An old foe comes back to Lincoln
Kansas Basketball Preview
Date: Saturday, December 16th
Time: 6:00 pm CST
Coach: Bill Self (15th season)
2016-17 Record: 31-5 (6-2 Big 12)
2017-18 Record: 7-2 (0-0 Big 12)
The Jayhawks had a fairly decent season in 2016-17. They won the regular season IN a very good Big 12 conference. This title, was the 13th in a row for the Jayhawks. A huge accomplishment for any team. However they did fall to TCU in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. Something that no one saw coming.
Even with their early exit of the Big 12 Tournament they still secured the #1 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAAs. There they made it all the way to the Elite Eight where they were defeated by #9 Oregon. They ended the season ranked #4 in the coaches poll and #3 in the AP.
Frank Mason III lead the team in post season awards with Big 12 player of the year, 1st Team All American, National Player of the Year, and Bob Cousey Player of the year. It is with a very relieved sigh that I mention that he finally graduated and will not be playing against Nebraska on Saturday.
Next to him was freshman Josh Jackson who was first team All Big 12, Big 12 Freshman of the Year, and 2nd Team All American. Another one I can happily say is currently playing in the NBA and will not be suiting up against Nebraska on Saturday.
There was a lot of expectations for Kansas coming into the season which is nothing new. They are a reloaded team, even with the departures from last season. As many of you probably know, Bill Self rarely if ever has a down year and continually brings in top talent for this basketball power.
They started the season off ranked #4 in the nation. The season was going well. Nice wins over then #7 Kentucky and Syracuse had them sitting well and ranked as high as #2 in the nation. That is until the past week.
On December 6th Kansas ran into their first loss against an unranked Washington 65-74 in Kansas City. Technically, a home game for the Jayhawks. Four days later they were upset by #16 Arizona State in Lawrence. Considering both of these games were “home games”, it marks the first time a Bill Self team has had consecutive losses at home. Think about that for a minute.
Kansas is a good team. There is no reason to believe the wheels are falling off this season for the Jayhawks. They just have some growing and development to do for the season to go well.
The losses I mentioned above have hurt but it’s the front court where they are struggling the most. What it comes down to is the lack of depth. they have a very good center with Udoka Azubuike who is averaging 13.9 ppg and 7.4 rpg. The 7’ sophomore does very well in the paint and will give the Huskers problems.
But behind Udoka, there is little for the Jayhawks to rely upon. So, this is a very guard heavy squad that is coming into Lincoln. Again, this isn’t to say KU has a bad squad, they’re just faulty to a point and have been taken to task because of it the past 10 days.
The Jayhawks have five players who are averaging double digit points per game this year. I wish I had time to go through all of them but here are a few you will most likely hear about Saturday night.
Top player to mention is point guard Devonte’ Graham who is averaging 16.9ppg, 4.1 rpg, and 7.7 apg for the Jayhawks. He is the Big 12 preseason player of the year and was second team all Big 12 last season. Devonte’ was not heavily recruited out of high school but has turned into a huge asset to the team. His high for scoring was a whopping 35 points against Toledo earlier this year. Nebraska will have to make sure he is kept at bay or it might be a long night for the Huskers.
Leading the team in scoring is Lagerald Vick. The 6’5” guard is averaging 18.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, and 4.3 ppg. The junior is explosive shooting 70% from the field and 45% from beyond the arch.
Finally there is Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (nope, not even going to try to pronouce it). Mykhailiuk is a 6’8” guard from the Ukraine. He is averaging 15.8 ppg, 3.7 rpg, and 2.6 apg. He has looked at going into the NBA draft the past season but decided against it.
Even with the recent struggles, this is still a good Kansas team. They’re fast, talented, and athletic. Fairly par for the course for a Bill Self Team. Nebraska will have home court advantage and I can’t imagine there will be a single seat left open for the game.
However, I doubt that KU will allow a third loss in a row. Miles is a good coach but Self is even better with history to prove it. I don’t think the Huskers pull this one off though I do believe they will keep it competitive through most of the game. Kansas will pull away in the end.
University of Kansas 78 University of Nebraska 65