When it comes to winning championships outside of the continental United States, there isn’t a team any better than Kansas. After taking the World University Games this July, the fifth-ranked Jayhawks downed #19 Vanderbilt 70-63 to win the 2015 Maui Invitational on Wednesday night.
Earlier in the day, top freshman Cheick Diallo was officially cleared by the NCAA, so the win was the icing on what was already a sweet day for KU.
Playing in their third game in three days, the Jayhawks got off to a slow start. Vanderbilt opened the game on a 16-6 run as Kansas missed eight of its first 10 shots. In the blink of an eye, Wayne Selden led a surge that brought his team within a point, but the Jayhawks would play the rest of the half from behind, ultimately trailing by four at the break.
Selden scored half of his team’s 26 points in the first half. Perry Ellis was shut out on four field goal attempts, and Frank Mason made just one basket. Kansas had weathered the early storm and certainly deserved to be down by more than four points, and Vanderbilt immediately paid for failing to stretch its lead while the Jayhawks were cold.
Kansas opened the second half on a 7-1 run to snatch the lead, and after trading baskets with the Commodores for a few minutes, Selden hit a free throw with 16:45 remaining to put the Jayhawks ahead for good. With 10 minutes to go, the lead was six. Four minutes later, it was into double-digits.
Speaking of Korea, it was Selden and Mason who led the team in its eight-game sweep of international opponents this summer. Selden, known for maddening inconsistency and frustrating habits in his first two years of school, seemed like a different player in the World Games. He was assertive; his jumper was stronger and his shot selection smarter. On Wednesday night, he looked like Korea Wayne Selden, matching a career-high with 25 points on 8-of-11 shooting. He played every second of the game.
The only knock on Selden was that he had four different opportunities to set a new career-high for points. He proceeded to brick four consecutive free throws to finish at 25. His strong game was critical for Kansas considering that Perry Ellis (just 1-of-8 for five points) struggled throughout the night.
Selden and Mason were named co-MVPs of the tournament. At 4-1, Kansas has bounced back from its disappointing loss to Michigan State last week, and with a string of five straight home games coming up, the Jayhawks have the opportunity to rattle off an impressive winning streak.
In the Maui Invitational, Wayne Selden was 20-of-30 (67%) from the floor, 12-of-17 (71%) from three, and had 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
Up next: the Jayhawks return to Lawrence for a meeting with Loyola next Tuesday, December 1, at 7:00 pm. After missing the first five games due to eligibility issues, Cheick Diallo will make his Kansas debut in front of a home crowd.
- Selden: 25 points (8-of-11 FG, 4-of-6 from three), seven rebounds, and no turnovers. As mentioned in the article, he played all 40 minutes. In the first half, he was responsible for half of his team’s points (13) and field goals (10).
- Mason: 10 points (4-of-13 FG), three assists, five rebounds. It wasn’t his best shooting performance, but he made the shots when his team needed him.
- Ellis: five points (1-of-8 FG), but a team-high eight rebounds. He struggled offensively and spent most of the second half on the bench. He’ll be fine.
- Graham: 12 points (4-of-9 FG). He made three threes.
- Bragg: four points and a team-high two steals. He had an and-one layup where he got to showcase his ridiculous athleticism, and Diallo sprinted off the bench to help him up after landing hard.
- Mykhailiuk: seven points (3-of-5 FG). He did most of his damage in the first half, but aside from Selden, he was KU’s best player prior to intermission.
- Traylor: three points and four rebounds.
- Lucas: four points and four rebounds.
- Kansas shot 46% in the game, but it posted a 63% team rate in the second half.
- Three-pointers: Once again, the Jayhawks had a great game from behind the arc. KU made exactly half of its three-point attempts (8-of-16).
- The Jayhawks out-rebounded the Commodores 39-32, but it had just eight assists on 25 baskets.