1. Texas Tech bests Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse, 85-73.
First of all, Happy New Year! I hope everyone out there has a great 2018.
Now to basketball. Devonte’ Graham felt like he was the only one who showed up to the gym last week. He scored 27 points, and dropped six assists. Graham actually took the ball inside and shot free throws (13 of them) in this game. Unfortunately, no one else had more than 11 points, and the rest of the team shot 10 free throws combined. Svi Mykhailiuk finished with 11 points, six rebounds, five turnovers, and five fouls. He was absolutely dreadful in the second half. Svi is one of the streakiest players I’ve watched. He can be on fire one day, but be cold for the next week. Very annoying.
Udoka Azubuike scored 11 points, and grabbed seven rebounds. Udoka was fine, I guess. Nothing to write home about, but not bad. There’s no one else really worth talking about, so I’ll just complain about Malik Newman. Newman scored nine points, but he looks horribly out of sync in this offense. Even though he’s averaging 10 points per game, he’s painful to watch on offense at times. Bill Self needs to play Sam Cunliffe a lot more. Cunliffe doesn’t look lost on offense. Not saying Newman was the reason KU lost this game (that would be defense), just saying we shouldn’t have to watch a game where eventually he is.
2. KU bounces back with road win at TCU, 88-84
Devonte’ Graham must have called up Frank Mason this week. Graham has decided to start taking it to the cup in his last couple games. He’s taken 28 free throws in the last two games as well. Graham finished this game with 28 points and six assists. If Trae Young wasn’t doing his best Steph Curry impression, we’d be talking about Graham for Big 12 player of the year. Svi Mykhailiuk found his stride once again, scoring 20 points, going 5-of-7 from three, and recording six assists. When Svi is good he’s really good, but when he’s bad he is a liability. He has to find consistency.
Udoka Azubuike played just 13 minutes and fouled out, but he scored 14 points. Foul trouble was something we all knew was going to hamper Udoka from time to time, and we all knew that Mitch Lightfoot would have to step up in those games. And step up he did. Mitch Lightfoot (or Clutch Lightfoot, or Mitch Goatfoot, or 2019 Big 12 Player of the Year) scored nine points including a three, grabbed seven rebounds, and got SIX BLOCKS. Lightfoot balled out. If only he could play like that every game. This was a close game, and KU gutted it out. Now onto K-State and Iowa State.
3. So what’s up with Slivio De Sousa and Billy Preston?
Well, according to Bill Self, they both might get cleared this week. But if we’ve learned anything from the NCAA, it might be next season before these guys play. We here at Rock Chalk Blog don’t have any high0level clearance, so we can’t begin to speculate as to what is holding up the Billy Preston “investigation.”
As for De Sousa, he’s still awaiting NCAA amateurism clearance. If they are both cleared, Kansas could become an entirely different team. Right now, KU can’t rebound consistently. Adding two post players would certainly help with that. The Jayhawks need to be able to bench Malik Newman. Adding two players to the rotation would certainly help with that. Being able to rest Udoka Azubuike without sacrificing scoring ability would be great. Two top 25 recruits would certainly help with that. Preston is a better scorer, but De Sousa is probably more fundamentally sound (though it’s too soon tell of course). Bill Self will probably be tempted to bring back the high-low offense (with good reason), though hopefully he doesn’t totally move away from the four guard line up. Preston and De Sousa should really shore up some holes for KU, and I’m excited to see the team they become.
4. Oh, Chiefs…
The Chiefs let us all down again. The owners of this website, myself, and probably most of the KC metro area are… upset by this. But hey, at least KU never chokes when they should win and the chips are down in the playoffs! Maybe the Chiefs won’t suck in the playoffs eventually. Maybe KU will win in an Elite Eight eventually. We all can dream right? Who even knows.
Landen Fields is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. You can check out his archive here.