KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Jamari Traylor was straight air born, putting the exclamation point on another come-from-behind win for the United States against Canada. He caught Frank Mason III’s pass in-flight and slammed it through the hoop in the final minute, showcasing the teamwork and execution needed for the Kansas men’s basketball team to represent the USA in the 2015 World University Games.
Making its last appearance in America before heading to Gwangju, Korea, Kansas eradicated a 10-point deficit for the second-straight game to defeat the Canadian National Team inside Sprint Center Friday night, 87-76.
Wayne Selden, Jr., was a stud. He led the floor with 22 points and 10 rebounds, recording what would have been his first career double-double if the game had been official. He finished 6-for-11 from the floor, and when he wasn’t hitting threes (3-for-5), he dished out three assists and made seven of his eight free throws.
Senior-to-be Perry Ellis played a major role with 18 points and narrowly missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Tuesday’s hero, Mason, was happy to play the supporting role on Friday as his 11 assists would have tied a career high. Between he and Ellis, the two combined for an impressive seven steals. His 15 points were an added – and necessary – bonus. Aside from Traylor’s celebration dunk, he came away with six points, seven boards and two steals.
Echoing what they did against Canada on Tuesday, the Americans again found themselves down by 10 points in the second quarter, by the exact same 35-25 margin. However, Kansas retooled and regrouped over halftime and came out firing at a 47 percent clip (18-for-38) in the second half, while silencing Canada to 9-of-28 shooting (32 percent) in the same span.
While KU’s shooting numbers drastically improved, it was the stats that didn’t show on the scoreboard that made the biggest impact. USA outdid Canada on the glass (47-37), in the assists column (22-15) and collected 13 steals compared to the visitors’ four.
Canada was led by guard Adika Peter-McNeilly’s 15 points along with Aaron Best and Tommy Nixon, who each hung up 10 points apiece. The trio recorded seven of Canada’s 10 three-pointers on the evening.
The Jayhawk defense was on point in the opening quarter, evidenced by a well-executed halfcourt trap by Selden and Traylor. After a Selden three-pointer and a crafty Ellis steal/Mason layup, KU rolled out an 11-4 lead.
Canada had some defensive prowess up its sleeve, using its size to clamp down on the Jayhawks in the middle and allowing its offense to close the gap. A 9-0 run suddenly shot the visitors in front, 16-13. When shot blockers clogged the lane, the U.S. responded from the perimeter. Mason launched his first three and Carlton Bragg, Jr., connected on a long two-pointer. Selden snuck to the hoop for a last-second layup, ending the first quarter with a 21-20 Canada advantage.
The same lights-out three-point shooting that built Canada’s big lead on Tuesday crept up again in the second quarter. Back-to-back treys from Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson and Best got the Canadians out to a 29-21 lead, prompting a Bill Self timeout. Out of the pause, the visiting squad upped its lead to 35-25, while KU made just one of its 10 shots in the same stretch.
Facing its second double-digit deficit in as many games, the Americans again rose to the occasion. Guards Nic Moore, Mason and Selden attacked the basket and made every free throw they earned. A forced shot-clock violation later, Selden drained a corner three to cap an 11-0 Kansas run and take the lead. Despite a dismal 14.3 percent shooting (2-for-14) in the second quarter, Kansas had the 36-35 edge. Canada, with much better 7-for-14 second quarter, hit its sixth three-pointer to take a 40-36 lead into halftime.
The wake-up call worked. The Jayhawks made their first four baskets to start the third quarter, including a three-pointer from Moore and a one-handed statement dunk from Traylor. Canada’s stars never seemed to cool, putting up three more threes in the third, but Kansas had answers – most of which came from Selden. He continued to lead all scorers, even with Canada turning its focus directly on him. Even his defensive rebounds resulted in points as his last one of the quarter transitioned into a layup for Hunter Mickelson at the buzzer, setting up a 60-58 score to start the fourth.
The late bucket sparked Mickelson, who started the final frame with another layup, took a hard foul on a dunk attempt and swatted a Canadian shot attempt. Selden stepped back onto the scene, scoring his 20th point of the game. With seven minutes to play, Kansas took the 65-63 lead.
Kansas outran the visitors to keep them off the board for more than two minutes. A big rebound for Selden turned into an outlet pass-then-layup for Mason. Bragg hit a three-pointer and, for good measure, Selden chimed in with a put-back dunk – and zipped a pass to Bragg for a dunk. With two minutes on the clock, Kansas sailed to a 10-point margin, 81-71. With a roaring crowd, U-S-A chants and one more monster dunk from Traylor, Kansas wrapped up the 87-76 win.
- USA Starters: G Frank Mason III, G Wayne Selden, Jr., G Nic Moore (SMU), F Perry Ellis, F Jamari Traylor
- Canada Starters: G Johnny Berhanemeskel, G Aaron Best, G Jahmal Jones, F Josh Wolfram, F Chris McLaughlin
- Wayne Selden, Jr., led all players in points (22) and rebounds (10), which would have been his first career double-double.
- Frank Mason III recorded 15 points to go with his 11 assists, which would have been the guard’s second career double-double – but his first one that included assists. His other consisted of points and rebounds (vs. Michigan State, 11/30/14).
- Mason’s 11 assists would have been the most by a Jayhawk since Naadir Tharpe recorded 12 against Iowa State (1/29/14).
- KU’s 13 steals would have tied its 2014-15 season-high (vs. West Virginia, 3/3/15).
The USA National Team will play China in one more exhibition contest on July 2 in Gwangju, Korea before officially opening the World University Games against Turkey on Saturday, July 4, at Dongkang Gymnasium, which is 10 p.m. (Central) on Friday, July 3, in Lawrence.