Jayhawks battle back; take down Florida
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas used 21 points from Wayne Selden and a 17-0 scoring run to erase an 18-point, second half deficit – one less than the largest ever overcome at Allen Fieldhouse – while sending the Florida Gators home with a 71-65 loss in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge presented by Sonic Friday night.
Selden, who couldn’t find a basket in a 0-for-10 effort during KU’s Orlando Classic Championship win over Michigan State the last time out, scored four field goals in a row at one point while rallying Kansas (6-1). It was Selden who gave Kansas its first lead in nearly 27 minutes with a long range jumper at the top of key, bringing the Jayhawks out of a dark stretch of futility.
Kansas made its own mess in the first half, closing the first 20 minutes by hitting just 3-of-14 shot attempts and adding nine turnovers while Florida (3-4) shot 53.6 percent and carved up the paint. The Jayhawks then cleaned it up slowly after the break and turned the tables in the game’s final 15 minutes.
“We were as good the second half as we were bad the first half,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said.
KU trailed by 15 points at the break, its largest halftime deficit of the year, but reduced the turnovers and turned up the defense on the Gators to out-shoot Florida 48 percent to 34.5 percent in the second half. Similar to KU’s skid, Florida made just 3-of-21 field goals during a 15-minute span that saw the Jayhawks take control. Three Jayhawks joined Selden in double figures – Frank Mason (12), Cliff Alexander (12) and Perry Ellis (10) – but it was Selden who provided the heart when KU needed it most.
“It was one of the best games he’s played since he’s been here,” Self said of Selden, who logged the fourth, 20-point game of his career. “He’s been laboring, needed something good to happen. He got a layup to begin the game and that took the lid off.”
There was no shortage of contact at the outset as eight fouls were called in the first four minutes while both teams refused to allow uncontested baskets. In the early going, Kansas very much played the part of the aggressor inside but when Landen Lucas – who drew a foul and swatted a shot during the opening surge – was forced to leave with two quick fouls, the advantaged reversed.
Still, Kansas used a pair of three pointers to jump out to an 11-5 lead while making four of its first eight shot attempts, before going cold on offense.
That’s also when Florida found a hole in KU’s defense, turning a flurry of dribble penetration hand-offs into high-percentage baskets and sprinkled in a steady barrage of three-point attempts – 13 in the first half.
A step-back jumper by Devin Robinson tied the game at 14-14 forced a KU timeout with 12:27 to play, then Kasey Hill gave the Gators their first lead at 16-14, nearly a minute later. It didn’t stop there as Florida rattled off 14 unanswered points while Kansas tallied nine first half turnovers – eight in the first 12 minutes.
Even the bunnies wouldn’t fall for Kansas late in the opening stanza as a finger roll by Selden hit everywhere but the bottom of the net and an open Ellis midrange jumper clanged off the rim. Florida nearly doubled up Kansas with a 35-18 advantage – the largest lead of the half – but Selden slashed, twisted and floated one in to pull Kansas within 15, the eventual margin at the break.
Mason bounced a three off the front of the rim, then watched it float up and through to bring Kansas within 13 nearly five minutes into the second half, then Selden muscled a drive to make it an 11 point ballgame. Defensively, Lucas clogged the lane and grabbed a then-game-high sixth rebound in just six minutes of play. Mason converted a layup to bring Kansas within single digits at 45-36 with 14:26 to play and sent the raucous crowd into a frenzy.
Chris Walker, one of four Gators in double figures, pushed the lead back to 11 with a jumper but Florida couldn’t keep Kansas at bay for long. The teams traded buckets back and forth then Kansas started its second half surge at the 10:19 mark when Alexander laid in a bucket off a feed from Graham to make it 49-41. Mason intercepted a pass on the next Florida possession and led a fast break the other way, only to be called for a charge, but on the other end Florida couldn’t take advantage.
Selden wrapped four straight field goals for Kansas around four free throws from Alexander to bring the Jayhawks within one, then Ellis tied the contest at 52-52 with a free throw at 6:18. The Roxbury, Mass., native’s next bucket gave Kansas a 54-52 lead then he turned the keys to the offense over to his teammates.
Alexander hit two more free throws to push KU’s lead to 56-52 and Devonte’ Graham was fouled taking it to the basket then drilled both free throws to push the Jayhawk run to 15-0. Ellis hit a turnaround jumper after two more missed shot by Florida and pushed the streak to 17 unanswered.
A free throw by Walker snapped the skid, but did little to turn the tide. Kansas led by as many as 11 in the waning minutes but a flurry of Florida buckets settled the final margin at six.
The comeback win marked KU’s largest rally since overcoming a 19-point, second half deficit to Missouri in Allen Fieldhouse during the 2012 season.
Alexander grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds to notch his first career double-double.
Kansas travels to the nation’s capital to take on Georgetown next Wednesday (Dec. 10) on Fox Sports 1, before returning to defend Kansas City’s Sprint Center against Utah in the KC Shootout presented by Aetna, Saturday, Dec. 13.
Kansas Starters (Season/Career Starts): So. G Frank Mason, III (7/10), So. G Wayne Selden, Jr. (7/42), Fr. G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (5/5), Jr. F Perry Ellis (7/44), So. F Landen Lucas (5/5)
Series Info: Kansas leads 4-2
Attendance: 16,300 (215th-consecutive sellout)
- Made Kansas 6-1 or better for the third-straight season and 10th time in Bill Self‘s 12 seasons at KU.
- Gave Kansas a 1-1 record in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge with both games against Florida.
- Made Kansas 4-2 all-time versus Florida.
- Made Kansas 3-0 in Allen Fieldhouse this season, 178-9 in AFH under Self and 717-109 all-time in the venue.
- Improved Self to 331-70 while at Kansas, 538-175 overall and 2-1 all-time against Florida.
- Made KU 2,132-823 all-time.
- The Jayhawks’ 18-point deficit was their largest overcome in a victory since Kansas worked its way back after trailing Missouri by 19 points in Lawrence on Feb. 25, 2012.
- Florida’s 15-point lead at the intermission marked the largest halftime deficit for a Jayhawk squad inside Allen Fieldhouse in the Bill Self era (since 2003).
- Kansas started 4-of-8 from the field to build an early six-point (11-5) lead less than five minutes into the game; however, Kansas connected on just 4-of-15 of its attempts the remainder of the first half while the Gators shot 58.3 percent (14-of-24) in that same span.
- The Jayhawks saw Florida shoot 53.5 percent (15-of-28) from the field in the first half, the best shooting percentage by a KU opponent in a half this year.
- Kansas outscored Florida 47-26 in the second half with the help of 21 second-half free throws.
- The Jayhawks converted 21-of-24 (87.5 percent) of their second-half free throws and 27-of-32 (84.4 percent) for the game, marking the squad’s best percentage from the charity stripe this year.
- The Florida shooters cooled off in the second half hitting just 10-of-29 (34.5 percent) of their field goal tries.
- The Jayhawk defense held the Gators to just one field goal from the 11:33 mark to the 1:07 mark in the second half, a 10:22 span. KU outscored UF 28-8 in that time.
- The bucket at the south end of Allen Fieldhouse was unkind to the team heading in its direction Friday night. Neither team was able to shoot better than 35 percent in the halves in which they were attacking that goal. Kansas was 8-of-23 (34.8 percent) at the south end goal in the first half, while Florida shot 10-of-29 (34.5 percent) on that same bucket in the second half.
- After being outrebounded 18 to 11 in the first half, Kansas responded in a big way by beating Florida on the boards, 24 to 9, over the final 20 minutes.
- KU found itself with a 13-2 deficit in second-chance points after the opening frame but, with its help of its better effort in the offensive glass in the second half, KU outscored UF 11-0 in second-chance points.
- The Jayhawks’ 11 rebounds in the first half were the team’s fewest since KU grabbed 10 second-half boards against Michigan State on Nov. 13, 2012.
- Coming into the night, Billy Donovan coached teams had a 242-45 record (.840) when four or more players score in double figures. The Jayhawks handed Donovan his 46th loss when his teams have four or more double figure scorers.
- Freshman F Cliff Alexander posted his first-career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds coming in 19 minutes of action.
- After going 0-of-10 from the field in his last outing against Michigan State (11/30), sophomore G Wayne Selden, Jr., more than redeemed himself by scoring a season-high 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting (60 percent). His nine field goals made were a high by a Jayhawk so far in 2014-15.
- Selden tallied a 2-of-5 clip from beyond the arc, marking the third game this year he has connected on multiple treys.
- Sophomore G Frank Mason III connected on his only attempt from behind the three-point arc, and has made five of his last seven attempts from three-point land. He has now tallied at least one three-pointer in five of his seven outings this season.
- Freshman G Devonte’ Graham went 9-of-10 from the free throw stripe, all coming in the second half. Graham’s nine second-half free throws are the most since Thomas Robinson knocked in 10 in the second half against Texas A&M on Jan. 23, 2012.
- Mason and Graham combined to connect on 13-of-14 free throws over the final five minutes to seal the win for the Jayhawks.
- Graham’s three steals were a season-high and tied the most by a Jayhawk this season.
- Junior F Perry Ellis scored in double-figures for the fifth-straight contest and sixth time this year after scoring 10 points in 34 minutes.
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