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Kansas defeats Stephen F. Austin, 80-72

  • 7 p.m., Dec. 18, 2021
  • Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, KS

Saturday, December 18, 2021

He’s a gamer’: Remy Martin nails clutch 3 to help KU survive vs. Stephen F. Austin

Self looking for more from veteran guard

Fired up, Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) pumps up the Allen Fieldhouse crowd after hitting a late three-pointer to extend the Jayhawks' lead over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021.

Fired up, Kansas guard Remy Martin (11) pumps up the Allen Fieldhouse crowd after hitting a late three-pointer to extend the Jayhawks' lead over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021.

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A late-game Remy Martin 3-pointer helped the No. 8-ranked Kansas basketball team survive a scare Saturday night against Stephen F. Austin at Allen Fieldhouse.

The 80-72 victory was a hands on hips or face in palms type of night for head coach Bill Self.

“It didn’t have to be that way,” Self said of the Lumberjacks giving KU such fits. “If we’d have played better and smarter I think we could have had it not come down to the last minute.”

KU junior Christian Braun led the way for the Jayhawks (9-1), with 21 points, but one of his biggest contributions was an offensive rebound with under a minute to go following an Ochai Agbaji misfire from 3-point range.

That second-chance opportunity led to Martin’s clutch 3, and a 76-70 lead.

“I wouldn’t say it was a defining moment,” Martin said after shooting 3-for-10 from the floor and 7-for-9 from the foul line and scoring 15 points.

KU veteran Mitch Lightfoot said Martin’s teammates expect those types of plays from the starting guard.

“He’s a gamer. And he’s the reason we won the game at the end,” Lightfoot said.

Self was less pleased overall with Martin, saying the guard made both good and bad plays late.

“He made a big 3 and celebrated and his man went right around him for a layup,” Self lamented. “He’s a winner, but not always making winning plays.”

At other points down the stretch, Self added, Martin gambled and missed defensively.

“Those aren’t the right plays,” Self said. “We wouldn’t have won the game without him. But he’s got to tighten some things up.”

That message came through as Martin spoke to media members after the win, too. He said he didn’t care about the box score, and he needed to improve his energy and defense.

“Little things like that, I’ve got to get better at,” Martin said, adding big shots will come. “My effort and my attitude have to come.”

Dajuan Harris spotted Braun for a lob and lay-in to make KU’s advantage 71-68 with just more than three minutes left to play.

The lead was only 67-66 with 3:46 left and Martin headed to the foul line for two chances after drawing contact near the rim, a theme throughout the night for the 6-foot guard from Burbank, California. Martin knocked them both down to give KU a three-point edge for the stretch run.

The Jayhawks went 21-for-27 at the foul line, and Harris was 4-for-4 in the final minute.

Lightfoot (six points, six rebounds, two blocks) said the Jayhawks expected SFA (8-4) to play well.

“They’re a well coached team,” Lightfoot said, adding a great defensive scheme, with changes in man and zone coming abruptly, made KU take pause.

After SFA went ahead, 50-49, on a Jaylin Jackson-Posey 3-pointer, the Jayhawks finally found some consistency and energy.

Braun drained a right corner 3 to answer and regain the lead for KU, 52-50. Soon after, Martin leaked out and Braun pitched it ahead to let the speedy guard chase it down. Martin finished through hard contact to score a layup and ignite the KU crowd.

As the Jayhawks looked to be on the road to recovery, a smooth Agbaji 3-pointer stretched the lead to nine.

David McCormack, who sat most of the first half due to foul trouble, got his first — and only — bucket of the night with 14:27 to play. The next trip down the floor, he turned the ball over and Self sent him back to the bench.

The senior big played only 10 minutes and had no rebounds.

Self opened the second half with a revised starting five, plugging Wilson (10 points, four rebounds) in for Harris.

However, the first five points of the second half were scored by SFA, as Latrell Jossell knocked down a 3-pointer and a KU turnover gave Gavin Kensmil an easy layup, prompting Self to call timeout 1:03 into the second half, with KU’s halftime lead quickly cut to two.

The Jayhawks even turned the ball over out of the stoppage, but would create some energy on the defensive end of the floor. That got the ball zipping on offense, too, and soon after Braun finished a jam off a Wilson dish to make it a 43-36 KU advantage.

Wilson stole the ensuing in-bounds pass, too, and exploded to the rim for a layup and a nine-point lead.

Wilson had already established a new season-high with his eight points in the first half. Wilson scored three of KU’s final five field goals leading up to halftime, including a short jumper near the foul line with just seconds remaining.

The last-second shot from Wilson allowed KU to head to the locker room with a 38-31 advantage, even though the Lumberjacks outrebounded the home team, 20-16, and outscored the Jayhawks in the paint, 26-18, in the opening 20 minutes.

The Jayhawks had to go on an 11-2 run in the final 3:40 of the half to take a seven-point lead into intermission. Martin made his first shot of the night, a 3-pointer, to answer a brief two-point lead for SFA.

Martin’s 3, which made KU 4-for-13 from deep in the first half, sparked the closing run, as did KU’s ability to capitalize off SFA turnovers in the final minutes of the half.

The Jayhawks set themselves up for a battle with a brutal few minutes in the first half, after building their lead up to as many as 12 points. The lowlights during the stretch included turnovers, at times a complete absence of transition defense and/or awareness, SFA outworking the Jayhawks on the glass. And that all coincided with a 1-for-10 shooting stretch.

Before the rough patch, KU actually played some stifling defense early against the Lumberjacks, who saw a 9-7 deficit turn into a double-digit hole in a little more than three minutes as a result. SFA opened the game 3-for-12 from the floor before the Jayhawks’ energy fell off and the visitors got themselves back in the game.

The Jayhawks were up 19-7 and looking well on their way to a ho-hum nonconference win when Agbaji converted a tip-in on the offensive glass while getting his feet knocked out from underneath him and drawing a foul. The acrobatic feat put KU ahead 19-7.

KU might have built an even larger lead out of the gates, but despite finding good looks from beyond the arc and avenues to the paint off the dribble early on, they weren’t coming away with points on many possessions.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Agbaji (18 points) after KU opened the night 1-for-5 from deep gave the Jayhawks some short-lived separation.

McCormack picked up his second foul 2:02 into the game. That opened the door not only for immediate minutes off the bench for super-senior Lightfoot, but also some significant first-half playing time for freshman big Zach Clemence. A 6-foot-10 post player from San Antonio, Texas, Clemence checked in for the first time at the 13:00 mark.

Lightfoot gave KU four points and four rebounds in the first half, while Clemence scored one layup and brought down one offensive rebound in his four minutes.

“At no point did I think that the game was in the books,” Lightfoot said.

The Jayhawks will be right back in action on Tuesday, with a trip to Pac-12 country and a road test at Colorado.

Comments

Bryce Landon 6 months, 1 week ago

Holy hell, Jayhawks! What are you trying to do, give me a heart attack before I turn 35?

To think that I thought Kansas had improved in the "toughness" category during the win over Mizzou last week. Tonight, they regressed big-time. I've been harping about it all year, this year's team may be vastly improved over last year's team in terms of talent and athleticism, but in terms of toughness, they are no better than last year. If the Dayton game didn't get it through their heads that they need to be tough all game long and not slack off as soon as they go up double digits on an opponent, what is it going to take?

Rodney Crain 6 months, 1 week ago

Agree

Not to ruin the holidays but at 40 for no reason at all things hurt for no reason. :)

Rodney Crain 6 months, 1 week ago

A COMPLETE domination of SFA tonight. - at the free throw line.

I would like to thank the Christmas Elves for the extra 23 free throws in the game. We could not have won without you. You look good dressed in black and white stripes by the way.

I hope SFA makes the tourny, they can play.

It would sure be nice to not have Remy run away from a shooter with the ball when we are on defense. Cost us again tonight. All 5 guys were back and we ended up with a 2 on 1, with a guy who did not have the ball, and left a shooter wide open for an easy 3.

It looks like we are going to be fine not playing a ranked team till Jan. 8th. We can barely hold off the unranked ones.

Steve Zimmerman 6 months, 1 week ago

“It didn’t have to be that way,” Self said of the Lumberjacks giving KU such fits. “If we’d have played better and smarter I think we could have had it not come down to the last minute.”

M'kay, coach, that's an understatement, SFA is a well-coached team.. look at the tape again, sit with McCormack:

  • against 3pts shooting has been KU's nightmare, now add: hi-low offense with an agile 5 (yes, coach BS got outplayed by his own fave plays)

  • our entry-pass to the post: high ball, vs SFA: bounce pass, no need to tell you which one is more effective

On positive sides:

  • JWill can be productive nailing jumpers, he's SO MUCH BETTER tonight, keeping my hopes up
  • Mitch doesn't need to start, he's our best 5
  • If Harris can fly, let him take more chances like that!!!
  • Martin HAS TO SHOOT MORE - yeah, this article
  • CB is still our best player out there, Ochai needs to have more of "this is my only chance to be drafted" mentality and hunger..

Barry Weiss 6 months, 1 week ago

sometimes you have to win ugly, on to Colorado!

Andy Godwin 6 months, 1 week ago

Watching Stephen F. Austin warm up I turned to my wife and said this is not a 24-point game (Vegas betting line). During one defensive drill they were quick and engaged to a player. They hit what seemed like 80% of their 3’s (thank the heavens they started out 1-7 in the first half, but 6-10 second half) and their dunking drill demonstrated athleticism. Their “bigs” were also men and I was certain that McCormack would struggle with the shorter, but much quicker Gavin Kensmil. Kudos to Lightfoot who played hard and battled and deserves to be starting. Let’s face it the crowd of 14,000 plus, many new to Allen Fieldhouse, was dead until the game’s final minutes (the students are the heart of the Fieldhouse crowd, and I am still upset their student body leadership agreed to give up some of their prime seats near the court). SFA ran the high-low to perfection many times during the game, surely making Self a bit envious to his past years of success running this offensive scheme. Fans should be realistic and note that KU got out played at most aspects of the game (2- and 3-point shooting percentage, rebounds, hustle plays, points in the paint, face break points). KU won because they forced 20 turnovers and went 21-27 versus 3-4 at the line. Even though KU is 9-1, they are not an elite team yet. The starting center position is an issue, team defense still struggles at time, and the bench play is still up and down. Positives: Jalen Wilson was good against the zone and made some midrange jumpers, Harris although undersized clearly makes this team better, and Braun and Agbaji are much improved and are carrying this team. As we all know, the Holiday break is when the team historically gets better since it is time for Self’s basketball 101 classes. Happy Holidays. Rock Chalk.

Mallory Briggans 6 months, 1 week ago

Looking at the game ,this is a flawed team ......Self has shortened his rotation , eliminating 2 scorers in Coleman-Lands and Yesufu , Clemence wont get developed because Mccormack and Lightfoot will get most of the minutes ,truth be told I would rather let Zach take his lumps now because Mccormack has regressed to this point . You get no offense from Harris jr. .........none Braun and Ochai are the only 2 scorers ,Remy is capable but he has bought into Selfs offense.....which hasnt suited Remys offensive style. Were 10 games in and Wilson has had 8 games to earn his starting job back from Harris Jr but hasnt thats problematic.Defensively teams are still shooting 3's because we are sagging off them .....SFA has so many open corner looks last night ,the corner 3 is the shortest on the court why we let them spot a man over and over is beyond me ,and not just this game all season long. Self said it should have never been that close ......................the players didnt play smart , Everything goes back to coaching Self constructed this team, sometimes a team takes on the personality of the coach

Robert Brock 6 months, 1 week ago

SFA is a well-coached team. I’m glad that they got their money’s worth and put up a great fight in AFH and exposed KU’s obvious weakness - the inability to play fundamental team defense (SFA shot over 54% from the field IN OUR HOUSE). Kansas managed to win at the free throw stripe. It’s on Coach Self to instruct this outfit on how to defend the perimeter and keep the ball out of the paint - where SFA scored 48 points easily.

If Self cannot teach D, Jayhawk fans may have to lower their expectations for this team.

Benjamin Shear 6 months, 1 week ago

Obiter Dictum:

*Welp! We won! SFA is better than people were saying.

*SFA ranked #3 in the NCAA in steals. Obviously they are quick and feisty team. They almost pulled a historic upset (before the grammar police arrest me, I purposely didn't use the indefinite article 'an').

*Our D is strange. In some ways we are bad, like when Remy goes for a 50/50 steal and because he didn't get it, SFA gets an easy shot, or when we double team in the post and don't rotate well to cover the 3. But keep in mind, SFA had over 20 turnovers. We do play good D at times, but we also have costly lapses in concentration. We are ranked 39th by Pomeroy in defense.

*Ochai and Harris both missed monster dunks. Would have been cool for those to go in. That's KU though. We are swinging for the fences and sometimes we whiff.

*Speaking of Harris, I'd love for him to show 'some' aggression on the scoring end. That would help everyone out.

*You know what I love about Lightfoot? Besides that he has a baby face and is called for a foul if he looks at another player. He attacks the rim. He goes towards the basket. Can you imagine if DMac would do that? Can you? Yeah, me neither. I've never seen it in four years.

Blake Brown 6 months, 1 week ago

10 games in and there is a lot of work to do and a lot of players who need to step up and counted. We need DMac to get it together. We need Jesufu to get it together . We need Ochai to assume that "assassin" mentality and take over. We need Remy and everyone to be more consistent on both ends. There's some huge lessons to be learned and not a lot of time to do so before the Big Xll gauntlet arrives.

Bill John 6 months, 1 week ago

We have all the pieces for a final four appearance except at center. Hard to believe we didn't bring in a legit post player thru the transfer portal.

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