Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self, who breathed a sigh of relief after Monday’s five-point victory at Texas A&M;, told media members he felt the Jayhawks were “playing too many” close games.
In explaining his reasoning, Self said: “Billy Tubbs told me one time over the course of a season you’ve got to play some close games, but you don’t want to play too many, because for whatever reason, he feels they will all balance out at the end.”
Perhaps feeling a bit superstitious about results of close games that surely will come during the remainder of the 2009-10 season, Self, coach of a 25-1 team, backtracked a bit on his Hawk Talk radio show.
“You look across America, we’ve probably played less close games than a majority of teams,” Self said, explaining that, “we’ve played 26 games — seven decided by single figures. You think so many have been close, but really it’s been Memphis (57-55), Cornell (71-66) and Tennessee (68-76) nonconference, and of course in league play we had Baylor (81-75), K-State (81-79, OT), Colorado (72-66, OT) and A&M; (59-54). I do think it takes a toll on you. We’ve got to keep figuring it out.”
A quick look at a handful of the top teams shows the Jayhawks, who lead the country in scoring margin of victory, have not played an inordinate amount of nailbiters.
No. 1-ranked KU has played seven games decided by single figures, winning six. KU is 5-0 in games decided by five points or less or overtime.
No. 2 Kentucky has played nine games decided by single-figures, winning eight. UK is 6-0 in games decided by five points or less.
No. 3 Villanova has played 10 games decided by single figures, winning nine. ’Nova is 4-0 in games decided by five points or less.
No. 4 Purdue has played seven games decided by single digits, winning four. Purdue is 3-1 in games decided by five points or less.
No. 5 Syracuse has played six games decided by single digits, winning five. Syracuse is 4-0 in games decided by five points or less.
And No. 6 Duke has played five games decided by single digits, winning three. Duke is 1-2 in games decided by five points or less.
KU junior Tyrel Reed said he had mixed feelings about nailbiters.
“We don’t want them to be close games every time, but those are the kind of games you’ve got to grind them out,” Reed said. “They are definitely a lot of fun. The guys like to be out there competing.
“We’d rather have a blowout, but it was fun being out there,” he added of the A&M; victory.
Self loves to see his team survive close games played in hostile environments.
“We did not play particularly well, but I think A&M; had a lot to do with it,” Self said. “Our guys showed toughness down the stretch to beat a Top-25 team on the road. That place (Reed Arena) was rocking. It was a great atmosphere. Hopefully we’re getting more battle-tested every week.”
KU will meet Colorado at 3 p.m. Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse. The Buffs defeated Oklahoma, 77-67, on Wednesday night in Boulder, Colo. CU improved to 12-13 overall and 3-8 in the Big 12. OU, which travels to Allen Fieldhouse Monday, dropped to 13-12, 4-7.
Aziz N’Diaye, a 7-foot, 255-pound sophomore center from College of Southern Idaho, may visit KU in March, Southern Idaho coach Steve Gosar told Rivals.com.
N’Diaye, who hails from Senegal, has visited Oklahoma, Oregon State and Loyola-Marymount and will visit Washington this weekend. He has been out of action because of a knee injury.
Terrence Ross, a 6-5, 180-pound senior shooting guard from Portland’s Jefferson High, has trimmed his list of schools to KU, Kentucky, Washington, Oregon and Oklahoma. He’s Rivals.com’s No. 43-rated player.