Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Jayhawks Storm Sooners, Nab Share of Big 12 Title
With their 81-68 victory over Oklahoma, the Kansas Jayhawks clinched at least a share of the Big 12 regular season championship Monday night.
As Kansas has rolled to a 13-0 record in the conference, they've built a 3 1/2 game lead over their nearest rival, which just so happens to be neighboring Kansas State, ranked #6 in the nation with a 22-4 record and a 9-3 mark in the Big 12. Kansas will host the Wildcats on March 3, in a game which all but likely will determine the conference champion. That pivotal match-up is sandwiched by a pair of road games for the Jayhawks - at Oklahoma St. this Saturday and against arch-rival Missouri on March 6, also a Saturday.
The #1 ranked team in the nation, Kansas will be tested over the final three-game stretch preceding the Big 12 tourney.
With every win, the Jayhawks continue to tweak their offense, lately calling on freshman forward Xavier Henry to pick up more of the scoring load. Henry has responded well, scoring in double figures in each of his last five games. After scoring 24 in Saturday's win over Colorado, Henry hit the mark on 9 of 13 shots Monday night, including 2 of 4 3-pointers for a game-high 23 points. He also added five rebounds as Kansas improved to 27-1 overall.
Notable: The UConn Huskies are on the bubble, but they took a big step forward Monday with a solid 72-63 win over #8 West Virginia. Tall and talented, the Huskies cannot be counted out before the Big East tournament. They are as capable a team as can be found in the Big East, and could spring more upsets, setting up a mid-range seeding in the NCAA tourney. At 17-11 and 7-8 in the Big East, Connecticut faces Louisville, Notre Dame and South Florida in their final three regular season games, and they are all winnable.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Henry Notches 31 as Jawhawks Roll to 9-0 Record
Baseball has Spring Training; pro football has exhibition games; the college basketball equivalent is the month of December, when perennial powerhouses like Kansas get to flex their muscles, test new players and generally beat up on lesser rivals like La Salle.
Now, the La Salle Explorers aren't a bad team. In fact, when they waltzed into Rupp Arena to take on the Jayhawks on Saturday, they were a respectable 6-2. They left with the unmistakable imprint of #1 Kansas dealing them their third loss of the season.
Kansas dominated just about every aspect of the game. They shot 53%, had 44 rebounds and blocked 11 shots. La Salle's numbers, for comparison: 36%, 34, 2. Yes, it was a rout, with the Jayhawks winning, 90-65, for their 9th straight win without a loss. It was the sixth time Kansas had scored 90 or more, this time with a little less balance than normal, as freshman senation Xavier Henry went off for a career-high 31 points on 10-for-15 shooting, including 4 of 5 3-pointers and 7 of 9 from the line. Low post specialist Cole Aldrich chipped in with 19 points of his own. Together, Aldrich and Henry accounted for 2/3rds of the Jawhawk points. Henry has scored in double figures every game this season.
NOTABLE: The Butler Bulldogs got back to their winning ways with a late surge to top Ohio Sate, 74-66. Gordon Hayward scored 24 for the second straight game, as the Bulldogs improved to 7-3. Ohio State dropped to 7-2. Both teams should remain ranked when the new polls come out on Monday.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Varnado Needs Support; Thomas, Henry Stand Out
It's a shame that Jarvis Varnado doesn't have much of a supporting cast at #18 Mississippi State, because h's got the kind of talent that can make an impact come tournament time. In their season opener, the Bulldogs relied too heavily on Varnado, their 6'9" senior forward, an came up short against little-known Rider College from New Jersey, losing, 88-74.
It wasn't for lack of effort from Varnado, who hit all 8 of his shots from the floor, knocked down 6 of 8 free throws, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked 7 shots. His 22 points led all scorers, but his teammates shot a losing 18-54 from the field, a 33.3% performance that isn't going to get the job done in the SEC or any other conference, for that matter. Keep an eye on Jarvis, though, as he'll likely be heading to the pros next season.
Notable: Sophomore Isaiah Thomas poured in 30 points for the #14 Huskies as Washington topped pesky Wright State, 74-69 to open their 2009-10 campaign. Thomas, no relation to the former Detroit Piston star by the same name (different spelling: Isiah), led the Huskies in scoring in 08-09 and is off to a smart start, hitting 7 of 14 from the field, including 2 of 7 from 3-point range and 14 of 18 freebies.
#1 Kansas wasted no time in establishing themselves as the team to beat in the Big 12, with a 101-65 thumping of tiny Hofstra. The Jayhawks showed off their top recruit, freshman guard Xavier Henry, who led the scoring parade with 27 points on 8-for-12 shooting, including 5-of-8 from outside the arc and 6-6 from the charity stripe. The sharpshooting guard did all his damage in a mere 24 minutes of floor time.