Rob Dauster

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 22:  The Kansas Jayhawks hold the trophy after winning the the CBE Hall of Fame Classic Championship game against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Sprint Center on November 22, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  The jayhawks defeated the Bulldogs with a final score of 65-54. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Kansas turns to zone, beats Georgia 65-54 to win CBE Classic

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson took it as a shot to their pride.

Bill Self was just trying to win a game.

The Jayhawks’ coach turned to a zone defense Tuesday night, a rarity for a guy whose hallmark is a relentless man-to-man, and that slowed down Georgia enough to give fifth-ranked Kansas a 65-54 victory over the Bulldogs in the CBE Classic championship game.

“I didn’t think it was a hit (to their pride),” Self explained, “but you know, if you can’t guard their bigs and you can’t rebound out of man, we had to try to do something.”

On the other end, Mason led the way with 19 points, Jackson had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Devonte Graham contributed 14 points for the Jayhawks (4-1), who won their third consecutive in-season tournament title and second CBE Classic. They also won the event in 2012.

Jackson, one of the nation’s top freshmen, was voted MVP.

Kansas hopes it’s the beginning of a sweet ride at the Sprint Center this season. The Jayhawks face Davidson in the same building in a couple of weeks, then play the Big 12 Tournament there in March before the arena hosts an NCAA Tournament regional final, where they hope to earn a spot in the Final Four.

Yante Maten had 30 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs (3-2), but they were done in by 3-for-18 shooting from the perimeter, equally lousy foul shooting and turnovers that led to easy runouts.

J.J. Frazier, who had been averaging 19 points per game, was held to two on 1-for-10 shooting.

“You have to make shots to win,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We didn’t shoot the ball very good. Give Kansas’ defense credit for that. But we shot the ball so poorly the first three-quarters of the game, we didn’t score enough to get in position to win it.”

The zone defenses, which neither coach particularly enjoy, were a big reason for it. They slowed the game and turned it into a shooting contest.

“We haven’t really done it much so it was kind of new to us,” Jackson said, “but obviously it worked. For our pride a little bit, we really wanted to play man, but to win the game, we had to go zone.”

Kansas was a bit more efficient from the perimeter, slowly drawing away after trailing 20-19 with about 8 minutes to go, to forge a 35-25 lead at the break. The Bulldogs only made one of their final 16 field goal attempts, and their only scoring in the final 5 minutes came at the foul line.

The lead was still just 42-34 with 16 minutes to go when Mason drove for a basket, the first of eight straight points for the Jayhawks. Mason added another basket, Jackson solved the Bulldogs’ zone for a dunk and Graham and Dwight Coleby finished it off to give Kansas a comfortable cushion.

Georgia went more than 7 minutes without scoring as the game got away.

“We were prepared to play. We thought we could win the game. We’re disappointed we didn’t win,” Fox said. “We didn’t have enough guys chip in, and for us to win, we have to have more guys contribute.”

POST PROBLEMS

The Jayhawks’ post players were virtually non-existent. Landen Lucas never took a shot before fouling out in 10 minutes, Udoka Abuika played only 5 minutes and never took a shot, and Carlton Bragg Jr. finished 1 for 3 from the floor while gathering just one rebound in 10 minutes.

“They’re just not playing very well and not playing very smart and not contributing,” Self said. “They are good kids and they want to do well, but for whatever reason they have really struggled.”

BIG PICTURE

Georgia earned a split in the CBE Classic, and losing to Kansas doesn’t hurt its NCAA Tournament resume. The Bulldogs showed in their win over George Washington that they can be competitive.

Kansas has already proven it can score this season. On Tuesday night, the Jayhawks proved they can play a little defense, too, even if it meant ditching Self’s preferred man-to-man.

UP NEXT

Georgia begins a five-game homestand against Gardner-Webb on Friday night.

Kansas plays UNC-Asheville on Friday night in its second game at Allen Fieldhouse this season.

VIDEO: Fort Wayne’s coach delivers awesome postgame interview

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Fort Wayne head coach Jon Coffman thanked Indiana head coach Tom Crean for agreeing to travel to play his team even though it put his team at risk for what happened on Tuesday night.

The Hoosiers lost to the Mastadons.

You can read all about that here.

But for now, take a look at the incredible postgame interview Coffman delivered:

No. 3 Indiana is upset by Fort Wayne in overtime

FORT WAYNE, IN - NOVEMBER 22: Mo Evans #0 of the Fort Wayne Mastodons dribbles the ball against Thomas Bryant #31 of the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Coliseum on November 22, 2016 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Bryson Scott had 18 points, 12 boards, three assists and three steals to lead Fort Wayne to a 71-68 overtime win over No. 3 Indiana in Fort Wayne on Tuesday night.

John Konchar added 15 points, 11 boards and four assists, hitting a free throw with less than a minute left in the game that gave the Mastadons a 69-68 lead. The win was made all the more impressive by the fact that Mo Evans, Fort Wayne’s best player who was averaging 23 points entering the night, was just 4-for-15 from the floor as he battled foul trouble all night.

Indiana was without O.G. Anunoby for much of the night. He was scoreless and sat out for most of the second half and overtime.

Before I get into my full thoughts on this game, a couple of things to note:

1. We need to credit Indiana for actually scheduling this game. It wasn’t a true road environment – the game wasn’t played at Fort Wayne’s on-campus facility and there were more Indiana fans in the building than Fort Wayne fans – but it was a road game. Tom Crean didn’t have to play this game and he usually doesn’t play games like this, but they make college basketball so much better when they are played in November. So a tip of the cap to you, Tom. I hope this doesn’t change your mind on games like this.

“I want to say here, I appreciate Coach Crean for coming. What he did today was unbelievable,” Fort Wayne head coach Jon Coffman said in the postgame interview while holding his son in his arms in a see of Mastadon fans that stormed the court. “It doesn’t happen in college basketball. Taking the challenge, for him to bring his team to Fort Wayne and help our city, not about our win, but they’ll be talking about Indiana coming to Fort Wayne for the next 50 years. He was the reason they did it. No one else in the country will do that.”

“Right now, he’s thinking this was a bad decision. They’ll have growth from this. I really appreciate him just coming. Win or loss, we won the game before it started.”

2. Fort Wayne is good. They are the favorite to win the Summit League, which is always one of the better mid-major leagues in the country. They’re tough defensively, they’re well-coached and they went into this game expecting to win. So we’ll give them a tip of the cap as well.

As far as the Hoosiers are concerned, this game really shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise to Indiana fans if they were paying attention.

Indiana is a team that relies heavily on the three-ball. That’s more or less been the case for every relevant team that Tom Crean has had with the exception of the team that featured Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. When those threes are going down, when this team gets hot, the Hoosiers can do what we saw them do on the season’s opening night. They can beat a team like Kansas, who just about everyone has had pegged as a top three team since Kris Jenkins buried a buzzer-beating three to end the 2015-16 season.

When those threes are going down the way that they went down against Kansas – on Tuesday, Indiana shot 7-for-24 from three – it can mask the warts on a team.

And this Indiana team has warts.

Well, it’s more of a wart, singular: The don’t have a second option offensively when teams can run them off the three-point line. They don’t have a go-to guy. Look at their roster. Who on that team can create their own shot?Who can create an open look for someone else on the floor? Who on that team can Crean give the rock to and say, ‘clear out, he’s got this’? Who is their Yogi Ferrell?

Against Kansas and during the first two weeks of the season, it looked like it would be James Blackmon Jr., but he played terribly against Fort Wayne. There were stretches where it didn’t look like he was able to put the ball on the floor without dribbling off of his feet. He finished with 13 points on 6-for-14 shooting while going 1-for-5 from three and committing three of Indiana’s 14 turnovers.

Robert Johnson couldn’t be that guy on Tuesday. Neither could Josh Newkirk or Juwan Morgan. When Thomas Bryant actually did get the ball in the most he wasn’t able to score either.

It’s a huge problem for the Hoosiers, one that isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

Indiana is going to get their fair share of wins this season simply because they have enough dangerous shooters and they are a capable-at-worst defensive team, particularly when Anunoby is healthy.

But without a go-to guy, there aren’t going to be answers when a team is able to bog their offense down.

What’s the matter with No. 13 Oregon?

LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 22: Head coach Dana Altman of the Oregon Ducks watches the action during the second half of the Maui Invitational NCAA college basketball game against the Tennessee Volunteers at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 22, 2016 in Lahaina, Hawaii. Oregon won the game 69-65. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
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A day after the Ducks needed to rally just to keep the final score respectable in a loss to Georgetown, who were four days removed from a home loss to Arkansas State, No. 13 Oregon needed a three from the recently-returned Dillon Brooks in overtime to avoid succumbing to a Tennessee team picked to finish near the bottom of the SEC this season.

The final score was 69-65, which was unquestionably a better result than the 66-49 loss that the Ducks suffered at the hands of Baylor last week, but it wasn’t exactly the kind of performance that would remind people why Oregon entered the season as one of a handful of national title favorites.

It begs the question: What is wrong with Oregon? The way I see it, there are four problems that Dana Altman has to find a way to deal with:

 

1. Tyler Dorsey and Dana Altman aren’t on the same page: Dorsey entered the season as a guy a lot of people expected to have something close to a breakout season. He was a promising freshman, averaging over 13 points, that can be favorably compared to Joseph Young, who had so much success under Altman. With the pieces that the Ducks lost to graduation and without Brooks in the lineup for the first three games of the season, it only made sense that Dorsey would see a lot of shots and score a lot of points.

Only, it didn’t work out that way.

Dorsey had 21 in the season-opening win against Army, but he’s yet to break double-figures since then. In the last four games, he’s 10-for-37 from the floor (27.0%) and 2-for-13 from three (15.4%) while averaging just 6.5 points. Those two aren’t on the same page, and whether that’s a result of Dorsey being unhappy with his role in the offense or Altman being unable to find a way to utilize his ability, the bottom line is that Dorsey is not the player that we expected him to be.

That’s a problem because …

2. … we under estimated how much losing Dwayne Benjamin and Elgin Cook would hurt: Cook and Benjamin were seniors that stood 6-foot-6, were as athletic as anyone in the country and could guard – and play – multiple positions. They were so important in giving Altman the kind of lineup versatility that made Oregon so effective last season, and the Ducks simply don’t have anyone to fill that role this season.

The other part of it?

Cook was Oregon’s second-leading scorer last season at 14.8 points. Benjamin averaged 7.8 points off the bench. That’s more than 22 points per game that left, 28 percent of Oregon’s scoring from last season, which is why we have to ask …

3. … who is going to get buckets for Oregon?: We thought it was going to be Dorsey. We thought he was going to be the guy that buoyed Oregon’s offense early in the year, and that clearly hasn’t gone according to plan. Chris Boucher is an intriguing talent because of his unique skill-set, but offensively he’s a guy that needs to be set up, either for an open three-pointer or a dunk at the rim. Jordan Bell’s the same way, except he’s not knocking down many threes. Casey Benson isn’t a guy that looks to score, he’s a facilitator through and through. Payton Pritchard is a freshman that needs a year before he’s a focal point offensively. Dylan Ennis might be Oregon’s best offensive weapon right now and he’s a sixth-year senior that missed last season with a foot injury who has never averaged double-figures in his collegiate career.

Oregon is playing pretty good defense this season, much better than what they did last year. But they’re not scoring. Against Baylor, they mustered 49 points (0.817 PPP). Against Georgetown, they scored 61 points (0.859 PPP). Against Tennessee, they finished at 0.851 PPP. Those are the kind of numbers that Virginia’s record-setting defense would allow to good opponents, which should give you an idea of just how bad the Ducks have been.

An answer may be coming, however, because …

4. … Dillon Brooks isn’t right yet: This one is obvious, right?

Brooks missed the first two weeks of the season with a foot injury that had kept him out since July. He had eight points in 13 minutes against the Hoyas and went for 17 points in the win over Tennessee in 25 minutes. He looks a little rusty and a step slow, like he hasn’t played basketball in about four months. He should be back to his normal, all-american self in time.

The question for the Ducks is just how many of these question marks Brooks will answer.

He’ll make them more effective on the offensive end of the floor – that’s what happens when you plug in a guy that can get you 25 points on any given night – but is his presence the difference between a team that can win the Pac-12 and a team that was a possession away from playing Chaminade for last place in the Maui Invitational?

Player of the Year Power Rankings: Frank Mason III leads the way

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks in action against the Duke Blue Devils in the second half during the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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I know we’re not even two weeks into the college basketball season.

I know that conference play doesn’t start for another month and change.

I know that you may think it’s too early to start talking about National Player of the Year.

But I’m here to tell you that it’s not.

Last year, Denzel Valentine was the guy that deserved to win National Player of the Year. His hype train got rolling on the fifth day of the season, when he had 29 points, 12 boards and 12 assists to beat Kansas in the Champions Classic. Adam Morrison turned himself into a favorite to win the 2006 National Player of the Year award when he went for 43 points in a classic, three-overtime win over Michigan State in the Maui Invitational. In 2011, Kemba Walker announced his Player of the Year candidacy with a resounding performance in Maui; he won a title, but it was Jimmer-mania that cost him the individual hardware.

These things can carry over in college hoops.

Who are the guys that are top of the class today?

1. Frank Mason III, Kansas: In college football, we’re always waiting for a player to have their ‘Heisman Moment’, the play that they make that is so memorable, so ever-lasting that it gets so ingrained in the minds of voters that we cannot possibly pick anyone else to receive college football’s Player of the Year trophy. There really is no equivalent for that in college basketball, which is partially the result of the fact that there are a half-dozen college basketball player of the year awards that are given out.

Nonetheless, if we did decide to start referring to Wooden Moments or Heisman Moments, the leader in the clubhouse two weeks into the season is Mason’s game-winning jumper to beat Duke in Madison Square Garden during the Champions Classic.

That came on the heels of a 30 point performance where, like the Duke game, Kansas’ offense down the stretch was, as Bill Self put it, “Get out of [Mason’s] way and he’ll shoot it.”

On the season, he’s averaging 22.3 points, 5.5 assists, 4.0 boards and 0.25 game-winners a night.

The best part? In the video that Kansas released of the postgame locker room celebration, we get a #BIFM at the :12 mark.

2. Josh Hart, Villanova: Simply put, Hart has been the best player for the Wildcats this season. He’s averaging 19.2 points, shooting 57.4 percent from the floor and 41.7 percent from three. He’s one of their best weapons defensively and is one of the major reasons they are so versatile on that end of the floor. He’s attacking defenses in ball-screen actions and creating offense in the half court on his own. I’m not sure what else there is to say. He may not have the NBA upside of some of the other players on this list, but he is just a damn good basketball player.

3. James Blackmon Jr., Indiana: Blackmon has been one of the biggest surprises of the season for me. We knew about how good he was as a shooter. What I didn’t realize is what he can do off the bounce. In Indiana’s win over Kansas in Hawai’i, he was their best player on the floor, finishing with 26 points and creating offense when it looked like Indiana’s offense was stalled. That’s huge for a team that is looking to replace Yogi Ferrell.

4. Luke Kennard, Duke: If the season ended today, Luke Kennard would be a first-team all-american. Take a second and think about how crazy that is. Back in September when practice was starting, we weren’t even sure if Kennard was going to be first-team all-Duke; Grayson Allen and Jayson Tatum were projected to start on the wings while Frank Jackson was this season’s prized freshman point guard.

But with all of the injuries the Blue Devils are dealing with, Kennard has been the guy that has shined. He had 22 points, five boards and five assists in the game against Kansas at the Champions Classic. He went for 24 points in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic title game against Rhode Island. He’s currently Duke’s leading scorer at 18.6 points while also chipping in 3.6 assists. We’ve reached a point in time where Coach K has to find a way to get Kennard on the floor. I doubt he’ll find himself this high in these rankings come February, but the fact that he’s here right now tells you all you need to know about the Blue Devils.

5. Isaiah Briscoe, Kentucky: I was torn on which Kentucky player belongs on this list. De’Aaron Fox has been excellent at the point guard spot. Malik Monk was sensational in Kentucky’s only big win, when they beat Michigan State. His ability to shoot is the most important skill anyone on Kentucky has.

But to me, this far into the season, Briscoe has been Kentucky’s best player. He’s impossible to stop when he gets going downhill at the rim, he’s excellent in transition and he’s one of the best defensive options on a team that is going to win because of the way that they can defend. It will be interesting to see where he goes from here, but to date, Briscoe has totally exceeded my expectations.

6. Markelle Fultz, Washington: Three games into his college career, Fultz has already gone for 30 points twice and is averaging 27.0 points, 6.7 assists, 5.3 boards, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks while shooting 67.5 percent from the floor and 50.0 percent from three.

Read those numbers again.

The problem? U-Dub already lost to Yale at home, giving up 98 points to a team that graduated their best player from last season and was without their two best players this season. They’ve been better the last two games, which hopefully means that the Huskies will, at some point, get good enough that Fultz can realistically be in the Player of the Year conversation.

7. Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State: 26.3 points, 6.3 assists, 4.0 boards and 3.5 steals.

Those are the numbers that Evans is currently averaging. Granted, the best team that Oklahoma State has faced this season is UConn, who is actually atrocious this year, so we’ll have to play the wait-and-see game with him. But it’s fair to say that this kid is probably the real deal. Brad Underwood could have done a lot worse in picking a high-major coaching gig than the one where he gets to coach that kid.

8. Lonzo Ball, UCLA: It’s hard to pick any particular player from UCLA to be on this list because there are so many Bruins that are having great seasons. Ball is averaging 16.3 points and is the fourth-leading scorer on this team. He’s also averaging 9.0 assists and 6.3 boards and is the engine of the high-powered Bruin offense. The Bruins still haven’t played anyone this season. They’ll get their first real test on December 3rd, when they pay a visit to Kentucky and Rupp Arena.

9. Joel Berry II, North Carolina: Berry has had a couple of quiet games in a row in Hawai’i, but overall, his improvement at the point guard spot is the biggest reason that the Tar Heels look like they are the second-best team in the ACC right now. Roy Williams’ best teams have always had elite point guard play, and I think it’s fair to argue that this team is getting close to that level.

10. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: We know about Swanigan’s size and his physicality and how well he can play in the post and all of that. Did you know about his passing ability? He hasn’t had less than three assists in a game yet this season. His ability to work high-low action with 7-foot-2 center Isaac Haas is what makes the Boilermakers so dangerous. On the season, he’s averaging 20.7 points, 13.0 boards and 4.3 assists, and he became the only player not named Ben Simmons or Blake Griffin to have 20 points, 20 boards and five assists in a game in the last decade.

JUST MISSED THE CUT

Melo Trimble, Maryland
Mo Watson, Creighton
Deandre Burnett, Ole Miss
Monte’ Morris, Iowa State
Yante Maten, Georgia
Eric Mika, BYU
T.J. Leaf, UCLA
Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s

CBT Podcast: Austin Nichols, Michigan State and the Big East’s dominance

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Our latest episode of the College Basketball Talk podcast touched on the biggest stories of the weekend: Austin Nichols getting dismissed from the Virginia program, the referees botching the end of the Michigan State-FGCU game, the Big East looking like a dominant conference and … a Harvard manny?

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