Kansas Basketball Can't Overlook Georgetown in Key Midseason Clash

Ryan DavenportContributor IDecember 20, 2013

GAINESVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 10: Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Kansas Jayhawks attempts a shot over Will Yeguete #15 of the Florida Gators during the game at Stephen C. O'Connell Center on December 10, 2013 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

The early stages of the 2013-14 campaign haven't exactly gone to plan for Kansas, as the Jayhawks have tumbled down the rankings after a pair of disappointing losses. 

After beginning the season at No. 5 in the nation, Kansas jumped out to an impressive 5-0 start, which included a victory over then-No. 4 Duke. 

The disappointing results began just after, as Andrew Wiggins and company fell to unranked Villanova and Colorado, as well as No. 19 Florida, in their next five. 

But now, the Jayhawks have an opportunity to demonstrate that this isn't a team that's too inexperienced to contend, as they host a perennial national power in Georgetown. 

No, the Hoyas aren't ranked, but John Thompson III has led his group to a 7-2 mark, which includes a late November victory over No. 10 VCU, and is working off a six-game winning streak.

D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks give Georgetown a pair of effective scoring threats, and against a Kansas team that has struggled with putting together a complete game, there's potential for an upset here. 

Dec 7, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Georgetown Hoyas guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera (4) plays defense during the game against the Colgate Raiders at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden all start for the Jayhawks as freshmen, and deservedly so, as the three were all more than talented enough to earn big minutes immediately. 

But as younger players, the demoralizing losses to Colorado and Villanova may not have hurt their confidence, but a third loss to an unranked opponent probably would. 

At the beginning of the season, Wiggins was touted as one of the most promising NBA prospects in recent memory, but some already believe he's been displaced as the top dog in this year's probable class. 

That's not to say that the freshman hasn't looked the part, as Wiggins enters Saturday's tilt with 15.9 points and 5.9 boards per game, but like the rest of his team, he's been inconsistent. 

In the Jayhawks' last five games, Wiggins has twice put up over 20 points (both of which came in losses), but in the other three, he averaged nine points per, including just six against UTEP. 

With Bill Self at the helm, one has to think a team this talented on paper will figure things out, and that process has to start at home against Georgetown on Saturday. 

In particular, defensive responsibility in their own end of the court is Wiggins and the rest of the Jayhawks' point of focus, but Self told Matt Tait of KU Sports that it's a work in progress and he sees improvement.

He wasn't bad, you're just used to his man never scoring, and he was guarding a really good player (Kendall Williams). He's getting it, and he's getting better every day.

Overall, Self says there's been a lot of improvement made, and he still thinks the team can get to the point where it is excellent defensively.

Right now, Wiggins has already cemented himself as one of the top picks in the upcoming NBA draft, but though he's been dazzling at times, consistency, especially against quality teams, will be a deciding factor in whether this Kansas team lives up to its potential. 

LAWRENCE, KS - NOVEMBER 08:  Head coach Bill Self of the Kansas Jayhawks watches from the bench during the game against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Allen Fieldhouse on November 8, 2013 in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Against Georgetown, Wiggins and the Jayhawks will have the chance to not only regain some of the swagger lost in their three defeats, but also announce to the rest of the country that they're a lot more dangerous than the No. 20 ranking indicates.

Things will only get tougher from there, with five games against currently ranked teams in the next 10 on tap, but Kansas can get things rolling with a win over a recognized program, and this team needs to, because otherwise, what confidence will be left to face Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor within the next month?