After taking some time to review a brawl that occurred at the end of its last game, No. 3 Kansas will learn if getting back to playing basketball is a welcome diversion from controversy.
The Jayhawks (15-3) will engage in a nonconference opportunity at home Saturday against Tennessee (12-6) as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
One of the few comments Kansas coach Bill Self could make related to basketball immediately following an 81-60 victory Tuesday over Kansas State regarded the emergence of Christian Braun, a freshman guard who came off the bench to score a game-high 20 points.
Even then, Self couldn’t help but take into account a brawl that erupted as time expired, which led to suspensions for two players, reserve forward Silvio De Sousa (12 games) and starting forward David McCormack (two).
“We should be in here talking about Christian Braun,” said Self, “and selfishness definitely created a situation where that’s not going to be the storyline whatsoever.”
Indeed, it was not. After the Big 12 announced suspensions stemming from the incident, which included De Sousa raising a folding stool before putting it down, Self sounded as if his team was ready to move on.
“I am disappointed and embarrassed by what transpired because there is no place for that type of behavior in any competition,” Self said. “After meeting with my team and discussing the incident in detail, it is evident that everyone fully recognizes the magnitude of their actions and all are remorseful.”
The suspension for McCormack further solidifies Braun’s involvement in the Kansas rotation. Braun started the second half of the win over Kansas State and eventually logged 29 minutes because Self was content to remove McCormack and rely on a four-guard lineup.
The one big man in that mix, senior center Udoka Azubuike, leads the nation with 77.7 percent shooting accuracy. He averages 12.9 points and 9.5 rebounds.
Rick Barnes, once a fixture in the Big 12 during his 17 seasons coaching Texas, claimed his 100th victory at Tennessee on Tuesday with a 73-48 rout of Ole Miss.
Now in his fifth season at Tennessee, Barnes acknowledged the “greatest college basketball performance I’ve ever witnessed” came in Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse the season he coached Kevin Durant at Texas. Durant contributed in some manner to every first-half point the Longhorns scored. When he limped off with a sprained ankle, the Allen Fieldhouse crowd gave Durant a standing ovation.
“It’s a special place. It’s a great basketball tradition,” Barnes said. “Bill’s done a terrific job since he’s been there and you’ve got to play extremely well to go in there and win.”
Against Ole Miss, the Volunteers gained control early before junior forward John Fulkerson recorded a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
The game included the home debut of Uros Plavsic, who recently was granted eligibility from the NCAA. The 7-foot freshman center played 11 minutes and scored four points.
The addition of Plavsic is another change to the composition of the Vols’ roster. Standout guard Lamonte Turner opted to end his collegiate career in December to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery after helping Tennessee reach the Sweet 16 last season.
–Field Level Media