No. 5 Kansas aims to stay hot vs. Kansas State
- Sherfield, Oklahoma rout No. 2 Alabama
- No. 21 FAU wins 20th straight game
- Smith, Miss. St. top No. 11 TCU in OT
- Brown lifts Mizzou over No. 12 Iowa St.
- Kamula, Creighton beat No. 13 Xavier
The inconsistency that plagues David McCormack can surface anytime, even in games in which the Kansas veteran provides a strong overall performance.
The No. 5 Jayhawks' top inside presence drew the ire of coach Bill Self early in a 71-58 win Saturday at West Virginia.
McCormack will look to atone as Kansas (22-4, 11-2 Big 12) moves on to a matchup Tuesday against Kansas State (14-12, 6-8) at Lawrence, Kan.
McCormack answered a missed dunk on the first possession following intermission by scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half versus the Mountaineers. He also finished with 11 rebounds for his seventh double-double of the season.
"I came in with a free mind, free heart," McCormack told the Kansas City Star. "I preach the same message to the team every game ... everything between the floor lines is about us."
As usual at this point in the season, Self relies heavily on his starters, especially with Remy Martin still nursing a knee injury that leaves him mostly doing individual drills. Joseph Yesefu has logged considerable minutes among reserves and offered a spark against West Virginia.
The Jayhawks recorded five wins in their last six games, with McCormack notching back-to-back double-doubles.
The Big 12's leading scorer, Ochai Agbaji (20.0 points per game), has been the Jayhawks' go-to contributor. He has scored in double figures in every game this season.
Kansas recorded its win at West Virginia after being projected as a No. 1 seed in the first NCAA Tournament bracket reveal, along with Gonzaga, Auburn and Arizona.
"I'd rather be one (overall) than two or three," Self said. "It doesn't mean anything. There's so much ball left."
The Wildcats failed Saturday to bolster its position on the NCAA bubble, falling 82-79 in overtime at Oklahoma State. Kansas State's Nijel Pack, who averages 17.5 points, finished with 16 against the Cowboys.
Wildcats coach Bruce Weber credited Mike McGuirl among several players for stepping up with Pack encountering constant pressure.
"Mike McGuirl did a good job. They made it tough on Nijel (Pack)," Weber said. "When we needed plays, Mike McGuirl stepped up, Kaosi (Ezeagu) stepped up. Mark (Smith) had some really good moments for us. And we're down seven with two something left and have the ball to win the game. Obviously, you're gonna go to Nijel. You wish you would have had a little better look at the end, but we didn't."
By letting that potential Quad 1 victory slip away in terms of improving their NCAA credentials, the Wildcats face a tougher path that begins with their in-state nemesis.
Will an NCAA Tournament berth require divine intervention?
"I just hope and pray we get it to the point where we get in the NCAA Tournament, because I think we can do some damage," Weber said.
Kansas State saw a 17-point lead evaporate in a 78-75 setback to Kansas on Jan. 22. Kansas has won six straight in a series it controls (202-94) and owns a 55-6 mark since the inception of the Big 12. The Jayhawks own a 15-game home win streak against the Wildcats.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 21, 2022