Kansas’ basketball guards have hit 15, 12, 14 and 13 three-pointers in the last four games on sizzling 56.3 percent shooting.
The torrid marksmanship against UMKC, Stanford, Long Beach State and UNC Asheville has hiked the squad’s overall three-point shooting percentage to 42.9 heading into Saturday’s 2:15 p.m. home game against Nebraska.
“The law of averages sometimes prevails,” KU coach Bill Self said after watching his team convert 15 of 27 threes in Tuesday’s 105-62 home victory over UMKC. “You will not shoot it great every game. It’s fun to see the ball go in the basket,” Self added.
KU on Tuesday set a school record for most threes in a game at Allen Fieldhouse. Not bad for a squad that opened the season 7 of 23 against Indiana, 2 of 17 against Duke and 3 of 12 versus Siena.
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“It’s been great. It’s helped us bigs,” KU senior forward Landen Lucas said of the guards’ three-point shooting. “We’ve been kind of slow developing throughout the season. The fact they can put the team on their backs has been great for us. It’s allowed us to figure it out on our own. Hopefully we can come along, too and make it more a complete team. They’ve carried us so far this year.”
Senior guard Frank Mason hit a career-best six threes Tuesday en route to tying a career-high with 30 points, and for the year he has made 21 of 38 for an unheard-of 55.3 percent. Devonté Graham tied a career high with six threes as well and has cashed 25 of 58 for 43.1 percent. Svi Mykhailiuk was 2 of 7 from three versus UMKC and has made 20 of 47 overall for 42.6 percent. Lagerald Vick hit his only three-point try and now is 11 of 25 for 44 percent. Josh Jackson, who scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, missed his only three and is 5 of 19 for a chilly 26.3 percent.
“We were on fire,” Lucas said. He couldn’t come up with an answer when asked which guard happened to be KU’s most accurate shooter.
“It depends on the day, really,” Lucas said. “I’ve seen pretty much all five of our guards have a day where they were the best shooter in practice. I’m sure they’ve probably had a game where they were the best shooter in the game. It kind of rotates. It’s nice to have that many threats. It’s hard for a team to scout that.”
Mason was 5 of 5 from three against Asheville, Vick 4 of 4 against Long Beach State, Graham 5 of 9 against Stanford and Mykhailiuk 4 of 5 versus UAB. Jackson hit 2 of 5 against Long Beach State.
“I don’t ever think of those things like that,” Self said, pondering his choice when asked which player was KU’s top long-range shooter. “I’d say if we were having a HORSE contest, I’d say Svi. But depending on game situations and things like that … Frank’s pretty good. Devonté’s good, too. I won’t quite put Lagerald and Josh in that group but I think they can become in any particular game our best shooter in the game.
“Frank’s shooting it really well. I think we’ve got multiple guys capable of having big nights,” Self added.
Mason has made 14 of his last 18 threes over four games.
“I haven’t (been this hot). Not that I can remember,” Mason said. “The last time was maybe in high school or something like that. In college I haven’t shot the ball like that.”
Mason said all the guards, “want to play within the flow of the offense. However the shots come, be prepared to take the shot. If it’s not there, be ready to create for a teammate. Any of our guards can drive downhill and create for other teammates. I think it makes it difficult for a team to guard.”
KU is definitely sizzling from three, but that doesn’t mean Self has changed his opinion that three-pointers can sometimes be “fool’s gold” as he said at one point last season.
“He still says the same thing in practice because it kind of is,” Graham said of the “fool’s gold” tag. “There will be a game we are not making any shots. We’ll really find out what kind of team we are, if we can get stops and defend. We will stay aggressive and keep passing the ball the way we are and keep shooting.”
KU actually won the Nov. 15 Duke game 77-75 on a night the Jayhawks missed 15 of 17 threes.
“We figured a way to win — 2 for 17 and 9 for 19 from the free-throw line against the No. 1 team in the country. To me, that’s been by far the best performance we’ve had,” Self said. “We played well but made the other team not play well. I think so many times when you make shots you take your foot off the gas in other areas. We’ve got to get more consistent with that.”