Monday Notebook: Holiday hoops, dead ahead

Here are a few summaries of what’s going on with Kansas Athletics this week, December 19:

1. ‘Hawks blow by Davidson in second half

Despite trailing at the half, KU took down the Davidson Wildcats by a score of 89-71 on Saturday. The defense for KU in the first half was mediocre, but it looked a lot worse due to some ridiculous made threes by Davidson. The Jayhawks were also 0-for-8 from three-point range in the first half.

Things got much better in the second half. The defense was very solid and the three-point shooting was much better, as KU went 6-for-13. I feel like I mention Carlton Bragg and Landen Lucas almost every week for one reason or another, and I will continue to do so here. Bragg had seven points and eight rebounds while Lucas eight and eight. Both of these guys are starting to come alive. This should absolutely terrify opposing teams (if they weren’t already terrified by the Mason-Graham-Jackson-Svi back court). Kansas may not have a true weakness other than free-throw shooting. There is no team in the Big 12 that should be able to beat KU when the Jayhawks are playing well. I can’t wait to play Kentucky next month.

2. Looking ahead to UNLV and the beginning of conference play

The UNLV Runnin’ Rebels are 6-5 and have already played some major conference teams. They lost to TCU 63-59, Arizona State 97-73, Duke 94-45, and Oregon 83-63. Ok, so they haven’t been very competitive, but you have to at least give them credit for scheduling tough games. The Rebels are led by Jalen Poyser, who averages 15 points and 3.8 assists a game. UNLV doesn’t have a ton of height, although they do have three players that average over six rebounds.

This is also KU’s first official road game, so we’ll have to see how Udoka Azubuike and Josh Jackson fair in a hostile environment. My official prediction; KU wins 87-65. After UNLV, the conference slate tips off, with TCU and the Fighting Bruce Webers of Kansas State. I can’t stand K-State basketball. I hope they go 0-18 in conference play. But enough about the kitty cats. KU will kick their purple-and-gray butts anyway.

3. Top hoops squads around the nation

The Villanova Wildcats remain undefeated at 11-0, but they struggled to put away La Salle and had to come back against Notre Dame. This team has a realistic chance to win back-to-back titles. UCLA has its best team since the Russell Westbrook/Kevin Love/Darren Collison/Luc Mbah a Moute squad that went to the 2008 Final Four. Seriously, how did that team not win a championship?! Anyway, freshman Lonzo Ball and senior Bryce Alford are very, very fun to watch, and they took their team into Rupp Arena and beat Kentucky. They are going to be very dangerous team come March.

And then there’s Duke. Most talented? Yes. Most experienced? Not at all. Most room to grow? Unfortunately, maybe. This Duke team has been good, but they could be amazing. On to Kentucky and North Carolina: these teams went toe-to-toe on Saturday in a 103-100 instant classic, and a win for Kentucky. Both of these teams are really good, and, much like last season, either could win it all if they can get their pieces to fit right. March is going be fun.

4. Santa Hawks

For the past 20 years, the Jayhawk basketball team has gone to Wal-Mart in Lawrence the week before Christmas to buy gifts for families in need. Each player is given a different family to shop for, and about $100 of gifts are bought for each family in need. This isn’t some breaking news story or anything, but I just think it’s a really cool thing for these guys to do. It’s a world where the news can just weigh on you and bring you down on a daily basis, it is really nice to see a heart warming story like this. Keep it up fellas!

Landen Fields is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. You can check out his archive here.