Monday Notebook: Midseason Big 12 teams and the No. 1 Jayhawks

Here are a few summaries of what’s going on with Kansas Athletics this week, January 16:

1. Despite a sluggish first half, KU defeats Oklahoma 81-70

I’m running out of ways to say that Frank Mason (who dropped 28 points in another outstanding performance) is straight baller. This dude is a ninja assassin. He’s Jason Bourn. He’s a 5′ 11” Batman. He may be the best player in the nation. He’s also a big reason KU won this game. Landen Lucas wasn’t worthy of being compared to Batman, but he still had a solid game; notching his third double-double in the last four games. Josh Jackson and Devonte’ Graham also scored in double figures. This game reminded me a lot of the Texas Tech game just last week. Both Oklahoma and Texas Tech were able to keep it close for a while until finally hot shooting and better execution by the Jayhawks allowed them to prevail down the stretch. I’m not sure if the ‘Hawks are going to be able do that against West Virginia or Baylor. Never the less, this team is the top dog in the Big 12, and it is showing no sign of slowing down.

2. Jayhawks outlast Cowboys in a shootout

I’m going to be honest: I thought this was a fun game to watch. But what game that finishes 87-80 isn’t fun? Frank Mason, Devonte’ Graham, and Josh Jackson combined for 62 points, 19 rebounds, and nine assists. Studs. Each and every one of them. Then add Svi’s 14 points and four boards and you can once again see how important these guards are. Landen Lucas also contributed with seven points and 12 rebounds.

The big question currently is, “Can the ‘Hawks play consistent defense right now?” The answer: No they cannot. Legarald Vick and Carlton Bragg have been especially suspect this season, but I think these guys are too good to stay like this for very long. They are going to have to get better quickly though, because the next month’s worth of games features two games against Baylor, West Virginia, and Iowa State, plus a trip to Manhattan against K-State, AND Kentucky in the middle. They also travel to Texas Tech and host Texas. That is an absolute gauntlet if I’ve ever seen one.

3. My mid-season All Big 12 team

The guards: These two spots have to be filled by Frank Mason and Oklahoma State’s Juwan Evans, who’s averaging 18.2 points and 5.3 assists. These guards have been big for their teams this year, as they both lead their squads in scoring and assists. They also are great finishers at the rim for their size (Evans is 6′ 1” and I stated Mason’s height earlier).

Guard/Forward: Josh Jackson is a Swiss army knife for KU this year. He can score, rebound, and pass at a high level. I’d be very surprised if he’s not a top two or three pick in the NBA draft next year.

Forward: Johnathan Motley has had a really really solid year so far. He’s a guy that has to be on this list. This guy is almost averaging a double-double with 14.8 points and 9.1 rebounds. And, much like Mason, he is the best player on a really good team.

Forward/Center: There are very few good true post men in the Big 12, so I’ll begrudgingly put Zach Smith of Texas Tech here. He is having a nice statistical year with 12.9 points and 7.8 rebounds. By the end of the season, Landen Lucas should have this spot.

4. KU football hires offensive coordinator Doug Meacham…FROM TCU!

This is big hire for Kansas football. A big reason for the struggles of the team last season was an inability to sustain drives on offense. This move should help that. Kansas no longer has a quarterback competition either, as part-time starter Ryan Willis transferred to Virginia Tech. KU football has a QB, a coach, and weapons galore on offense now. I honestly expect this team to be competitive next fall.

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

Landen Fields

I’m a junior in high school. I’m also homeschooled, which gives me the ability to watch ESPN all day. I love the Jayhawks, and I love to write about them. I’m also a huge fan of Star Wars, Marvel, and action/sci-fi movies. I hope to have a career in sports media one day, and I am grateful for this first step into a larger world.