KU looks to improve accuracy behind the arc against UAB
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas is capable of draining long-range shots.
This much, Bill Self sees every day in practice. Actually, as far back as when the Kansas coach recruited players for a team ranked No. 7.
Through a 2-1 start, however, the Jayhawks are shooting only 23.1 percent from three-point range and have been outscored from behind the arc, 93-36.
Their top backcourt bombers — senior Frank Mason and juniors Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk — have combined to go 9 of 37 entering a game Monday against Alabama Birmingham (2-1) as part of the CBE Hall of Fame Classic at Sprint Center.
"I know we’re better shooters than what we’ve shot," Self said. "Devonte’, Frank and Svi, none of them have gotten on a roll yet. I know we can become a pretty good shooting team."
Against Siena on Nov. 18, an 86-65 win that counted as the Jayhawks’ host game in the CBE tournament, Kansas was outscored 24-3 at one point from three-point range as the Saints trimmed a second-half deficit to five.
"We’ve been shooting the ball well in practice, it just hasn’t translated into games," said Mason, who led Kansas in scoring in each of its three games and averages 23 points despite making only two three-pointers this season.
Fatigue remains a factor the Jayhawks must confront.
Another semifinal between Georgia (2-1) and George Washington (3-0) is scheduled Monday before the CBE championship round is played Tuesday.
The Jayhawks opened the season traveling to Honolulu and New York for a split with Indiana and Duke and now face three games in five days.
Throughout the opening stretch — and throughout the season, actually — attention will be focused on Josh Jackson, a 6-foot-8 freshman guard who came to Kansas ranked as the nation’s top recruit by some services.
Jackson has shown flashes, but also encountered foul problems in each game, averaging only 22 minutes while scoring at an 11.7-point clip.
On occasion, Jackson has been clearly agitated by some calls, drawing a technical foul in the win over Duke.
"He’s an emotional youngster, but that’s something he’s got to do a better job with," Self said. "I do think that he’s got to control his emotions a little bit.
"Getting frustrated like that, sometimes it’s OK but it’s not thinking next play. You’ve got to put that behind you. He’ll get better at that."
UAB is coping with the loss of Nick Norton, a starting junior point guard, who was lost for the season after tearing the ACL in his right knee in the season opener.
In their first game without Norton, the Blazers had a 26-game homecourt winning streak snapped by Furman before rebounding to defeat Troy 74-51 on Nov. 17.
UAB was picked as the consensus favorite in Conference USA after claiming the title last season and moving on to the NCAA Tournament before settling for a school-record 26 wins.
William Lee, a 6-9 junior forward who is the reigning C-USA defensive player of the year, had seven rebounds and seven blocked shots in the win over Troy.
Junior forward Chris Cokley paces the Blazers, averaging a team-high 14.3 points and 6.0 rebounds.
Sophomore guard Deion Lavender flirted with a triple-double against Troy, posting nine points, nine rebounds and seven assists. With Norton out, Lavender shared duties at the point with senior Denzell Watts.
"We did a better job of balancing the minutes and not relying strictly on Deion," said Robert Ehsan, who was promoted to head coach at UAB this season after Jerod Haase left for Stanford.
"Denzell was fantastic. Deion played off the ball as well, which he is an asset at. This is the kind of expectation that the coaches have for Deion, to be this productive. He had a great game."