On Friday night, there was a basketball game played between No. 1 Kansas and No. 22 Baylor. The setting was the Sprint Center. The occasion was the semifinal round of the Big 12 tournament.
The Jayhawks won, 70-66, but on this night and for many to come, nobody will remember the score. Nobody will remember the horrible start, and nobody will remember the near-complete collapse. What they will remember is what Wayne Selden Jr. did to poor Ishmail Wainwright with just under 11 minutes to go in the game.
Wayne Selden did this:
— Rock Chalk Blog (@RockChalkBlog) March 12, 2016
Another angle? Of course!
I think Wayne Selden’s Uncle Anthony is enjoying this college hoops season! pic.twitter.com/iOjAbGEfsw
— Bill Jones (@CBS11BillJones) March 12, 2016
Nobody was more thrilled about Selden’s sure-fire SportsCenter top play dunk than his uncle, who is seen going bananas in the video.
It was a good night for the Jayhawks, who advanced to the Big 12 tournament championship for the second straight year. However, considering the way they played in the first half (and down the stretch), Bill Self is likely just relieved to have survived Friday night.
The first half was the ugliest one put forth by top-seeded Kansas all season. After scoring nine points in the first four minutes, the Jayhawks had 12 in the rest of the half. The KU bench, viewed as a major asset in games when the starting five is struggling to find a rhythm, was so horrible that the stats are cringe-worthy: 0/5 from the floor, zero assists, and five turnovers.
Jake Lindsey, a Baylor freshman who had made just three three-pointers all year, banked one in as the half concluded. The basket put the Bears in front, 23-21, capping the lowest scoring half for the Jayhawks this season.
After likely hearing some choice words from their coach in the halftime locker room, the Jayhawks looked like a completely different team in the second half. Kansas made its first four field goals to jump back ahead of Baylor, and it wouldn’t trail again. Perry Ellis, who was held to just six points in the first half, ripped off eight straight to put KU ahead for good.
Ellis finished with 20 points to lead the Jayhawks. He and Selden threw down dunks on the receiving end of lobs all evening against Baylor’s zone defense. When Scott Drew changed up his defense and went to a man-to-man attack, Devonte’ Graham buried a three to bring KU’s lead up to 14.
Ellis passed Kevin Pritchard to move into 11th on the all-time Kansas scoring list. He has 1,708 career points. Next up: Kirk Hinrich with 1,753.
With about 10 minutes remaining, Self put freshman Carlton Bragg in the game, one day removed from his career-best 12 point-performance against Kansas State. He followed that up with a 10-point, seven rebound outing that helped Kansas open up a 16-point lead down the stretch.
Bragg’s emergence not only gives Self another weapon to use when the Jayhawks are in need of scoring help, but it’s reminiscent of the 2013 Big 12 tournament. Back then, Ellis, just a freshman averaging five points per contest, came alive and made the All-Tournament team after averaging over 14 points in three games. The next year, he became the Jayhawks’ second-leading scorer. Bragg will definitely get the opportunity to follow in Ellis’ footsteps, and Friday night proved how bright the future is for the Kansas frontcourt.
With 1:51 to go, the Jayhawks held a commanding 64-48 lead. KU’s starters were out of the game, and the “Rock Chalk” chant was already starting to echo in the Sprint Center. Baylor, out of nowhere, put together a frantic rally, closing the gap all the way down to just three with seven seconds left. Hot shooting and a few KU turnovers caused the collapse, but after Self put the starters back in, Graham hit a free throw with six seconds remaining to make it a two-possession game.
Self surely has talking points for the post-game locker room, but in the end, he’ll take the win.
It was Kansas’ eighth straight win against Baylor. The Jayhawks haven’t lost to the Bears since March 9, 2013.
At 5:00 pm tomorrow night, Kansas will face either No. 6 Oklahoma or No. 9 West Virginia. KU is searching for its first tournament championship since 2013.
- Perry Ellis: 20 points (7/15 FG) and four rebounds in 25 minutes. He’s a lock to make the All-Tournament team for the second time in his career, regardless of whether Kansas wins or not.
- Devonte’ Graham: 14 points (4/8 FG, 3/7 from three) and eight assists in 38 minutes. He tied his career high with those eight assists, matching what he did yesterday against Kansas State.
- Carlton Bragg: 10 points (4/8 FG) and seven rebounds in just 10 minutes. He’s blossoming into a star. He’ll lead Kansas in scoring next year – mark my words.
- Wayne Selden: 11 points (5/9 FG) and four assists in 31 minutes.
- Frank Mason: nine points (4/6 FG), six rebounds, three assists, and 34 minutes. Rock solid.
- Landen Lucas: one point and seven rebounds in 24 minutes. He also had three steals.
- Jamari Traylor: one point and six rebounds in 19 minutes.
- Hunter Mickelson and Brannen Greene each made two free throws for their two points.
- Kansas shot 46% from the floor, just 25% (4/16) from three, and 64% from the free-throw line.
- Baylor: 39%, 27%, and 56%.
- The Jayhawks out-rebounded Baylor 44-32.
- Yes, Scott Drew used all of his timeouts before the final three minutes.
- Excuse me; I’m going to go watch that Wayne Selden dunk again for the next four hours.