In the days before Kansas’ game against Brazil, the Jayhawks’ second contest at the World University Games, FIBA officials approached KU’s traveling party with a concern.
Kansas is representing the United States at the international event in Gwangju, South Korea, and the officials from basketball’s world governing body did not believe the Jayhawks’ uniforms accurately conveyed this fact. The uniforms, specially-designed for this tournament, had KANSAS across the chest with a small USA logo on the shoulder. They also had “KU” logos on the shorts and back collar.
The jerseys, the officials said, needed to be changed.
So in the hours between an opening victory over Turkey on early Saturday and an 81-72 victory over Brazil early Sunday morning, KU officials had the jerseys altered by a company in Gwangju. On top of the Kansas logo was a rectangular red patch with the letters “USA.”
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At this point, the jersey mishap is the only thing that’s gone wrong for Kansas — make that USA — during its time in South Korea. On Sunday, Wayne Selden continued his torrid summer with 23 points in a workmanlike effort against a physical Brazilian squad.
“My teammates found me when I was open,” Selden told reporters in Gwangju. “I just knocked down shots. I just stayed aggressive throughout the whole game.”
At its core, Kansas coach Bill Self has said, this trip to Korea is about his team’s development entering the 2015-16 season. If the trip serves no other purpose than to ignite Selden after a lagging sophomore campaign, it would probably be deemed a success.
For the fourth straight game — counting two exhibition games against Canada — Selden looked athletic and potent on the offensive end. He was active from the perimeter, hitting three of six from three-point range, and he picked up four rebounds. In a 40-minute game, Selden played 39 minutes and 52 seconds.
“We really tried to match their physicality,” Selden said.
Junior guard Frank Mason also logged major minutes, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in nearly 38 minutes. Mason was just two of 10 from the floor, but he made 11 of 14 free throws while turning the ball over just twice.
“We didn’t shoot the ball great again,” Self said. “But we made some timely shots at the end of the clock.”
Senior forward Hunter Mickelson entered the starting lineup and had 11 points and eight rebounds. Senior forward Perry Ellis had nine points and eight rebounds while being limited to just 21 minutes after tweaking his ankle, Self told reporters in Gwangju.
The Jayhawks, in part, won the game by dominating a big Brazilian squad on the glass.
“We defended and we really rebounded,” Self said. “Brazil was plus-34 (in rebounding) in their last game on the glass, and today we were plus-23.”
Self also praised the work of his bench, including freshmen Lagerald Vick and Carlton Bragg and Jamari Traylor (10 points).
The Jayhawks now have a day off before finishing pool play with games against Chile, Serbia and Switzerland. Kansas must finish in the top two of its pool to qualify for the medal round, and they appear to be in solid position. Serbia is one of the favorites to win the event, but the Jayhawks will likely be favored to beat Chile (12:30 a.m. on Tuesday) and Switzerland.
“It feels awesome to go into the off-day with two wins,” Mickelson said.
"But we’re definitely not done yet. We’re just kind of getting started.”
What caught our eye
▪ For the second straight game, the Jayhawks started slow on the offensive end but found a groove over the final three quarters.
▪ The momentum appeared to shift early on when SMU guard Nic Moore picked up his third foul during a on-court scuffle and KU guard Frank Mason took over the ball handling responsibilities.
▪ Mickelson impressed in his ongoing audition for a more vital role in the frontcourt. He grabbed four offensive rebounds and hit four of seven from the floor.
A stat to remember
Selden poured in 15 points before halftime, helping the Jayhawks stake a 40-28 lead at the half.
▪ Freshman guard Lagerald Vick buried his second three-pointer in the final minutes, capping Team USA’s victory. Vick finished with eight points and six rebounds in 24 minutes.
▪ Freshman forward Carlton Bragg, who is playing with a broken nose, had two points and four rebounds in 10 minutes.
Team USA will return to the floor against Chile at 12:30 a.m. CT Tuesday. Because the game is being played at a smaller venue in Gwangju, it will not be televised.