Kansas City, Mo. Kansas University basketball coach Bill Self didn’t tear into his team at halftime of Friday’s Big 12 Tournament semifinal against Baylor.
He calmly addressed the Jayhawks’ two-point deficit off his team’s lowest scoring output (21) in any half this season.
“I said, ‘Hey, if we don’t want to be here, fine. We’re tired and we can go home and rest. That’s OK. If we’re going to play with this energy and be pouty and be babies, that’s fine. We’ll just regroup and rest an extra day (before NCAA Tournament),’” Self said after the Jayhawks rallied to a 70-66 victory, courtesy of a 49-point second half. “That’s all I said. That was those guys (Jayhawks) coming out and playing better the second half. It had nothing to do with what I said at halftime,” he added.
In an interesting twist, the Jayhawks actually saw a 16-point lead (with 1:51 left) dip to three points (at :05.4).
View a gallery of images from the Jayhawks' semifinal game against Baylor on Friday at Sprint Center.
Self with 0:18.9 to play had to replace four reserves (Brannen Greene, Hunter Mickelson, Cheick Diallo, Lagerald Vick) with Jamari Traylor, Frank Mason III, Perry Ellis and Wayne Selden, Jr., Devonté Graham remaining in the game.
“The worst nightmare would be if we lost, so this was just a bad dream, OK?” Self said to media laughter. “I wanted to play the other guys. It looks so easy from the bench, to say, ‘Well, I could do this and I could do that. I could do better than that.’ Those guys got a chance to play and didn’t do better. That’ll be humbling to them. They’ll grow from it. I think it’s fine.”
Self added: “I said coming into the tournament if we won the first game, I promise you I was going to let these young kids play in crucial situations in the second game and we didn’t really get a chance to do that, but the last two minutes we did. It didn’t turn out very well, but in Baylor also, the law of averages start prevailing. They made a couple shots they’d been missing earlier, but that doesn’t take away anything from us being excited about playing tomorrow.”
Of seeing the lead dip, KU senior Traylor said: “Things happen sometimes. Those guys were in there doing their best. I’m just happy we won the game.”
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