After defeating fellow national powerhouse Kentucky in the made-for-TV Big 12/SEC Challenge, the No. 7-ranked Kansas Jayhawks return to Big 12 play Wednesday night against in-state rival Kansas State.
Looks like K-State guard Kamau Stokes won't be playing tonight. He was listed as questionable.
Appears Hunter Mickelson won't play tonight for KU, either. He's standing off to the side as other players warm up and stretch.
Something kind of strange happened the other night for Kansas against Kentucky. When Perry Ellis picked up 2 early fouls, freshmen Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg got an extended look in the first half. And they didn’t look uncomfortable. That’s a big development for KU potentially.
Self spoke a little about that stretch the other day, and holding off on bringing Ellis back on the floor in that first half.
“We were actually better with him on the bench,” Self said. “So that's not a knock to Perry, but the other guys did fine. If we're up 6 with two, three minutes left, why would we put him back in? That's what I was thinking.”
Does this mean Self will be quicker to trust Diallo and Bragg in crucial stretches tonight and going forward? One would hope so.
Another development to keep an eye on tonight. It sounds like Self has enjoyed the progress of freshman guard Lagerald Vick lately. You might remember Vick played in the first half vs. Kentcuky, when Tyler Ulis was blowing by every KU defender.
Here’s what Self said about the athletic, yet raw, young guard.
“Lagerald's been the best guy off the bench in practice, and we tried to play him the other day, and that was probably too big a stage for him this early because we hadn't really given him a chance to play,” Self said.
Self said Vick has been the most consistent of KU’s backup guards lately. Then again, Brannen Greene is such a 3-point threat, it’s hard to keep him on the bench.
“Thing about it with Brannen, the other team's always going to have to guard him because he does shoot it so well,” Self said.
As most KU fans are aware, the team really hasn’t had a legitimate rim protector since Joel Embiid played 2 seasons ago.
Here’s a glance at KU’s individual shot-blocking numbers this season:
- Hunter Mickelson: 20 blocks in 18 games (165 minutes)
- Jamari Traylor: 15 blocks in 20 games (279 minutes)
- Cheick Diallo: 13 blocks in 15 games (141 minutes)
- Perry Ellis: 9 blocks in 21 games (629 minutes)
- Wayne Selden Jr.: 7 blocks in 21 games (637 minutes)
- Carlton Bragg: 5 blocks in 21 games (223 minutes)
Self discussed KU’s lack of shot blocking the other day.
“It's one thing, we talk about guarding the ball. It's nice if you've got a guy when people penetrate they can't see the rim like we had with Joel or some other guys,” Self said. “We don't have that now. We talk about that and encourage that, and beg for activity, you know.”
More Self on KU’s lack of shot-blockers:
“But that is important. That's a big part of defense is having guys cover up mistakes and obviously we haven't had that of late,” Self said. “And we've got to get better at it. The only time we block shots is out of transition, it seems like, if Jamari or Wayne has a chance to come from behind. But we're not blocking any shots in the paint in half court defense at all.”
It's not often that Landen Lucas gets a favorable matchup. He has to out-play Hurt in the paint.
Mason missed his first 3. Graham hit his first 3. KU down 4-3 after K-State bigs Dean and Hurt hit jumpers.
Jump ball called as Selden drives at the paint and Hurt gets a hand on it. Looked like it should have been a play on.