Saturday, January 20, 2018


Tom Keegan: There’s some beauty to KU’s ‘ugly’ win over Baylor

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for a rebound with Baylor forward Mark Vital (11) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) fights for a rebound with Baylor forward Mark Vital (11) during the second half, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.


With apologies to the 1983 Chicago White Sox, there is no such thing as winning ugly.

Winning sends everyone home happy, from players to coaches to spectators to ushers to bar owners.

So how to describe Kansas’ latest clutch victory without being able to call it winning ugly?

Let’s just say Kansas 70, Baylor 67 had a great personality. Call it attractively flawed.

Kansas coach Bill Self used less ambivalent language.

“It was ugly,” Self said. “It was ugly. Hopefully, we can correct some things moving forward.”

Such as?

“Obviously, in the second half we were awful offensively,” Self said.

So awful that for a stretch of game clock that ate 22 minutes and 17 seconds from late in the first half to late in the second, the only Jayhawk to score a field goal was center Udoka Azubuike, who made 4 of 7 during that stretch.

The rest of the Jayhawks combined to go 0 for 20 between Graham’s 3-pointer with 7:34 left in the first half and Malik Newman’s 3 with 4:20 left, which started him on a streak of scoring all 12 of the team’s points for the next 3:11.

An 0-for-20 shooting stretch for all but one player and still winning is a beautiful accomplishment. Not that Azubuike (14 points, seven rebounds) was perfect.

After all, he made just 4 of 11 free throws on the same night Marcus Garrett made just 3 of 8.

“Two guys go 7 of 18 from the free-throw line,” Self marveled. “That’s hard to do. That’s like a turnover. We only had 11 turnovers, but we probably really had 16 or 17 when you look at it that way.”

During the post-game press conference, Graham said, “If we would’ve made free throws, we would’ve been in a little bit (less) of a predicament, too, right, Dok?”

Azubuike said later he has been working hard to improve at the line. When asked about it said he would consider adopting an underhanded method if his coaches suggested it.

The day started with news that Billy Preston would never suit up as a Jayhawk and it ended with the two players who will be counted on to soften the blow of his departure having particularly rough nights.

Mitch Lightfoot and Silvio De Sousa combined for eight scoreless minutes with one rebound, one blocked shot and five personal fouls.

"I think that everybody has been saying that since Nov. 10, if we don't get the big kid we're more vulnerable," Self said. "And I would have to agree with that. We are more vulnerable. We're playing with four guards out there and even our tall guards don't play big. But we also know how to win, for the most part. We compete pretty hard and we have two unbelievable seniors and we have a big guy down low who's hard to deal with if he gets it close to the basket. There are a lot of things a lot of teams would like to have about our team."

Vulnerable victors and such clutch finishers.

"Our margin of error is without question as small as it's been probably since we've been here," Self said. "That doesn't mean we can't win as many games, but there are going to be a lot of games like today. For us to win a lot of games we're going to have to eke out some and understand that's OK. That's acceptable to do that."

Clutch finishes are always acceptable because they send everybody home happy, regardless of how many flaws they witnessed.

More news and notes from Kansas vs. Baylor

By the Numbers: Kansas 70, Baylor 67

By the Numbers: Kansas 70, Baylor 67


Henry Joseph Hofmeister 4 years, 8 months ago

i think devonte and svi can almost read one anothers minds and know who's hot, who's being guarded badly and how to adjust midgame to another coach's gameplan. I kinda wish vick roomed with them this year also.

Rob Byrd 4 years, 8 months ago

They need to pull out that old video of Jim Boeheim shooting free throws and have Dok and Garret practice his technique until they master it. The old guy must have made 70 in a row at one point. And I'm with you on Vick, maybe some of their competitive fire would rub off on him.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 8 months ago

good article. ugly wins are nice, more so on the road.

Craig Jackson 4 years, 8 months ago

Tom, what has become of the mid-season media darling, Sam C?

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

Say, you're right! He didn't sniff the floor last night. Must be in HCBS's doghouse.

Craig Carson 4 years, 8 months ago

Sam is a good offensive player, but if you cant play defense, you wont see the floor..that and I think with KU playing so many close games, Self prefers guys that he trust. I trust if KU played more blowout games that Sam would see many more minutes.

Jerry Walker 4 years, 8 months ago

It's kinda like that monster carnival ride that scares the bejeezus out of you. After you crawl off the ride your buddy says, "I bet you won't do that again". Your reply? "Heck yes, let's get in line again".

Knowing that every conference game is a toss up...going 6-1 has been a lot of fun.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 8 months ago

Hadn't realized that KU went 0-20 for the stretch mentioned in the article. Makes the victory even more unbelievable.

David Robinett 4 years, 8 months ago

Anybody notice that Dok’s free-throw attempts have a kind of funny sideways spin on them? Looks like he’s not even holding the ball properly.

Len Shaffer 4 years, 8 months ago

Why WOULDN'T the coaches suggest that he shoot them underhanded? If just one player like Dok would adapt it and suddenly have a significant improvement in his FT shooting, imagine how many others might have the nerve to try it out. It's always been amazing to me that players who are as bad at FT shooting as Dok is wouldn't try ANYTHING to get better at it.

Pius Waldman 4 years, 8 months ago

I noticed that Dok doesn't shoot the ball he throws it at the goal. He needs to get his throwing hand behind the ball and smoothly release the ball with backspin. He does need attention to holding the ball properly.

Doug Clark 4 years, 8 months ago

I saw Dok practicing his release on the line before he got the ball and his right hand was on the right side of his face and he had a good follow through but then we he actually shoots it he brings the ball across his face a little and his right hand is at an angle, so this might produce the side spin as someone mentioned above. I just can't figure out why he is practicing one way and then shooting a completely different form, you would think the coaches would get that straightened out.

Bryce Landon 4 years, 8 months ago

The beautiful part of this ugly win is that, for the time being, we are in sole possession of first place in the Big 12.

Corey Sparks 4 years, 8 months ago

Being battle tested is a great quality. And usually self teams get caught early in March and can't claw back, we see it happen almost every year. I don't see that happening to this team again. They've proven they can come back from down 13+, and also can pull out an ugly game down 6 with 2 minutes left after basically having the lead snatched from them. Arizona State and Washington did it to us but that was early in the year. We can win tough games and the guys love winning like that.

Also I think self summed it up pretty well, "Our margin of error is without question as small as it's been probably since we've been here.That doesn't mean we can't win as many games."

Humpy Helsel 4 years, 8 months ago

Dok's form is so bad at the line he will never get better without a total redesign, and that is very hard to do during the season. Even underhanded requires some technique. If he tries it he should try it at home. The road crowds will be all over him unless he gets some confidence with it. I'm really surprised Baylor was first team to use "Hack-a-Dok." But they had some depth at the 4 and 5 to do that with. Also, if you are going to "Hack-a-Dok you better get him early or you could get your arm broken very easily.

Spencer Goff 4 years, 8 months ago

So last night I looked at Dwight Coleby's stats...

Two things came to mind...

  1. Is there something wrong with our uniforms that makes us battle free throw percentage? Seriously, he has only had one crappy year. Are the rims bent?

  2. We really, really need this guy on our team. As much as I love Self, he was too quick to let Coleby walk and put his chips on a guy that was with our team for an hour and a half (and looked like a 70s car salesman), and another guy that had "driving" issues.

Hopefully Dok can bump that average up to at least 50%. In his defense, he is doing a helluva lot for us, as he is truly the only "big body" we have. Remember Nebraska before you flame him, we get rolled there without him. And we certainly aren't 6-1 without him.

RJ King 4 years, 8 months ago

I liked Coleby and hoped to have him here to mentor the underclassmen. However regarding his stats:

  1. Coleby was fighting/recovering from injury last year. Next, consider strength of schedule. Right now KU ranks #2 behind North Carolina. Western Kentucky is #30. Still pretty good, but Dwight is facing mostly softer competition than he would at KU. He did have double/doubles vs Villanova and SMU, but only 6/4 vs Purdue and 4/4 against Wisconsin for example. And this with averaging 30 minutes a game, which he would not have done at KU this year.

  2. I doubt the mustache had anything to do with Coleby's departure. More likely he saw himself playing behind Dok, with Preston at the 4 and Lightfoot backing up the Bosnian. The Mustache was going to be practice squad only, which was probably why HE left. We don't have a clue as to what Self did or didn't tell, ask, or beg of Dwight. Only that in the end, Coleby preferred a different situation.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 8 months ago

I did not get to see the game, but I noticed Vick still seemed to be in a funk. Maybe it is the taller conference opponents that has taken some steam out of his non-conference stats?

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