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Monday Notebook: Jayhawks back in first after wild week

1. Now THAT was an Allen Fieldhouse win

Kansas just got their biggest win of the season. The Jayhawks took down the West Virginia Mountaineers, 77-69. West Virginia led 66-58 with 3:47 in the second half. KU subsequently went on a 17-0 run to take a 75-66 lead with eight seconds to play. This is the home win we’ve been waiting for. This was the best home crowd of the year, at the best home game of the year, which featured the most classic home run of the year.

A big reason for the win was Udoka Azubuike. He played arguably the best game of his college career. Azubuike finished the game with 21 points, five rebounds, three blocks, two steals, and SEVEN made free throws. He was so active on both sides of the floor. Just five rebounds is still a problem, but when he plays defense like he did on Saturday, it doesn’t matter how many rebounds he collects. This goes to show how good this guy is going to be next year. Devonte’ Graham scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and dished out seven assists. Graham also went 9-of-10 at the free throw line. He’s still the unquestioned leader of this team and had a really solid game. He only took six shots (going 2-6 from the field, both of them threes), which is concerning but hitting nine free throws makes up for that.

Lagerald Vick finished with 13 points and five rebounds. Vick was fine. He was pretty quiet in my opinion – a lot better than he was a couple weeks ago, though. Malik Newman scored 11 points, including the game-tying three that blew the roof off Allen Fieldhouse. Also, Bob Huggins got ejected with eight seconds to play. So that was fun. Lastly, the officiating crew was garbage. Great human beings I’m sure, but they are horrible officials.

2. Is the Big 12 title streak in jeopardy?  

In short: Yes.

Is that something to totally right off Kansas for? No.

Texas Tech is a good team. A really good team. Losing your conference to a good team is nothing to be ashamed of. I want Kansas to keep the streak going. I really do. But that shouldn’t be your priority as a fan. The ultimate goal at Kansas each year should be going to the Final Four and winning a national title. It’s ok if KU loses the Big 12. It’s ok if KU ends up being a three seed (they’re going to be a one or two in reality). Their championship aspirations don’t go away if those things happen. Maybe this team can’t win a title. Maybe this team can’t win the Big 12. Just don’t write them off so early. Kansas can very easily win the Big 12 still and I’ve seen worse teams make the Final Four. This team needs to get better at rebounding and defense but they are not out of any kind of title discussions. No one in the country is so much better than Kansas that KU wouldn’t have a chance to win – just ask St. John’s. As far as the Big 12 is concerned, I think Bill Self, Devonte’ Graham, and the Jayhawks will win at least a share of the conference title. If you don’t think they will, that’s your opinion, but you have 13 years of history disagreeing with you too.

3. Where in the world is Darnell Jackson?

Ok, so on the previous season of ITP, Ryan, Josh, and Daniel tried to do a segment called “Where the bleep is that guy?!”. They did it a total of once I believe. I’m going to adopt that segment into Monday Notebook. So, for the inaugural “Where in the world” we’re going to take a look at Darnell Jackson.

Let me start off by saying that Jackson played four years at Kansas, including the national title season in 2008. He averaged 11.2 points on that team. Currently Darnell is playing for PAOK Thessalonika in Greece. He is averaging six points, 2.6 rebounds, and 3.6 blocks for PAOK. Jackson spent some time in the NBA, playing for Cleveland, Milwaukee, Toronto, and Sacramento. He also played in the Chinese league, Turkish League, Venezuelan League and Polish League. Jackson’s last Big 12 title was KU’s fourth one. That is almost funny at this point. I wish Darnell the best for the rest of his pro career and you can follow him on Twitter.

4. My Late Season Top Eight Teams

#1 Virginia: Great defense. Kyle Guy is a stud for the Cavs. The only thing that worries me about UVA is their lack of offense at times. They will make the Elite Eight at worst though.

#2 Villanova: They score with anybody. Jalen Brunson is one of the best players in college basketball but ESPN is too busy kissing up to Trae Young to talk about him. Donnie DiVincenzo and Mikeal Bridges are fantastic players as well.

#3 Michigan State: They’re so deep. They don’t show up to the gym sometimes but when they’re firing on all cylinders they’re tough to beat. This is a boom or bust team.

#4 Xavier: J.P. Macura and Trevon Bluiett make up one of the more underrated backcourts in the country. They can score in bunches but struggle to put teams away at times.

#5 Auburn: The single most surprising team of the season. NO ONE saw them coming. Bruce Pearl has done a fantastic job. Auburn’s strength of schedule is the only thing keeping them from being higher on this list.

#6 Purdue: Up and down team at times. They might still be the most complete offensive team in the country though, with Isaac Haas down low and some great guards up top.

#7 Kansas: What a win on Saturday. At 21-6 Kansas is definitely a two seed. A tough schedule, combined with an underachieving team and this record is actually kind of impressive.

#8 Rhode Island: The Rams are 21-4. They have beaten Providence and Seton Hall. They played close games with Alabama and Nevada. This is a good team. Rhode Island deserves a high seed. Do you hear me committee?!

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.

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