The disappointing part of No. 1 Kansas’ 74-63 loss to No. 11 West Virginia won’t be dropping a Big 12 game on the road. That’s going to happen in an 18-game round-robin, especially with the depth of the league.
No, the disappointing part will be that in a game when KU desperately needed its starting guards to perform well against “Press Virginia” and its attacking style, each of the Jayhawks went MIA.
“Our guards, we didn’t have a good night tonight,” KU coach Bill Self said. “We didn’t attack their stuff very good. In practice, I really thought we prepared to attack it. Obviously, we weren’t.”
The disappointing efforts began with Frank Mason, who scored 12 points with a career-high seven turnovers. That came a game after Wayne Selden said the junior “played like the best point guard in the country” in a road victory over Texas Tech.
KU’s other two guards certainly weren’t blameless. Selden had 11 points but also tied a career-high with six turnovers, while Devonte’ Graham was mostly a non-factor with seven points on 2-for-7 shooting.
“Wayne gets one rebound in 25 minutes, and he should be the most physical guard on the court every time we play,” Self said. “We were just off. Frank was off. Devonte’ was off.”
The family piled into their cars around 11 a.m. Tuesday. Frank Mason Jr. did the math and inspected the GPS. The drive from Petersburg, Va., to West Virginia University, he figured, would take close to five hours. Maybe a little more.
The family did not want to be late. At 7 p.m. Eastern time, No. 1 Kansas was facing No. 11 West Virginia at WVU Coliseum, and the family of Frank Mason III, the Jayhawks’ junior point guard, had their best opportunity to be at a game in the flesh. This was not quite a homecoming game, but it would have to do.
Nearly 11 hours later, after an eight-hour drive, a hazardous winter storm, a gridlocked college town and a college basketball upset, Mason Jr. stood on the floor of West Virginia’s home arena, reflecting on an exhausting day. His son had played perhaps the worst game of his college career, finishing with an uncharacteristic seven turnovers and just 12 points — six of which came on late threes. The Jayhawks’ guards were undone by West Virginia’s relentless pressure defense. They had lost for the first time since Nov. 17. Mason Jr. was disappointed, of course, but at least he and the family had made it.
“We got stuck in the traffic,” he said. “We didn’t get here until about a quarter after 7.”
In fact, Mason Jr. said, his family didn’t get to their seats until the under eight-minute timeout of the first half. In all, there were close to 25 people in the Mason traveling party, and it was easy to wonder if their presence — and totality of a nerve-wracking travel day — had any effect on Mason III, who spent part of the pregame receiving updates on his family’s status.
“That’s a possibility,” Mason Jr. said, when asked if his son might have been distracted by his family’s travel. “I’m quite sure.”
The younger Mason, who was not available to speak to reporters after the game, would have likely shot down any excuses. His father would do just that later Tuesday. So did his head coach. But his performance was so out of the norm that it was easy to wonder what happened.
“I don’t buy into that stuff. West Virginia’s kids had a hard time getting here, too,” Self said of team travel. “We got here. As a matter of fact, Miles (Daxter, three points, two steals) and Paige (six of 13 shooting; 14-17 from line) were just getting here when we did. We had plenty of time to get ready for the game. Hopefully nobody was seriously injured. As many ambulances and police cars we saw there had to be a lot of accidents.”
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Big 12/College News
You never say never and one can be forgiven today if many UConn fans believe they see never on the horizon. But reports have filtered out that West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma still want to expand.
This was not some great and considered NCAA constitutional convention. This is about a conference wanting to be as autonomous as possible to position one of its schools to get into the College Football Playoff final four and it can make as much money as possible. When the Big 12 didn't get a team into the final four last year, there was near panic. Oklahoma squeezed in this season, but that 13th game is worth $25 million and so much more favorable data to feed the CFP rankings.
"This vote does not automatically mean the Big 12 will implement a football championship game," said Bowlsby. He later added, "What it does, it keeps us from being forced to expand."
The Big 12 has 10 teams. Nine of them are in kenpom.com’s top 100. Seven are in the top 50. Three—Kansas, Oklahoma and now West Virginia—are in the top five. So unless you’re hosting TCU, there aren’t any gimmies in this conference. And the beauty of the Big 12 is that it’s the only major conference that still plays a true double round-robin, which means that we’ll get to witness the Jayhawks try to exact revenge on West Virginia in Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 9.
Gonzaga's men's basketball team is getting its own five-episode reality series.
"Gonzaga: The March to Madness" debuts Feb. 16 on HBO, with the finale set to air on March 15, the first day of the NCAA Tournament.
The show follows the team starting with the current season in November, includes their West Coast Conference games and gives behind-the-scenes access to the team from Spokane, Washington.
The Zags are coming off their best season in school history, having gone 35-3 under coach Mark Few. They are seeking the school's 18th consecutive NCAA tourney berth this year.
Narrated by actor Liev Schreiber, the series is HBO's first sports reality program featuring a college team.
The second annual 810 Varsity Best of the Midwest Showcase tips off at Johnson County Community College on Saturday, January 16, 2016. The all-day event features seven games with schools from Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia, including Father Tolton Catholic and Michael Porter, a consensus top 3 recruit nationally for the 2017 class. Over the summer, Porter cutting down his list to include Kansas, Mizzou, Duke, Kentucky and other national powers.
“Porter has been a special player that you see once in a lifetime,” said 810 Varsity’s Chad Rader of the 6-foot-8 junior. “Kansas and many others have been recruiting him a long time, and for good reason. He's the most highly regarded player nationally to play in Kansas City in a basketball game since Danny Manning.”
The Best of the Midwest Showcase was organized by 810 Varsity, the high school entity affiliated with Sports Radio 810 WHB, in starting a regional event to Kansas City. Among the matchups, the headliner with Blue Valley Northwest – the top team in Kansas Class 6A vs. Father Tolton Catholic and Porter at 8:30 p.m.
Bass Pro Tournament of Champions 1/14-1/16
Recruiting Calendar (updated for 2016)
Late Night in the Phog
Bill Self Camp KU Alumni games
60 Years of AFH Celebration
Legends of the Phog game
2011-12 Final Border War
KC Prep Invitational
and more, now on YouTube