Senior Sendoff: No. 8 Kansas Trounces Tech, 82-57

By: kuathletics.com
By: kuathletics.com

LAWRENCE, Kan. — He made his one year as a Jayhawk count all season, but Tarik Black shined the brightest on Senior Night. With nine makes on nine shots, the senior transfer tied the program record and led No. 8/8 Kansas to its 30th-straight Senior Night victory, downing Texas Tech 82-57 Wednesday night inside Allen Fieldhouse.

Facing Texas Tech (13-17, 5-12 Big 12) in a festive finale for the second-straight season, Kansas (23-7, 14-3 Big 12) finished its home slate with a win for the 31st-consecutive year. The night started with a flower shower from the crowd over seniors Black, Niko Roberts and Justin Wesley as well as beloved managers Corey Wacknov and Neal Stineman. All three players made the starting lineup and finally ended the night with the school's senior speech tradition.

"How about them Jayhawks," prompted head coach Bill Self to the crowd before the seniors took the mic. As tradition holds, the speeches outdid the game as the 212th-straight sellout crowd stayed in their seats to listen.

A shaky 1-for-7 shooting start was quickly forgotten after the Jayhawks made 12 of their next 20, sprinting to a 20-point halftime lead with Black leading the way. The Memphis native had a heck of a Senior Night, pounding out a game-high 19 points on perfect 9-of-9 shooting from the field. He tied former Kansas star Mark Randall for the KU record with most shots made in a game without a miss (9-for-9, 12/15/90). He also led the team with six boards.

Junior guard Naadir Tharpe and sophomore forward Perry Ellis both gave up their starting roles for their senior teammates, but it didn't keep the regulars from contributing great efforts. Tharpe set the tone with five assists and chalked up 16 points, including three three-pointers, while Ellis 13 points on 4-of-4 shooting. Not surprising, the Jayhawks picked up an edge in the bench scoring column with a season-high 49 points to TTU's 14. As a unit, the Jayhawks outshot the visitors, 52 percent (27-for-52) to 35 percent (18-for-51).

Redshirt sophomore Toddrick Gotcher finished the night with 10 points, Texas Tech's only scorer in double-figures.

Freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Wayne Selden, Jr., joined the seniors in the starting five and the crew stayed together on the floor for the two and a half minutes, until Tharpe checked in to resume his role as floor general. A monster put-back dunk from Wiggins got the scoring underway, but the Jayhawks' 2-for-8 shooting start put them ahead by a slight 6-3 margin five minutes in.

The next minute, however, went quite well.

Tharpe came in and immediately fired off a three-pointer, swiped an inbounds pass and turned it into a three-point play to suddenly open a 12-5 advantage in a mere 15 seconds. Conversely, a 1-for-9 start from the floor – and a jaw-dropping block from Black – held the Red Raiders without a field goal for more than six minutes. Yet the Jayhawks didn't take advantage. By the time Jordan Tolbert broke up TTU's bucket drought with a long jumper, he cut KU's lead in half, 14-7.

Kansas wouldn't let a second five-minute standstill from the Red Raider offense get by unnoticed. Black muscled his way to the basket for a layup, earning the and-one to cap his five-straight points. He tacked on another dunk following Ellis' seventh three-pointer of the year. Per the usual, freshman guard Conner Frankamp's three-pointer brought on a crowd eruption and just like that, the Jayhawks were on track to a blowout. The Jayhawks held the Red Raiders to a season-low five buckets in the first half and headed to the lockerroom with a stout 39-19 lead.

The barrage continued in the second half as Wiggins and Tharpe kicked off the scoring with a three apiece, pushing KU past the 25-point plateau. Cruising, Tharpe pulled up from the top of the key and knocked down another. KU charged ahead by 30.

With the game firmly in hand, head coach Bill Self utilized his bench. Frankamp, who also rejected a career-high two blocks, freshman Brannen Greene, redshirt freshman Landen Lucas and sophomore guard Evan Manning all scored in their extended minutes. When the "We Want Wesley" and "We Want Niko" chants rank out late in the second half, Self obliged.

The senior trio left for good with 1:37 on the clock. Self called them out one-by-one, much to the delight of the crowd – already in "Rock Chalk" chant mode. The underclassmen closed out the 82-57 victory.

UP NEXT
Kansas will close out the Big 12 regular season at West Virginia on Saturday, March 8, at 11 a.m. (Central) on ESPN. Kansas will enter the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship (March 12-15) at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., as the No. 1 seed and play its first game in the event's quarterfinals on Thursday, March 13, at 2 p.m. against the winner of the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game, which takes place March 12. KU has had a first-round bye in 17 of the 18 Big 12 Championships. KU has been the No. 1 seed in the event 11 times, including each of the last six seasons.

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Notes
KU STARTERS (Season/Career Starts): Sr. Niko Roberts (1/1), Fr. Wayne Selden, Jr. (30/30), Fr. Andrew Wiggins (30/30), Sr. Justin Wesley (1/3), Sr. Tarik Black (10/70)

SERIES INFO: Kansas leads 27-4

ATTENDANCE: 16,300 (212th-consecutive sellout)

KANSAS' WIN…

Improved KU to 23-6 on the season and gave Kansas at least 23 wins for the 25th-consecutive season and 29th time in the last 30 years dating back to 1984-85.
Gave KU a 14-3 Big 12 and marked the sixth-straight season the Jayhawks have won 14 games in conference play.
Closed out the home conference slate a perfect 9-0 in Big 12 games in Allen Fieldhouse, the sixth time in the Bill Self era that the Jayhawks completed an unblemished league slate.
Marked Kansas' 31st-straight home season finale, including 30-consecutive Senior Nights (the 2006-07 roster did not have a senior).
Moved the Kansas-Texas Tech series to 27-4 in favor of Kansas, including 14-0 in Lawrence with all meetings in Allen Fieldhouse.
Improved Kansas to 14-1 in Allen Fieldhouse this season, 175-9 in the venue under Bill Self and 713-109 all-time in the arena.
Improved Self to 14-6 all-time against Texas Tech (13-13 while at Kansas). He advanced to 323-66 while at Kansas and 530-171 overall.
Moved Kansas to 2,124-819 all-time.

TEAM NOTES

The Jayhawks cranked out a 51.9 shooting percentage, marking the 18th time this season that KU has shot 50 percent or better in a game – the most since the 2010-11 team tallied 24 games of 50 percent or better.
KU led by as many as 36 with 12:52 left in the game, the team's second-largest advantage this season and largest lead in Big 12 Conference play, besting TCU at Allen Fieldhouse (35). Kansas led by 39 against Towson (Nov. 22).
The Jayhawks held the Red Raiders to their fourth-lowest scoring total (57) of the season – just the fifth time TTU was held under 60 points this season. Texas Tech had one player in double figures, just the third time the Red Raiders have failed to have multiple, double-digit scorers.
Kansas held Texas Tech to a season-low five made field goals in the first half. Texas Tech shot just 20.8 percent (5-of-24) in the first 20 minutes, including five misses from beyond the three-point arc.
Kansas honored seniors Tarik Black, Niko Roberts and Justin Wesley prior to the game. Roberts and Wesley both arrived at Kansas in the same year, and in that span they have been a part of four Big 12 regular-season championships, two Big 12 Tournament titles and one Final Four where Kansas reached the title game. Kansas went 62-3 in Allen Fieldhouse over the last four seasons. Black won four Conference USA Tournaments and three C-USA regular-season titles before coming to Kansas and winning the 2014 Big 12 regular-season title.
The Jayhawks started Black, Roberts, Wesley, Wayne Selden, Jr. and Andrew Wiggins – the first time KU has used that combo this season, leading to a season-high 49 points from the bench. Regular starters Naadir Tharpe (16) and Perry Ellis (13) each reached double figures in reserve.
Kansas made just one of its first seven shots before bouncing back with five makes on its next seven attempts. Despite the slow start, Kansas shot 48.1 percent in the first half, close to the team's season game-average of 49.8.
The Jayhawks nearly doubled up the Red Raiders at the break, 39-19, thanks in part to an 10-0 run that turned a 10-point advantage (25-15) into a 20-point advantage (35-15), and saw KU's lead balloon to as many as 21 with 1:44 left before half.
By holding the Red Raiders to 19 points in the first half, Kansas held its third opponent of the season under 20 points in the opening 20 minutes (vs. Towson – 16; vs. Texas – 18)
The last time Tubby Smith brought a team into Allen Fieldhouse, his Kentucky Wildcats failed to record an assist in the first half. This time, Smith's Red Raiders did a little better with two dimes in the game's opening frame.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES

Senior F Tarik Black saved one of his best performances as a Jayhawk for his last game in Allen Fieldhouse. Starting in place of injured post Joel Embiid, Black poured in a Kansas-career-high 19 points and pulled down six rebounds. Black finished a perfect 9-for-9 from the field to tie Mark Randall's school-record nine field goals without a miss against Rider, Dec. 15, 1990. Black's nine makes against Texas Tech topped another great effort against the Red Raiders, Kenny Gregory's 8-for-8 performance against TTU on Feb. 5, 2000.
Junior G Naadir Tharpe chipped in 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field, including three treys, his most three-pointers in more than a month (4, at Baylor, 2/4). Tharpe finished the regular season one-point shy of 500 with 499 career points.
Tharpe tallied his sixth game with no turnovers on the year. He led the floor with five assists. In the nine home conference games, Tharpe sported an assist-to-turnover of 3.8:1.
Sophomore F Perry Ellis made all four of his shot attempts to tally 13 points, the third Jayhawk in double figures Wednesday night.
Freshman G Conner Frankamp blocked his first career shot late in the first half, redirecting a pull-up jumper by TTU's Robert Turner with 23 seconds – Frankamp's jersey number – left in the first half. Frankamp's block help KU hold TTU to its season-low for made field goals in a half (5).
Frankamp went on to add another block in the second half to tie for the team lead in blocks.
Kansas senior F Justin Wesley started his first official game as a Jayhawk and made his third overall career start, with two starts as a freshman at Lamar. Teams with Wesley in the lineup improved to 2-1. Wesley's last start was Dec. 12, 2009, at forward for Lamar against Louisiana.
Wesley's mother, Charlene Taylor made her second appearance escorting a Jayhawk on Senior Night. Wesley is the brother of KU great Keith Langford who celebrated Senior Night on March 2, 2005.
Kansas senior G Niko Roberts made his first career start Saturday, putting up a three point attempt from the corner. Roberts has appeared in 40 games during his KU career, including six during the 2013-14 season.
Freshman G Andrew Wiggins failed to reach double figures for just the fifth time in 30 games with nine points. Wiggins now has 481 points on the year, right behind Xavier Henry's (483, 2010) for third-place position on the all-time Kansas freshmen scoring list.
Wiggins improved his KU freshmen record for free throws made (138), free throws attempted (181) and scoring average (16.03). He moved past Paul Pierce (341) and into sixth on the freshman field goal attempts chart with 347.
Sophomore G Evan Manning hit a three-pointer in the second half, his first of the season and third for his career.

QUOTES
Kansas Head Coach Bill Self
On Tarik Black's performance tonight:
"It was kind of his night really, he was great and Niko (Roberts) did a good job and Justin (Wesley) played well when they were in there. Really we played pretty well as a team. I thought we shared the ball better than we have. We didn't make shots the first half from beyond the arc but we didn't make shots the whole game, we were 7-for-12. I think we got good looks and I thought the ball movement was good, we rebounded probably a little bit below average but our first shot defense was really good. There were a lot of good things that happened tonight, but more importantly than anything else, the love affair between our fans and our players. That was so evident with everybody sticking around to hear these guys talk afterwards. It's always a special night on senior night but it's a night these cats will remember for the rest of their lives."

On the senior class:
"They are all great and they've all contributed in different ways. They are all good teammates and they all get it. Like I said before I think Niko (Roberts) and I may have gone in the back room a couple times, when he was three I had to separate my daughter and him because certainly they used to argue so much – what a great kid. What Justin (Wesley) has done being around our program; I thought it was really cool that his brother is the sixth all-time leading scorer here and Keith (Langford) actually paid his way here a couple years to come here. That's not an easy thing to do with out-of-state tuition. And of course Tarik Black has been everything we'd thought he'd be. He went through a period of time where he didn't play as well early and got in foul trouble, but since January he's been a force and tonight he was terrific."

On how they will adapt to having Joel Embiid sit out against West Virginia:
"Joel (Embiid) will definitely not play on Saturday and we'll wait and see how things go obviously moving forward after that. You can see Joel (Embiid) is moving so much better tonight he is walking around and he actually shot some today in shoot around. So he's improved so much in the last two or three days but still he is not close to being able to play. We hope that with a little bit more time we'll get him reevaluated again and hopefully it will be the case that he can get out there pretty soon."

On winning their tenth straight Big 12 title and the program over the past 10 years:
"It's pretty long but it's been a pretty good run. We've had our unbelievable share of really good players and really competitive kids who've loved it here. One thing I think Tarik (Black) hit on it quite a bit, it's something bigger than yourself and you've played here Greg (Gurley) and you get it – this place is bigger than any individual and it's kind of cool to be a part of something that's that good and that big. Certainly we've had a lot of guys really represent us really well and our school. I'm really proud of all of them and it seems like the next one is always the hardest one and of course getting 11 will be a monster – who knows what our roster will be. I do think sometimes we take it for granted and we don't celebrate the accomplishment. When a lot of programs out there would have ticker tape parades if you win their respective league and for us to do it in what is considered the best league in the country and do it in a convincing manner which we did is pretty special."

Kansas freshman guard Andrew Wiggins
On how fast this year has gone for you:
"It has gone too fast. I wish I had more time to stay here, do my thing and be with the team, the coaches and all these wonderful fans. Last year, that is one of the reasons I committed to play here. The fans are just so loyal. The game ended at 10:30 or 11 p.m., but no one left their seats. The fans were still here cheering, even the kids that had school the next day. The fans are incredibly loyal."

On if he thought about tonight being his last game:
"I don't think it has hit me yet. It feels like just yesterday that we had Late Night, so it has definitely not hit me yet."

On what emotions you are feeling right now:
"I think it is all bundled up right now. I am happy, yet sad it is my last game. I have enjoyed my time here. I am thankful for everything. I have been blessed with a good team, great coaches and the best fans anyone could ever ask for."

Kansas junior guard Naadir Tharpe
On if playing in the Sprint Center compares to the energy in Allen Fieldhouse:
"Definitely. Being able to play in the Sprint Center is like playing at a second home. It isn't that far from Lawrence so the fans will definitely be there. The fans have always showed up for us whenever we play in Kansas City."

On why the team celebrated tonight and not after the last game:
"No celebration after the game because we can't celebrate after the loss. It was better for it to happen here, anyway. To be able to win it here for the seniors, for the fans and everybody to see us wearing our hats, it was great to be able to celebrate here at home."

Kansas freshman senior forward Tarik Black
On how tonight felt for you:
"It felt good. That is just the way we practice every day. I got a couple more minutes tonight than normal but tonight, everything seemed to be clicking for me."

On if he plays better with his mom in the stands:
"I know I am speaking for her right now, but she will definitely be following us over the next month. I'm used to it. She used to be in the stands every game and I would always look up at her. She would come down before the game and give me advice and that is what she did for me tonight."

On playing your final home game in the Fieldhouse:
"I just can't believe it is over; not the season but the regular season games. I have played four seasons and it has been a long road leading up to this point, but now it is here. I can't come back and do boot camp. I can't come back and win conference again. I can't come back and play those big-time, non-conference games. It hasn't hit me as much as it will in the near future, but it is just puzzling to me right now because it seems like just yesterday I was beginning my college career."

Texas Tech head Coach Tubby Smith
Opening Statement:
"Certainly we weren't much competition for Kansas tonight. I thought we made a lot of mistakes in the first half and the momentum was certainly always there. We just didn't do the things we had to do to keep ourselves in the game. Then it just went downhill fast, when we only shoot 20%. But a lot of it had to do with Kansas' defense, their defense was very aggressive. They took us out of a lot, we couldn't run our offense. Certainly it was a tough loss all the way around. Tarik Black, all their people on the inside were outstanding, we had no real answer for them inside all night long."

On if he could have turned their mentalities around at half:
"There wasn't much we could do then, they were suffering. We're just making some real (bad) mistakes. So yeah, it's mental, and intelligence, a lack of. In these situations if we're not going to focus in and do the things that we need to do, there's not much a coach can do about that. I thought tonight they exposed a lot of our weaknesses in that regard. Not just athletically, but otherwise as well."

On if he changed much in his game plan from last time they faced Kansas:
"We pretty much tried to do the same thing. We changed a couple things, but not much. The things we did try and do they did a good job of denying, making us go to our second or third options, making us put the ball on the floor and us not having the toughness to execute things. When you get intimidated like that this is the result."

Texas Tech Senior Forward Jaye Crockett
On how the game got away from them tonight:
"Turnovers, from the very beginning. I think we had nine in the first half. It was a lot of unforced turnovers, I mean they didn't even pressure us to do it, we were just giving them the ball. They are a good team in transition and they used our turnovers as their offense and they just scored."

On if it was tough to get the ball in the paint early in the game:
"That is always a problem. Coach (Tubby Smith) always tells us that whoever is bringing the ball up to get it right outside the three point line, and we didn't follow our principle like Coach was telling us. He was getting onto us about not following the rules and playing like he tells us to play. When we don't listen, we get punished out there on the court and it ends up bad."

On what the team needs to do to get back to winning:
"I think basketball is a game of runs during the game and with games, period. You see teams that are going on five-game winning streaks and (then) they lose five. It's just not our time right now. I feel like we still have another season coming up with the Big 12 Tournament; hopefully we can make a run during the tournament, along with our next game against Texas."

Texas Tech Sophomore Guard Toddrick Gotcher
On how Kansas' defense kept them off rhythm in the first half:
"We just weren't thinking and were throwing the ball away. We didn't do a good job of executing like Coach (Smith) said and that was it."


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