Whether Bill Self gives his reserves extended opportunities or leaves things up to his starters, the Kansas coach cannot seem to get the No. 23 Jayhawks righted.
They will be coming off their fifth loss in seven games when a quick turnaround finds Kansas (12-7, 6-5 Big 12) playing host Monday toOklahoma State (12-5, 5-5) in Lawrence, Kan.
Each of the Jayhawks’ starters scored in double figures while the bench contributed just four points Saturday, but Self offered a mixed review following a 91-79 loss at No. 17 West Virginia.
“We had some starters who had good moments without question,” he said, “but I wouldn’t say we had starters who played well. The other half to playing good offense is being able to guard your man.”
Breakdowns contributed to 52.4 percent 3-point shooting by West Virginia, while several misses at the rim slowed Kansas at the outset of a game it never led.
“You sometimes have to focus on what’s in front of you and not think about the past and what you could’ve done,” said Jalen Wilson, who contributed 16 points and 14 rebounds against West Virginia.
The loss was the fourth straight against a ranked opponent and fifth straight on the road. Neither skid will be on the line when the Jayhawks play unranked Oklahoma State at home.
However, the Cowboys beat the Jayhawks 75-70 on Jan. 12 and feature likely one-and-done standout Cade Cunningham. Cunningham scored 10 points in the final five minutes of regulation and overtime Saturday as Oklahoma State topped No. 6 Texas 75-67 in double overtime.
“He’s one of the best players in the country,” Self said. “(The West Virginia defeat) would have been a hard game regardless, so we can’t be too down. We’ve got to be able to recover and get our juices flowing again, but we obviously can’t practice much.”
Cunningham made just 5 of 22 shots but canned key 3-pointers closing out regulation and the first overtime while scoring 19 points against Texas. Kalib Boone posted career-bests of 22 points and 15 rebounds while adding five blocks.
The Cowboys overcame their worst shot percentage (35.3) of the season by limiting Texas to 25.3 percent shooting, including 0-for-12 in the overtime periods. The Cowboys played without Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, who suffered an injury Friday in practice.
“We knew we had to be locked in on defense and finish plays by rebounding,” Avery Anderson III said after recording 16 points and 10 boards. “We just knew we couldn’t be the team that backs down first.”
Fatigue could be a factor for the Cowboys after needing 50 minutes to outlast Texas. Four Cowboys played 40-plus minutes.
“We’ve got a couple of things to factor in,” said Cowboys coach Mike Boynton. “How much physically can we do in our preparation and where’s our mental place at? Will we still be thinking about this one?”
Oklahoma State is the only team to sweep a Big 12 season series against Kansas with Self as coach, doing so in 2017-18.
–Field Level Media