The Jayhawks rebounded in Fort Worth, but is the streak still in jeopardy?
Across the college basketball landscape, there has been great inconsistency amongst even the most pedigreed programs. KU has certainly fallen victim to the volatility, but brought a somewhat-reeling fan base relief by leaving TCU with a hard-fought road win.
Mitch Lightfoot was a godsend off the bench, leading the team in rebounds while only committing two fouls. Perhaps most promising were the intangibles that had been missing against the Red Raiders. Devonte’ Graham showed the fortitude he will have to regularly bring for Kansas to succeed in the country’s best conference. Svi Mykhailiuk dropped 20 points and added six assists, providing necessary senior leadership to win on the road.
Still, KU blew an eight-point lead to let the Horned Frogs back into the contest in the second half, and they have not been able to find a team-wide rhythm against strong opponents. Lagerald Vick vanished from relevance in both the home loss against Texas Tech and the win on Saturday. Malik Newman continues to appear ill-equipped to make a contribution. He is plagued by poor shot selection and seems unable to flow with the other guards in the system. With Billy Preston and Silvio De Sousa still in an NCAA holding pattern, Udoka Azubuike will continue to be called upon to improve his free throw shooting and minimize his fouls.
The Jayhawks enter tonight’s home game against Iowa State with a winning record in the conference and positive momentum from the weekend. However, with how embarrassing KU’s three home defeats have been this season, it is hard to get too high or too low based off of one outcome.
For all intents and purposes, KU is still very much in control of maintaining the streak, but skepticism remains. The field is the strongest it has been in recent memory, and KU is simply too hard to trust this season. Oklahoma may have lost in Morgantown, but Trae Young’s gaudy statlines remained intact, and it only solidifies how hard it is to win in enemy territory. KU will have to return to its normal form and hold serve in Lawrence.
What is clear this early in conference play is that KU can put on a show of grit and intensity but also fall incredibly flat. If the front court bursts onto the scene with one or two additions of five-star talent, then all bets are off and Big 12 challengers will have to adjust to the long-standing incumbent. Regardless, 14 won’t come easy.