Kansas wins gold in the World University Games

It took two overtimes, clutch performances from exhausted players and a final boost from Wayne Selden and Frank Mason, but Team USA took home the gold from the World University Games in dramatic fashion.

On the back of Perry Ellis’ early seven points, Team USA/Kansas basketball needed just five minutes to grab their first double-digit lead of the game against Germany. The first quarter brought aggressive defense from Germany, but consistent rebounding held down the German offense, which needed six and a half minutes to record its third point of the game, shooting just nine percent in the first seven minutes. Lagerald Vick, Carlton Bragg, Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor all saw the floor off the bench in the first quarter.

After a 14-2 lead, KUSA went into the half up 20-13 after Germany drilled a three as the “they can’t buy a bucket” narrative was about to hit warp speed.

At the start of the second quarter, Germany had recorded just one offensive rebound. Wayne Selden’s presence had been understated, but he nailed a three as KU’s first bucket of the second quarter. A bad Selden pass then turned into a Germany breakaway and-one, and Hunter Mickelson knocked down the next four Kansas points. A German three pulled the game to six, but a Selden bucket stretched the lead back to eight before a German timeout.

With a little over two minutes left in the half, Nic Moore dished it to Mason under the basket who flipped it to Bragg for a slam, stretching KU’s lead back to 10 before a German three. Germany pulled it within five after another wide-open three with under a minute remaining in the half. Germany ended the half with a vicious slam on a missed bucket and Kansas led 38-33 after two quarters.

Kansas and Germany traded buckets at the start of the third quarter, but yet another three buried with just over seven minute remaining in the quarter pulled Germany within two at 42-40, the closest margin since the start of the game.

A few turnovers by Germany and a nice move by Nic Moore gave the Jayhawks some breathing room, but the game continued to fall into uncertainty. With just over a minute remaining in the third quarter, Germany pulled the game within one, 52-51. A corner three gave Germany their first lead outside of the early minutes of the game, 54-53. Frank Mason hit one of two free throws at the end of the half, tying the game at 54.

The third quarter had a strange lack of Hunter Mickelson, previously a consistent force in the tournament.

Lucas, Mason, Moore, Ellis and Selden started the fourth quarter. Ellis had a floating layup swatted away, but a Selden-to-Bragg jump pass and layup returned the lead to Kansas, 57-56.

Consistent poor shots and turnovers plagued Kansas’ fourth quarter, and German threes extended the deficit to five with four and a half minutes remaining. After an early thirteen point lead, Kansas sat in dire straits.

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A missed forced three by Selden was recovered by KU, but a Frank Mason travel gave Germany the ball back. With three minutes left, Mason drilled a three to bring the deficit back down to two.

After Moore overshot a corner three, Germany went up by four when it hit a jumper as the shot clock expired. Kansas (and Wayne Selden) looked obviously winded.

With just over a minute remaining, Ellis swept his poor shooting day aside to hit two free throws, bringing the Germany lead back down to two. Mason drew a foul down two points with 21 seconds remaining, and hit both free throws to tie the game at 66.

A Frank Mason steal should have led to a game-winning layup or at least drawn a foul, but no call meant overtime in South Korea.

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The Germans hit their ninth three-pointer of the morning to score the first points of OT. Ellis clanked a mid-range jumper off the front of the rim, but Mason pulled it back within one. A German and-one pushed it back to 72-68, and KU’s anemic shooting performance continued.

A Perry Ellis bucket pulled the game back within one, 72-71, Germany ball. Then…

Much to my own chagrin, Self stuck with the same five players to start the second OT, but it began with a Selden drive to the basket to give Kansas an early lead. A nice defensive showing and two offensive rebounds for Ellis off Selden missed threes burned clock but resulted in no points.

A deep German three put KU in a two-point deficit, then KUSA responded with a shot clock violation on offense.

…Just kidding!

What a tournament, what a victory and what a showing for Wayne Selden, Frank Mason and this Team USA squad.

Joshua Brisco

Joshua Brisco is an editor and co-owner of Rock Chalk Blog/Jayhawk Nation and the host of (Almost) Entirely Sports, weekdays from 4-6 p.m. on ESPN Kansas City, 99.3 FM and 1510 AM.
twitter.com/jbbrisco