Night Court: KU not going anywhere; OU's Hield injures foot

By Jeff Borzello | College Basketball Writer
The Phog Allen crowd was bumping from the opening tip, helping spur Kansas to a blowout win. (Getty Images)

So ... that "Kansas losing its grip on the Big 12" stuff looks kind of awkward now.

The Jayhawks snapped their three-game losing streak by throttling Kansas State on Monday, going on a 21-6 run midway through the first half en route to a 83-62 victory. FreshmanBen McLemore showed flashes of why he could be the No. 1 pick in June with 30 points (six 3-pointers) and seven rebounds, while Jeff Withey was outstanding at both ends, going for 17 points, 10 boards and five blocks.

The key, though, was the play of point guard Naadir Tharpe. He didn't light up the scoreboard, but he controlled the tempo by taking care of the ball and running Kansas' offense. Overall, Tharpe had eight assists and one turnover -- and also played solid first-half defense on Rodney McGruder, Kansas State's leading scorer, chasing him around screens and making life difficult. With Elijah Johnson's confidence completely shot -- he continued to struggle on Monday, going 1-for-6 from the field with four turnovers -- Tharpe could see an increased role if he continues to perform like he did on Monday. Coach Bill Self needs consistent point guard play, and Johnson simply isn't providing that right now.

Has Kansas figured all of its problems out? Probably not, but that's the thing about this year: every Final Four contender has problems. When Kansas can run its offense and also get points in transition, it's tough to beat. The Jayhawks' defense is enough to win games come March, and they have the offensive firepower and experience to beat anyone. The three-game losing streak proved they have issues, but Monday's win shows it's not going anywhere.

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There wasn't enough action to do a complete Night Court, but let's go through a couple of the noteworthy events from Monday night.

-- Oklahoma dominated TCU in a 75-48 victory, but the Sooners might have suffered a major loss too.

Hield will miss four-to-six weeks. (US Presswire)

According to the official Oklahoma basketball Twitter feed, freshman guard Buddy Hield sustained a fracture in his right foot and will miss the next four-to-six weeks. Hield, a 6-foot-3 native of the Bahamas, has been a bright spot during his first season with the Sooners. He's averaging 8.6 points and 4.5 rebounds, but is also a guy who can knock down shots and really defend on the perimeter.

With Hield missing extended time, expect fellow freshman Isaiah Cousins to see more minutes. He's been playing a bigger role lately, and has contributed, averaging 7.3 points in the last four games.

-- Don't look now, but Georgetown is now in second place in the Big East -- just a half-game behind Syracuse in the standings. The Hoyas were impressive in its dispatching of Marquette on Monday night, 63-55.

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Otto Porter was his usually product self, going for 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals -- but it's the recent emergence of Markel Starks and Mikael Hopkins that has the Hoyas rolling. Starks is averaging 16.2 points in his last five games, knocking down15
3-pointers during that span. With Greg Whittington still out, Starks has provided much-needed perimeter punch after some inconsistencies early in the season.

Meanwhile, Hopkins was a nonfactor for about a month during conference play, but has now totaled 28 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks in the last three games. Georgetown doesn't need him to be a go-to player in the paint, but they do need him to defend on the interior and be a threat on the inside. Are the Hoyas better without Whittington? That remains to be seen, but they are 8-1 in his absence.

-- Northeastern went on a 12-0 run in the final few minutes to improve to 12-1 in the CAA against William & Mary.Joel Smith had 17 points and six assists for the Huskies, which holds a three-game lead in the standings with five games remaining.

-- The MEAC is still home to two teams that are unbeaten in conference play. Norfolk State (11-0) cruised to an easy win over one-win Maryland-Eastern Shore, while North Carolina Central (10-0) defeated Bethune-Cookman. The two teams do not face each other in the regular season.

-- Southern and Arkansas-Pine Bluff both stayed neck-and-neck in the SWAC title race, improving to 11-2 with wins over Mississippi Valley state and Alcorn State, respectively. The two teams split the regular season matchups, with each one winning on their homecourt.

-- Grambling is still winless, as the Tigers hung with Texas Southern for one half before struggling to start the second stanza. They have five chances left to get a win.

For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our College Basketball Newsletter. You can follow Jeff Borzello on Twitter here: @jeffborzello

 
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