Here are a few summaries of what’s going on with Kansas Athletics this week, January 2:
1. The Jayhawks open conference play with a win
Kansas defeated TCU 86-80 in the Big 12 conference opener on Friday night. KU looked pretty shaky to open the game, as the team took a little over three minutes to put points on the board. But it settled in (offensively, at least) nicely to hold off the Horned Frogs for a six-point win. Frank Mason finished with 22 points and seven assists. He’s the leader in the Big 12 Player of the Year race so far. Lagerald Vick put up his second-best scoring output of the season with 17 points, which made up for the measly four points scored by Josh Jackson.
This is what makes KU so dangerous. If one player has an off night, you know someone else will be able to pick up the slack. Another thing that makes KU a very scary team is the return to prominence of Landen Lucas. He had 15 points and 17 (17!!!) rebounds. This was the first of many more double-doubles for him – I hope.
Here is thought that might sound crazy to some of you reading this: Svi Mykhailiuk has more offensive potential than anyone on this team. He’s the best shooter and is so underrated driving to the basket. It’s just a thought. Maybe I’m wrong (I don’t really think I am, though).
2. The Kansas State Kitty…I mean Wildcats return to Lawrence
There is nothing I like about K-State basketball. They have no redeeming qualities. And I still can’t stand Michael Beasley. Anyway, despite my near-hatred of all things purple and gray hoops, the Wildcats are in fact 12-1. Their only loss came at the hands of the Maryland Terrapins. This is a better team than K-State has had in a while, but that’s really not saying a lot. The Wildcats are led by Wesley Iwundu (averaging 11.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.0 assists), D.J. Johnson (11.8 points and 6.8 rebounds), and Berry Brown (12.1 points, 3 rebounds, and 2.6 assists). KSU out-rebounds its opponents on average 36.2 to 32.9, and as a team, the Wildcats shoot almost 38% from three. This may not be a blowout, but I do expect Kansas to win comfortably. K-State has only gone on the road twice this season against Saint Louis and Colorado State. That’s not exactly Allen Fieldhouse-level competition. My official prediction: KU wins 87-70.
3. First day of conference play in review
Game #1: West Virginia took down Oklahoma State on the road by a score of 92-75. It’s very impressive to go into Gallagher-Iba Arena and beat the Cowboys by 17. Despite the bad loss, Oklahoma State still has two of the most explosive guards in the Big 12 in Juwan Evans and Phil Forte III. Those two can put up points in a hurry.
Game #2: Iowa State was able to hold off Texas Tech 63-56 at home on Friday. The Cyclones aren’t what they’ve been in past seasons, but they still have some fight left in them. ISU won’t be competing for a Big 12 title, but with Monte Morris, Naz Mitrou-Long, and Deondre Burton, they are going to win some games people won’t expect them to.
Game #3: In the biggest mismatch of opening day, Baylor destroyed Oklahoma, 76-50. Oklahoma just isn’t very good, but losing four of five starters from last season will usually not go very well. Baylor, on the other hand, is a legitimately good team, but I refuse to say that they will compete with Kansas until after they beat them (which I don’t believe the Bears are capable of).
Game #4: K-State squeaked by an awful Texas team by just three points. The final score was 65-62. When you host a team that has six losses before conference play (including losses to Kent State and UT Arlington), and you can only beat them by three, you have problems. Thus, K-State has problems.
4. Happy New Year’s, everybody!
I hope everyone had a great New Year’s. I also hope none of you watched Mariah Carey on Saturday night. I didn’t watch it, but I heard it was dreadful. Here’s to a great 2017 and beyond! And, as always, Rock Chalk!
Landen Fields is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. You can check out his archive here.