Kansas unexpectedly went to the land of scraggly beards and mineshafts and pulled out one of the more impressive road wins in recent years. And since I’m in a particularly jovial mood about it, let’s rank the players’ performances based on some country roads because it’s fun to rub people’s noses in it when you beat them.
5 Stars: Pacific Coast Highway
This is the one “great American roadtrip” that I actually want to take. Every single picture that you see of this majestic stretch of highway is glorious. The highlight is said to be around Big Sur, and that segment of Highway 1 gives this country road its five-star mark.
Unfortunately, even though I’m still excited about that win, I don’t think any KU player could justify a five-star rating.
4.5 Stars: Highway 12 through Utah’s National Parks
Everyone that’s ever been to the National Parks and monuments in Utah raves about their beauty. Utah’s Highway 12 takes you through Bryce Canyon, two other state parks, and under enough natural rock tunnels to rank high on this list of country roads.
Udoka Azubuike. Man, was he important. When he was on the bench in foul trouble, Kansas couldn’t muster any type of a comeback and was treading water. When he played, Kansas had better control of the game. The big guy finished with 10 points and nine rebounds but those stats hardly tell the story.
Devonte Graham. This man willed Kansas to a win. Everyone points to that steal, but it was what led to that steal that makes it even more amazing. KU- Svi specifically- took the ball away from WVU twice on that possession but gave it straight back. That Graham steal was a third straight “stop” and turned the tide. Finished with 16 points and six assists.
4 Stars: Through New England in the Fall
People flock to New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts in the autumn to see the trees change from green to various shades of red, yellow, orange, and brown. It’s probably beautiful, but the sheer amount of tourists keeps these country roads a little lower on the list.
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk. Canned a couple of late threes and was aggressive all night. Sure, he got blocked a few times and turned it over, but his hustle was a welcome sight and a key to the win. Finished with 17 and six.
3.5 Stars: Hawaii’s Coastal Roads
I’ve driven on some winding coastal roads on Oahu, and let me tell you, they are awesome. Nothing beats driving five feet from the ocean. The steep price to get to these “country roads” keeps it from being higher on the list, but from pure beauty, they’re tough to beat.
Lagerald Vick and Malik Newman. Both had nine points and didn’t really do much offensively, but their combined nine rebounds (seemed like more than six from Vick) were a big factor when Dok was out.
Mitch Lightfoot. Six points and five boards in limited time (11 minutes). Mitch came in and did what he asked and West Virginia didn’t dominate the middle when he was in there. Not bad at all.
3 Stars: Route 66
Route 66 might be the most famous on this list, but it’s not really that impressive. For most of the ride, you’re driving through southern Kansas, Oklahoma, upper Texas, and the plains of New Mexico, the worst part of the country (scenically speaking that is). No amount of milkshakes and James Dean trivia can make that stretch exciting.
Silvio de Sousa. He’s still trying to figure things out, but he scored and played decent defense. The personal highlight of the game for me was when he stood up Konate on the defensive end and my wife screamed at the television, “(Expletive) you 50! You just got stopped by a (expletive) high schooler.”
Marcus Garrett. When he learns to shoot, Jayhawk fans are going to love Marcus Garrett.
2 Stars: Driving through Nebraska
Envision Kansas without that small stretch of Flint Hills that makes it somewhat interesting. This drive sucks.
No KU players were as bad as driving through Nebraska.
1 Star: Having to go to West Virginia for any reason other than basketball
I am having to physically restrain myself from not typing the myriad of stereotypes that I could be typing.
Needless to say, no KU players were as bad as having to go to the state of West Virginia for reasons other than watching a basketball game.