November 23, 2015

With some early season stress setting in, perhaps a trip to Maui will provide the change of scenery Kansas needs.

The fifth-ranked Jayhawks look to get back on course Monday night when they open the Maui Invitational with a matchup against Chaminade.

While working through some struggles on the court, Kansas (1-1) has also been dealing with some headaches off of it.

The Jayhawks suspended reserve guard Brannen Greene six games on Friday for conduct detrimental to the team, and the junior won't make the trip to Maui - tough he can practice with his teammates upon their return to Lawrence.

Green has logged only 23 total minutes but he led Kansas with 18 points while making all six of his field goal attempts, including five 3-pointers, during a 109-72 win over Northern Colorado in the season opener Nov. 13.

Another off-court issue weighing on the Jayhawks is the unknown status of prized prospect Cheick Diallo. His availability remains cloudy as the NCAA looks into his relationship with guardian Tidiane Drame. The 6-foot-9, 220-pound freshman has been allowed to travel to Maui, but he has not been cleared to play.

And then there's the basketball. After the 37-point win in their opener, the Jayhawks fizzled late in their first big matchup Tuesday, losing 79-73 to No. 13 Michigan State in the State Farms Champions Classic at United Center in Chicago.

Kansas led by 13 twice in the first half and held a 61-50 advantage with less than 9 1/2 minutes to play, but Spartans senior Denzel Valentine scored 21 of his game-high 29 points in the second half and controlled the Jayhawks late on his way to a triple-double.

Michigan State made its final five shots in the closing five minutes.

"We have to learn how to get stops and just keep pushing," senior forward Perry Ellis said. "You have to get those stops and we didn't."

Ellis led Kansas with 21 points, Frank Mason III chipped in 14 and Wayne Selden Jr. had 12. The Jayhawks' three starting guards - Mason, Selden and Devonte' Graham - combined to make just 9 of 36 shots, including 2 of 13 from 3-point range. They are shooting a combined 31.1 percent through two games.

Graham has made just 4 of 20 field-goal attempts and 2 of 10 from long range after shooting 39.3 percent during his freshman season.

"(Coach Bill Self) told me he can live with not making shots, just got to stay aggressive," Graham said. "Nobody has told me not to shoot the ball because they all have confidence in me."

Ellis is pulling his weight, averaging 18.5 points while shooting 56.0 percent. He was 9 of 18 from the field against the Spartans, but the other starters went 10 for 37.

Kansas faces UCLA or UNLV in the second round of the eight-team bracket Tuesday.

Chaminade (0-2) seems to offer a good bounce-back opportunity for Kansas' offense. The Silverswords surrendered at least 90 points in each of their losses, which came 92-90 against Alaska-Anchorage on Nov. 13 and 112-102 at Alaska on Nov. 14.

Kansas has won both previous matchups, each coming at the Maui Invitational. The Jayhawks blew out Chaminade 102-54 in the 2005 seventh-place game and 89-62 in the opening round in 1987.

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