Here are a few summaries of what’s going on with Kansas Athletics this week, February 27th:
1. Lucky number 13!
With the 87-68 win over TCU, the Kansas Jayhawks have tied UCLA’s record of 13 consecutive conference championships. Truly an incredible feat for this team. A common pattern is emerging for KU: play a lackluster and sloppy first half, followed by efficient and hot-shooting second half. It’s not the way you want to win every game, but for now, it seems to be working. Josh Jackson (he should be first team All-Big 12, Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and maybe on one of the All-American squads) had yet another double-double (15 points and 11 rebounds) and one of his most vicious dunks of the season on an alley-oop from Frank Mason.
Speaking of Mason, he finished with 20 points, going 4-6 from three. He should also be first team All-Big 12 and first team All-American. I also think he is ahead of the pack for Player of the Year. Devonte’ Graham had 17 points and seven assists. A very nice bounce back performance from him after he hit just one field goal against Baylor last Saturday. I can’t finish this blurb without mentioning Carlton Bragg. He scored 15 points, had seven boards and recorded three blocks. He wasn’t perfect but he was pretty darn good in relief of Landen Lucas, who was in foul trouble most of the night. The Jayhawks have wrapped up 13 straight, but now the focus shifts…to wrapping up both a Big 12 tournament and national title.
2. KU wins the Big 12 outright with 77-67 win over Texas
Kansas didn’t play its best game on Saturday, but it still got the win. If you’re out there saying that “the Jayhawks can’t win the title, they can barely beat Texas,” because KU looked sloppy in this game or because they didn’t have much energy, please stop. This is a group of college guys that just won a Big 12 title and know they can relax a little. This team is fine. And, hey, if you’re not saying those things, great, you’re a good fan.
Anyway, Josh Jackson led the team in points (18), assists (5), and came second in rebounds (also 5). He’s pretty darn good. Watch for him to have a huge game at some point in the Big 12 tournament. A mediocre game for Frank Mason is still a pretty good game for 90% of players in college basketball. He finished with 16 points and 39 minutes which is WAAAY too many for this point in the season. Dwight Coleby had a really good game, scoring 12 points and grabbing four boards in 13 minutes. C’mon Bill, play Coleby more, he’s good. #FREEDOUG.
The Jayhawks play Oklahoma on Senior Night tonight. Let’s just pray that when Tyler Self starts, he doesn’t allow more than three baskets before his dad pulls him.
3. Teams KU could match up with well or poorly come Final Four time
Well: Villanova. Their tallest player is 6’ 10” and they only have two or three other players close to that height. They are very guard-oriented and would be “easier” for the Jayhawks to guard. I think Josh Jackson would have a field day against this team. Villanova is a good defensive team, but Jackson is matchup nightmare for them.
Poorly: North Carolina. UNC is so big and can rebound so well. Then throw Justin Jackson in the mix, who’s one of the best slashing guards in America, and they become even harder to defend. Landen Lucas would have to have the game of his life to keep Kansas within striking distance. I just can’t emphasize enough how badly North Carolina would out rebound the ‘Hawks. They could be +20 in that department.
Well: Oregon. Another guard-oriented team. Oregon is a really good squad and would be tough to beat but I still think the Jayhawks match up relatively well with them. The Ducks don’t have a terrific interior presence, although Chris Boucher can get it going at times. I think this would be a really fun game to watch and there would probably be a lot of scoring.
Poorly: Purdue. Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas would absolutely destroy KU. There’s no way the Jayhawk defense could stop both of them for long. Swanigan is a national player of the year candidate and Haas would be the best player if you took away Swanigan. So let’s hope we don’t play them.
4. Our first tournament teams will be named this week
There are quite a few mid-major conference tournaments starting this week, which will truly begin the madness that is March (even tho some of the tourneys start in February). This is my favorite time of the year, including Christmas. It’s so fun to just sit in front of the TV for 10 straight hours watching hoops, losing your mind because the New Jersey Institute of Technology beat Kennesaw State at the buzzer, and filling out bracket after bracket. Basketball: You gotta love it.
Landen Fields is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. You can check out his archive here.