the first half was six points and FHSU either had the lead or the game tied for 4:11 of the first 20 minutes.

“I thought that they out-scrapped us,” Self said. “We’ve got some issues guarding the ball. They just go around Malik and Svi (Mykhailiuk) too much and Billy and Mitch. That’s four of our eight guys.”

Self attempted to address that part of things by starting freshmen Preston and Garrett in place of Newman and senior Mykhailiuk in the second half. He saw the move pay off immediately.

“We wanted to try to play Marcus to give us some energy,” Self said. “And Marcus made four plays in the first two minutes that Svi and Malik either don’t make or can’t make from an activity standpoint. So I thought it was good for those two to see Marcus out there doing that.

“If you’re making shots, that can cover up a lot of things and Svi and Malik are both good shooters. But when you’re not making shots and you don’t give us any activity, there’s absolutely no reason to play. I think they got the message.”

Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

Self says Jayhawks 'out-scrapped' in exhibition win over Fort Hays State

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self talks about his team's 86-57 exhibition win over Fort Hays State in its final preseason contest. Self discussed KU's defensive effort, Devonte' Graham's 27-point performance and preparing for Friday's season opener.

Download podcast

Mykhaiiluk and Newman combined to shoot 7 of 22 for the night, just 2 of 13 from 3-point range.

Although neither freshman was flawless in this one, Self said the extra effort given by Garrett and Preston rubbed off on the rest of the team and helped lead Kansas to a 48-24 advantage in the second half.

“It was better,” Graham said of the second half. “We can always play better and come out with a little more energy, but coach got on us a little bit at halftime just about lack of effort and energy and he was completely right and we know we just have to start off better.”

The Jayhawks’ next opportunity to do that will come at 8 p.m. Friday, when Tennessee State visits Allen Fieldhouse for the regular season opener.

“I just said in the locker room, ‘It’s finally here now,’" Graham said Tuesday night. “All the exhibition games are behind us and now we got to go do what we’ve got to do.”

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Fort Hays State


Jerry Walker 4 years, 7 months ago

"We just didn’t come out with energy. We came out real flat." -- Graham

I don't understand it and I don't think that I ever will - how you don't play with energy in front of 16K fans in a packed Allen Fieldhouse. I just don't!

Gerry Butler 4 years, 7 months ago

Well wouldn't exactly say the field house was super charged for the team to feed of any kind of adrenilin . more like a morgue then a College ball game most of the night. - -I know fans expecting rout a lot of fans become spoiled more of a whine and cheese crowd or what you see at a tennis match politely clap a couple of times and then sit on those same hands till next time - -players feed off the fans like the fans feed off the players I don't buy into that line of junk just cause if you got a full field house - what the hell good does that do if the fans can't get up just as easy for a Fort Hays State as a Kentucky> - -same goes for the team little bit harder to get juiced for Fort Hays as it is say like for Kentucky let's be real

Bryce Landon 4 years, 7 months ago

The most disturbing aspect of tonight's game was the way Svi played on defense. He still has trouble on defense with opposing players blowing by him. And he's a senior who flirted with NBA eligibility. If by your senior year you still haven't figured out how to play defense, something is seriously wrong.

But worst of all to me was the frustration foul he committed early in the second half after coming off the bench where he bumped an FHSU player. Looked to me and to the TV announcers that he was pouting about starting the second half on the bench. Again, Svi, you're a freaking senior! Grow up!

Town Thomas 4 years, 7 months ago

Why so negative? What’s wrong with your life that makes you come here to write the non-constructive words? Has that ever occurred to you that the Coaches and the players also see that AND know how to fix that?

Bryce Landon 4 years, 7 months ago

The coaches have had three years with Svi to fix it. If they haven't fixed it by now, what makes you think they will this year? And if Svi isn't acting his age, then he deserves every negative word I wrote. So spare me your "all-is-well" mentality when everything is clearly not well.

Jack Hoff 4 years, 7 months ago

Calm down Bryce. It’s an exhibition game neither the players nor the fans particularly cared to be there for.

Shannon Gustafson 4 years, 7 months ago

If they haven' t been able to fix Svi's defense after 3 years, why are you still on here whining about it? What makes you think this year will be any different? Do you think your complaints are going to get in his head and finally convince him to be an elite defender?

Lets not forget that Svi was the slowest player at the draft combine last year and also his measurables showed he has short arms and small hands. When you're slow, have short arms which makes you effectively smaller than your height indicates (as opposed to guys like Vick and Garrett who are shorter but have longer arms and probably have a higher standing reach than Svi) and shortens your reach/ability to create steals or obstruct passing lanes, then you're going to have some issues on defense. You've had 3 years to understand this and yet you're still on here acting like you're surprised by it.

Kelly Pierce 4 years, 7 months ago

I am a high school coach and I personally do not think Svi's defense is all that bad. He does have trouble with on ball defense at times, but this mostly comes off of his closeouts from where he has had to play help defense. Svi plays great help side defense, which in turn often times makes him look like a poor defender because of having to close out so often. Man defense is about 5 guys guarding the ball at all times. Watch Svi off of the ball, he plays great team defense, not a great individual defender however due to a lack for superior lateral speed.

Kelly Pierce 4 years, 7 months ago

He took a blatant elbow to the chest prior to that foul.

Andy Godwin 4 years, 7 months ago

Bryce, spot on. Svi is a defensive liability and if he is not making shots then he will see more of the very short bench. His foul in the second half shortly after getting in, was not bumping a player but grabbing him by the waist and tossing him.

Kelly Pierce 4 years, 7 months ago

After he took a blatant elbow to the chest.

Joe Joseph 4 years, 7 months ago

meh. These guys get it. Pre-Season doesn't matter.

I'll be concerned if it's January and there's still a "lack of energy."

Barry Weiss 4 years, 7 months ago

I was hoping Svi would correct the issue he had last year with guys just going right by him to the hoop. He won't start if he cannot fix that.

Jim Stauffer 4 years, 7 months ago

It was Fort Hays State and every player knew that. Pure and simple. I do believe anyone who expects Malik to be our leading scorer and some kind of star will be disappointed. I think he will be a solid No. 2 guard and no more. He is strong and smooth but somehow does not seem to be able to spring loose for either outside shots or drives to the basket. I could be dead wrong. We shall see.

Michael Leiker 4 years, 7 months ago

FHSU was a good team. That was a very nice exhibition game for KU, really fundamentally sound opponent, always where they should be on defense, didn't over pursue, just really sound and under control. Very impressed with FHSU last night.

Joe Black 4 years, 7 months ago

I agree that FHSU is a solid team. They had all their starters back from last year. They are well coached and disciplined. That is a much better exhibition game for a team to work on getting better than playing a wild non-fundamental teams like Savannah State or Newman. (Sorry, that was a knock on the last two Wichita State opponents)

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 7 months ago

It's seems that we often have higher expectations of others than ourselves. Let's face it. None of us is at the top of our game every single day. Fortunately, we aren't critiqued about it in an open forum.

As for Svi, yes, he is a senior, and yes, there apparently are limits to his ability. However, the sharp tone of the negatively is not necessary.

I am comfortable in my belief that he is working hard, as are all of the players and coaches. After all, the players change, but the results have always been top notch with Coach Self and his staff.

With very few exceptions, KU has been blessed to have wonderful and talented young men in their basketball program. When an exception does arise, he doesn't stay around long.

Kit Duncan 4 years, 7 months ago

Great post, Harlan! Spot on. Not every player can bring it every game. For that reason reserves need to be ready to step up if called upon.

What folks here forget is, whether it’s Fort Hays State or Kentucky, KU is marked in a big red circle on the calendar as the team they most want to beat. KU players for that reason, must expect to get the best an opposing team can throw at them each time they take the floor.

This KU squad has the potential to be great. They just have to realize that there are no easy games in which they can relax and just “mail it in.”


Beate Williams 4 years, 7 months ago

I don't think Andy and Barry are being negative but simply stating what type of performance everyone saw last night and also against Pittsburg State from Svi. I for one and I imagine everyone who is concerned about what type of contribution Svi is going to make this year, were so impressed with him when he came as a young freshman to the program and saw nothing but him growing into somewhat of a superstar, if not superstar at least a more than adequate starter.

You are not going to be a starter on a Self team if you are lousy on defense and Svi has be lousy on defense and that is about as kind as one can be regarding this part of his game. And the foul, it was childish and that is unacceptable from someone who has played as much ball as he has played.

You are not going to be on offensively every night but there isn't any excuse to not be on defensively.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 7 months ago

agreed. I would love nothing more than for Svi to improve on defense. the challenge for him is having to guard typically faster guards. no doubt he brings a lot to the team when he is hitting his 3's or even better when he puts in on the floor and takes it to the hoop. I love watching him do that as much, if not more, than him spotting up for a 3.

Kelly Pierce 4 years, 7 months ago

I think Svi gets beat up often about his defense, and yes he is not a great defender, but when he has an off night shooting is when all of the experts criticize his play. What about his 8 rebounds and 5 assists in 24 minutes of play? He didn't quit in other aspects of his game.

Titus Canby 4 years, 7 months ago

Harlan, I agree 100%. Anyone who has ever played sports knows that you have good days and bad days. Days when you "have it" and days when you don't. Even at work, I have days when I feel unstoppable, and days where I struggle. It's how you respond and find a way to succeed on those struggling days that defines a person.

Gary Wilson 4 years, 7 months ago

Everyone does have good and bad days. Svi is just terrible all-around. Pick a day, any day.

Shannon Gustafson 4 years, 7 months ago

How about the day he was the best shooter at the NBA draft combine...was he terrible that day?

That was too easy...

Barry Weiss 4 years, 7 months ago

and who can forget his euro-drive to the basket to beat K-State in the Phog with time expiring! awesome!

Kelly Pierce 4 years, 7 months ago

Gary, maybe you should take him on in a quick game of 1 on 1 or a friendly game of horse. Terrible, I don't think so. He will make a living playing this game. Not many who have played the game can ever say that.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.