Kansas v West Virginia

No. 2 Jayhawks dress for success, hold off upset-minded Mountaineers


MORGANTOWN, W.V. — New look, same old Jayhawks.

Kansas unveiled their new Adidas-designed “invisible” uniforms in their first visit to WVU Coliseum, but the result was the same we’ve seen again and again. Kansas won, 61 to 56. The only difference was the new look, and the new surroundings. It was their first trip to Morgantown to face new Big 12 member West Virginia.

The West Virginia pep band broke out a solid rendition of “The Time Warp” during  one timeout, and no doubt some in the crowd wished they could time-travel back to the days when the Mountaineers were in the Big East, where ranked teams fall like overripe fruit these days. But alas, they are in the Big 12 now, where Kansas has made winning the league title into an annual rite of spring.

There are plenty of games left, but the Jayhawks picked up a nice road win against a Bob Huggins-coached team tonight. The blueprint was easy to see – get the ball inside to Jeff Withey as often as possible – and it worked pretty well in the first half. Withey was 5-6 for 13 points in the first half, but his production dropped a bit in the second, when soft entry passes began to end up in the hands of streaking Mountaineers. Juwan Staten made four straight buckets for the Mountaineers during a seven-minute stretch, and ended up with 14 points on the night, but his efforts were ultimately in vain, as the Jayhawks buckled down and held on. Aaric Murray led West Virginia with 17 points on the night, including 3-4 from deep.

Asked about the 6’10” Murray’s deep shooting prowess, Travis Releford chuckeld and said “That’s not something we game-planned for.”

Kansas extended their winning streak to 19 games, and remained undefeated in Big 12 play thanks in part to 15 points apiece from seniors Jeff Withey and Travis Releford. Freshman Ben McLemore chipped in 13.

Kansas hosts Oklahoma State on February 2, while West Virginia and Texas Tech – currently both 2-5 in league play – will rumble in Lubbock the same day.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
Leave a comment

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?