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Exhibition game lets Kansas display its depth in win over Fort Hays State

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, at 10:35 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, at 7:11 a.m.

— There was a moment in the first half, just under four minutes left, when the Kansas Jayhawks hit the 50-point mark on Fort Hays State. That, of course, wasn’t all that surprising.

The Jayhawks shot better than 50 percent from the floor on Tuesday night as they rolled to a 92-75 victory over Fort Hays State in their second and final exhibition game.

But in the moments after freshman Brannen Greene drained his second three-pointer to push the score to 50-28 with 3:45 left in the half, it was worth taking a second and looking toward the Kansas bench. The Jayhawks had gone on a 29-8 run in just more than six minutes. And freshman phenom Andrew Wiggins sat on the bench, still scoreless as the Jayhawk freight train chugged on.

“I think we got a lot of depth,” said sophomore forward Jamari Traylor, who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

So what does Kansas look like without its No. 1 overall recruit? Well, against a Fort Hays State squad from the MIAA, it looked pretty good.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that can stretch the floor,” Traylor said. “We’ve got bigs that can score. Joel (Embiid) did a pretty good job this game, scoring in the paint.

“But as far as Wiggins, I think he’s gonna get a lot more comfortable. Everything is gonna flow a lot more easy. I wouldn’t worry about today.”

One week ago, Kansas plodded through its exhibition opener against Pittsburg State, looking impressive in flashes, but a little fragmented, to use Kansas coach Bill Self’s words. Self simplified things a little over the last week of practice, focusing more on the defensive end. On Tuesday, the Jayhawks certainly looked a little more in control.

Even as Wiggins finished with just 10 points in 20 minutes, the Jayhawks came in waves. Greene and fellow freshman Conner Frankamp both drained two three-pointers in the first half, adding to the onslaught. Still, Self wasn’t quite happy with the defensive performance, pointing to the fact that Fort Hays State managed to shoot 49.1 percent from the floor.

“We went through periods of time in the last five years (where) we go 52 or 55 games, where nobody shoots 50 (percent), home or away,” Self said. “And then to have a team shoot as well as they did against us tonight obviously tells me, although we may be trying, we don’t guard like we think we guard.”

On Friday night, Kansas will open the season with Louisiana-Monroe inside Allen Fieldhouse. And one week from now, Kansas will find itself in Chicago, preparing to take on No. 4 Duke in the Champions Classic. So maybe there was a little more importance on an exhibition game in early November.

The coming season also means that Wiggins will soon have more time to showcase his athleticism.

In the second half, freshman guard Frank Mason turned a steal into a fast-break chance, and Wiggins found himself near the right block. Mason flipped a pass toward the rim, and Wiggins, who took off from just outside the lane, flushed an alley-oop that shook Allen Fieldhouse.

“I knew he was athletic enough to go and get it,” Mason said.

It was another confidence-building play for Mason, who started on Tuesday while KU prepares to play its opener without junior guard Naadir Tharpe, who will serve a one-game suspension. Mason finished with four points and six assists in 19 minutes, appearing a little more in rhythm.

“With all the athletic guys we have on this team,” Mason said, “we all showed up to pass, not just to shoot first.”

Now the season turns real. The opener is just days away. And Duke awaits around the corner. Maybe the Jayhawks aren’t ready, Self says, but there aren’t many teams in America that are.

“I don’t know who’s ready right now, but it’s time to start,” Self said, “so we don’t have a choice. The good thing is we’ll find out exactly where we are to start the season.”

Redshirt plans — For the moment, it appears that Kansas will not redshirt anybody this season, Jayhawks coach Bill Self said after Tuesday night’s 92-75 victory over Fort Hays State.

The most likely candidate is Greene, who had six points Tuesday, but Self says he likes Greene’s ability to make shots.

“I don’t know if we’ll redshirt anybody,” Self said. “But there’ll be some serious talks in the next couple days.”

Frankamp, another player on the fringe of the current rotation, will have to serve as backup point guard on Friday in the season opener against Louisiana Monroe while junior Naadir Tharpe serves a one-game suspension. Tharpe played in an unauthorized game in Chicago last summer.

For now, the perimeter rotation is set with freshman Mason and sophomore wing Andrew White III coming off the bench.

“Frank and Andrew White are gonna play,” Self said. “And if you start the other three guys (Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden and Naadir Tharpe), that’s five. And I never have played six perimeter players. So somebody’s gotta emerge and do something.”


Percentages: FG 49.1, FT 81.3.

3-Point Goals: 8-19 .421 (Nicholson 2-3, Fleming 2-3, Gabric 1-3, Moikobu 1-3, Clarke 1-1, Waldman 1-1, Konrade 0-2, Tadlock 0-3).

Blocked Shots: 2 (Brunson 2).

Turnovers: 19 (Nicholson 6, Fleming 3, Gabric 2, Stoppel, Konrade, Victoria, Moikoby, Tadlock, Wendel).

Steals: 6 (Nicholson 3, Brunson, Moikobu, Capiti).

Technical Fouls: None.

Selden 205-83-632213

Percentages: FG 50.8. FT 64.1.

3-Point Goals: 5-19 26.3 (Frankamp 2-3, Greene 2-4, White 1-3, Roberts 0-1, Manning 0-1, Ellis 0-1, Selden 0-2, Wiggins 0-2, Mason 0-2).

Blocked Shots: 6 (Wiggins 2, Mason, Traylor, Embiid, Greene).

Turnovers: 10 (Ellis 2, Black 2, Selden, Wiggins, Mason, Embiid, Greene).

Steals: 12 (Mason 3, Frankamp 2, Greene 2, Selden, Wiggins, Black, Embiid, White).

Technical Fouls: None.

Fort Hays St.363975

A—16,300. Officials— John Higgins, Terry Oglesby, Toby Martinez.

Reach Rustin Dodd at rdodd@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rustindodd.

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