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The Morning Dish – Sunday, January 25, 2015

January 25, 2015 The Morning Dish No Comments

As one of college basketball’s blueblood programs, Kansas gets all the benefits of membership in an elite club, as well as a few relative drawbacks.

This shouldn’t be mistaken as sorrow or a story of sympathy, but Kansas is sometimes held to a higher standard than others and is a program that many love to put under a microscope and pick apart. There’s some good reason for that, of course-even with its history aside, KU almost always has some of the best talent in the country. And in the case of this season, sometimes that talent has fallen in spectacular fashion-see blowout losses to Kentucky and Temple.

There also are times, though, when the Jayhawks can almost be underrated because of the level of expectation from them. That was already the feel about this year’s team before yesterday, and it’s even more so now after it went on the road and took care of Texas 75-62, ensuring once and for all that the road to the Big 12 title goes through Lawrence. Again.

Kansas fell behind 11-2 in the game’s early minutes but settled down and took a two-point halftime lead. The two teams were still locked in a one-point game with less than eight minutes to go when KU took charge and finished the game on a 24-12 run.

As much as losing to Kentucky by 32 and Temple by 25 is ugly, this is a team that has also done a whole lot of good. It defeated Rhode Island, Tennessee and Michigan State to win the Orlando Classic. It has now won at Georgetown, Baylor and Georgetown (go ahead, try to match up Kentucky’s three best road wins to see whose together are better by a long, long shot). It is one of the few teams to beat Utah and has shooed away Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at home already.

This year’s Jayhawks edition is not always pretty. There are no sure-fire all-American candidates, at least not for this year. The freshmen have been good, but not eye-poppingly so. Even against Texas there was no bona fide star-though Cliff Alexander was pretty close with 15 point and nine boards. Maybe the most impressive Kansas stat of the day was its three turnovers.

When it comes to competing in and finding a way to win in tough games, though, there aren’t many teams in the country you’d want more than this one. Kansas has been battle-tested as much as any team this year, and the Jayhawks continue to pass almost every test.

Side Dishes:

  • Phil Kasiecki has his recap of Saturday’s games. Also, Phil was on hand in Boston as Bucknell won at Boston University 92-77 to move into a tie for the top spot in the Patriot League.
  • Iowa lost forward Aaron White to a shoulder injury in its 67-63 loss to Purdue on Saturday. White was injured in the first half and tried to return but left again soon after, playing just seven minutes.
  • Colorado played Saturday without its second- and third-leading scorers. Josh Scott missed another game due to a back injury-his sixth in the Buffs’ last seven games-while Xavier Johnson was out with an ankle injury. On top of that, leading scorer Askia Booker did not start after being late to a team meeting. Despite all of that, Colorado got its running game in gear and blew out Washington State 90-58, with Booker leading the way with 21.
  • More injury news: Loyola (Ill.) played without star guard Milton Doyle on Saturday in its 72-61 loss at Indiana State. It was the second straight game missed for Doyle, the sophomore who has had an injury-plagued season for the Ramblers.
  • Davidson played again without starting point guard Jack Gibbs on Saturday, as the sophomore continues to recover from a knee injury. The Wildcats got by without his 15+ points and nearly five rebound and five assists per game on Saturday, defeating George Mason 80-73 in overtime for an important road win.
  • Recapping some news from Friday, Creighton’s Isaiah Zierden is done for the season after injuring his MCL on Wednesday against Butler. Tough for the sophomore guard, who was second on the team averaging 9.5 points per game, and for the Bluejays, who are getting the shortest end in an ultra-competitive Big East this year.
  • North Carolina freshman Theo Pinson is out indefinitely after fracturing the fifth metatarsal bone in his foot. Pinson also was injured Wednesday, in the Tar Heels’ win at Wake Forest. The swingman was a highly regarded recruit coming in but has had a quiet freshman year, averaging 3.3 points and 3.7 rebounds per game this season.

Today’s Menu:

Duke at St. John’s (2 p.m. EST, FOX)  Mike Krzyzewski goes for win number 1000.
Indiana at Ohio State (1:30 p.m. EST, CBS)  It’s not quite must-win time yet for the Buckeyes, but it might be after this game if they can’t beat the Hoosiers at home.
Seton Hall at Butler (3 p.m. EST, FS1) 
It was only 12 days ago that the Bulldogs won the first meeting this season in Jersey in overtime.
Notre Dame at N.C. State (6:30 p.m. EST, ESPNU) 
The Wolfpack are just solid. Not spectacular, but good enough to beat top teams sometimes (see: Duke).
Northern Iowa at Illinois State (4 p.m. EST, ESPNU) 
Very tough road test for UNI in MVC play. ISU starting point guard Paris Lee is expected to be a game day decision after missing the Redbirds’ last game with a knee injury.
Washington at Utah (8:30 p.m. EST, ESPNU) 
Huskies seem to have righted the ship with three straight wins, but the Utes on the road are a different animal.
Louisville at Pittsburgh (4 p.m. EST, CBS) 
Not sure am buying the Panthers as a contender for an NCAA bid, but could have mind changed with a win here.
St. Bonaventure at Rhode Island 
Intriguing Atlantic 10 matchup.

Have a relaxing Sunday.

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