Five Questions - Georgetown

Okay, so last week's 10-point loss to No. 2 Kentucky at Madison Square Garden? It's practically ancient history at this point. For the Kansas Jayhawks, now it's on to the blue skies and sandy shores of Hawaii, to take part in the EA Sports Maui Invitational. Here are five questions they'll have to answer if they want to emerge victorious from tonight's opening-round match-up.

1. Jeff Withey was kind of a monster in the first half versus the Wildcats. Can he maintain that level of play for an entire game?

Fans have been waiting with baited breath for a glimpse at the Jeff Withey they saw last week in New York. He blocked shots. He rebounded. He made good on easy attempts around the basket, and most importantly he was aggressive.

Withey isn't the key cog in the post for the Jayhawks this year. That title and the responsibility accompanying it resides in the capable hands of Thomas Robinson. But he is an important cog - the member of the frontcourt rotation aside from Robinson with the most potential.

He faded in the second half last week. He needs to find a way to maintain that aggressive attitude for a full 40 minutes for the Jayhawks to rebound from the loss, and begin to take steps forward.

2. Can Tyshawn Taylor get off to a strong early start?

Taylor's stat line looked good in the loss to Kentucky, as he scored a team-leading 22 points. But while he did manage to post a goose egg in the turnover column, he also only scored a pair of assists.

Plus, he just looked…jittery in the early going, the ball slippery and unsure in his hands. Through three seasons, Taylor has always played his best overall basketball when he's gotten off to a hot start.

He had a multitude of shots swatted in the first half versus the Wildcats and he didn't shoot well on the game. That can't affect him tonight. He's got to stay aggressive, keep attacking and - preferably - get something to go down before the first media timeout.

3. Will Conner Teahan go back to playing within himself?

Conner Teahan has a couple of high-value skills as a Division One basketball player.

He's big. At 6-foot-4, he's got good size for a shooting guard. He's an elite shooter, and if he gets the chance to set his feet before he cuts loose from deep, it's probably going in. And as a fifth-year senior, he's intelligent and experienced. He knows Self's system in and out.

So why on Earth was he trying to drive with the basketball against a far more athletic Kentucky front line?

The Jayhawks need Teahan to be an even more specialized version of what Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed have been in recent seasons. They need him to hit open shots and help keep the ball reversal so critical to Bill Self's offense flowing quickly and smoothly.

What they don't need is for him to try and become a playmaker. They don't need him trying to take people off the dribble and create for others.

Stay cool. Hit shots. Move the ball. Do that, and Conner Teahan is money.

4. Will hangover from last week's loss be an issue? Or have a few days of fun in the sun put the Jayhawks back in a winning frame of mind?

Kentucky is loaded. Seriously loaded. And while this Kansas team may not be able to match them player for player in terms of sheer ability, they're still a group of guys who have won a ton of games at the college level. This is a proud bunch.

Spend a few minutes with Robinson and Taylor, talk with Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson. That pride is right there on the surface.

For a time in the second half versus the Wildcats, the game got out of hand. But Kansas, and Taylor in particular, never quit fighting. That's why the final deficit was only 10 points.

That fight has to carry over, not just to this game but to the rest of the season. There are going to be some bumps in the road along the way, as the margin for error with this team is much smaller than in years past. As long as they continue to learn from them, to take every individual mistake and loss and use it to improve, the Jayhawks can remain among the nation's elite.

5. Can Kansas remain sound defensively?

Because it's going to be a key. The Princeton offense of Head Coach John Thompson III, if the Hoyas are running on all cylinders, can get teams turned around on defense in a hurry.

Practically every member of the Georgetown team passes the ball well – that's why the Hoyas are 10th in assists nationally, dishing out just a hair's breadth shy of 20 per game.

No Bill Self-coached team could be bad defensively. But without the experience of years past, this team's ceiling in that regard is probably a little lower collectively, particularly this early in the season.

Kansas cannot get lost on the flurry of backdoor cuts that are the hallmark of the Princeton game, which is why Georgetown - in its own way - represents a challenge almost as unique as the one Kentucky presented a week ago.

Seeing how the Jayhawks respond should be interesting.


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