Finally eligible, Kansas’ Sam Cunliffe prioritizes defensive responsibilities

Redshirt sophomore guard Sam Cunliffe realized how important defensive responsibilities were to Kansas basketball just 10 minutes into his first practice.

Finally eligible to play on Saturday evening against Nebraska, Cunliffe has spent the last several months with assistant coach Kurtis Townsend on his back every single practice.

“It didn’t matter if I air-balled a shot, missed a shot, they didn’t care, it’s all about making sure your man doesn’t score,” Cunliffe said. “It kind of took me a really long time to figure out how serious they are about it, how important it is.”

Sports editor Shaun Goodwin says Kansas’ inability to play tough or consistent defense will continue to be huge barrier moving forward, as it was against Arizona State on Sunday.

The Seattle native had never really had to focus on defense before. In high school, the ball was always in his hands and he was allowed to shoot whenever, being the best player on the team. When he played for Arizona State before transferring, there was more emphasis on offense, as the Jayhawks learned on Sunday in their 95-85 loss to the Sun Devils.

But at Kansas and to Kansas coach Bill Self, defense is everything. Good defense is the reason freshman guard Marcus Garrett has averaged 21 minutes per game so far this season.

And that is the reason why Cunliffe has tried so hard in practice on defense.

When he arrived at Kansas, Cunliffe proclaimed he was one of the worst players on the team at defending and rebounding. But several months on, thanks to his speed and athleticism, he believes he has elevated his game to becoming one of the better defenders and rebounders on the team.

“He’s a good rebounder, Sam’s a good rebounder,” Self said. “Good defender — that may be a little bit of a stretch, hopefully he didn’t say that. But I do think he’s gotten tougher in those areas without question.”

Despite having a short rotation during games, the Kansas basketball team utilizes walk-on players and transfers awaiting eligibility on its practice squad, providing valuable experience to the team. 

Now practicing on the “blue team,” composed of mostly starters, Cunliffe is playing alongside many of the guys he will be relieving during games. But before he made the switch, Cunliffe operated primarily on the “red team,” which is made up of mostly transfers and walk-ons.

Before the switch, Cunliffe made sure he was always matched up with junior guard Lagerald Vick, viewing Vick as an older version of himself.

“When you go against Lagerald in practice, you can’t really take any plays off. We’re kind of like the same — fast, quick, can jump. I feel like he’s a more experienced me, so I feel like I’m going against myself four months, five months a year,” Cunliffe said. “Even when we’re on the opposite team, he’s been helping me, talking to me, even when I’m guarding him.”

Self also sees the similarity, at least in athleticism, but not so much offensively at this point in time. For now, he just wants Cunliffe to provide relief off the bench. He expects Cunliffe to earn five to 10 minutes a game for now.

“From the guard standpoint right now, the only person right now we have is Marcus [Garrett],” redshirt sophomore guard Malik Newman said. “So having Sam be able to come and be an extra body there, we can count on the guard there and play hard and give us a few minutes. That’d be huge for us.”

Newman is one of several guards feeling the lack of depth, averaging 29.4 minutes per game.

“I feel like guys get really tired and aren’t able to put as much pressure on their man or pressure on the ball, maybe sprint out ahead and put pressure on the defense. I feel like, if I was in there, I could do a lot of those little things,” Cunliffe said.

No. 13 Kansas looks to break a two-game losing streak as they head to Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, to face off against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Notebook: Kansas Hopes to Avoid 3 Game Losing Streak

Three-game losing streaks very rare for Kansas basketball under Bill Self | Tale of the Tait | KUsports.com
But while those numbers sound somewhat astonishing, it’s worth pointing out that, in both of the instances when the two-game skid turned to three, Game No. 3 was on the road, which will be the case Saturday night, when the Jayhawks travel north to Lincoln, Nebraska, for a 7 p.m. showdown with the Cornhuskers.

Jayhawks on Steele’s All-Big 12 team | KUsports.com
Senior tight end Ben Johnson, junior defensive tackle Daniel Wise and junior linebacker Joe Dineen were selected for Steele’s second team. Junior defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr., sophomore offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji, junior kicker Gabriel Rui and junior nickelback Bryce Torneden made the third team.

Wichita prep makes verbal commitment to KU | KUsports.com
“Happy to say I have accepted an offer from the University of Kansas! Thanks you to all my family, coaches and friends for all the support!” McNerney tweeted, without specifying whether he was offered a scholarship or preferred walk-on spot.

Hal Sandy, creator of KU’s ‘Happy Jayhawk,’ has died at 93
Harold “Hal” Sandy, creator of the current version of the Kansas Jayhawk known as the “Happy Jayhawk,” died on Dec. 9, the Kansas University Alumni Association has reported. He was 93.

Bill Self’s words ‘may have added to the intensity of practice’ Wednesday
“Technically the Kansas City game is a home game because it’s part of our season-ticket package. The last time we lost back-to-back home games was 28 years ago in 1989 (Roy Williams’ first season at KU),” Self told more than 100 Williams Fund members Wednesday night at a KU Roundball Club dinner at Lawrence’s Cider Gallery.

KU Jayhawks Q&A: Vick, starters, Beaty … and yes, Preston and De Sousa
We’re back for another Kansas Q&A. Thanks for the questions, and please follow me on Facebook if you haven’t yet. (Seriously, go click “like” if you can. It’s one of the easiest and best ways to help get stories to you.)

Larry Johnson is convinced he has CTE, fears he ‘could be Aaron Hernandez’ – CBSSports.com
Larry Johnson was the Chiefs’ 2003 first-round pick. He had back-to-back 1,700-yard rushing seasons in 2005 and ’06 — those were the only times he cracked 1,000 yards — but Kansas City released him midway through the 2009 campaign. By 2011, after stints in Cincinnati, Washington and Miami, Johnson was out of the league.

LiAngelo Ball says he wouldn’t have thanked Trump if UCLA didn’t make him – CBSSports.com
“[UCLA] wanted to hear that, and [Trump] tweeted about it before my speech, so I had to add him in right before I gave it,” LiAngelo said. “I wrote my original speech, and I had to put his part in there in the morning before I went.

Barkley calls out LaVar for being a bad father, ‘exploiting’ Lonzo, LiAngelo, LaMelo – CBSSports.com
On Wednesday Barkley turned his attention to another highly publicized figure, LaVar Ball. In case you’ve been living on a deserted island without electricity for the past year, LaVar is the father of Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and recently-turned professional basketball players LiAngelo, 19, and LaMelo, 16.

2018 NFL Mock Draft: Bengals select QB Baker Mayfield to replace Andy Dalton – CBSSports.com
Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson will be the most polarizing prospects in the 2018 draft class, and with an assortment of teams in need of a franchise signal-caller, it will be fascinating to watch how draft night unfolds regarding these two unconventional yet ridiculously productive quarterbacks.

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Paul George says ‘glad the circus is over with’ after returning to play Indiana Pacers
After coming up with a steal and hitting two free throws to ice the game in his first outing back in Indiana since being traded in June, Paul George walked off the floor Wednesday night and handed his shoes to the son of former teammate Monta Ellis.

Houston Rockets’ Chris Paul stays unbeaten in games played this season
The Rockets extended their winning streak to 11 games — a roll that started when Paul returned from a monthlong absence due to a knee injury — with a 108-96 victory Wednesday night over the Charlotte Hornets.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Trio of Kansas volleyball seniors earn AVCA All-American honors

Kansas’ core trio of seniors Kelsie Payne, Madison Rigdon and Ainise Havili repeated their status of All-Americans for the 2017 volleyball season, the American Volleyball Coaches Association announced Wednesday.

Right-side hitter Payne was named to AVCA Third Team All-American, while outside hitter Rigdon and setter Havili were both given AVCA All-American honorable mentions. All three athletes were also named to All-Big 12 First Team.

Kansan writer Andrew Rosenthal breaks down the women’s volleyball season and discusses what might have lead to the team underperforming their high expectations. 

Payne earned All-American honors for her third-straight season. This season, the Austin, Texas, native also surpassed the Jayhawks’ record for all-time kills (1,510) in the Jayhawks’ 3-2 loss to West Virginia on Nov. 25.

Also named the 2017 AVCA Midwest Player of the Year, Havili has earned All-American honors throughout her entire career as a Jayhawk. As the team’s all-time assist leader (5,255), Havili led the Big 12 in assists per set with 11.37 this season, and she had 12 50-assist matches.

Rigdon earns All-American honorable mention for her second-straight season. A six-rotational player, Rigdon led Kansas in kill-dig double-doubles for three-straight seasons, with 12 in 2017.

The awards were announced Wednesday evening before the NCAA Final Four, which is being hosted at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Kansas had been eliminated by Missouri in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, ending the season at 22-8.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Notebook; Cunliff Ready to Play; DeSousa Should know Status by Friday

Is Friday the big day for some Silvio De Sousa news for Kansas? | Tale of the Tait | KUsports.com
Speaking with Kyle McFadden of marylandsportsaccess.com following a recent IMG Academy victory, De Sousa said he believed he would know the results of his latest SAT test on Friday. And, as many KU fans speculated recently about a generic Tweet sent out by De Sousa that read, “Imma be there sooner than u thought,” the 6-foot-9, 245-pound Angolan is optimistic about his chances of receiving good news.

KU assistant pinpoints ways Jayhawks can improve defensively | KUsports.com
Monday afternoon, a little more than 24 hours after watching the Jayhawks get torched by Arizona State at Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas basketball assistant Norm Roberts grabbed a couple of KU’s younger players and had a conversation about defense.

Report: New Orleans prep WR Devonta Jason still considering Kansas | KUsports.com
Jason, a 6-foot-3 senior at Landry-Walker High (La.), who long served as a gleam of hope for the downtrodden KU fan base — Rivals currently ranks him as a four-star prospect and the 31st-best player in the Class of 2018 — told SEC Country he still is considering signing with KU, along with LSU and Mississippi State. Jason even claimed KU is his “lead team.”

Wait is over for Sam Cunliffe, who’s set for KU debut: ‘I like all the excitement’
“I’ve got a lot of Tweets, Instagrams, Snapchats, (people) looking for a little change. I tell them, ‘Hey we’ve got a good team as it is. I’m just going to add what I bring.’ I like all the excitement,” Cunliffe, KU’s 6-foot-6, 200-pound redshirt sophomore guard from Seattle said Tuesday.

Aaron Rodgers ‘medically cleared to return,’ presumably starting for Packers in Week 15 – CBSSports.com
There was some concern that Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers might not actually be able to come back from the collarbone injury that has kept him off the field for the past two months, but that concern no longer exists because Rodgers announced on Tuesday night he had been medically cleared to play football again.

Ex-Olympian Oscar Pistorius reportedly injured in prison brawl over a phone – CBSSports.com
The brawl, which the BBC said took place on Dec. 6, occurred at Attridgeville Correctional Centre, where the six-time Paralympic medalist is serving time for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. It has since spawned an investigation, the report added, “to establish the facts and to ensure that appropriate action is taken as incidents of assaults are not allowed.”

LaVar Ball, Los Angeles Lakers have meeting over his criticisms of Luke Walton
The Los Angeles Lakers’ front office recently had a meeting with LaVar Ball, the outspoken father of rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, asking him to tone down some of his public criticisms of head coach Luke Walton and help create a more positive atmosphere around his son, sources told ESPN.

Former NFL running back Larry Johnson believes he is living with CTE
At this time, CTE can be confirmed only after death. Johnson told the Washington Post that his anxiety, paranoia and self-destructive impulses match the symptoms of CTE victims. He describes brief, intense headaches, the jitters, mood swings, violence and forgetfulness.

LeBron James of Cleveland Cavaliers sees parallels between his rookie year, that of Los Angeles Lakers’ Lonzo Ball
“The kid hasn’t said anything,” James told ESPN when asked about the hype surrounding Ball. “It’s been everybody else. So, I love his humility. He goes out, every time someone asks him a question, he says, ‘This is not about me, man. I just want to win. I don’t care about what I did.’ I seen he had a triple-double one game and they lost. He was like, ‘I don’t care. We lost.’

New Orleans Saints season ticket holder sues team, wants refund over player protests during national anthem
The fan, Lee Dragna, claims in his lawsuit that he bought the tickets for the “entertainment and intellectual enjoyment” of himself and his family and that he never would have bought them if he had known that players would “use Saints football games as a platform for protests.” The suit claims Dragna has not attended a Saints home game since Week 2.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Podcast: It’s still not time to panic about Kansas Basketball.

The podcast is officially down to one episode a week, at least through the holiday season, but the last week has given us plenty to talk about. Kansas lost two games badly, and today we look at what information we can draw from those results and look ahead.

Topics discussed:

-Quick wrapup of the Women’s Hoops week.

-Is it time to panic after two straight losses?

-What was the main issue against Washington?

-Depth issues

-Was the loss to Arizona State really that surprising?

-Lack of toughness for this team?

-Previewing Nebraska

-Big 12 title streak in trouble?

-Where is the Malik Newman we thought we were going to see?

Mitch Lightfoot is starting his career like Landen Lucas

-Is there any blame for this situation on Self’s recruiting strategy?

-Football recruiting: Devonta Jason decommits

-#CurlingMinute

-Previewing upcoming articles.

We want your input on the podcast. If you have something you would like to talk about on the podcast, or any suggestions for people that we should try to talk to, let us know by emailing us at rctsbn@gmail.com or on twitter @rockchalktalk.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Notebook: Kansas Looking to Regroup after two losses

Bill Self’s hints of ‘change’ more complicated than just flipping a switch | KUsports.com
“Maybe I shouldn’t be as surprised,” Self said when asked after Sunday’s loss what he thought of his team’s inability to answer his recent call for toughness. “And maybe I need to change. I’m not ready to accept that that’s the best we’ve got. But it’s pretty embarrassing to keep looking at the tape afterwards and saying, ‘Well, this is what we don’t have.’ We’ve been saying it now the entire year, at least from a defensive and competitive standpoint.”

Examining potential areas of emphasis during finals week for Kansas basketball | Tale of the Tait | KUsports.com
Remember, they’re still just seven deep — six while Malik Newman recovers from the concussion he suffered during Sunday’s loss — and Self twice on Sunday mentioned second-half fatigue as a potential reason for the Jayhawks’ defensive struggles.

KU assistant says Malik Newman ‘a little bit better’ on Monday | Tale of the Tait | KUsports.com
“He’s got a bit of a headache and that stuff,” Roberts said midway through the show. “But he seemed to be doing a little bit better.”

‘Louisianimal’ RB Anthony ‘Pooka’ Williams picking up interest from major programs | Smithology | KUsports.com
Over the weekend, the biggest name tied to the Jayhawks, four-star New Orleans receiver Devonta Jason, decommitted from David Beaty’s program. Meanwhile, the only quarterback in KU’s class, Texas prep Clayton Tune, visited Ole Miss and currently describes Kansas as “still in the picture” for the quickly approaching signing day.

Former Jayhawk Carlton Bragg pretty popular on Twitter Sunday | Tale of the Tait | KUsports.com
Despite not even being eligible to play this season, and with a personal matter taking him away from the ASU team altogether, Bragg clearly was watching Sunday’s showdown between his new team and his old squad.

Back-to-back losses drop KU to No. 13 in latest AP poll | KUsports.com
Rare back-to-back losses for Kansas this past week cost the Jayhawks 11 spots in the Associated Press Top 25.

LiAngelo, LaMelo Ball are off to Lithuania, but is that going be good for them? – CBSSports.com
LiAngelo Ball and LaMelo Ball, brothers of Lonzo Ball and sons of the always outspoken LaVar Ball, are heading to Lithuania to begin their pro careers. When the two were announced as being pulled out of school, this was always the expected outcome, but Lithuania wasn’t the country that many pegged them to choose.

Adam Vinatieri could lose out on $500,000 for trying to kick field goal in a blizzard – CBSSports.com
As noted by former NFL agent and CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry, Vinatieri actually has a clause in his contract that calls for a $500,000 bonus if he makes 90 percent or more of his field goals this season.

Sixers’ Joel Embiid takes blame for Sam Hinkie losing his job: ‘I feel like I owe him’ – CBSSports.com
Yeah, we text sometimes. We talk to each other sometimes. I mean, that’s the guy that drafted me, and he made sure he put everything in place so I could get healthy. And I got healthy and I got back on the court. And I feel like he basically kind of lost his job because of me, because I missed two years. So I feel like I owe him a lot. Yeah, we talk. We talk sometimes.

Kevin Garnett wants to own Timberwolves — and ‘kind of remove’ Glen Taylor – CBSSports.com
Kevin Garnett is making the most of his post-playing career. He has his “Area 21” section of TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” where he features guests of his choosing and talks basketball. He has successful business interests. And then there’s his desire to return to the NBA.

Report: Yu Darvish Tipped His Pitches In The World Series
Remember how awful Dodgers starter Yu Darvish was in the World Series? He only made it through 10 outs in two starts. He allowed nine hits, eight earned runs, and two homers. He sucked big-time! Now, thanks to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci, we know why.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Is Mad Because Outside Magazine Pointed Out He’s A Fly Fishing Novice
As Zinke and I casted over the ice-cold water, I noticed something funny about his setup. He kept struggling to strip line out of the bottom of the reel. For a while, I thought he was simply having trouble concentrating on our conversation while casting. No, there was something wrong, and when I asked him to stand for a portrait, I finally saw what the problem was. He had rigged his reel backward, so that the line was coming out of the top of the reel. Every so often when he went to strip line out, he would grasp air where the line should’ve been.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Notebook: Another Pac-12 Team Mauls Kansas

More Miscues: Jayhawks struggle defensively, fall at home to Arizona State | KUsports.com
Back-to-back men’s basketball losses don’t happen all that often at Kansas, so when they do the aftermath often includes some harsh words and serious reality checks.

Former KU golfer Chris Thompson qualifies for Web.com Tour | KUsports.com
Lawrence resident Chris Thompson, a two-time golf All-American during his University of Kansas career, made it through the final stage of Q School to gain exempt status in the first eight tournaments on the Web.com Tour for 2018.

‘Proud for her’: Jayhawks claw past SEMO on late free throw | KUsports.com
Her teammates, redshirt sophomore Tyler Johnson and senior Chayla Cheadle, walked up to her in between shots. Cheadle, a “very positive” person, Kopatich said, reminded the sharpshooter simply to get out of her own head.

Hectic Sunday also brings three additions to KU football’s 2018 recruiting class | KUsports.com
On the same day his Kansas football program officially lost commitments from two longstanding Class of 2018 recruiting targets, three-year head coach David Beaty on three occasions Sunday took to Twitter to make unrelated “neat deal” declarations, marking the additions of new recruits.

Notebook: Malik Newman leaves game with a concussion | KUsports.com
When three Arizona State players and Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley stepped into the Allen Fieldhouse media room to field questions about their 95-85 victory over No. 2 Kansas on Sunday afternoon, three of the four were wearing ASU warm-up shirts that simply read, “Guard U” on the front of them.

4-star New Orleans WR Devonta Jason decommits from Kansas | KUsports.com
Four-star receiver Devonta Jason, the 31st-best high school senior in the country and once considered a five-star prospect according to Rivals, backed out of his nonbinding verbal commitment to play with the Jayhawks.

KU football loses pledge from prep D-end, who commits to K-State | KUsports.com
Grandview, Mo., defensive end Cartez Crook-Jones, one of the eight initial preps to commit to David Beaty’s program this past February, now plans to sign with rival Kansas State.

Devil of an afternoon: Arizona State knocks off KU in Allen Fieldhouse | KUsports.com
The nation’s No. 2-ranked team, the Kansas Jayhawks lost their second game in a row Sunday afternoon, as No. 16 Arizona State easily survived a 13-point first-half deficit to shoot its way to a 95-85 victory at Allen Fieldhouse.

Self dismayed by Kansas’ defense in 95-85 loss to Arizona State
Bill Self tore into his Kansas basketball team after watching undefeated Pac-12 school Arizona State shred his once-proud Jayhawk defense for an unheard-of 95 points Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU basketball has a three-pointer problem … and it’s not on offense
I say all this to point out the biggest concern from Kansas’ 95-85 loss to Arizona State on Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse. It’s not just defense, which obviously was an issue considering the Jayhawks allowed 58 points in the second half.

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 14: Wentz injury opens up NFC playoff, MVP races – CBSSports.com
The play was relatively innocuous — just another instance of Carson Wentz crashing into the end zone in typical hard-nosed fashion, trying to pick up a touchdown for the Eagles in a potential NFC championship preview. Four plays later, including a laser touchdown pass to Alshon Jeffery, Wentz was limping to the locker room as a nation of Eagles fans held its breath.

NBA games Sunday, scores, highlights, news: Oladipo scores career-high 47 points – CBSSports.com
The Pacers came back from double digits to force overtime and knock off the Nuggets. They did that behind Victor Oladipo and his career high 47 points. Oladipo was unstoppable and his 32 second-half points led the Pacers back into the game. Once the Pacers got to overtime, it was smooth sailing.

Report: Rival executives believe Rockets are legitimate threat to sign LeBron James – CBSSports.com
LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are enjoying a remarkable stretch of play lately, winning 14 of their last 15 games, including a 13-game winning streak. But even as LeBron has the Cavs rolling, the reports and rumors about the possibility that he might leave after the season ends aren’t going away.

Keaton Jones bullying video inspires support from LeBron James, Chris Evans – NBC News
Among those offering their support to Keaton Jones through social media were actor Chris Evans, Cleveland Cavaliers stars LeBron James and J.R. Smith and UFC champion Stipe Miocic.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Kansas women’s basketball makes crucial free throws in win over SEMO

As the game wound down to the final seconds with the Jayhawks up by three, senior guard Chayla Cheadle was fouled hard, forcing Kansas coach Brandon Schneider to make a substitution. With nine seconds to go, his choice in the game-deciding moment was walk-on senior guard Sydney Benoit.

Because of a new NCAA rule change, Benoit had to take the shots in place of an injured Cheadle. Missing the first, Benoit netted the second to extend the Jayhawks’ lead to four. Benoit gave the Jayhawks the cushion they needed as they anticipated a quick returning possession for the Redhawks.

“I thought Sydney made the biggest play in the game,” Schneider said afterwards. “I think that’s a real credit, not only to her, but to any player in a reserve role, when you hear coaches talk about whether you play two minutes or 20 minutes… [it’s] your opportunity to step in, and she took advantage of it.” 

Battling injuries all throughout her career and appearing in just two games during the 2016-17 campaign, Benoit made her first point as a Jayhawk, having one missed free throw attempt during the prior season.

“It was freaking incredible, oh my gosh. We were all so hyped for her when she came into the locker room,” junior guard Kylee Kopatich said.

Despite not starting, Kansas redshirt sophomore center Tyler Johnson scored a team-high 14 points to lift Kansas to a 51-50 victory over Southeast Missouri State on Sunday evening.

Kansas (8-1) edged out Southeast Missouri (4-6) 51-50 Sunday night in a rare day-night basketball double header in Allen Fieldhouse. With eight wins on the season, Schneider matched his win total from the prior season just ahead of the Big 12 slate. 

Kansas scored just 23 points in the second half, with the only positive being the Jayhawks’ doubling their second half field goal total from the loss to Nebraska. In the game against Nebraska, Kansas scored just eight field goals in the second half.

For the second game that day, the third quarter curse loomed in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas lost a 28-25 lead right out of the halftime locker room. A game-tying three pointer from Redhawk guard Ashton Luttrull tied the game at 28 points, sending a wave of hope to the fans and parents who traveled from the neighboring state.

Southeast Missouri’s Tesia Thompson scored six straight to aid the Redhawks to a seven-point lead with three minutes to go in the third quarter. Entering the half one-of-six from the field, Kopatich ended Southeast Missouri’s run and began one for Kansas.

Until then, Kopatich had been largely absent from the game. Having been heavily scouted by the Redhawk coaching staff, she’d tallied just two points and two steals in the first half.

Heading to the line for a key set of free throws in the third quarter, the game seemed to be in her control. If Kopatich was going to make an impact on scoring, it would have to be in free throws. Entering the game as an 87 percent free throw shooter, she missed her first four free throws, the most she’s missed all season. The closest she’s been to that ratio was when she went four-for-six against Nebraska last week.

Making a set of key buckets late game to extend the Jayhawks’ lead to three, Kopatich would finish four-of-eight on free throws to drop her season average by six percent. After the game, she expressed her displeasure with poor percentages for two games in a row.

“Never, and should never happen again,” Kopatich said after being asked about going four-of-eight. “Just … missed them.”

After a practice week due to finals, Kansas will enter a three-game road stretch starting with St. John’s in Queens, New York, on Dec. 18. St. John’s is 6-2 on the season and will Face Fordham at home Tuesday.

Source: Rock Chalk Talk

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Johnson comes off the bench to lead Kansas women’s basketball to victory

Despite the fact that her team lost on Sunday night in Allen Fieldhouse, Southeast Missouri coach Rekha Patterson was grateful for one thing: that her team wouldn’t have to play against Kansas redshirt sophomore center Tyler Johnson again this season.

“You don’t move her,” she said during the post-game press conference. “Thank God we don’t have to play young ladies like her every night in the [Ohio Valley Conference].”

Johnson may not have started Sunday night’s game against Southeast Missouri, but she still managed to score a team-high 14 points to lead Kansas women’s basketball to a 51-50 victory. The redshirt sophomore center, who also snagged five rebounds, is becoming the perfect spark off the bench for the now 8-1 Jayhawks. 

“[Whether] I’m starting, coming off the bench, it’s about going out there and giving the team whatever they need,” Johnson said. “Tonight they needed someone to score so that’s what I did. Other nights it might be rebounding. For me, it’s doing whatever I can to help the team win.”

This unselfish mentality has helped Johnson shake off a slow start and become one of the most important cogs in Kansas’ system. After scoring in double digits just once in the first six games of the season, Johnson, who has yet to start a game this season, has surpassed the mark in each of the last three games.

In a contest in which Kansas’ usually potent attack was tripped up by a tenacious Southeast Missouri State (4-7) defense, Johnson’s scoring ability was sorely needed. The Jayhawks didn’t score a single three-pointer against the Redhawks and none of their other top four leading scorers reached double digits.

“[Johnson] was big,” Kansas coach Brandon Schneider said. “We obviously tried to play through her in some crucial moments. When we did have to take her out, we didn’t have very good offensive rhythm. She was critical tonight.”

With her team down 44-45 with two minutes and 30 seconds left in the game, the six-foot-two center converted an old-fashioned three-point play after being fouled on a layup to give her team a 47-45 lead that would not be overcome.

But Johnson’s influence wasn’t limited to the offensive end. Though she only collected a single defensive rebound, she was active on the offense glass, collecting four boards there. 

In a game that wasn’t decided until the last 30 seconds, these second chance opportunities were a huge boost to the Jayhawks’ chances.

“We definitely needed her, and she showed up when we needed her to,” junior guard Kylee Kopatich said. “She made big plays, she made big shots, she hit big free throws. She was the spark that we needed tonight.” 

Johnson will need to keep making these types of plays if Kansas wants to keep winning. After reaching last season’s entire win total of eight over the course of a nine-game season-opening homestand, Kansas will now play its first road game of the season against Iona on Wednesday night. 

Johnson probably won’t start that game either, but don’t expect that to mean she won’t make an impact.

Source: The Kansan

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Goodwin: Jayhawks lack toughness on defense in loss to Sun Devils

The comeback wasn’t going to happen. No. 2 Kansas could score as many points as it wanted, but poor defensive effort was always going to hold it back.

No matter how long No. 16 Arizona State held the ball on offense, an open man on the edge of the arc could usually be found. The Sun Devils’ 14 three-pointers were one of many factors that led to Kansas’ 95-85 downfall inside Allen Fieldhouse on Sunday afternoon.

And when Arizona State did decide to drive the ball into the paint, the Jayhawks struggled to stop them. Three Arizona guards — Remy Martin, Shannon Evans II, and Tra Holder — all scored over 20 points on the night through a combination of sharp shooting and driving toward the basket.

“They were really tough, because they were so quick and shot the ball really well,” Kansas senior guard Devonte’ Graham said. “So it was hard to guard both. You wanted to short close out because you were worried about the drive, then they’d just shoot it.”


+1 

Men's basketball vs. Arizona State-41.jpg

Arizona State celebrates after taking down Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse on Dec. 10. The Sun Devils defeated the Jayhawks 95-85.



Coach Bill Self said the Jayhawks played “soft” in Sunday’s 95-85 loss to the Sun Devils. He said he’d like to see the team’s leaders push harder when they’re in losing situations.

The Sun Devils, who moved to 9-0 after the win, scored 54 points in the second half, due to a combination of Kansas’ lack of defensive capabilities, as well as 16 turnovers.

With six minutes remaining in the game, Kansas junior guard Svi Mykhailiuk made a three to pull the Jayhawks within six points and send the Allen Fieldhouse crowd into a frenzy.

Calmly, Arizona State took the ball up to the other end of the court, held onto it for over 25 seconds and found senior guard Shannon Evans wide open at the top of the arc. Evans sunk the three as a helpless Jayhawk hand stretched for the ball seconds too late, ending any sort of Kansas momentum.

Evans expected Kansas to come out fighting after its midweek loss to Washington, but instead found himself surprised at all of the open looks he got. Evans made five of his nine three-point attempts.

Kansas’ inability to stay in front of a man for a full shot clock, or get big stops when they count, is something that has severely hurt the Jayhawks this season and will continue to do so.

Kansas coach Bill Self, while impressed with how the Jayhawks started the game, saw a lack of toughness in his squad. Giving up 58 points in the second half alone, Self described this team as “the softest team I’ve had since I’ve been here.”

“Whenever things aren’t going well, you kind of grind through it a little bit, and we just don’t have that right now,” Self said.

Kansas had that last year. Frank Mason III and Josh Jackson both had that fight in them. Earlier in the week on Friday, Self described the pair of them as “dogs.”

Personal connections to Kansas caused two Arizona State alumni, Ben Miller and Wade Patrick, to make a seven-hour drive from Dallas on Sunday, eventually ending up in the Kansas student section.

While Kansas has players who can step up to the challenge on this current team, such as Graham and junior guard Lagerald Vick, there is a lack of leadership when the going gets tough.

While Graham has the voice that Mason never had last year, Mason consistently went out onto the court and did his thing. Graham went nearly 15 minutes without making a single point against Arizona State in the second half.

With six days until its next game, the Jayhawks have some time to figure themselves out. Self can change the tactics all he wants, but until the players show the desire to fight in close games, this Kansas team is going to have a rough season.

Source: The Kansan

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