A Hard 86 [Originally posted on sportsblog.com 12/25/13]

The knock on my door at 9 AM surprised me because I went to bed with the notion that a visit to the Allen Fieldhouse would not be in order for Saturday’s game against Georgetown. I had imbibed a bit too much the night before at a happy hour that ran way longer than an hour. I fell asleep that night okay with just watching the game on the big screen.

Although the front of the jerseys said Georgetown, with Otto Porter gone, I was unable to identify any of the names on the back of the jerseys. They weren’t even ranked. But I knew that a John Thompson III coached team would compete, and I didn’t fight it when my buddy expressed his desire to still attempt to make it into the fieldhouse. As it turned out, we got really lucky and ran into a fair scalper who offered us the best deal I’ve ever gotten scalping Jayhawks tickets (floor seats for 90 bucks).

I’m hoping that I’ll be as fortunate come January 18th against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.I’m definitely looking for the same guy next time.

One of the cool things about KU games is that fans have such access to the players. There isn’t a bad seat inside the venue and before games fans line up alongside a taped area near the locker room corridor. Fans hang out there and then cheer the guys on as they run onto the court. It’s a pretty cool thing to see, unfortunately my brain wasn’t working properly (it rarely does before 1:30 pm but I was especially scrambled from the activities the night before) and instead of capturing them jogging out of the locker room I got footage of this .

At first glance Georgetown come off as very intimidating. They only have 3 players on the whole roster who are listed under 6’5. Seeing this I immediately knew that it was going to be a physical game. We were about to see the Jayhawks be tested by these tough looking east coast boys.

The Hoyas have the make up of an NIT bound team bound for sure, but they made Kansas earn every single bucket they got. There were not many transition points for the Jayhawks and the Hoyas used nearly every single foul they had. 3 players fouled out for the game and 2 other guys had 4 fouls. The Hoyas even snuck in a cheap shot on Perry Ellis and knocked him out of the game.

Eventually things got chippy enough to where Wiggins got into some smack talking with one of their players and immediately hit a 3 on the ensuing possession (something tells me Wiggins isn’t the kind of player you want to piss off). We all knew that the Jayhawks were talented, but this game would tell us if they were tough. That was a question I hadn’t thought to ask before this Georgetown game.

Kansas was up the whole first half but it always felt closer than an 8 point game. Besides Markel Starks (19 points) and D’Vauntes Smith Rivera (12), no one in the Hoyas lineup was a legitimate scoring threat (most of their first half points seemed to come on free throws). Toughness was the only thing that Georgetown had going for it. They stepped onto the court as if the Lawrence faithful were just another hostile Big East crowd, unfazed and ready to see if the Jayhawks could be punked.

I think this was the kind of game that Tarik Black thrives in. He was not phased at all by the amount of contact going on. The refs let a lot of pushing and physical stuff go on and Tarik seemed in his element, putting up some good numbers and making some noteworthy plays–including a sick block that led to a fast break and alley-oop on the other end of the court (5 for 5 17 points 6 rebs and 2 blks).

The Jayhawks put up 86 points on the Georgetown boys but there were not any easy baskets. As badly as Georgetown got beat, there was no reason for them to hang their heads. They played hard. KU just had a much better team.

Other notes from Saturday’s game:

Bill Self has some serious swagger. I was impressed with the way he and Coach Thompson eschewed the businesslike handshake in favor of the more familiar and less formal “brutha” embrace. I bet Bill goes to bed at night smirking before he falls asleep, then wakes up with that same smirk, thinking, “I’m Bill Self and I coach the Kansas Jayhawks.” It must be a pretty baller reality for old Bill.

Andrew Wiggins only had 12 points the other day. 10 of them came in the 2nd half. He only had 1 rebound for the whole game, but he did have 3 steals and 4 assists. Not a great line but its still a treat to get to watch him play in person. People say he’s too calm, but I’d rather have that than a hot head like J.R. Smith. I don’t buy the whole “we need to see more fire” theory so many people have. That steadiness is going to be important come tournament time. Do what you do Andrew.

I’m officially starting the “Feed Embiid” campaign. This guy is not only my favorite player on this year’s team. He’s one of my favorite big men of all time. By the time he leaves he’ll be mentioned in the same breath as Nick Collison and Julian Wright when it’s all said and done. He had 12 first half points and would have had more had it not been for Tarik Black going so hard in the paint in the 2nd half.

Speaking of big men, I wonder how differently things would be for Tim Duncan had he come up in this era? He was the last of the big men to stay all 4 years. Shane Battier did, but he was nowhere the prospect that TD was, despite winning Player of the Year. Would Duncan stay all four years in this era? Who knows? But seeing Embiid play makes me wonder how good he would be if he did stay in school an extra 3 years. Of course why not get the on the job training for millions of dollars if you are as good as he is. He will go into the league and immediately start. If you were a techie nerd and some firm offered to develop your software skills and pay you for it, you wouldn’t say ‘nah I’m good, being poor and having fun in college, going to classes and studying.” It does make you wonder though.

During a crucial stretch in the 2nd half we were told by an usher that we needed to sit down because we were obstructing people’s view. I wanted to say “tell them they need to be standing up” . I thought I was at a Jayhawks game, not at a dog show. I’ve been to NBA games where the fans didn’t sit for entire halves of play, and this usher is telling me to sit down? What is UP WITH THAT? I never thought I would encounter this at Allen Fieldhouse.

We spotted some former Jayhawks at the game Saturday, sitting behind the team bench. Travis Releford was there, sitting beside Aaron Miles and Wayne Simien. I randomly saw Tim Hardaway (yes that one) sitting in front of me and my buddy. What was he doing in Lawrence? Is he a scout now or something? I had seen him earlier and thought I was just being racist (Not all bald black guys look alike Mick.), but sure enough we realized it was him.
Not sure what to make of this photo here.

Collison and Hinrich are two of my favorite players, but the other side of me wonders if there is another message behind this “team photo”. I’m sure it’s harmless but it’s definitely one of those things that make you go hmmmmmmmmm.
That loss to Colorado doesn’t look so bad now. Colorado put up a fight against Oklahoma State and only lost by a couple of buckets (5 points). They are currently ranked number 20 in the country.

UCLA vs. Duke was interesting the first half. Kyle Anderson looks like he will be fun to watch in the NBA as a 6’8 point guard. He almost had a triple double in the first half, but neither he nor the rest of the tea played particularly well during the 2nd half. Zach Lavine looked good too and Bryce Alford looks like Steve Novak 2.0 (for better or worse). Their defense is terrible though. I could see them winning it all in the NIT or getting knocked out in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It does make me want to watch them play Arizona on January 9th.

Happy holidays to all you readers and non-readers out there. It’s time for me to sit down and watch KD go HAM against the Knicks in MSG (As of me posting this he’s 6 for his first 7 shots. If this Clippers-Warriors matchup tonight is half as entertaining as I think it will be, then we are in for a treat.

Peace.

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