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No. 6 Kansas rocks Nevada, 88-61, at Allen Fieldhouse

Kansas guard Ochai Agbaji (30) comes in for a windmill dunk off a breakaway against Nevada during the first half on Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2021 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Wednesday’s replacement game with Nevada at Allen Fieldhouse went well for the sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks, who used a mixture of breakout dunks and disruptive defense to rock the Wolf Pack, 88-61.

But not every Jayhawk received high marks for his performance.

Sure, senior guard Ochai Agbaji scored 16 points on yet another extremely efficient performance that featured 7-of-12 shooting and a series of breakout dunks. But one of those dunks drew failing grades from his teammates and nearly tore the roof off of Allen Fieldhouse.

With the Jayhawks leading 37-25 late in the first half, during a stretch that essentially ended the game, Agbaji caught a run-out near mid-court and floated in for a highlight dunk. He got it. And the windmill slam he delivered is not one that is seen every night at Allen Fieldhouse. But he did not elevate the way his teammates know he can and a few of them made sure to point that out after the victory.

“You’d think a guy that gets 11 days (off) could jump a little higher than Och did,” KU junior Christian Braun said.

For the record, Braun officially gave Agbaji’s dunk, “an F.”

“From what I’ve seen in practice, that was horrible,” said Braun, who had his own two-handed, highlight hammer dunk early in the game on his way to leading all scorers with 22 points.

Officially scheduled roughly 48 hours before the ball went up for the opening tip, Nevada came to town to take the place of Harvard, which had to back out of its game with the Jayhawks because of COVID-19 issues.

The game was the first in 11 days for KU, which has experienced a series of cancellations and rescheduled contests in the past week. And it was clear from the jump that the Jayhawks were happy to be back on the court.

Related document

Box Score: KU 88, Nevada 61 ( .PDF )

“We were all kind of itching to get back on the court and we know there’s going to be times like that this season where there are breaks,” Braun said. “But we were excited to get back on the floor and it felt good.”

Kansas (10-1) raced out to an 8-0 lead behind contributions from all five starters on the floor, and they never really retreated from there.

Agbaji hit his lone 3-pointer of the night. Braun finished on a drive to the rim. Dajuan Harris Jr., who scored a career-high 14 points to go along with five assists and two steals, swiped a steal on the game’s first possession.

But it was senior guard Remy Martin’s early defense that drew the most praise from Kansas coach Bill Self. Fighting over screens and playing with passion on the defensive end instead of just on offense, Martin helped KU suffocate Nevada’s offense, which never truly got going. The Wolf Pack (6-5) turned it over 16 times in the first half and 21 times for the game. And they shot 37.5% from the floor and 29.6% from 3-point range.

“I thought Remy’s energy, defensively, in the first six minutes was the biggest reason why we got off to a good start,” Self said.

As for all of those turnovers, Self said all of the Jayhawks had something to do with that.

“I think there was a lot of activity,” Self said. “I think there were a lot of hands, a lot of deflections. I think we did some good things in that area.”

Agbaji led Kansas with four steals and many of them led to easy dunks that helped Kansas win the fast break battle 23-8. The Jayhawks also outscored Nevada 46-15 in the paint and put up 49 points in the second half.

“As the game (went) on, we kind of wore them out and threw a lot of guys at them,” Braun said. “So I think we got better (throughout the game).”

Sophomore wing Jalen Wilson, who led all players with 10 rebounds in 21 minutes, agreed.

“Throughout the game, we just figured it out a little bit more,” Wilson said. “All-around team defense the second half was a big turnaround.”

A late 8-2 run by the Jayhawks in the first half gave Kansas a 12-point halftime lead. And a 10-0 run early in the second half turned a 48-36 lead into 58-36. From there, the game was never close again.

KU’s starting five finished one point shy from cracking double digits across the board — Martin finished with nine — and Self after the victory lamented the discrepancy that exists between KU’s first unit and the bench.

Every bench player but one — K.J. Adams — finished the night with a negative value in the plus/minus category.

“Our bench I don’t think is giving us what they can,” Self said. “So we may have to shorten it. But the bottom line is (this team) has done pretty well. We’ve been a fast-starting team so we know we can guard. All in all, I thought there was some progress made.”

Next up, the Jayhawks will welcome George Mason to town on Saturday for another replacement game. KU was supposed to host TCU in the Big 12 opener, but COVID-19 issues within the Horned Frogs program left KU looking for another fill-in, and KU on Wednesday announced GMU, led by former Missouri Tiger Kim English, as the latest addition to the Jayhawks’ 2021-22 schedule.

Saturday’s tipoff is slated for 4 p.m. on ESPN+.

Comments

Bryce Landon

I missed this game because I was treating my wife to dinner out, but it sounds like Kansas was on fire for sure. I've hated Nevada ever since the early days of Bill Self's tenure, and it was great that KU laid the lumber to them!

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

He can! Go Remy. Let that intensity grow and grow.

It’s a bit discouraging that Joe & JCL only logged 11 minutes total in a blowout, though encouraging to see JWil start to excel on the boards again. Good sign that we’re winning the boards against such a big team.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Brett McCabe

Must have been the extra Vitamin D.

And who hates the University of Nevada? So friggin’ weird.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Rodney Crain

Vitamin D is all you need Brett. LOL!!! Great post.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Rodney Crain

Remy? In the 2nd half he was subbed in with 3 other starters. We go on defense, he left his man at the 3pt. line, ran to right under the basket to double a driver down the lane (away from his side) that DM had position on, fouled the driver, bailing out Nevada. Self took him right out again for the rest of the game. He mugs for the camera, saying why to self.

If Self wants Remy to stay on his man on the wings he should have a camera placed there. He will never leave.

Joe did not deserve to play anymore. He was lost, running around like his head was not in the game. Fouled twice, real bad body language in the time out, upset over how bad he looked. I hate to say it but he might Portal Out if he gives up trying.

Our bench looks very thin. It will be interesting to see how conference plays out.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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RJ King

What's great about Remy easily turns to frustration. Your camera placement comment is hysterical. And spot on.

Yesufu is puzzling. I noticed the same thing in the huddle. Distracting and negative vibes. Hope he figures it out, Trying too hard? Too amped up?

Bench kinda weak, but can't figure out why KJ is not playing more. Kid looks smart, quick, strong - but always in for just a few minutes. Jaylen subs for Och and Braun, so harder to get in I guess. Or KJ ends up playing the 5 - like Vick often did one year.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Michael Leiker

Agree completely on KJ, did you see that cross over in the final minutes? Missed the layup but he is just a crazy athlete. Could be so big for this team with more PT!

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Rodney Crain

RJ I am a fan of KJ too. His energy and effort should be on the floor for 5-10 minutes each half at least.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Lee Short

Matt, was there a KUsports.com ranking of players for the Stephen F Austin game? Or, was that series stopped and we won't see one for the Nevada game either?

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Matt Tait

Hey Lee - I posted last night's just after 11 p.m.
The series is alive and well. Happy New Year!

http://www2.kusports.com/weblogs/kusp...

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Lee Short

Matt, thanks.

For some reason, neither this posting nor the SFA ranking shows up in the men's basketball feed from what I can tell. All prior games do. No need to respond. Just an FYI in case I am not the only one finding these.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Coach made a comment during an interview this week about Zach being ahead of the game on O, and KJ being ahead of the game on D. That also meant that they weren’t there on the other half. While a crossover is nice and visible, we all know that Coach sees so much more, and the team counts on all those things that most of us don’t see.

It’s why Landon Lucas became a starter mid-year a few years ago and the team excelled. He had trouble even making bunnies, but did all the subtle things that allowed the others and the team excell.

While they aren’t there now, they are still learning and can continue to develop as the year goes on. Maybe they’ll have a Cole v.2008.2.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Remy?
It was Remy’s early defense that drew the most praise from Kansas coach Bill Self.

Is it finished? No. But it’s obvious he can enough to get Coach’s praise, and he can continue to develop.

It is disappointing that Joe doesn’t seem to be getting it. There’s obviously physical abilities but this appears to be mental and headed to psychological. Even vitamin D can’t fix that. A second trip to the portal is not nearly as nice as the first.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Rodney Crain

​Remy? Whatever he does that is mildly positive early in the game is not worth him, in all but one game so far, leaving a shooter on the 3pt line who has the ball for a wide open 3 pointer. Or last night when he fouls a player who is covered and bails them out. When Remy does a few good things he starts playing to the crowd. He loses focus which is hard to understand from a Veteran player. At least twice last night as he was playing to the home crowd, he was beaten down the floor on D.

Like I said Self yanked him seconds after putting him in for good in the 2nd half because of his defense. It was not to pat him on the back for what he did in the first. He is a D risk as the game progress's. He is not a mature player. Self see's it too.

As is typical Dirk you are wrong.

The Portal is used as a reset button. It is actually easier for players the second, third time. Does it work out for the better, almost never Captain Obvious.

If you want to critique my sentence structure feel free to do so. Or if you want to list all the reasons for Vitamin D by all means we would love to hear it. Water Management lay it on us, I am sure it is fascinating.

Other than that Shhhhhhhh.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Layne Pierce

Our team needs the bench to perform at a decent level. What coach is looking for is unit play by the second team. When they sub-in, they are generally good enough, but that talent, should be able to play as a unit at times, and really rest the starters, more NBA style.

So far, however, the other 5, do not seem to mesh very well.

Stay tuned.

RCJH

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Micky Baker

First 5 minutes of game, KU was on. Defense was good the whole first half, but offense struggled. Second half was pretty good on both sides of the ball. Remy made some great passes, and Harris' pass in the fast break to Lightfoot was maybe the best pass of the year for this team. Bounce pass to the trailer for the dunk, nobody at the rim to even challenge Lightfoot. It was that good of a pass, nobody saw it coming except for Harris and Lightfoot.

They guys communicated well on both sides of the ball. 3rd straight game KU forced 20 or more turnovers. Last time that happened was 2007-08. Still room for improvement with guys coming off the bench.

I was worried before this game and even throughout the first half when we couldn't really stretch the lead amid all the turnovers we were forcing, but our speed kept their bigs from getting going for sure.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Barry Weiss

I think Remy has been great. I wish Coach would turn him loose to shoot a bit more. He passes up good shots often. It had to be a major shock coming from ASU where he was a scoring machine.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Rodney Crain

Barry there is a valid reason Remy was not draftable.

There is no reason for him to leave his man, most times with the ball. He does it almost every game. He is a show off who you have to take the bad with the good.

Do you recall during the game when he was fouled and fell on his back under the basket? The camera showed him looking up on the floor and he played to the camera.

I hope we never have to depend on him too much while he is here. Offense is nice, as we have seen we have other options. Defense is required though. That is just not his mindset.

Self can not give him the keys to the team, Remy will drive it off the cliff if given a chance.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Mallory Briggans

Dirk just a comment on your Landen Lucas comment . Lucas did miss a lot of bunnies but Lucas got in the rotation only after Mason ,Graham and Ellis went to Self and told Self that Lucas gave them the best chance to win and he listened and they won 17 in a row .

here is whats most disappointing that roster .....how did that team not win a national championship

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

Thanks Mallory. The part of my point that I didn’t mention. They tried several flashy bigs IIRC (though some might say that I’m obviously wrong) that didn’t do the little things or be in the right place/time.

Barry - I’ve heard from people that watch PAC12 BB, that Remy was a really high usage rate play, but not necessarily efficient. He didn’t even get invited to the playin game for the draft combine so he definitely has work to do. It seems that he’s also about Frank’s size, so that’s at least one strike against him. Heck, even Dot was called undersized last year at 6-2(?).

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Dirk Medema

I believe I read that the sit out year is waved for the first trip to the portal but not for subsequent trips. That would not seem as nice to me, but maybe others think it’s good. I could be wrong.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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Micky Baker

I agree with Rodney about Remy. Remy has huge upside and is quick enough to be our best defender, but only if he stays on his man and helps when it's his assignment to rotate. I have not been able to watch that many games due to my work schedule so there may have been some defensive plays he made that did not get down on paper statistically, like knocking a ball loose for a teammate to pick up for the steal, but Remy should be leading the team in steals with his raw quickness. Harris leads the team in assists, but Remy is not too bad in that category but should be better given the talent on this team. If this team is going to make a deep run in March and April, Remy needs to step up the defense and make more plays for his teammates. He is not the only guy with room to improve, but maybe the most important guy if he does improve.

4 months, 2 weeks ago

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