Kansas senior Landen Lucas wasn’t surprised 6-foot-10 forward Carlton Bragg swished a 15-foot baseline jumper and a shot from the top of the key to go with three inside buckets in Saturday’s 90-85 victory over Oklahoma State at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.
“That’s kind of what he does well,” Lucas said of Bragg drifting outside for jumpers — a trait seen more often at practice than in games during Bragg’s sophomore season.
“He hasn’t too much this season, but he came out here and shot with confidence,” Lucas added of the 240-pound Cleveland native, who hit 5 of 6 shots and scored 11 points (with three rebounds in 18 minutes) for his second double-digit scoring outburst in the last four games.
Bragg, who averages 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds for the 28-3 Jayhawks, also had 15 points and seven rebounds on Feb. 22 against TCU.
“That’s probably the biggest thing for him, confidence in himself and his shot, and it went down for him tonight,” Lucas said.
Bragg also has had two nonproductive games in his last four. He combined for three points and five rebounds against Baylor on Feb. 18 in Waco, Texas, and on Feb. 25 at Texas.
“It’s huge,” Lucas said of Bragg’s potential role in the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments. “I mean the last couple of games, he and Dwight (Coleby), somebody has been stepping up (out of the two). Tonight it was Carlton. He did it by making shots and giving us some good energy. I was in foul trouble the first half. He (Bragg) came in and sparked us (nine points as KU led 43-40 at halftime). If we can continue to get him and other guys confidence … it’s only going to help us.”
Bragg said he gains confidence whenever he happens to play well.
“Also gaining coach (Bill) Self’s trust,” Bragg said of the benefits of producing. “Just getting back on the court, I want to make him trust me a little bit more each and every game.”
Bragg has scored in double figures in five of his 27 games played this season. He’s missed four games overall because of suspension, two in a Big 12 season in which he’s averaged 4.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 13.3 minutes a game.
“He had a great game,” junior guard Devonté Graham said. “His shot was falling. He was being aggressive down low. He played great.”
Self chats with Sutton
Self met with former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton after the game. Self worked on the staffs of both Sutton and Leonard Hamilton at Oklahoma State, as well as Larry Brown at KU.
“I had a chance to coach for three Hall of Fame coaches in my opinion,” Self said. Sutton and Hamilton are not yet in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; Brown is an inductee. Self is a finalist who could be selected to the Hall’s Class of 2017.
“Nobody did it better than what coach Sutton did as far as tying it all together: family atmosphere, recruiting, being a representative and ambassador for the school, also being a great coach and getting the most out of his players. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Hopefully, someday he will be.
“I know he loves Oklahoma State. It was good to see him here,” added Self, who also said it was sad that Sutton has had some health issues the last few years. “He’s done a lot for myself and my career, but done a lot for a lot of people including a ton of players. Everybody respects what he’s done.”
As far as whether Sutton will be inducted, Self said: “I don’t know. That situation … I talk to people about it. Certainly I hope it can happen. It looks to me there’s more a thought of college coaches being accepted into it (now) whereas I don’t think it was the same way 10 years ago.
“Hopefully over time he’ll be a guy who gets in because he deserves to get in. I know it’d be a great honor for him and his family, for anybody who has worked for him or played for him or anybody who has got to know him or coach against him. You don’t have to be in a Hall of Fame to know he’s a Hall of Fame coach. I think people that have come in contact with him know that. It’d be a nice honor.”
Self has a 4-6 record as KU coach in games played at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Saturday’s victory snapped a three-year losing streak in Stillwater.
“I used to be emotional. I’m not emotional anymore,” Oklahoma State graduate Self said of returning to his alma mater for games. “I’ve been gone a long time. What’s it been? It’s been 24 years, but I still see some of the same places driving around town that I saw (before). A lot of new buildings but some of the same places. I actually enjoy it (coming back). I had a chance to catch up with a couple of people I hadn’t seen in a long time. It’s been a good trip.”
KU averaged 82.7 points a game during the regular season. If the season ended Saturday, it’d be the highest points-per-game average in Self’s 14 seasons at KU and the most since the 2002-03 KU team also averaged 82.7. That team lost to Syracuse in the national title game.
KU has cashed 269 threes. The school record is the 304 the Jayhawks made in 38 games a year ago. KU has attempted 659 threes. The most in school history is the 728 attempted a year ago.