Does anybody really expect the Kansas Jayhawks to go into West Virginia tonight and knock off the Mountaineers?
KU has struggled mightily in Morgantown. Of all the venues for the Jayhawks since Bill Self has been coach, this is one he would gladly avoid. His teams have lost four straight games at West Virginia and looked bad in doing it.
KU, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas Tech are tied for the Big 12 lead at 4-1 as it appears the conference has become the Big 4 and Little 6. The six remaining teams are under .500, led by 2-3 Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas.
Texas Tech threw the race into a hullabaloo by knocking off West Virginia on Saturday, which didn’t do the Jayhawks any favors. The Mountaineers also were frustrated by the Tech fans storming the court, with reports of a WVA player punching a fan. We’ll have to see what the Big 12 honchos decide to do about that, though I think court storming should be done away with because of the potential harm it can do to everyone involved.
West Virginia simply is a bad matchup for KU. The Mountaineers play like the gritty coal miners their state is known for, as they are perhaps the most physical team in the country and are relentless on the offensive glass.
Meanwhile, this KU team relies on finesse, outside of Udoka Azubuike. Self did finally get Silvio DeSousa eligible, but he looked like a fish out of water in his 4 minutes on Saturday against Kansas State and probably would be better off watching tonight. He has not been with the team long enough to be prepared for the tussle that will take place.
This is a game that could get away from Kansas in a hurry. Of course the Jayhawks get everybody’s best shot and the Mountaineers are going to bring it. Unless KU develops a hard layer, it’s going to get pushed around and probably crushed on the boards.
Kansas may be 4-1, but it’s the shakiest 4-1 it’s been in a long time. The Jayhawks held serve at home this past week with narrow wins over Iowa State and in-state rival Kansas State, which seems to play KU tougher in Lawrence than it does at Bramlage. The Jayhawks were on the verge in the second half of taking command of this game, but seemed to relax every time the advantage was in the 7-to-11 range. Give Kansas State credit, it played the ‘Hawks to a standstill despite missing Kamau Stokes, but KU killer Dean Wade had his usual big game and probably has Self muttering to himself why didn’t he recruit the St. John native harder, though Wade probably was a Wildcat from the time he reached high school.
None of the quad-leaders play each other this week other than tonight’s game. The problem for KU is that with a loss tonight, it will fall to fourth place.
As we said before conference play started, KU never has been more vulnerable. But never count them out, even when things look their darkest.