KU Wins 12th Straight Big 12 Title

With only three games remaining in the regular season, No. 2 Kansas hosted Texas Tech in Allen Fieldhouse with the chance to secure at least a share of its incredible, 12th straight conference championship.

With two games remaining at home, and the last being against Iowa State, it would have been in KU’s best interest to make sure they locked up at least a share against an inferior–although vastly improved–Texas Tech.

The game was sluggish from the start and neither team seemed capable of lighting up the scoreboard, but the Jayhawks came out with one of its best defensive performances of the season, particularly its first-shot defense. The Red Raiders had multiple shot-clock violations in the first half and were trying to get into their offensive sets closer to half court than they were closer to the rim.

Offensively, the Jayhawks had their own struggles. Senior forward Perry Ellis and junior guard Wayne Selden, Jr., were almost non-existent for Bill Self.

With the two leaders struggling, Self went to his bench early and often. Sophomore Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk lit the scoreboard on fire, scoring 17 points for the game and hitting all 5 of his three-pointers including a remarkable last-second shot to end the first half.

Point guard Frank Mason III was also highly engaged and feeling it on the offensive end. His 16 points and constant attack-mode kept the Red Raiders at bay.

As Self stated after the game, however, the Jayhawks have been playing so well in winning 9 games in a row, that they have reached what he called a, “semi-phase,” of thinking they can turn on the switch whenever they want. That mentality was evident after leading Tech by 20 midway through the second half, then allowing them to get within 8 down the stretch. The game was never in doubt, but the simple fact that Kansas went into cruise control with time left on the clock is something Self and his staff will have to combat, especially now that they have locked up another league title with two games to go.

Assuming the Jayhawks go at least 1-1 in its last two games, play well in the Big 12 tournament, they are all but locked into a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. With two difficult opponents to go to finish out the regular season, staying focused on winning the title outright is the key for KU.

Self made it clear after Saturday’s win that his team has plenty of more work to do before the season is truly over, and since he has been at Kansas, he has continuously stressed that sharing the conference crown isn’t something his team should be satisfied with.

KU has one home game left this season with Iowa State coming to town for senior night. It’s likely the athletic department will have something planned to recognize long-time broadcaster, Bob Davis, as he is hanging up the headset after this season and retiring after an incredible run as the voice of the Jayhawks. With Iowa State coming in as a top 25 team and one capable of beating KU, it’ll be an intense finale to the regular season in Allen Fieldhouse. Tickets For Less has a variety of seats available for next Saturday’s game. With zero hidden service fees, what you see is what you get on all ticket purchases. Don’t miss your last chance to see the Jayhawks in Allen Fieldhouse this season!

KU Downs West Virginia

The Kansas Jayhawks stuck to the game plan, avoided the turnover bug that hit them in Morgantown, and got its revenge on West Virginia Tuesday night.

Perry Ellis led the way with 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting, and Landen Lucas had the game of his career with 9 points and 16 rebounds.

Against a team which prides itself on rebounding, Lucas’ effort on the glass on both ends of the floor may have been the reason why the Jayhawks were able to control the game throughout the 40 minutes and keep the Mountaineers at bay.

In its loss to WVU on the road, Kansas struggled to inbound the ball against press defense and was never able to get into any type of offensive flow.

Bill Self’s message and game plan of how to break the press and initiate offense was executed almost to perfection and it clearly frustrated the Mountaineers from the outset.

Frank Mason III had his best game in several weeks, scoring 14 points while grabbing 5 rebounds. His ability to get the ball moving against a strong defense and keep his teammates in the right place was key in taking down WVU.

Self once again played with his big man rotation in the first half before settling in with Ellis, Lucas, and Jamari Traylor.

Freshman Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg continue to see limited minutes, mainly because of inconsistent play in situations where Kansas can’t afford wasted possessions and lack-luster defense. With the conference as tough as it has been in years, Self is forced to focus on the players with the most experience, and not necessarily with the most talent or highest ceilings.

At this point in the season, every game is as important as the next. Following West Virginia, the Jayhawks will have to travel to Oklahoma to take on the No. 3-ranked Sooners. With the Big 12 title on the line, KU has found itself firmly in the hunt, tied for first place with OU. With the Jayhawks, Sooners, and Mountaineers all facing equally difficult tests to finish out the conference slate, it may take until the final weekend of play to determine the champion and whether or not Kansas will bring home a 12th straight crown.

Kansas Tames Wildcats

It wasn’t the start No. 6/7 Kansas wanted against in-state rival Kansas State on Wednesday, but the end result was good enough for a win and another step in the right direction in an effort to salvage a Big 12 title for the Jayhawks.

Unfortunately for Bill Self, the chinks in the armor continue to show themselves.

After falling behind 16-7 in the first half, Bill Self inserted sophomore Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk into the game–a talented player that can’t find the floor–to spark his team and produce quality minutes, which he quickly did, bringing the Jayhawks right back into the game against KSU.

It had been three games in a row since Mykhailiuk actually played any significant minutes for Kansas after starting the year as one of the first two players off the bench for Self. Wednesday, however, proved to be a shining moment for a player expected to eventually become a first-round draft pick.

Defensively, Svi was in the right place and executed the game plan as instructed by Self–something Kansas has struggled with. Offensively, Svi showed his ability to move the ball around the perimeter, drove to the basket, and knocked down an outside shot. Without question, his performance was one of the main reasons for KU’s eventual dominating win over the Wildcats.

The negative coming out of Wednesday game is the simple fact that Kansas is still struggling as a team.

At times, the Jayhawks had a hard time running offense, unable to get the ball into the low post and settling for outside shots, and guard Frank Mason III continued to have trouble with his control after driving into traffic with no real purpose, resulting in turnovers, and inconsistent shooting. The one thing you can say for Mason, though, is his effort level never sways and he is determined to work himself out of his current slump.

In the second half, Kansas’ talent level took over and K-State didn’t have the horses to keep up. Had it been another team, such as an Oklahoma or West Virginia, the Jayhawks may have lost another conference game.

The main storyline came at the end of the game when the frequently embattled Brannen Greene decided to throw down a dunk with 2 seconds left in the game and both teams already well into their end-of-game hand shake line.

Self, immediately aware of his players’ dunk and even more aware of KSU players taking offense to the unsportsmanlike play, let the media know about his anger over Greene’s lack of class in the postgame radio interview, apologizing to Kansas State, using an expletive, and calling his players’ decision a classless act. Self also spoke of he and his staff having dealt with Greene and his poor decision making prior to Wednesday, promising it would never happen again, and if it did, Greene would never again see the floor at the end of a game.

Greene has a resume of on and off-court troubles which have led to him frequently finding himself in the doghouse with Self. It’s a troubling situation for not only a player which possesses plenty of talent, but for a team which seems to be missing something in terms of its makeup and personality. Whether it’s a chemistry issue or simply a slump they are having a hard time getting out of, the Kansas Jayhawks have some soul-searching to do if they have any intention of making a run at not only a Big 12 title, but a Final Four appearance.

KU will have an opportunity to progress forward and stay in the conference race when they travel to Fort Worth, Texas to take on TCU.

The Jayhawks have lost 3-straight road games and TCU isn’t quite the pushover they once were. Saturday’s game has all of a sudden become a must-win, which means the pressure is squarely on the shoulders of Kansas.

The next home game for the Jayhawks will be Tuesday, February 9 for a 6 pm tip against No. 14 West Virginia. The Mountaineers muscled the Jayhawks around in Morgantown in a win earlier this year and will look to use their press to do the same in Lawrence. Tickets are available now for the next home game, as well as all remaining home games this season. Tickets For Less has many seating options, as well as parking passes available for each and every home game. With zero hidden service fees, what you see is what you get with every purchase. Don’t miss your chance to see the Jayhawks take the court in Allen Fieldhouse. Get your tickets today and Rock Chalk!