Advertisement

The Day After: Cutting down the Cowboys

Advertisement

Teammates Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) and guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) come in to celebrate with Frank Mason III after Mason drew a foul on a bucket during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Teammates Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) and guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) come in to celebrate with Frank Mason III after Mason drew a foul on a bucket during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

The Kansas University men's basketball team jumped out to 3-0 in Big 12 play with a 67-57 victory over Oklahoma State on Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

Despite the double-digit victory, this one was not easy. KU had to earn everything it got and did that more often than not by taking contact and heading to the free throw line.

The KU-OSU rivalry has become one of the best in the Big 12 during the past few seasons and, despite the absence of former OSU star Marcus Smart, Tuesday's clash did not disappoint as tempers flared, intensity was at a season-high and both teams needed every ounce of toughness they could muster to hang in there.

That's great news for this still-young Kansas team, which already has a gritty and gutsy road-win at Baylor and now this tough triumph over Oklahoma State under its belt in three conference games. Those kinds of early tests should better prepare the Jayhawks (14-2) for the grind of the next 15 Big 12 games and whatever lies beyond that.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) raises up his hands after  a lob pass to orward Cliff Alexander (2) for a dunk during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) raises up his hands after a lob pass to orward Cliff Alexander (2) for a dunk during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Quick takeaway

Most people are going to remember Tuesday's Oklahoma State victory for the missed free throws, another big-time game from Frank Mason, another step forward for the ever-improving Kelly Oubre and the latest physical showdown between the Jayhawks and Cowboys. But, for my money, the story of the game was the Kansas defense. Oklahoma State entered the game with the top two leading scorers in the Big 12 (Phil Forte and Le'Bryan Nash) and those two exceeded their averages, yet OSU scored just 57 points. Cowboys coach Travis Ford shared his frustration after the loss by simply saying that OSU had to find a way for other guys to score. Forte and Nash combined for 39 points (4 points above their combined average) against Kansas but the other 10 guys who played scored just 18 points. KU closed out on shots, forced the action by picking up its defense well above the three-point line, rebounded extremely well (OSU got just 3 offensive boards) and held OSU to 31.4 percent shooting. You've heard it before, but you can't hear it enough: Offense will take a night or two off, but defense can always be there. And it's clear that these young Jayhawks understand that.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Frank Mason made just 3 of 8 field goals and still was the best player in the game – by far. Why or how, you ask? Mason is such a tough competitor that determining whether his contribution was positive or negative on any given night goes far beyond the stat sheet. He led everybody with nine rebounds, most of them coming by helping clean up the defensive glass, and showed the kind of toughness, leadership and determination KU needed to be able to compete in a game as physical and emotional as Tuesday's battle with OSU. When your leader does that night in and night out, others tend to follow without even realizing they're doing it.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) floats in for a bucket over Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte III (13) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte Graham (4) floats in for a bucket over Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte III (13) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – Devonte' Graham is an absolute difference maker and he has barely missed a beat since returning from a six-game stint on the bench because of injury. It's not just the numbers that Graham puts up that make his presence important. It's the way he plays. He's tough, scrappy, confident and, above all, fun. That kind of energy brings a big lift to the floor and is the perfect complement to Frank Mason and his bulldog mentality. Self touched on it after the game, but Graham's defense on OSU sharp-shooter Phil Forte played a big role in keeping one of the Big 12's top leading scorers so quiet.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) takes some contact from Oklahoma State forward/center Anthony Allen Jr. (32) as he elevates for a dunk during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Cliff Alexander (2) takes some contact from Oklahoma State forward/center Anthony Allen Jr. (32) as he elevates for a dunk during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Cliff Alexander played just 5 minutes in the second half after pouring in 7 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in 16 energy-packed minutes in the first half. The reason this is good news is because Bill Self said after the game that Alexander's limited minutes in the second half had nothing to do with his play. And it didn't sound like there was any kind of message being sent or discipline being dished out. It was just one of those nights where Self looked out onto the floor, liked what he saw out there and couldn't find a time or a place to plug Alexander back in. That'll happen. It'll be a problem if it happens too much, but it's big news that the pine time was not tied to Alexander's performance or a punishment.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – Forget the free throw shooting, (even though KU missed 14 charity shots, it still made 32 and got to the line nearly 50 times) the bigger concern on Tuesday was KU's three-point shooting. With nearly half of their points coming from the free throw line, the Jayhawks got very little in the way of jump shots in this one. Wayne Selden hit a three-pointer early, Kelly Oubre did, too, and Mason drilled a big one after he and his teammates tracked down two extra shots on one possession. Outside of that, KU misfired on nine other tries from downtown and only took 12 total. Fortunately for the Jayhawks, the Cowboys were just as cold, finishing 3-of-16 from three-point range and shooting 31.4 percent from the floor for the game.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) turns for a shot over Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash (2) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) turns for a shot over Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash (2) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

2 – Who would've thought, before the season, that KU could beat a Top-25 opponent with Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden combining to shoot 3-for-15 from the floor? Not me. By now, we've seen Ellis come in and out of these mini-funks or slumps and it seems, at least at this point, that it's just something the Jayhawks and KU fans may have to live with. There's something not right with Selden, too, and I'm not talking physically. His struggles around the rim are only getting worse, not better, and, despite the fact that his jumpers still look good, the guy just can't buy one at the bucket unless it's in transition. Props to the rest of the team for finding a way without these two guys, but if their offensive funks linger, it could catch up to this team at some point.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and official Darron George during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas head coach Bill Self and official Darron George during the second half, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

3 – Bill Self said it best when he called Cliff Alexander's technical foul against the Cowboys bad and Jamari Traylor's worse. The reason? Traylor's a veteran who has been around the program and Big 12 battles long enough to know better. Emotion is a great part of the game, and, when utilized properly, can really give a team a lift. But when the emotions spill over into taunting or technical fouls due to some kind of physical altercation, that's when the line has been crossed. It's not like either guy has made a habit of these bonehead plays, so it's not complete cause for concern. But there's no doubt that Tuesday's technicals are the last Self wants to see, especially now that these guys have had the opportunity to “learn their lesson.”

One for the road

KU's third Big 12 victory in three tries this season:

• Made the Jayhawks 14-2 or better for the second time in the past three seasons and the seventh time in Bill Self’s 12 seasons at KU.

• Saw Kansas go 3-0 to start Big 12 play for the ninth-straight season and the 11th time under Self.

• Increased KU’s lead in the all-time series against Oklahoma State to 110-55, including 60-11 in games played in Lawrence and 45-9 inside Allen Fieldhouse.

• Extended Kansas’ win streak inside Allen Fieldhouse to 17 games, which includes an 8-0 mark this season.

• Changed KU’s all-time record inside Allen Fieldhouse to 721-109, including 183-9 under Self.

• Improved Self to 339-71 while at Kansas, 14-9 against his alma mater (13-6 at Kansas) and 546-176 overall.

• Made KU 2,140-824 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks will head out onto the road for another tough test at 8 p.m. Saturday, when they'll take on Iowa State in Ames. It's College Gameday at Hilton Coliseum so you can bet the Cyclones fans will be more than a little fired up for this one.

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Oklahoma State, 67-57

By the Numbers: Kansas beats Oklahoma State, 67-57

Comments

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 4 months ago

No excuse for Traylor's T. Cliff's T was a dubious call. But in another sense, you see that Chicago toughness that Cliff and Jamari have.

And this will be pretty harsh on Ellis: but he just doesnt have the toughness or the swagger that Cliff and Jamari have. I live in Wichita, and yes, yes, we know all about Ellis' high-school numbers...but honestly, if Mr.4.0 Valedictorian wants to represent himself by the use of ebonics...well, I'd rather him represent KU with toughness and swagger that post-players have represented with ever since Self arrived at KU. And that wasnt from Danny. It was from Self. Self is still here. But Perry isnt listening. He's busy trying to sound 'cool'--but that dude is no more from the 'hood than I am. Too bad Self hasnt found his 'hot' button yet.

I recall Withey had to take a shot to the face (recall stank-face Withey) to get tougher. I dont know what the answer for Perry Ellis is. But I'm personally tired of his (fake) schtick and his UNC-MickeyD softness. Charmin Ellis. Someone please tell Ellis that he 'mans' the Thomas Robinson position.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 4 months ago

Spot on!

Ellis has earned a spot on the bench to think things over. Had Selden been able to finish better when he manned the 4, my bet is that Self is thinking the same.

I'm dying to see a rotation which has Mykailiuk on the court more. Selden at the 4 opens a few more minutes at the 2/3, although Graham is doing his best to take them, BG is doing his best not to take them.

Joe Joseph 7 years, 4 months ago

Ellis has turned into a role player, who will still definitely be needed at times throughout the season. However, he's still a much better fit at the 4 than Selden. Jesus and Mary...

Joe Joseph 7 years, 4 months ago

Agreed, Brett. On all accounts. I don't have a problem with teammates coming to the defense of fellow teammates. Traylor's only mistake was lingering in Nash's face for just a bit too long. The most ridiculous thing about that whole endeavor was that it took, like, 10 minutes to sort it all out. Just 'T' them both up and move on.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 4 months ago

Ellis is one of my most favorite player on the team. I love his scholarship and all his personal traits. A couple of years ago, I saw Ellis and White open the doors at the Union for an middle aged woman. Other times I've seen him, he shows class.

Last night he gave a great effort rebounding, blocking shots, steals an an assist but his passivity with the ball is driving me crazy. Those 5 turnovers were virtually all a result of passivity.

Look at his game tapes from the end of his Freshman year. He was aggressive and quick in the lane. This year, he's sooooo reluctant. A blind man could "see" exactly when. where and how he would put the ball on the court attempting to drive. Ellis, IMO, just needs to quit hanging his head and drooping his shoulders and man up.

Self has a decade long relationship with Ellis and will never give up on him. But Self will never hold a Pity Party for Ellis. He's more likely to kick him in the rear.

Glen Miller 7 years, 4 months ago

Ellis is what he is...... a solid role player that has to start, because we don't have anyone "better" at his position. I think he's a great person and representative of our school. I just don't think he's the "go to guy" that everyone seemed to think he was last year and this year. He's too short for his position against bigger teams. Gets his shots blocked all the time. Can't finish. Is soft as a jumbo roll of Charmin. Can't box out half the time and is attrocious on defense. He looks like he's really down on himself and has about zero confidence. He needs to quit listening to the talking heads, fans like me and anyone else and just play.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 4 months ago

Brett, sorry if I offended you. But have you ever watched an interview with Perry Ellis. That, my good man, is the persona that I'm not buying. Lets not get junior-high concrete in our thinking. A bit ludicrous to think we would be knocking Perry's valedictorian status...the point I was making is the exact opposite to how Brett took it: Perry is proven to be smart enough to see and do what Self is asking. But he's not doing it, because his 'too cool to do it' personality is hindering him (just my theory, Brett). Im knocking Perry's try-to-sound-cool persona, when his on-court play is leaving Jayhawk nation and his own coach scratching their heads.

Thank you for solidifying my point on Traylor. He is the real-deal when it comes to toughness...and you can already see that Cliff is too. I personally have no problem with the tougher segment on our team. (You forgot I support the Morris Twins, Thomas Robinson, Sherron, Russell Robinson?).

The only thing inexcusable about Traylor's T was that he should have realized that we already just got a T on Nash...but then, maybe Traylor (almost justifiable) thought fast that if he pushed Nash's button again, maybe Nash gets another T, and gets ejected. All it would have taken was another shove by Nash (on Traylor), and Traylor's 'crafty' ploy would have worked...or so we can spin it, on Traylor's behalf.

I cannot positively spin Ellis' performance, though. First, he is too smart to allow off the hook. Second, he is 6'8, just like Traylor and Cliff...and the contrast in demeanor is simply too noticeable to ignore. When's the last time we saw Ellis dunk on someone his size (or bigger) like we've seen Cliff and Jamari do in the last 2 games? Has Perry ever done that in his 3yrs? It's not in him, is my fear.

Suzi Marshall 7 years, 4 months ago

That is a great photo of Alexander, which shows above average leaping ability.

I was concerned about how good a leaper he was over a 3 game stretch when he could not get above the rim. After the BU game, we all heard about his back problems, which provided an explanation. This photo confirms he's probably feeling better and is a good jumper.

Andy Tweedy 7 years, 4 months ago

Every time I see Devonte' it reminds me how young these guys are! What a baby face. Every time I see Mason, I want to go back and look at how many meh replies his signing got, since he wasn't everybody's All-America...he's a bad little dude!!!

Dale Rogers 7 years, 4 months ago

I didn't see any taunting of the OSU bench when Alexander was T'd up. In another article he said he said something to Mason, not to OSU. I thought it a really cheap call. The kid was celebrating his dunk, not taunting anyone.

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

Not just that, but Nash clearly taunted Traylor later in the game and it went uncalled. It was later in the second half. It's okay though. We won and Nash can talk all he wants, but his team lost.

Joe Joseph 7 years, 4 months ago

Much has been said about KU's numbers this year (especially on the defensive end) being the lowest of Self's tenure while at Kansas.

However, since the start of conference play - and only including stats from conference play - the numbers put up by Kansas have been impressive.

Kansas leads the conference in scoring defense (55.3 ppg), FG % defense (.327), and is 2nd in both shots and steals per game.

Offensively, Kansas is at the top or near the top (2nd or 3rd) in almost every category, including: 1st in assists per game and 1st in assist-to-turnover ratio. Both of these suggest that Kansas is actually valuing the ball and moving it quite well during conference play.

I know the sample size is still small, and a blow-out win against Texas-Tech has inflated some of those numbers, but it's still impressive. Self always seems to find a way to get his team whipped into shape by conference time.

Kristen Downing 7 years, 4 months ago

Wasn't Forte injured for a lot of the second half? That might have helped his offensive numbers to look bad too.

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

His offensive numbers weren't good in the first half, except for 9 free throws, nearly half of which came from technicals. He only scored 9 points from the field and only one three pointer.

Jim Roth 7 years, 4 months ago

Yes, and I was surprised none of the articles mentioned his injury. He didn't look like the same player 2nd half.

16 pts is pretty good for a half, or even 12, no matter how he got them.

Robert Brown 7 years, 4 months ago

While I hope the team goes up to Ames with a chip on its shoulder and a 'must-win' attible, fortunately, the Iowa State game is not really must win.

Even the most optimistic supporters are probably projecting 3-4 conference losses and one of losses would probably be at Ames. I think if one of the seven ranked teams can win all home games, they will be in good shape to win the conference. Right now, only ISU, OSU and KU have won all of their home games. The ISU-Baylor game tonight in Waco should be a good barometer for both teams.

Joe Joseph 7 years, 4 months ago

If Kansas can go 2-1 over its next 3 games... that's a huge win. Shoot, 1-2 wouldn't even be close to the end of the world. (@ ISU, OU, @ Texas)

Forrest Ranjer 7 years, 4 months ago

Oubre should not have bumped Nash. Just sayin'...

Was glad Forte returned and play. Didn't want the win to balance off comments that OSU lost because he was out not in the game.

I'm wondering if maybe Selden hasn't put on so much muscle that he's slowed himself down a bit.

Ellis needs a sports psychologist. Or a new girlfriend. Something's going on.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 4 months ago

People who don't expect any physical contact should take up ballet and/or opera.

Just sayin'.

Kelly was walking over to the referee, where KU would be inbounding the ball.

Micky Baker 7 years, 4 months ago

The real issue is that Nash shouldn't have shoved Oubre. Nash was so concerned with whining about whose ball it was.

Erich Hartmann 7 years, 4 months ago

On a totally different sort of speculation: Maybe Perry has a different calling? Maybe he is burnt out on basketball? Wayne Simien got a different calling his junior season, and by the time he was 25 or 26, he was out of the NBA, through with playing seriously.

Just speculating, because Perry doesnt even look like he's having fun. While his teammates all celebrate various plays. I've seen 1 or 2 smiles from Ellis all season (I might be exaggerating a bit here, but y'all get the point...), I wonder?

David Kemp 7 years, 4 months ago

I agree. The guy plays with no emotion and doesn't even look like he is having fun.

Ben Kane 7 years, 4 months ago

to be fair, i believe Simien had an injury that ended his career.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 4 months ago

Not only "forget" the FT shooting, just pull out the phone, switch to the calculator, and realize that 34 of 46 is 70%. That's reasonable FT shooting. Granted the sheer number of misses were a lot, and it was quite a bit less than OSUs great %, but we were less than one made FT (Oubre's lane violation on himself?) away from the season average. It's one thing to miss the details in the emotion following the game, but to mention it negatively the day after is just ignorant, as in I'm not as smart as a 5th grader ignorant.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.