Monday Notebook: Huge week propels Jayhawks into first place

1. They won in West Virginia guys!

That was the gutsiest win I’ve witnessed the Jayhawks have. They played some outstanding defense down the stretch and closed out a game without Udoka Azubuike on the floor, as he was dealing with foul trouble and fouled out with a minute to play. Azubuike scored 10 points and collected nine rebounds in just 20 minutes. Kansas was +22 with him on the floor, but -17 with Azubuike on the bench. That’s mind blowing. Kansas was a really good team with Udoka on the floor, and they were bad without him.

Devonte’ Graham was KU’s other most important player. He scored 16 points and had six assists. Graham’s defense was very good in the final few minutes. He made quite possibly the biggest shot of the season to bring the Jayhawks within one. Devonte’ Graham simply decided to win this game and he got it done. Svi Mykhailiuk was actually the leading scorer with 17 points, on 3-for-6 from three. He made two huge threes in the second half and shut down West Virginia guard Jevon Carter. Svi is the x-factor for this KU team. Is this the biggest road win in the Bill Self era? It might be. Is this the biggest win this season? Most certainly. This was a win the Jayhawks needed desperately, and they got it. The hustle, toughness, and grit was there in the second half. Kansas showed that Bill Self mental toughness and got a huge win. Something a lot of good Jayhawks couldn’t get.

2. Does Scott Drew leave the arena with two minutes left in close games?

Oh, Scott Drew cannot beat Kansas. He couldn’t beat Kansas if his life depended on it. I don’t know how he does it. The last two games against Kansas the Bears have given the Jayhawks the win. It’s hard to be as bad in the last three minutes as Baylor is against Kansas. Bill Self coaches rings around Scott Drew. It’s almost funny. I was so sure Baylor would be Drew’d once again, I told my dad I would bury the Kansas shirt I was wearing if Kansas lost. I still have the shirt.

A big reason I still have my shirt is Malik Newman. He scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Newman also scored 12 of Kansas’ last 14 points. He really showed why he’s considered a great scorer. Newman was euro-stepping and making threes. He’s fun to watch when he’s cooking. Devonte’ Graham finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. He was great early and late. He made some great defensive plays and had some big rebounds. Graham is the best leader in the Big 12, hands down. Udoka Azubuike scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Azubuike is kind of like Clint Capela from the Houston Rockets. Not a great offensive player, but runs the floor really well and plays pretty good defense. I believe Kansas will beat Baylor in Lawrence for as long as Scott Drew is Baylor’s coach. And Drew will always have more losses in Allen Fieldhouse than Bill Self.

3. Billy Preston is gone. 

Former Kansas recruit Billy Preston has signed with a professional team in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bill Self said he knew about the move for three weeks. You can’t blame him for leaving. This whole process took a lot longer than anyone expected, with no updates. I wish Preston nothing but the best and I hope he has success in Europe and the NBA. There has still been no announcement from Kansas or the NCAA as to why the investigation has taken so long. There has been no word on any punishment Kansas may or may not receive either. I doubt Kansas will be punished by the NCAA. I think Preston left solely because of the length of the investigation and not because the NCAA found evidence that would incriminate him. Well at least we don’t have to worry about him staying another year right?

4. Zion Williamson commits to Duke

This was very surprising to me. I thought for sure Clemson would be the choice. Or Kentucky. Or Kansas. Duke was my fourth most-likely landing spot. That just goes to show how well Williamson kept his choice hidden. No professional recruiting analysts were saying Duke either. But not to fear, Kansas still has another top-10 recruit in Romeo Langford on the table. Langford’s final three have come down to Vanderbilt, Indiana, and Kansas. Vandy already has a great recruiting as does Kansas, but Langford is from Indiana so the Hoosiers have a legitimate chance in this as well. I think Langford will choose Vanderbilt, but if he does in fact choose Kansas, Bill Self will solidify his best recruiting class ever.

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.