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Monday, January 9, 2017

Jayhawks bracing for tough challenge against struggling Sooners

Kansas players converse during a break from action in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas players converse during a break from action in the second half, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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A split crowd in Las Vegas and a TCU arena devoid of its regular student section because of winter break make up the extent of the Kansas men’s basketball team’s experience in true road games so far this season.

Both were won by the Jayhawks, who are riding a 14-game winning streak into Tuesday night’s 8 p.m. tip-off at Oklahoma’s Lloyd Noble Center, but head coach Bill Self on Monday said he was uncertain whether his Jayhawks (14-1 overall, 3-0 Big 12) were ready for life on the road in the Big 12 Conference.

Self called KU’s energy level at UNLV and TCU “average at best,” but added that the Jayhawks have shown much better vigor in the days since the close call against Kansas State last Tuesday.

On paper, tonight’s showdown between second-ranked Kansas, which moved up from No. 3 in the latest AP Poll released Monday, and the struggling Sooners (6-8, 0-3) looks like one of the bigger mismatches of the season.

Lon Kruger’s young and short-handed OU squad has lost six straight games and has played its last four contests without leading scorer Jordan Woodard. According to a Monday report from the Tulsa World, that number will grow to five Tuesday night.

Regardless of all of the factors stacked against the Sooners in this one, Self said his past experiences in similar situations caution that OU could be a dangerous team.

“Sometimes you can catch another team’s really good effort in those particular times,” Self said. “I know when I was (an assistant) at Oklahoma State and we weren’t very good, we lived for moments like that. So I would think that Oklahoma will give us a great effort (and) play with a free mind and with great energy, which they should. I think they would do that regardless, but, certainly, in a situation where they’ve gotten off to kind of a tough start, I’m sure Lon’s telling ’em, ‘Hey what do we got to lose. Let’s just go out and play and have fun and like each other and play together.’”

Kansas junior Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, who has started the past five games for Kansas, including both true road contests, said the team was bracing for a tougher challenge than many might be expecting.

“Energy’s always important, especially in road games because it’s their crowd and their home and it’s always hard to play in front of other peoples’ crowd,” Mykhailiuk said before Monday’s practice. “We know they’re struggling this year, but they’re pretty talented, coming off a Final Four from last year and they’re playing at home. It’s going to be a tough game for us. We know that they’re gonna give us their best shot.”

Self, who said matching OU’s energy, especially early, would be important for Kansas but added that he would not know for sure where his squad measured on the intensity meter until well after tip-off.

“In the locker room, you can tell sometimes,” Self said. “But sometimes you think you know and they disappoint you. And sometimes you think you’re gonna be disappointed and they surprise you. I think it’s a pretty inexact thing.”

Jayhawks jump to 2nd

Thanks to Villanova's loss to Butler last week, the Big 12 Conference now owns the top two teams in both major polls, with unbeaten Baylor ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press and coaches polls and Kansas climbing up a spot to No. 2 in the AP Poll right behind them.

The Jayhawks (14-1 overall, 3-0 Big 12) received eight first-place votes in the latest AP Poll released Monday, with Baylor (15-0) getting 55 and Villanova (15-1) getting one and falling to third.

“It doesn’t surprise me," Self said of Baylor entering the top spot for the first time in school history. "They deserve it more than anybody else. They’ve played, and won, the hardest games of everybody (on the) non-conference schedule in America. That certainly doesn’t surprise me, nor disappoint me, nor should it.

“We had our chance, probably, to be No. 1 but we didn’t have a great week last week or the week before. We were just average and I think the voters, based on what they’ve seen, probably got it right.”

Jackson honored again

For the third time this season, Kansas freshman Josh Jackson earned Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors, the conference announced Monday.

Jackson, who also has a Big 12 Player of the Week Award on his résumé, averaged 19.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the Jayhawks’ home victories over rival Kansas State and Texas Tech this past week.

A 6-foot-8 freshman from Detroit, Jackson shot 53.3 percent from the field, and contributed seven assists, four blocks and three steals, as KU improved to 14-1 overall and 3-0 in league play.

A 22-point effort against K-State marked Jackson’s third game of 20-plus points this season.

The star Kansas freshman also earned Newcomer of the Week twice in November.

Comments

Suzi Marshall 3 months, 2 weeks ago

The only times I've ever expected KU to come out with a super great effort and they did were the '88 NC game vs OU and the '08 National Semi game vs UNC. That UNC game was the best ever. Before the game EVERYONE was saying how they expected the 'Hawks to come out firing on all cylinders...and they sure as heck did!!!!

Robert Brock 3 months, 2 weeks ago

If Woodard plays, the Sooners win. Without him...Kansas in a cakewalk.

Jay Scott 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Robert. Do you look for opportunities to say absurd things or just hate Kansas?

Gerry Butler 3 months, 2 weeks ago

And just exactly how is it again that Woodard makes THAT MUCH of an impact difference again? - - -A good player yes, - -A Buddy Hield - - umm NO. - -Tell me exactly what it is YOUR SMOKING AGAIN?

Marius Rowlanski 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Was going to make a comment but seems it would be redundant.

Ben Kane 3 months, 2 weeks ago

we play @ kentucky in two weeks, we better be able to handle the road atmosphere at OU.

Steve Corder 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Tickets going for as low as $12. This will not be the "road atmosphere" as last year by any stretch of the imagination.

As for TCU on the road, the student section is around 200 when school is "in". TCU is like Colorado when KU is in town, a semi home game.

Janet Olin 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Carlton, LaGerald, and Svi better put on their 'big boy' pants defensively. Yes, Svi's not as fast, and the other two are not heavy enough to bang with some 'bigs'. Mitch has the energy/talent but isn't strong/wide enough to bang; Dwight still doesn't seem to have his hops yet. Whatever the answer, Landon can't do the D alone on the inside and Frank/Devonte in transition. The key will be D, along with turnovers. They care capable of winning every game they bring their full concentration and energy but will lose if they slack. Dicey @UK, Baylor, WVA, but possible.

Marius Rowlanski 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Not sure why I thought this game was at AFH. Without Dok, I don't see us winning but HCBS has proven many times why I don't coach.

John Randall 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"Not an injury-related situation" –– what then? illness? discipline?

Playing the first four or five conference games without your (only) stalwart player is certainly a major departure from normal.

Marius Rowlanski 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Umm....What? Taking a guess that you are referring to Jordan Woodard. He has missed the last 4 games and will not play tonight due to "an undisclosed illness".

Kent Richardson 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Woodard is out because of a "non-basketball related ailment." Was spotted shooting around in the women's gym three days ago. No time table for his return. Kruger has been changing point guards (three times) even when Woodard was playing.

Kit Duncan 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Fran Fraschila said it Saturday, and it is true, almost every team Kansas plays circles the date on their calendar. The game becomes their "National Championship" when playing KU. It doesn't matter what their record is, each opponent and their fans come ready to upset the "mighty" Kansas!

Coach knows this and tells his team this, but it isn't always heeded by his players. Tonight is a trap game. If the Kansas players don't take control early, the OU fans will stay engaged, and may inspire their team to gut out a win against a far superior team.

We need Stupid Michael to post his familiar phrase. 😬

Gerry Butler 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I've said this multiple times. - - Just like is stated, this IS other teams NCAA championship game of the year, when you have the name Kansas written across your jersey these guys gonna play out of their minds, They can average a half full arena for the year, but you can almost guarantee when we come a knocking the gym will be a rockin. - - We play our game were going to be fine, that's what normally seperates us from the REST of the Big 12. We win on the Road

Henry Hofmeister 3 months, 2 weeks ago

It probably doesn't help that the comment section here usually has couch potato fans predicting 3 or so losses. At times I wonder if the team seems lackadaisical. I love how indifferent Mason is but at times I know he will get his game and that's all he can do if others don't bring theirs. Hopefully the players don't think this is a 3 loss conference season.

Marius Rowlanski 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Do you really think the comment section makes any difference on KU's wins and losses? Finishing 15–3 in conference play would be a pretty good year. Damn, where did I put that bean dip?

Harlan Hobbs 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Oh, Jay, don't you know. Robert is as much a "homer" as you and I - - or so he claims.

If Woodard's absence is not injury related, then my hunch is that he will make his "grand appearance" tonight to manufacture as much enthusiasm as possible.

Steve Corder 3 months, 2 weeks ago

If this year's team is legitimate then they win tonight, big or small margin does not matter. This is a road game they must win, as will be required @ OSU and UT.

Steve Corder 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Must add, if they stub their toe in Norman, that does not mean they can't win the 13th. They lost at TCU 3 years ago and won the title.

Marius Rowlanski 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Road games are always tough in conference play. There are always teams that we should beat but as was pointed out above, everyone gets up and plays there best against Kansas.

Harlan Hobbs 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Agree with the thrust of your comments, Steve, especially following your clarification.

We have to go in with that mindset, unless we want to rely on our strongest competitors stubbing their toes as well. That happened last year, as our backs were against the wall after the loss at ISU. We finished the conference year strong, but it wouldn't have been enough if the other contenders hadn't knocked each other off. The key was that we were the only team in the conference that didn't lose a home game.

Kit Duncan 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Kansas lost "just" three conference games last year (all were away). They lost FIVE conference away games three years ago and still tied for the conference championship. Holding serve at home and winning most, if not all, away games will put them in position to win number 13.

The year they won the NC, Kansas lost three conference games.

RCJH beat OU!!!

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