Devonte’ Graham on what Bill Self told his team’s guards at practice

Kansas guard Devonté Graham said coach Bill Self had a message for his team’s guards during the first practice back from the holiday break. Graham spoke to reporters after the Jayhawks’ 92-86 victory over Texas on Dec. 29, 2017.
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Kansas guard Devonté Graham said coach Bill Self had a message for his team’s guards during the first practice back from the holiday break. Graham spoke to reporters after the Jayhawks’ 92-86 victory over Texas on Dec. 29, 2017.
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University of Kansas

Kansas takes care of business down in Texas

By Gary Bedore

gbedore@kcstar.com

December 29, 2017 10:17 PM

AUSTIN, Texas

Kansas coach Bill Self told his talented group of guards to hoist open shots from all over Frank Erwin Center court in Friday night’s Big 12 opener against Texas.

“I said before the game, ‘We’re going to shoot 35 threes.’ First it was 40, then I said, ‘No that’s too many. Don’t shoot 40.’ I said we’d shoot 35 threes,” Self repeated after the Jayhawks knocked down 17 threes (most ever by a KU team in a conference game) in 35 attempts in a 92-86 victory over the Longhorns before a crowd of 15,082.

“After the game, Marcus (Garrett) said, ‘Coach said we were gonna shoot 35 and we did,’’’ Self added with a smile.

Self knew for several days that the seven scholarship Jayhawks would have to play freely in trying to outscore a Texas team that is led by 6-foot-11 freshman center Mo Bamba, who scored 22 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked eight shots in 34 minutes against Kansas.

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Kansas coach Bill Self talks about Texas forward Mo Bamba and also the Jayhawks’ 92-86 victory over Texas on Dec. 29, 2017 in Austin, Texas.

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In fact, at KU’s first practice after Christmas break, Self made it clear that he expected his guards to release many, many shots from beyond the arc.

“Svi (Mykhailiuk) had passed up an open jumper. I passed one up,” Devonté Graham said. “Lagerald (Vick) passed one up. I think it was back-to-back-to-back plays,” said Graham, who hit 6 threes in 12 tries and scored 23 points with eight assists, all eight in the final half.

“He stopped play (at practice),” Graham continued. “He told us, ‘You can’t be passing up open shots when you’ve got them because you don’t know when you’ll get the next open one.’ What he says builds that confidence. He wants me to score. He wants me to shoot it. He believes in me. If he believes in me, I have to believe in myself that much more.”

Mykhailiuk, who scored 20 points for Kansas (11-2), hit back to back threes in an 11-2 run that opened a 56-43 lead with 15:24 left.

“Like Devonté said, coach was getting on us about taking open shots,” Mykhailiuk said. “Today we shot a lot of them, 35.” .

The Jayhawks’ 17 three-point baskets set a record for most threes by a KU team in a conference game. School record is 19 threes in a (school-record) 36 attempts that happened earlier this season against Texas Southern.

“Svi the second half was unreal,” Self said of Mykhailiuk, who hit 5 of 8 threes the final half and scored 15 points. “The shot he made from the corner with 6 on the shot clock, that is as quick a release as I’ve ever seen. I thought Lagerald may have been the best player in the game besides Bamba. Devonté was great, and I thought Malik (Newman, 13 points coming off the bench for the first time since the season opener) gave us good minutes as well.”

Vick hit a career best 5e threes in 8 tries and had 21 points in 38 minutes.

Self explained his decision to not start Newman, who hit 4 free throws in 5 tries in the last 30 seconds after Texas (9-4) cut a 14-point deficit (with three minutes left) to four points. Garrett had two points, three rebounds and two steals in 18 minutes.

“Malik is beat up. He has a bad foot. That’s not why he didn’t start,” Self said. “We wanted to try something different. I thought Marcus was better than Malik of late. We wanted to do something to create a little more energy off the bench. I thought Malik responded great. I thought Marcus played pretty well. He was active,” Self added.

Newman wasn’t the only Jayhawk who played hurt.

Udoka Azubuike, who had severe back pain before Friday’s game and almost didn’t play, scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and slowed Bamba at times. Graham said “the game ball should definitely go to Big Doke.”

Self, of course, was impressed with Texas freshman Bamba, who almost had a triple double.

“That guy could have blocked the sun. Is that a solar or lunar (eclipse)?” Self joked.

Self also might have contributed to the win by turning to a 2-3 zone that KU used almost exclusively the final 26 minutes. It helped rest some of his players and threw a different look at Texas’ Bamba, as well as Dylan Osetkowski and Matt Coleman who had 17 points apiece. Texas hit 43.1 percent of its shots to KU’s 44.9.

“The zone slowed the game down enough where our guys could play 38, 39 minutes. That probably helped us,” Self said.

Graham played 39 minutes, Vick 38, Mykhailiuk 37, Azubuike and Newman 29 apiece, Garrett 18 and Mitch Lightfoot 10 as KU won its 27th straight conference opener.

Self said Sam Cunliffe did not play via coach’s decision. “I told him after the game, don’t get frustrated,” Self said, noting, “I thought the other guys (on perimeter) played great.”

KU will next meet Texas Tech at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.

De Sousa in house

New Jayhawk Silvio De Sousa attended the game and rebounded for the players during early warmups.

“He couldn’t sit on the bench, how about that?” Self said. He’s not allowed to sit on the bench until he’s cleared for participation by the NCAA, which may or may not come before Tuesday’s game. “I think he was excited to see what it’s like,” Self added.

Doke’s bad back

Self on Azubuike’s back injury: “Doke will be sore tomorrow. Our people think it’s muscular. Hopefully with treatment he’ll be fine by Tuesday.”

Gary Bedore: 816-234-4068, @garybedore

No. 11 KANSAS 92, TEXAS 86

Kansas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Azubuike

29

6-11

1-1

13

1

3

13

Garrett

23

1-3

0-0

3

2

1

2

Graham

39

6-15

5-6

5

8

1

23

Mykhailiuk

35

6-16

3-3

4

2

4

20

Vick

37

8-14

0-0

4

2

3

21

Newman

26

4-10

4-5

5

0

1

13

Lightfoot

10

0-0

0-0

1

0

1

0

Totals

200

31-69

13-15

35

15

14

92

Percentages: FG .449, FT .867. Three-Point Goals: 17-35, .486 (Graham 6-12, Vick 5-8, Mykhailiuk 5-10, Newman 1-4, Garrett 0-1). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 3 (Garrett, Lightfoot, Vick). Turnovers: 8 (Azubuike 2, Newman 2, Garrett, Graham, Mykhailiuk, Vick). Steals: 4 (Garrett 2, Lightfoot, Mykhailiuk). Technical Fouls: None. Fouled Out: None.

Texas

Min

FG-A

FT-A

R

A

F

Pt

Bamba

33

9-16

3-5

15

0

4

22

Osetkowski

38

7-15

3-4

7

1

1

17

Coleman

38

7-14

0-0

7

5

2

17

Roach

38

5-10

3-4

7

4

2

13

J. Young

9

0-4

0-0

2

1

0

0

Davis

26

2-10

6-6

3

0

4

12

Sims

10

0-0

0-0

1

0

0

0

Jones

8

1-3

2-2

0

1

1

5

Totals

200

31-72

17-21

42

12

16

86

Percentages: FG .431, FT .810. Three-Point Goals: 7-26, .269 (Coleman 3-6, Davis 2-8, Bamba 1-2, Jones 1-2, J.Young 0-1, Osetkowski 0-2, Roach 0-5). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 9 (Bamba 9). Turnovers: 7 (Coleman 3, Davis, J.Young, Osetkowski, Roach). Steals: 4 (Bamba, Davis, J.Young, Roach). Technical Fouls: team, 3:43 second. Fouled Out: None.

Half: Kansas 37-34. Att: 15,802.