December 11, 2015

Kansas didn't miss a beat as it re-inserted Brannen Greene into its rotation. The Jayhawks, though, face a stern challenge in sustaining their high-octane offense Saturday night when they play Oregon State at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Greene, one of the team's best 3-point shooters last season at 40.4 percent (40 for 99), recently had to miss five games for an unspecified violation of conduct detrimental to the team. That meant the junior was left behind while the second-ranked Jayhawks (7-1) won the Maui Invitational in Hawaii and sat out victories over Loyola of Maryland and Harvard.

He made an immediate contribution in his return Wednesday night in a 92-59 victory over Holy Cross, hitting 3 of 4 shots from beyond the arc and 5 of 6 overall as he scored 14 points in 17 minutes off the bench.

''Let me make this real clear, we don't need to get on the same page. He needs to get on our page,'' coach Bill Self said of Greene, who is 8 of 9 from 3-point range and 11 of 12 overall in three games. ''And we had several, or a few, good talks initially, really good talks. His attitude has been really good and I think he wants to be part of what we're doing here.''

Should he stay in Self's good graces, Greene can further advance an offense that already leads Division I in 3-point shooting at 47.2 percent while also placing in the top six in scoring (91.0 ppg), overall shooting percentage (52.0) and effective field-goal percentage (59.7).

The Jayhawks have yet to be held under 70 points, but their defense remains a work in progress. Self seemed particularly annoyed they failed to put away the Crusaders, who drew within six early in the second half, and knows the Beavers (6-1) will be a tough out.

"They're picked in the upper half of the Pac-12 and they have a famous dad from their roster," Self said. "Gary Payton's son is really a nice player that does a lot of things like his dad did. They're good. They've got a good team."

Oregon State has not been to the NCAA Tournament since the elder Payton averaged 14.6 points, 7.4 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.4 steals in the 1987-88 season. His progeny, Gary Payton II, has displayed that same all-around game since arriving in Corvallis last season and is one of 18 Division I players leading his team in points (16.4), assists (4.9) and rebounds (8.1).

While he lacks his father's legendary trash-talking persona and "The Glove" nickname, the senior guard has been steady. He totaled 16 points and eight rebounds in Oregon State's 66-62 win over Nevada last Saturday and broke his father's school record with a steal in his 38th straight game.

''It's just me playing basketball. I do what I do on defense and it just happens I passed (the record)," the younger Payton said. "We'll put it behind us and get ready for the next opponent."

This opponent is by far the toughest the Beavers have faced, but they could make things tough on the Kansas offense. Oregon State ranks second in the Pac-12 defensively in points (64.0 per game) and field-goal percentage (37.6).

Saturday's contest is the kind of game coach Wayne Tinkle knows his players need - win or lose - to end that NCAA Tournament drought.

"If we bring our hard hats and lunch pails to practice and our mindset to put a plan in and prepare the right way, it'll be a great experience," Tinkle said. "These preseason games are all about gaining experience and hopefully without too many losses to learn from."

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