No. 7 Kansas looks to keep WVU winless in Big 12
Kansas could be treading a fine line.
Kansas could be treading a fine line.
The loss of junior center Udoka Azubuike, who provided one of the strongest post presences in the country, robbed the No. 7 Jayhawks of a veteran who could capitalize on mismatches underneath.
Struggles from long range have placed even more pressure on the Jayhawks' lone senior, guard Lagerald Vick, to maintain a torrid rate behind the 3-point arc.
Still, Kansas (15-2, 4-1 Big 12)) has enough talent and enough versatility to remain in the thick of another conference race as it enters Saturday's game at West Virginia (8-9, 0-5).
Although sophomore guard Marcus Garrett is mostly looked at as a defensive specialist, he notched a career scoring high in the first half of an 80-78 victory Monday against Texas before finishing with 20 points.
Vick added 21 points, going 5 of 8 from 3-point range, the first time in six games he shot better than 50 percent on 3s. He is shooting 47.0 percent on the season.
"That's a big difference, along with Marcus," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "We're not going to run away from people. We don't have one of those teams, nor is our league one of those which will allow a team to run away from people."
Garrett is shooting just 38.9 percent with a 6.7-point average, so his 7-for-7 first-half outburst against the Longhorns was stunning. Credit teammates, though, for recognizing Garrett's offensive potential.
"Every time we go home (from practice) they're letting me know to not let those missed shots affect me and just keep shooting," Garrett said. "The only way the ball will go in is if you keep shooting."
Despite the unexpected lift Garrett provided, it is clear the Jayhawks are vulnerable. Tight games will be difficult to win because of cold snaps from outside, bouts with turnovers and the attention opposing defenders place on junior forward Dedric Lawson, who is averaging a double-double.
Usually, West Virginia would be a prime challenger looking to exploit any Kansas weakness.
Instead, the Mountaineers' winless Big 12 mark is the worst start in conference play for any team coached by veteran Bob Huggins. Leadership is a basic quality Huggins said his squad lacks.
"We've got a lot of guys that got a lot of answers that don't even know the problems," Huggins said. "We got too many guys that think they're smarter than they are. We got way too many guys that think they're better than what they are."
That remark, as well as other frank assessments, were made after a 98-67 beatdown Tuesday at TCU.
"Quite frankly, I'm embarrassed," Huggins added. "I don't know what to do. It's not like we haven't given everyone a chance. I don't know what to do."
The Mountaineers have missed junior forward Sagaba Konate, who has not played a Big 12 game because of a strained knee. Konate averages a team-high 13.6 points and 8.0 rebounds.
Without Konate, forwards Esa Ahmad and Derek Culver have manned the middle and collectively average 22.8 points and 14 rebounds.
--Field Level Media
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