Kansas Jayhawks

West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) fouls Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
(AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)

No. 11 West Virginia upsets No. 1 Kansas

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West Virginia pressed and physically beat down No. 1 Kansas on Tuesday night as the No. 11 Mountaineers pulled off the 74-63 upset at home. Always a tough matchup for the Jayhawks, West Virginia now owns three consecutive wins over Kansas in Morgantown.

Jumping out to an early lead and never relenting, West Virginia was simply the more aggressive team on both ends of the floor. The Mountaineers crashed the offensive glass for a 15-7 advantage in that category and forced 21 Kansas turnovers. As the No. 1 team in the country, the Jayhawks were thought to have a strong backcourt with veteran leadership but Frank Mason and Wayne Selden combined for 13 turnovers and looked shaky against West Virginia’s guards.

West Virginia (15-1, 4-0) had a strong efforts from Jaysean Paige (24 points, four rebounds, four steals) and Devin Williams (17 points, 12 rebounds) as they looked like a potential threat in the Big 12. Their press is obviously difficult to handle, but this team really plays well together and has a tremendous attitude at all times.

Early in the game, the Mountaineers set the tone by constantly attacking the basket and drawing fouls. It helped West Virginia win the free-throw battle, as they were 32-for-46 from the charity stripe while Kansas was only 13-for-21

Perry Ellis was the leader for Kansas, as he finished with 21 points and seven rebounds. But credit has to go to West Virginia’s defense with making it difficult for Ellis to get touches so the Kansas offense could not go through him. With guards like Mason and Selden forced to make plays off the dribble, it made it difficult for the Jayhawks offense to function and they looked disoriented. Mason finished with 12 points while Selden added 11 points.

The Jayhawks (14-2, 3-1) still have plenty of time to fix their press break and re-tool their offense to face a pressure-oriented defense, but this loss was still a bit concerning. Their veteran guards looked flustered, and although Kansas has barely seen any press situations this year, they should have handled it better.

West Virginia has a chance to make another statement later this week when they take a trip to No. 2 Oklahoma. They’re already at 4-0 in the Big 12 with two road wins and a win over Kansas, so that’s certainly as good of a start as Bob Huggins could have hoped for. Paige is a major sparkplug off the bench and Williams continues to be one of the more underrated big men in the country on a national level.

Greene back to lead No. 2 Kansas to 92-59 rout of Holy Cross

Bill Self
Associated Press
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) While the rest of his teammates were enjoying a holiday trip to Hawaii, and winning a title at the Maui Invitational, Brannen Greene was shooting baskets in an empty gym in Kansas.

Talk about a punishment.

Suspended for conduct detrimental to the team, the smooth-shooting forward was reinstated by Jayhawks coach Bill Self in time for Wednesday night’s game against Holy Cross. He responded by hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 14 points in a 92-59 rout of the Crusaders.

“Definitely felt good to get back on the court,” said Greene, who has declined to discuss what led to the suspension. “Me and coach, we had a sit-down, we talked. I dealt with my punishment. Looked at it as a positive and tried to get back on the court.”

Self had told Greene the previous day that he would suit up.

“Let me make this real clear, we don’t need to get on the same page. He needs to get on our page,” Self said. “And we had several, or a few, good talks initially, really good talks. His attitude has been really good and I think he wants to be part of what we’re doing here.”

Wayne Selden Jr. had 15 points to lead all scorers. Frank Mason III added 13, Perry Ellis and Cheick Diallo scored 12 apiece, and Devonte Graham finished with 10 for the Jayhawks (7-1), who blew most of a 20-point lead before building an even bigger margin in the second half.

“I told them, `Don’t go near an offensive rebound. A shot goes up, just get back,”‘ Crusaders coach Bill Carmody said, “and they still beat us back in transition.”

Karl Charles led Holy Cross (3-6) with 12 points. Malachi Alexander had 11.

Kansas played without forwards Landen Lucas, out with a toe injury, and Jamari Traylor, who has been dealing with a sore ankle. Both suited up and participated in warmups, but Self decided to start Hunter Mickelson and give his two big men the night off.

“They got the shaft tonight in some respects because they could have played, but I didn’t see any reason to do it,” Self said. “It wasn’t anything negative that they’ve done.”

Besides, it wasn’t like the Jayhawks needed either of them.

The reigning Big 12 champs resembled the high school team from “Pleasantville” in the first half, making nearly every shot that went up. They were 8 of 10 from beyond the arc, connected on 70 percent of their field goals and even managed to make all four of their foul shots.

The lead reached 20 at one point late in the half, and Mason converted a 3-point play on a drive to the basket to give Kansas a 50-33 advantage at the break.

The Crusaders stubbornly stuck with their 2-3 zone in the second half, though, and for a while it allowed them to climb back into the game. Kansas missed four of its first five shots, and Holy Cross ripped off a 13-2 run to get within 52-46 with less than 16 minutes left in the game.

But like they have in 97 of their previous 101 non-conference home games under Self, the Jayhawks proved to be too much. Ellis answered the run with a bucket in the paint, Graham took his own steal in for a dunk, and Mason’s 3-pointer from the corner restored order.

Kansas pushed the lead back to 20 on Selden’s two free throws, and right past the mark when Diallo followed up Selden’s miss with a dunk to help put the game away.

“The pressure got to us, forced some turnovers and we sort of lost control of things,” Carmody said. “It’s a very good team, and it’s a good passing team – there didn’t seem to be any greedy guys out there.”

HOT SHOOTING

The Jayhawks weren’t the only ones who couldn’t miss. Holy Cross shot 55 percent from the field in the second half, and they were 19 of 23 from the foul line for the game.

TIP-INS

Holy Cross: Anthony Thompson had four points on 1-for-9 shooting. He had 23 points against Albany in his last game. … The Crusaders beat Kansas in December 1949 with Bob Cousy on the roster.

Kansas: Graham also had five assists before leaving with what appeared to be a minor injury in the second half. … Kansas wound up 12 of 20 from 3-point range and shot 63 percent from the field.

UP NEXT

Holy Cross travels to Hartford on Saturday night.

Kansas plays Oregon State on Saturday night in Kansas City, Mo.

Brannen Greene’s suspension ends one game early

Brannen Greene
Associated Press
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Originally suspended by Kansas head coach Bill Self for six games following the Jayhawks’ loss to Michigan State in mid-November, junior wing Brannen Greene will make his return a game early.

Self announced the news Wednesday afternoon, meaning that Greene will be available to play when Kansas takes on Holy Cross Wednesday night. The original six-game suspension was supposed to end with the Jayhawks’ game against Oregon State Saturday in Kansas City. In making the announcement Self praised Greene for his attitude since being suspended.

Greene averaged 12.0 points in the two games he played before the suspension, averaging 11.5 minutes per contest. Also of note is that at the time of his suspension the Jayhawks were coming off of a 3-for-15 night from beyond the arc in that loss to Michigan State. On the season Kansas is shooting 45.5 percent from three, and the return of Greene (5-for-5 3PT) gives them another capable three-point shooter.