Here are a few summaries of what’s going on with Kansas Athletics this week, December 5:
1. Kansas plays its second complete game of the year
KU hit 14 three-pointers en route to a 91-61 steam-rolling of Long Beach State. The Jayhawk offense was spectacular in the first half. The ball movement was especially fantastic. Josh Jackson, Frank Mason, and Devonte’ Graham made great passes all game long. KU did almost everything right against Long Beach State; the Jayhawks moved the ball, hit their shots, played (mostly) smart, and won big.
What more can you ask for? A break-out performance from Lagerald Vick? Yep, you got it! What if they dominated LBSU on the glass? They did so, by 17 boards. In fact, Long Beach State only had one more rebound (24) than Vick had points (23). Except for a couple defensive lapses, Kansas was superb. Even Carlton Bragg wasn’t bad, as he had six points and six rebounds in 11 minutes (even though he still acquired three fouls). However, this was still just 1-8 Long Beach State. Not an awful team by any means, just not exactly the caliber of a West Virginia or Baylor. But we’ll get to those teams soon enough.
2. Jayhawks handle Stanford 89-74
This was not a flashy victory by any means, but KU got the job done. However, post play was kind of a mixed bag. Landen Lucas and Carlton Bragg, despite their struggles, will be fine, and they showed that in this game. Although fouls are still an issue with these two (and for Bragg, consistent defense), Lucas recorded eight points, five rebounds, and three blocks, while Bragg also did well with seven points and six rebounds. If these guys can give us quality minutes every night, Kansas could be the best team in America.
Speaking of quality, how about Frank Mason (again)? 20 points, five assists, and four boards – ’nuff said. Svi Mykhailiuk, Devonte’ Graham, Lagerald Vick, and Josh Jackson were all very solid as well. Conference play is coming up soon, and if the Jayhawks can hit their stride, the sky’s the limit.
3. Looking at the contenders to Kansas in the Big 12 race
Baylor has beaten VCU, Oregon, Michigan State, Louisville, and Xavier. Dang. That said, none of those games were true road games. Still, that’s a very impressive resume. The Bears are for real.
West Virginia went on the road to Virginia to play the Cavaliers, and Bob Huggins’ team came away with the victory. Huge win for that club. West Virginia is going to be one of the toughest outs night-in and night-out. Oklahoma State lost a last-second heart breaker to Maryland on Saturday night. OSU guards Jawun Evens and Phil Forte form one of the best backcourts in the Big 12, and they can put up points in bunches. Iowa State has had a solid start to this season, but it has lost its last two, and it only scored 54 points against Cincinnati. Monte Morris and Deonte Burton are tearing it up so far, but let’s see how they do against Big 12 teams.
If I had to pick one of these teams to beat KU for the Big 12 title, it would definitely be West Virginia. The Mountaineers play very good defense and aren’t afraid to play anybody (hence the win against Virginia). But KU is still a monstrous favorite to win the Big 12. Thirteen straight, people.
4. Is this KU team better than the 2015-16 squad?
Maybe. Obviously, it’s too early to tell, but if the post play can even get half of last year’s production, this team will at least go as far as the 15-16 squad did. Personally, I think they can get to the Elite Eight with the way they’re playing right now, and they haven’t even came close to their ceiling yet. I feel like last year’s team hit their ceiling somewhat early in the season. This team is very good, and they have a way to go before they’re going to be complete. That’s scary. That’s something last year’s team didn’t have. If this year’s team hits their potential, they should be the prohibited favorite to win the title. And that’s not next to Duke, either. Last year’s team, I feel, did hit their potential and they still had a lot of concerns. This team could legitimately be cutting down the nets in April. I don’t want to count my eggs before they hatch though, so let’s just say fingers crossed.
Landen Fields is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. You can check out his archive here.