The Kansas Jayhawks lost a rare home game to the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 85-80. The loss means that Kansas will not be the No. 1 team in the country, no matter what happens later this evening when the Michigan Wolverines travel to Bloomington, In. to take on the Indiana Hoosiers.
The Jayhawks head coach Bill Self cannot be happy with his team’s performance, especially on the defensive end of the floor. The Jayhawks gave up the most points they have in regulation this season and also allowed the Cowboys to shoot 8.3% higher than they had allowed all year. The Jayhawks were allowing opponents to shoot just 35% from the field, which was No. 1 in the country, slightly above their Big 12 rival the Texas Longhorns. Today, however, their defense let them down.
Anyone who has seen the Jayhawks recently knew that this loss was coming. Even privately Self probably forecasted it. Kansas had been walking a tightrope since Jan. 19 against Texas. In three of their last four games prior to today, the Jayhawks had won by no larger than a five point margin. Kansas’ poor offensive execution kept conference opponents in games and only their stellar defensive play and timely scoring kept them in the win column. Undoubtedly, Self will turn this loss into motivation for his team. The Jayhawks last loss was Nov. 13, a span of 8o days between losses.
Now with the nation’s longest winning streak (18) and their own home winning streak (33) both concluded, they can focus their efforts on winning a 9th straight Big 12 conference title and improving for yet another NCAA national championship run. Sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe was a spark off the bench for Kansas and true freshman Perry Ellis is slowly coming around for Self. The experience they are gathering now will be crucial for the Jayhawks championship run in March and also will serve as a the basis for the Kansas program for years to come. Self will continue to refine his team’s offensive timing and work on limiting turnovers at practice. Miscues in crucial situations cost Kansas against Oklahoma State today, but as any college basketball coach will tell you, a loss in early February is much better than a loss in March.