The No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks (7-1) play in their home away from home — Kansas City’s Sprint Center — Saturday night in the Jayhawk Shootout, against Oregon State (6-1).
As talented as the Jayhawks are, the best player on the floor tonight at Sprint Center just might be Oregon State’s star guard.
Gary Payton II (yes, the son of THAT Gary Payton) is a 6-foot-3 senior averaging 16.4 points, 8.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists.
KU coach Bill Self was asked Friday if Payton is “kind of a pest?” Self said Payton “comes by it naturally.”
Self said Payton is a good scorer who makes open 3-pointers and is really good with the ball.
Payton can post up guards and make what Self described as “explosive” plays in the open floor.
Still, just like his dad, “The Glove,” Payton might be most dangerous on defense. Payton II has 23 steals on the season and has swiped no fewer than two in any game.
Asked what stands out about Oregon State (6-1), Bill Self said it is the Beavers’ balance.
Payton really scores the ball a lot (16.4 points, 54.5% FGs, 6 of 15 on 3s), but after that, a number of OSU players chip in.
Stephen Thompson Jr. scores 11.6 points per game off the bench and is a knock-down shooter — 16 of 33 from deep.
Drew Eubanks averages 9.6 points, Tres Tinkle scores 9.0 and Malcolm Duvivier adds 8.6. Not too far behind are Olaf Schaftenaar (7.3) and Jarmal Reid (7.0).
Duvivier is another guy to watch from outside — 11 of 23 from three.
For KU to handle its business tonight vs. Oregon State, someone likely is going to have to keep Gary Payton II in check.
Given Payton’s size (6-foot-3, 190 pounds), Bill Self said Wayne Selden is the guy you think of first to match up with Payton, because of Selden’s size (6-5, 230). However, Self said if he went that direction, KU would not be able to pressure the ball as much.
So look for Frank Mason III and Devonté Graham to guard Payton most of the night. Self said he could see Graham guarding Payton a lot, but he wouldn’t hesitate to use Mason, too. Self said both of his point guards play bigger than their size.
And Payton is so good Self said it might serve KU best to have guys take turns guarding him.
Shaka Smart got the biggest win in his short time at Texas. Longhorns beat UNC at the buzzer.
So if you’ve been keeping up with the Jayhawks you might have noticed they’ve been shooting the lights out from 3-point range — 77 of 163 (47.2%). That percentage actually leads the nation entering tonight’s game.
Bill Self said that’s because the Jayhawks are taking good shots.
“We’ve got six good three-point shooters in my opinion,” Self said, referencing Brannen Greene, Wayne Selden Jr. Frank Mason III, Devonté Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk and Perry Ellis.
As Self said, Ellis hasn’t made “a ton” of shots but he’s a very capable shooter from outside.
As you might expect, Self tried to downplay KU’s success from outside.
“That’s good, but we don’t need to live on that. If we do that we’ll never max out as a team,” he said.
Self’s claim is that making shots “camouflages” other issues. Self said the Jayhawks aren’t running plays for 3-pointers, they’re just playing and the flow dictates they take them.
Ultimately, Bill Self said he is OK with KU shooting more 3s and it should because this is a better shooting team than he has had in past seasons.
Yesterday Bill Self said Landen Lucas still feels soreness in his foot and Jamari Traylor (ankle) isn’t quite 100 percent but both should play tonight vs. Oregon State.
Self again spoke yesterday about the difficulty of playing all six front court players. Mickelson gets the start inside next to Ellis, as he did against Holy Cross. But Self only played Mickelson 15 minutes in that game. Will he get more of a look tonight?
Self hopes to find 3 or 4 bigs playing well against Oregon St. tonight. Because he prefers a tighter rotation with his front court players (think 2 starters, 2 off the bench).
“Our fans will be frustrated some this year. Because some guys will play some in some games and situations may dictate in other games they don’t play as much.”
On KU's big man options and picking who to play, Self broke it down like this:
- need energy? Traylor
- need low post bulk and defensive rebounder? Lucas
- pick and pop? Mickelson
I personally have never really thought about Mickelson as a pick-and-pop guy, so that’s interesting that he’d say that.
Of course, when deciding which big guys (besides Ellis) should get minutes, Self realizes he also has to remember Diallo and Bragg are his best prospects.
“Those guys need to be playing around Perry,” Self said of all the other bigs. “Nobody brings to the table what Perry does.” He added that especially should be the case when Ellis is aggressive and playing well on offense.
Closing in on starting lineups/tipoff at Sprint Center. 1:30 on the pre-game clock.