Author: Rob Dauster

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Wayne Selden, No. 2 Kansas stake claim to title of nation’s best team

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Wayne Selden finished with 24 points and four assists without a turnover while shooting 9-for-15 from the floor  as Kansas blew out No. 23 Baylor, 102-74.

The Jayhawks shredded Baylor’s zone in the first half, hitting six of their first seven threes while jumping out to a 24-4 lead in the first seven minutes. Baylor was never within single digits the rest of the way.

It was quite the statement from the Jayhawks, who could very well become the No. 1 team in the country on Monday morning. And here’s the most intriguing part: The three guys on their roster that NBA Draft people are intrigued by — Cheick Diallo, Carlton Bragg and Svi Mykhailiuk — all played 10 minutes or fewer.

That’s what makes this team so dangerous. They don’t really have a star, per se. Selden is their best player and leading scorer, but he’s less of a dominating presence in their offense than he is a guy who is super-efficient which the chances that he gets in the flow of what they run. Perry Ellis is in the same role. Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham have blended perfectly in a dual-point guard back court while KU’s big-man-by-committee is currently flourishing.

This group reminds me of the 2014 Florida Gators. That was the team that was led by Scottie Wilbekin and Casey Prather, the team that was 36-2 and the consensus best team in the country when they lost to UConn in the Final Four. They’re a balanced, veteran group that plays well together, that understands their individual roles and, to this point in the season, has no issue playing them no matter how limited the minutes end up being.

Might that change by the end of the year? Will Bragg and Diallo and Svi be OK playing bit roles when their NBA Draft stock is on the line?

That’s tough to know.

But what I do know is that at this point in the season, they are, and when they are, Kansas might very well be college basketball’s best team.

POSTERIZED: Kris Dunn throws down in traffic in blowout win over St. John’s

Providence’s Kris Dunn reacts in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Massachusetts, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Amherst, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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Kris Dunn is putting together a pretty impressive Player of the Year portfolio.

After completely dominating No. 9 Butler in the second half of Providence’s win in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Thursday, The Kris Dunn Show is getting rerun on Saturday.

26 points, nine boards, six assists, three steals, one block … and one nasty poster dunk on St. John’s center Yankuba Sima:

Providence would go on to win 83-65 to improve to 14-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big East. Ben Bentil added 20 points and nine boards while Rodney Bullock chipped in with 13 points and eight boards.

Remy Abell, No. 6 Xavier make statement in win over No. 9 Butler

Xavier's Jalen Reynolds (1) reacts after dunking as Butler's Austin Etherington (0), Jordan Gathers (5), Tyler Wideman (4), and Kelan Martin, right, look on during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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Remy Abell scored a career-high 21 points, adding four assists and on turnovers to lead No. 6 Xavier to a blowout win over No. 9 Butler, 88-69.

The Musketeers entered the afternoon just 48 hours removed from their first loss of the season, a 31-point drubbing at the hands of two-time Big East champion Villanova. It was easy to look at that performance and think that Xavier had gotten exposed, which is part of the reason that the Musketeers came out the way that they did on Saturday.

Abell was the key.

Xavier didn’t just lose the game to Villanova on Thursday, they also lost star point guard Edmond Sumner to a head injury after a scary collision where 6-foot-7, 240 pound Kris Jenkins landed on Sumner’s head. He was not diagnosed with a concussion and was able to return to Cincinnati with the team on Thursday, but he did not suit up for the Musketeers in what was as close to a must-win game as you’ll find this early in the season. Falling to 0-2 in the Big East in a year where the top four teams are this strong would be a difficult hole to dig out of.

And Abell, who has the reputation of being one of the best perimeter defenders in the conference, was the guy who stepped up. He entered Saturday’s matchup averaging 6.9 points this season, but finished the after shooting 7-for-8 from the floor with a trio of triples, helping to fill the playmaker void that was vacated by Sumner.

This was a statement win for the Musketeers, who got a combined 21 points and 18 boards from their front court duo of Jalen Reynolds and James Farr and who hit 10-for-21 from beyond the arc. If it wasn’t clear enough on Thursday, it’s beyond obvious now: That loss to Villanova was all about how well the Wildcats’ played and the psyche of the Musketeers after seeing their point guard get stretchered off the floor.

As far as Butler is concerned, I’m don’t think it’s time for us to be too overly concerned at this point, but there are some issues that are going to need to be addressed. Specifically, the defensive end of the floor. Butler can’t get stops. 48 hours after Kris Dunn looked like LeBron James carving them up in the second half in Hinkle Fieldhouse, Xavier gave up 88 points on 56.1 percent shooting to a Xavier team that was missing their best playmaker.

Chris Holtmann changed three of his starters for this game, including Kellen Dunham, who seemed to snap out of his slump — he hit his first three threes, although he did end the afternoon 4-for-12 from the floor. I’m not worried about him, nor am I worried about any issues this group will have on the offensive end of the floor. Between Dunham, Roosevelt Jones, Kelan Martin and Tyler Lewis, they have plenty enough weapons.

But if they cannot find a way to consistently stop dribble penetration, the ceiling for just how far this team can go is going to be limited.