Playing his third game since returning from a knee sprain, Kansas forward Perry Ellis displayed more mobility against New Mexico State than he did last weekend at the Big 12 Tournament. But KU coach Bill Self still believes Ellis is capable of more.
“He’s shown no indication of it bothering him during practice the last three days and that kind of stuff,” Self said after Kansas’ 75-56 victory on Friday. “He just doesn’t have the same explosiveness, the same bounce. To me, he looked a little tentative out there — very tentative.”
Ellis finished with nine points — all in the first half — and two rebounds against New Mexico State. Ellis, who missed a dunk in the early minutes of the game, sat on the bench for a long stretch during the first 10 minutes of the second half. He played just 23 minutes.
“It felt great out there,” Ellis said. “This is all just a process. I’m almost there, I feel like, mentally. I feel like maybe I’m kind of hesitant. I feel like maybe I could have been more aggressive, but it felt great out there.”
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Ellis, a native of Wichita, will have one day to rest before facing Wichita State.
“I love Wichita,” Ellis said, before the Shockers beat Indiana 81-76. “I respect the program and everything. It would mean a lot, just being from Wichita and getting to play them.”
Greene finds shooting touch
The Jayhawks shot nine of 13 on three-pointers Friday, but no Kansas player was happier to see the ball go in the basket than sophomore wing Brannen Greene.
After hitting just three of 27 from three-point range over his last eight games, Greene made two of four against New Mexico State.
“To see the lid go off was definitely good for me,” Greene said. “And also to hear it from my teammates and things like that. It was good.”
Greene has shuffled between scorching hot and ice cold this season. During the first part of the Big 12 season, he was shooting better than 60 percent from three-point range in conference — and flirting with Kansas’ single-season record of 50.5 percent. Then he hit a slump.
“Knowing Brannen, it’s all mental,” Self joked, before turning serious. “Brannen — he needed to see the ball go in the hole.”
KU by the numbers
Kansas improved to 97-42 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and 5-0 in Omaha. The Jayhawks are 20-2 this season when leading at halftime and 14-0 when the bench scores more than 25 points.
“We ran into the real Kansas Jayhawks tonight,” New Mexico State coach Marvin Menzies said.
Key play: Kansas’ Frank Mason unspooled a three-pointer that clanked off the back iron and fell into the basket, giving Kansas a 9-4 lead.
Key stat: New Mexico State shot 33.3 percent.
Key play: New Mexico State scored on the first play of the half, cutting Kansas’ lead to 36-25, but Wayne Selden raced the other way and finished a transition dunk.
Key stat: Kansas made nine of 13 three-pointers.
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