Lutz Blog

KU marches on

Kansas looks to me like a basketball team that could win a national championship in early April inside house that Jerry built in Dallas.

Then again, Kansas looks to me like a team that could get knocked out in the early rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

It just depends on when I’m watching Kansas.

The Jayhawks remained unbeaten in Big 12 play Monday night with a 10-point win over Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse. That’s no small accomplishment, since KU has beaten Iowa State and Oklahoma on the road and beaten Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Baylor at home.

All five of those opponents are ranked in the Top 25. And Kansas jumped to No. 8 in today’s poll. The Jayhawks are definitely on the move.

And for stretches of games, they look dominant. Then they don’t.

Kansas looks like the kind of team that could be shocked by a less-talented club when March rolls around. But the Jayhawks also look like a team made for the long haul.

They’re still making too many silly mistakes and after committing 16 turnovers Monday night have 59 in the past three games. That’s not the attention to detail that the best teams normally show. Wichita State, for instance, is averaging just under 10 turnovers per game.

Speaking of WSU, Shockers Ron Baker, Cleanthony Early and Nick Wiggins – Andrew’s older brother – got some face time and talk time on the ESPN broadcast. Sideline reporter Holly Rowe essentially asked the Shockers’ players how WSU would stack up against Kansas.

They did a great job of side-stepping the question. Nick Wiggins mumbled something before Early said something like “basketball is basketball” and Baker chimed in with a take that KU being good is a good thing for the state.

I was hoping for a Richard Sherman moment when one of them said something like: “Yeah, we’re better than Kansas. Kansas, they’re sloppy. We’re not sloppy. We’re ready to play these sorry guys now, after this game is over. We’ll make a call and get Fred, Tekele and the rest up here. We’re ready to go.”

A Wichita State-Kansas dream matchup will have to wait for the NCAA Tournament.

Until then, KU still has work to do. The Jayhawks are in great shape to win another Big 12 championship (what else is new?) but they’re far from a finished product.

So far, though, the rise turnovers haven’t cost Kansas a win. Because while the Jayhawks haven’t resolved all of their ballhandling issues, they are locking down on defense. Bill Self’s young team has made great strides defensively this season and the Baylor game is the latest example.

Wichita Heights’ Perry Ellis had a nice game Monday night with 18 points and five rebounds. That was good to see after a sub-par game against Oklahoma State over the weekend. Freshman guard Frank Mason, who has been in and out all season, was in against the Bears with nine points and six assists.

KU coach Bill Self is still trying to put his team together. That the Jayhawks went through five contending teams without a hiccup is a great sign but it’s not a team that looks unbeatable.

Kansas still has to play on the road at Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Baylor. I suppose Texas Tech could give the Jayhawks a test in Lubbock, although that seems unlikely.

Iowa State and Oklahoma will be in Lawrence later. And I’ll be shocked if Kansas has a slip up like it did last season in losing at TCU.

This team is more likely to continue to improve and get better than it is to plateau or see a drop-off in play. A team with this much talent has no limits. A team with this much youth has no guarantees.