Kansas guard Devonté Graham talks about the team’s first-half success in a 75-54 victory over Stanford on Dec. 21, 2017 in Sacramento. Jesse Newell The Kansas City Star
Kansas guard Devonté Graham talks about the team’s first-half success in a 75-54 victory over Stanford on Dec. 21, 2017 in Sacramento. Jesse Newell The Kansas City Star

University of Kansas

Kansas rolls by Stanford in final game before Big 12 play

By Gary Bedore

gbedore@kcstar.com

December 21, 2017 11:54 PM

SACRAMENTO, Calif.

Former Kansas point guard Frank Mason addressed current team leader Devonté Graham and the rest of the Jayhawks in the winner’s locker room at Golden 1 Center after Thursday’s game against Stanford.

That winner’s locker room belonged to KU: The Jayhawks routed the Cardinal 75-54.

“I said, ‘What do you think of the team?’’’ KU coach Bill Self said, relating the question he asked Mason, a point guard for the Sacramento Kings who was last season’s consensus college player of the year.

“Frank told our guys, ‘We can be a lot more aggressive on both ends, especially defense, coach. We need to be more aggressive,’’’ Self said of Mason’s words of wisdom.

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Mason called Graham “My brother forever” in a tweet after the game. In that game Graham had 14 points, six assists and three rebounds. Mason added in a one-on-one conversation with Self that he’s happy playing for the Kings, who make Golden 1 Center their NBA home.

“I said, ‘How’s life?’” said Self, relaying their conversation. “He said, ‘Life’s great, coach.’ I said, ‘Is it better than it was in Lawrence?’ He said, ‘It’s great here, but not better than it was in Lawrence.’ He said, “But the pay is different,’’’ Self added with a laugh.

“I don’t know what our (athlete) stipend is, 750 (dollars) a month or whatever. So the pay is different. He has his mother out here and family so he’s doing great. I think the Kings people absolutely love him. From everyone we talked to they’ve been high on him,” Self added of Mason, the 34th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Mason was a bit more complimentary of KU’s current team — which includes center Udoka Azubuike, who had 24 points and seven rebounds — during the game when he spoke with ESPN2 broadcasters Sam Farber and P.J. Carlesimo.

“I think we’re going to win it all this year,” Mason said.

The 14th-ranked Jayhawks looked like a national-title contender during the first half at least.

KU rolled to a 47-29 lead over the (6-7) Cardinal, thanks to an 18-2 run that turned an 11-10 deficit into a 28-13 advantage at 10:22. Lagerald Vick (13 points) and Graham had seven points apiece in that run. Graham and Vick had 10 points apiece the initial half, one in which KU hit 62.5 percent of its shots (including 6 of 13 on three-pointers) and held Stanford to 38.7 percent shooting (with 4-12 on threes).

KU (10-2) shot 52.5 percent for the game, hitting 6 of 18 threes; Stanford hit 34.4 percent and was 6 of 20 from three. KU was 5 of 10 from the line; Stanford 6 of 11.

Meanwhile, Stanford forward Reid Travis, who burned KU for 29 points and nine boards in a loss to KU last season in Lawrence, finished with 12 points and four boards. Guarded by the likes of Vick, Svi Mykhailiuk (14 points), Sam Cunliffe and others, Travis had six points and two boards while playing all 20 minutes the first half. Stanford trailed by as many as 20 the second half and cut it to 15 twice.

KU’s first-half play (the Jayhawks scored just 28 points the final half to Stanford’s 25) thrilled a pro-KU crowd. The attendance was listed at 7,880 in a building that seats 17,608.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Self said, noting it was “the nicest building I’ve ever been in. If there were 9,000 people here we had 7,000. That is incredible to me. It was a home game for us. It kind of felt like a home game. Usually when we play on the road the crowd is more into it than games played at home because they don’t get to see us as much. I thought it was incredible.”

Noted Graham: “Shout out to Jayhawk nation. They supported us well. It felt like a home game for us. It was a great atmosphere.”

Graham said it didn’t seem odd playing before his buddy, Mason.

“He might have felt different sitting there watching us. It was just he was there watching. It’s Frank. We were in his building, so …” Graham added, his voice trailing off.

Azubuike’s first-half performance (14 points, 7-of-8 shooting, seven boards) and KU’s defense on Travis pretty much told the story of the entire game as KU snapped a three-game losing streak against Pac-12 teams (losses to Arizona State and Washington this season; Oregon last season).

“I thought he played very well. He may have gotten tired late,” Self said of 7-footer Azubuike.

Of stopping the 6-8 Travis, Self said: “We did a good job considering how small we were guarding him. I didn’t think our pressure was very good. We limited his opportunities to get to the glass. Humphrey (Michael, forward) had a good game (20 points, seven boards). He is playing the 5; Travis the 4 this year.”

Kansas coach Bill Self talks about his team’s defense against Stanford forward Reid Travis, who scored 29 against KU last year but 12 on Thursday. Self spoke after his team’s 75-54 victory on Dec. 21, 2017 in Sacramento. Jesse NewellThe Kansas City Star

KU’s players will now embark on a four-day Christmas vacation. They will return from their break to Lawrence for a practice on Dec. 26 in advance of a Dec. 29 Big 12 opener at Texas.

KU still has one nonconference game to play — vs. Texas A&M in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge on Jan. 27 at Allen Fieldhouse.

“They go home the 22nd,” Self said of his players. “They get home the 22nd regardless of where they are going and come back late morning the 26th. We’ll practice that night. We open league play the 29th, earlier than ever. We can’t afford to give them any more time off than that.”

More on De Sousa, Preston

Self said he hopes IMG Academy senior forward Silvio De Sousa will be on KU’s campus on Dec. 26 with the goal for De Sousa to play for the Jayhawks second semester. Self said he hoped to hear final word on De Sousa’s eligibility Friday.

“We are waiting on grades,” Self said. “They (IMG officials) told us they know a couple grades turned in that were favorable. We don’t know the other ones. There’s absolutely no word on that. We do think by tomorrow (KU will know), unless there’s some hiccup we may have to appeal something.”

De Sousa scored 27 points on 11-of-18 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 74-71 victory over Huntington Prep on Thursday at the Chick-fil-A Classic in Columbia, S.C.

Word also will be coming soon on whether Billy Preston can play for KU second semester.

“The process is still going on,” Self said. “We are led to believe it’s coming to a head. We hope to know something very soon on that situation.”

Freshman forward Preston has yet to play in a game this season as KU looked into the financial picture surrounding the car he’s been driving on campus. KU’s findings are reportedly now in the hands of the NCAA. Preston will spend the next four days with his relatives in Los Angeles, Self said.

Haase comments on the game

Stanford coach/former KU guard Jerod Haase is now 0-2 against KU. Next season, the teams will play in Lawrence. KU will travel to Stanford’s home arena in 2019-20.

Of Thursday’s lopsided loss, Haase said: “The game plan was a big part it (of the defensive struggle), and obviously with Azubuike, he had a heckuva game. We didn’t have an answer to be able to stop him, but that lies on my shoulders. It was a conscious decision on our part to try and take away as many three-point shots and neutralize the four perimeter players out there as much as possible. That left Mike (Humphrey) and Josh (Sharma) on an island a little bit. There were certainly some mistakes made here and there. That’s certainly on my shoulders.”

This, that

Former KU guard Mason, by the way, took part in a halftime promotion. He missed six halfcourt shots then made his seventh to the delight of the crowd. … KU played in its third NBA arena this season on Thursday. KU defeated Kentucky 65-61 at the United Center in Chicago, on Nov. 14, and Syracuse 76-60 at American Airlines Arena on Dec. 2 in Miami. … Graham during Thursday’s game against Stanford passed Haase to grasp the 33rd spot on KU’s career scoring list.

No. 14 KU 75,

STANFORD 54

Kansas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Azubuike

26

12-15

0-2

7

1

3

24

Graham

36

4-12

3-4

3

6

1

14

Mykhailiuk

37

7-16

0-0

7

2

0

14

Newman

32

3-7

0-0

7

2

1

7

Vick

24

5-7

1-1

4

2

4

13

Garrett

23

0-1

1-3

2

1

3

1

Lightfoot

13

0-1

0-0

2

0

4

0

Cunliffe

9

1-2

0-0

1

1

2

2

Totals

200

32-61

5-10

33

15

18

75

Percentages: FG .525, FT .500. Three-Point Goals: 6-18, .333 (Graham 3-6, Vick 2-2, Newman 1-3, Garrett 0-1, Lightfoot 0-1, Mykhailiuk 0-5). Team Rebounds: 4. Team Turnovers: 10 (15 PTS). Blocked Shots: 4 (Azubuike 2, Lightfoot, Mykhailiuk). Turnovers: 10 (Lightfoot 3, Azubuike 2, Graham 2, Cunliffe, Garrett, Mykhailiuk). Steals: 8 (Garrett 2, Graham 2, Lightfoot, Mykhailiuk, Newman, Vick). Technical Fouls: None.

Stanford

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Da Silva

23

0-3

1-2

7

2

2

1

Humphrey

31

9-17

0-0

7

0

2

20

Travis

39

5-12

1-3

4

1

4

12

Cartwright

33

3-7

0-0

6

4

2

7

Davis

20

1-6

0-0

4

2

1

2

Okpala

28

2-8

1-2

2

0

3

6

White

19

1-6

2-2

2

2

0

5

Sharma

7

0-2

1-2

3

0

0

1

Totals

200

21-61

6-11

35

11

14

54

Percentages: FG .344, FT .545. Three-Point Goals: 6-20, .300 (Humphrey 2-6, Okpala 1-2, Cartwright 1-3, Travis 1-3, White 1-5, Sharma 0-1). Team Rebounds: 4. Team Turnovers: 14 (9 PTS). Blocked Shots: 3 (Da Silva, Humphrey, Okpala). Turnovers: 14 (Cartwright 5, Davis 4, Humphrey 2, Travis 2, White). Steals: 5 (Okpala 2, Cartwright, Da Silva, Humphrey). Technical Fouls: None.

Halftime: Kansas 47, Stanford 29

A—7,880 (17,608).