Some thoughts...from Stillwater
Gary Bedore, Journal-World KU men's basketball beat writer
"Hard to analyze this game. Only a mean-spirited person would blame the team when two players had close family members die this week. Fans need to suck it up and write this one off because one can only imagine what the Jayhawks have gone through since Wednesday when Darnell found out his cousin had died and Rodrick found out his brother had died. KU played horribly. Too many turnovers and wasted possessions and dumb fouling of Eaton. KU obviously is a different team on the road, like many others in the league and country. KU has a good - not a great - team right now. Whether it'll be great in March remains to be seen. At this time I prefer to offer prayers for Jackson, Stewart and their loved ones. Family is more important than basketball...but you already knew that."
Tom Keegan, Journal-World sports editor
"Junior point guard Byron Eaton again showed that Oklahoma State is his team. Whose team is Kansas? Can't answer it quickly. He who hesitates is lost."
Ryan Greene, KUSports.com editor
"Gary said it all perfectly. It was tough talking to Rodrick and Darnell after the game. Jackson's eyes began to well a little bit while he was surrounded by media, but he held it in. Rodrick seemed to use speaking with the media as therapy a bit, wanting to let some emotions out. My prayers, too, go out to both players and their families, and hopefully they can overcome these tragedies. How about some love for Oklahoma State? Talk about a team playing for its coach. Both Byron Eaton and Obi Muonelo talked about not wanting to see Sean Sutton go at season's end, and this team's riding some serious momentum right now. At 5-7 with three very winnable games coming up on the slate before closing out the regular season at Texas, an NCAA Tournament bid is still out there for the taking in the Big 12. Baylor (over K-State, now 6-6 in league) and Nebraska (over Texas A&M;, now 5-7 in league) are also in the running, I'd have to think."
Inside the numbers
28: Saturday was an example of how different of a team KU is without key pieces performing at their peaks. Sophomores Sherron Collins and Darrell Arthur combined to play 28 minutes, and that takes out KU's top spark plug (Collins) and post scorer (Arthur) for much of the day. Collins' knee is bothering him, adding to a list of physical woes the Chicago native has endured in an up-and-down 2007-08 campaign. Arthur had more control over his minutes, being limited to 17 before fouling out. He had just six points and never got into any kind of a rhythm due to the whistles. This was a game where KU could have used him, too, since OSU didn't have much as far as a post presence.
26: My, how far Byron Eaton has come. Having combined for 42 points, 13 assists and just two turnovers in back-to-back impressive wins over Baylor and Texas A&M; leading up to Saturday, the junior former McDonald's All-American showed how for real he was against a top-five team. The bowling ball of a point guard scored a game-high 26 points, including a 16-of-18 showing from the free throw line. He further established, too, as Tom mentioned above, that this is his team. And the rest of the guys aren't bad, either.
21: To call this game pretty would be a politician-like lie. The Jayhawks turned the ball over 21 times (Okie State had 19), with six of those giveaways coming in the game's first four minutes. To combat the turnovers, KU only had seven assists on 21 made field goals.
12: Brandon Rush was invisible from the scoring column in the first half, having trouble getting shots to fall. He scored all 12 of his points in the second half, and after hitting his first bucket (a jumper from the top of the key), he let out a yell and a fist pump. He had some pent-up frustration. He showed great spirit in the game's final 20 minutes, and even had a shot to win the game with a last-second corner three. It was short, but Rush certainly was a bright spot for KU after halftime.
16: Some mention is deserving towards Darnell Jackson and Rodrick Stewart, playing in the wake of tragedy striking each of their families. Jackson led KU with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Stewart had just one rebound to his credit in 11 minutes of run. Jackson, though, had similar struggles compared to the rest of KU's big men after halftime. He had just four points and two rebounds in the second half, while Sasha Kaun and the aforementioned Arthur also struggled to get high-percentage looks. KU didn't have a single dunk Saturday afternoon.
Just in case you missed it...
KU again struggled to do what it does best to build momentum - convert lob plays and hit three-point shots. The Jayhawks were just 2-of-11 from three-point range, and couldn't space it out well enough on offense to attack the rim via the lob. It was a game without too many highlights, though Oklahoma State converted a lob which was pretty nasty, with Obi Muonelo feeding James Anderson on a two-on-one break. Anderson, you may remember, selected OSU over KU and Arkansas as a high school senior.
Hopefully you didn't miss it...
Foul trouble was an issue for the Jayhawks and certainly changed the way this one played out. Darrell Arthur is the obvious case here, with his second foul - coming in the first half - being of the technical variety while trying to separate a mini-tussle between Sasha Kaun and Terrel Harris. His fifth foul drew words from Bill Self after the game, as it came after Byron Eaton was already trapped against the sideline without an out. Instead, Eaton got a trip to the free throw line. Oklahoma State made the best of KU's foul woes, hitting 23 of 27 foul attempts. KU had 24 fouls, while OSU had 23. In the stretch, though, KU's were much more visible and meaningful towards the game's end result.
They said it...
Sherron Collins on his latest injury - a knee bruise - which kept him to just 11 minutes of play Saturday: "It's frustrating. It's real frustrating, I can't do all I want to do out there. I can't get comfortable. It's frustrating, that's all. It's real frustrating."
Darnell Jackson on the sloppiness of the game: "I felt like it was out of rhythm the whole game. We weren't all on the same page, I don't know what it is, but we need to find it out and work through that so we all can stay on the same page, because we played terrible today."
Darnell Jackson on Bill Self saying KU had the look of a distracted team: "I wouldn't agree with that. The only thing I would say is we didn't come in here with the mindset to win a game. That's all it was."
Darnell Jackson on playing in the wake of family tragedy: "It didn't make it hard to play at all. It just made me focus even harder to come out here and try to play hard for my teammates. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way."
Rodrick Stewart on dealing with the murder of his brother: "Darnell's going through the same thing. It's easy for me to talk to Darnell, because he can relate to the same thing I'm going through, because it's his cousin...Just trying to stay focused, my head was not in it today, I'm gonna be real. I was trying my best I could when I was out there, but anytime one of your family members loses their life, it's hard to try to put that aside and focus on a game...(My teammates have) been helpful, man, making sure to keep me laughing, stuff like that. All the guys have been checking on me...I knew it was going to be hard to put behind me, because that's my brother, man...These are my teammates, too. I look at them like family, too. If anything happened to them, it'd be hard to try to put that aside and go out there and play a game. I tried to do that as much as I could, but my emotions started getting the best of me when I was out there...There's only so much you could do, really. I've got to go watch my brother get buried Wednesday."
Brandon Rush on the game's final play: "It was a play that broke down. We thought (Chalmers) was gonna manage to get to the hole, but they double-teamed him on the way to the goal, he saw me open, I head-faked it, threw up a shot, I thought it was good, it looked good from the side."
Bill Self on Oklahoma State's play: "I thought they played good. I thought they played good defense, played better offense than us, but we stunk. We stunk, in large part because of OSU, in large part because of the crowd, too. We didn't play with much poise, but I really feel that OSU, they played very well and Eaton, obviously, had a fabulous game."
Bill Self on his team's mindset Saturday: "We played like a team that was...I don't know if we were distracted, but we certainly gave the appearance of being distracted and not as focused, because we made a lot of mental mistakes, and that usually comes from focus, and it was really poor today."
Bill Self on his team dealing with family tragedies of Jackson's and Stewart's: "We've got a lot going on. It's not the players' fault that they're distracted. We had two murders this week with immediate family, and I've never coached that before. I don't know the coaching manual on some of that stuff, but still, today, we were all here. If you're here, you've got to perform, and we just didn't do that."
Bill Self on Sherron Collins' knee: "He practiced 15 minutes yesterday, and that was the first time he'd done anything since Colorado, so obviously he's a shadow of what he could be, but hopefully he'll get back where he can help us real soon. I certainly would have played him more if he was capable."
Bill Self on Darrell Arthur's foul trouble: "He's a good player, and there's not many good players out there who can produce if they're only playing 15, 17 minutes a game, so yeah, it's frustrating. I didn't see the technical. I know somebody pushed somebody and he supposedly pushed back as a retaliation, and if you don't make that play, you're not in foul trouble. One of these days, we're gonna get a consistent 27-30 minutes from him, but we put ourselves in harm's way. His fifth foul, we had Eaton on the sideline with nowhere to go, but we put our hands on him."
Byron Eaton on the OSU coaching rumors: "I've been hearing things like coach Sutton is out at the end of the season, and I don't want that to happen. I'm gonna try to do whatever I can do for my coach to stay here and for me to have a great senior year. If they still do that, that happens, it happens. But I'm gonna fight for my coach. If he comes, he comes. If not, we're still gonna play for coach Sutton the way we've been playing this year."
Obi Muonelo on the OSU coaching rumors: "I don't think he's gonna be out at the end of the year. That goes in one ear and out the other ear. Because I know how good of a coach he is, and our games lost has nothing to do with his coaching. He's a great coach, a very smart coach, it's us. Y'all see now how good of a coach he is when we decide to play the way we can play...he can recruit, and he's just a good coach all around. When I hear those rumors, I don't really listen to them."