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Tuesday’s Three Things to Know: Kentucky loses, K-State whips Oklahoma and UNC wins

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1. KENTUCKY FALLS AS JARRED VANDERBILT MAKES HIS LONG-AWAITED DEBUT

Having missed No. 18 Kentucky’s first 17 games due to a foot injury, Kentucky freshman Jarred Vanderbilt made his debut Tuesday night against South Carolina. While Vanderbilt showed some flashes of the skill that made him one of the top recruits in the 2017 class, it was clear that there’s a lot of rust to be shaken off. But the return of Vanderbilt was not enough to help Kentucky avoid defeat, as South Carolina picked up the 76-68 victory thanks in large part to Chris Silva.

Silva, who’s been thrust into a position of leadership due to how much South Carolina lost from last year’s Final Four squad, was the best player on the floor Tuesday night. Silva scored a game-high 27 points while also grabbing eight rebounds, shooting 9-for-17 from the field and 9-for-13 at the foul line. Outside of Nick Richards, who tallied 12 points and four rebounds before fouling out, Kentucky did not offer up much resistance in the paint and Silva made the Wildcats pay for it.

Add in the fact that both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (six points, six turnovers) and Hamidou Diallo (five points) struggled to get going, and the end result was the shorthanded Wildcats losing a game they led by 13 points with 13:25 remaining. In a game that lacked flow for significant stretches — the teams combined to attempt 74 free throws — Kentucky managed just four fast break points. And with the point guard play lacking sans the injured Quade Green, Kentucky couldn’t do enough offensively to close out the Gamecocks.

2. KANSAS STATE WHIPS NO. 4 OKLAHOMA

There’s no denying the fact that Oklahoma freshman point guard Trae Young is one of the nation’s best players, and an early frontrunner for national Player of the Year honors. That being said, the Sooners really need their best playmaker to get his turnover issues in check. After turning the ball over nine times in the Sooners’ overtime win over TCU on Saturday, Young racked up a stunning 12 turnovers in Oklahoma’s 87-69 loss at Kansas State Tuesday night.

Add in the fact that he shot 8-for-21 from the field in scoring his 19 points, and the end result was what is the worst night of Young’s freshman season. Give credit to Bruce Weber’s charges, especially Barry Brown Jr., for much of this as they were active defensively and got after Young all night long. Brown also scored 24 points and dished out five assists, with Dean Wade adding 21, seven boards and seven assists as Kansas State picked up its first win over a ranked team this season.

Our Rob Dauster has more on Young’s rough night here.

3. NO. 15 NORTH CAROLINA HOLDS OFF NO. 20 CLEMSON

Having never beaten North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Clemson dropped to 0-59 all-time as Cameron Johnson led five Tar Heels in double figures with 21 points. After shooting a combined 3-for-16 from three in the four games prior, Johnson was 6-for-9 from deep and 7-for-10 from the field overall. Johnson and Kenny Williams III combined to score 20 points in the first half, which helped North Carolina build a 15-point halftime lead despite Joel Berry II and Luke Maye both struggling offensively.

Berry and Maye would pick it up in the second half, which helped North Carolina hold off a Clemson team that made ten of its first 11 shots from the field. Marquise Reed tallied 21 points and Shelton Mitchell 18 for the Tigers, who shot better than 61 percent from the field in the second half. Clemson should be fine moving forward, but the big takeaway from this result is Johnson breaking out of his slump and showing just how valuable he is to North Carolina moving forward.

No. 3 Kansas survives at Kansas State

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Coming off of a home loss against Iowa State over the weekend, No. 3 Kansas responded with a close 74-71 road win at rival Kansas State on Monday night.

After the Big 12 went through chaos over the weekend with the Jayhawks, Baylor and West Virginia all losing, Kansas took the first step in figuring things out at the top of the conference race by winning ugly.

It wasn’t the best performance from Kansas (21-3, 9-2) on Monday but they were still able to get it done. Senior guard Frank Mason led the Jayhawks with 21 points while Josh Jackson added 18 points despite battling foul trouble. The Jayhawks looked exhausted and continued to make more unforced turnovers than normal but they got a bit of a boost from the return of forward Carlton Bragg (suspension) as they earned a solid win.

Kansas State (16-8, 5-6) couldn’t follow up the win over Baylor with another top-three win as they fell just short of really making its NCAA tournament case a strong one. Forward Dean Wade led a balanced scoring effort with 20 points as the Wildcats did a great job of pounding the offensive glass — finishing with 20 offensive boards.

Improving its offensive efficiency from shooting 38 percent is important but head coach Bruce Weber has to feel good that his team just went toe-to-toe with two potential No. 1 seeds (Baylor and Kansas) and went 1-and-1 with a one-possession loss. Kansas State gets another crack at a top-15 team in conference play with a road game at West Virginia for its next game.

Ellis leads No. 1 Kansas to 85-63 rout of K-State in Big 12s

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Perry Ellis scored 21 points, Frank Mason III added 16 and top-ranked Kansas ran roughshod over weary Kansas State, 85-63, on Thursday in the quarterfinals in the Big 12 Tournament.

The Jayhawks (28-4), who won their 12th consecutive regular-season crown, led 45-30 at halftime before pushing their advantage past 20 for much of the second half. They coasted the rest of their way to a semifinal matchup Friday night with No. 22 Baylor, which handled No. 23 Texas earlier in the day.

Carlton Bragg added a career-high 12 points for Kansas. Devonte Graham finished with 11.

The eighth-seeded Wildcats (17-16) were led by Justin Edwards, who hit five 3s and had 23 points. But the senior guard didn’t get nearly as much help as he had in a first-round victory over Oklahoma State.

Wesley Iwundu and D.J. Johnson scored 10 apiece, but freshman forward Dean Wade – who had a career-high 20 against the Cowboys – was held to five points on 1-for-6 shooting. Fellow freshman Barry Brown was 1 of 8 from the field and managed only three points in 26 minutes.

Kansas State has never beaten Kansas in nine tries in the Big 12 tournament.

The Jayhawks, potentially playing for the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, certainly looked the part before a heavily pro-Kansas crowd. They shot 57 percent from the field, had the edge in rebounding, assists and steals, and protected the ball so well Kansas State never made much of a run.

The few times the Wildcats mounted a charge, Ellis or Mason was there to answer it.

The biggest highlight may have come when Ellis soared for an alley-oop pass and slammed it down midway through the second half, sending the crowd in Sprint Center buzzing and giving Kansas a 55-37 lead.

Edwards kept trying to shoot Kansas State back in the game, but the rest of the Wildcats looked spent from their game against the Cowboys down the stretch. Kansas merely had to protect the basketball in the final minutes to wrap up its 12th consecutive victory.

CHEICK CHECK

Kansas forward Cheick Diallo did not play after needing five stitches in his mouth following an incident in practice Wednesday. Diallo, a five-star recruit, has struggled to earn minutes behind the Jayhawks’ bevy of veteran forwards. He hasn’t scored more than two points in a game since January.

TIP-INS

Kansas State: Edwards also had 10 rebounds. … The Wildcats shot 38 percent, including 6 of 18 from beyond the arc. … The last time the teams met in the Big 12 Tournament was the 2013 finals.

Kansas: Wayne Selden Jr. was held to five points on 1-for-6 shooting. … The Jayhawks improved to 19-1 in their opening game of the conference tournament. … Kansas swept the season series from Kansas State.

UP NEXT

Kansas State waits to hear if it is playing in the NIT.

Kansas plays the No. 22 Bears in Friday night’s semifinals.

No. 17 Iowa State beats Kansas State 80-61

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AMES, Iowa (AP) Matt Thomas scored 20 points and Georges Niang added 17 to help 17th-ranked Iowa State beat Kansas State 80-61 on Saturday night, clinching its fifth straight 20-win season.

Jameel McKay scored 14 points with 17 rebounds off the bench for the notoriously-thin Cyclones (20-9, 9-7 Big 12), who got 24 points from their reserves.

Iowa State strung together 13-0 runs in each half, which proved to be the difference. The Wildcats pulled as close as 65-59 before backup Hallice Cooke’s 3 with just under four minutes left swung momentum back in favor of the Cyclones.

D.J. Johnson had 22 with nine boards for Kansas State (15-14, 4-12), which shot just 4 of 18 from 3-point range.

Iowa State’s dream of a share of the Big 12 title ended last weekend when Kansas secured its 12th league win.

But the Cyclones are still hoping they have a big run left in them.

Beating K-State was a necessary start.

Iowa State shook off a sluggish first few minutes with a 13-0 run to jump ahead 21-14. Still, it took a 3 from Monte Morris to give the Cyclones a 31-30 lead at the break.

Two consecutive 3s from Thomas in the left corner put Iowa State ahead 45-39. Cooke, who has mostly struggled in his first season with the Cyclones, then drilled one from that exact spot to make it 48-39.

Deonte Burton’s first basket, an emphatic one-handed dunk, pushed Iowa State’s lead to 60-45. K-State answered with seven straight and Niang was forced to the bench with his fourth foul with 7:27 left. But McKay followed Cooke’s huge 3 with a dunk as the Cyclones pulled away.

Cooke finished with 10 points after being held scoreless for four straight games.

TIP-INS

Iowa State: Niang started for the 120th time Saturday. … All five Cyclones starters entered play averaging at least 10 points and four boards a game. … Thomas completed a rare four-point play to give Iowa State its first lead, 17-14. He later moved into seventh place in school history on made 3s.

Kansas State: The Wildcats played their 13th ranked team this season, surpassing the school record of 12 set in 2010-11 and 2014-15. … K-State forced 13 turnovers against one of the best teams in the Big 12 at securing the ball.

UP NEXT

The Cyclones close out their home schedule Monday night against Oklahoma State.

Kansas State hosts TCU on Wednesday.

Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LukeMeredithAP

Wesley Iwundu, Kansas State knock off No. 1 Oklahoma

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One of the big questions regarding No. 1 Oklahoma was how they’d handle an off shooting night. On multiple occasions this season the Sooners have managed to win in spite of a subpar effort from one of their guards, thanks in large part to national Player of the Year frontrunner Buddy Hield. But what would they do against a team that managed to limit Hield (by his standards)?

That’s what happened at Kansas State Saturday night, and the Sooners did not have the right answers for the Wildcats on either end of the floor. Wesley Iwundu scored 22 points, dished out seven assists and played excellent defense on Hield throughout the game to lead the way. And freshman forward Dean Wade chipped in with 17 points and seven rebounds off the bench as the Wildcats won by the final score of 80-69.

Hield scored 23 points but did so on 7-for-16 shooting, and a lot of that damage was done during the second half as he scored 17 points during the game’s final 20 minutes. But it wasn’t enough as the Sooners didn’t get much from anyone other than Ryan Spangler (nine points) as they looked to mount a comeback. Jordan Woodard, who’s been a consistent supplementary scoring option this season, went scoreless Saturday and that essentially left Oklahoma with three scorers (Hield, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins).

It’s highly unlikely that anyone’s going to completely take away Hield; the key there is to make him work for everything he gets and the long, athletic Iwundu managed to do that. But if you can take away one (or more) of Oklahoma’s supplementary scorers you’ve got a shot at knocking them off.

Oklahoma also had issues defensively, as the Wildcats shot 52.9 percent from the field. Iwundu was very good at finding scoring opportunities not only for himself but for his teammates as well, and in the post players such as Wade and D.J. Johnson were effective against Spangler, Khadeem Lattin and Akolda Manyang. Kansas State outplayed Oklahoma in the post, and their execution offensively helped the Wildcats pull off the upset despite committing 15 turnovers.

If not for those turnovers the margin likely would have been worse for Oklahoma, which scored 26 points off of Kansas State turnovers and many of its 15 fast break points came via K-State mistakes. The Sooners are lethal in transition, something we’ve seen on many occasions this season. Kansas State, when they didn’t turn the ball over, kept Oklahoma from running out and finding the quality looks that have made them so successful.

As a result, Bruce Weber’s Wildcats made sure that Hield and his fellow Oklahoma seniors will graduate without a win in Manhattan.

Bill Self calls Brannen Greene’s game-ending dunk a ‘d— move’

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Wednesday night No. 7 Kansas played in-state rival Kansas State for the first time this season, and despite winning by a comfortable margin of 77-59 the Jayhawks did not put forth their best effort. As a team Bill Self’s team shot 55.1 percent from the field and converted 23 Kansas State turnovers into 30 points.

But they also at a disadvantage on the boards, as Kansas State grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, and guard Wayne Selden Jr. did not follow up his outstanding performance Saturday against Kentucky with another solid effort. Selden scored seven points, shooting 3-for-9 from the field while failing to grab a single rebound. That gave Self plenty to discuss following the game, but at the start of his press conference he apologized to Kansas State for the actions of junior wing Brannen Greene.

In the game’s final seconds Greene, instead of holding the ball and allowing time to expire, threw down a two-handed dunk to provide the final margin. Below is video of the final seconds, with Kansas State exerting minimal (if any) effort defensively.

Self didn’t look pleased with Greene’s move as he approached Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber for the customary postgame handshake, and he certainly didn’t mince words during a postgame radio interview, calling the incident “the biggest d— move I’ve ever had a player do during a game.”

Here’s the full quote, with context:

“Brannen Greene, we’ve put up with him doing some stuff in the past, but that was probably the biggest dick move I’ve ever had a player do during a game. To dunk the ball like that when the other team. Even their players are going, ‘How disrespectful to the game.’ It certainly showed unbelievably poor sportsmanship.”

Self went further, starting his postgame press conference with an apology:

This isn’t the first time Greene has raised Self’s ire this season, as he was suspended six games during non-conference play for conduct detrimental to the team. Self reinstated Greene a game earlier than expected, bringing Greene back for the team’s win over Holy Cross December 9.

Greene’s minutes have fluctuated in recent games, as he’s played 11 minutes or less in seven of Kansas’ last eight games. Included in that stretch was the loss at Oklahoma State in which Greene didn’t play, and he played 24 minutes in the Jayhawks’ loss at Iowa State. Situations like this don’t help matters when it comes to earning more playing time down the line.

Kansas visits TCU Saturday, with No. 14 West Virginia visiting Lawrence next Tuesday.