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Kansas State defeats Kansas, 74-67

  • 8 p.m., Feb. 5, 2019
  • Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, KS

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Channeling former Colts coach Jim Mora, Kansas coach Bill Self focusing on getting better, not the Big 12 race

Kansas head coach Bill Self reacts after a late turnover by the Jayhawks, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 at Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas head coach Bill Self reacts after a late turnover by the Jayhawks, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019 at Bramlage Coliseum.

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Manhattan – The Kansas men’s basketball team certainly has come from behind a time or two to win the Big 12 regular-season title before.

You don’t extend a streak of any kind to 14 in a row without a little late-in-the-game luck and a dose of heroics.

But if the 13th-ranked Jayhawks hope to push their NCAA-record run of 14 consecutive Big 12 crowns to 15 in the next month, they are going to have to summon up the strength to come from behind again.

How far behind remains to be seen. But, as of Tuesday night, when the Jayhawks (17-6 overall, 6-4 Big 12) lost 74-67 to Kansas State at Bramlage Coliseum, the margin was two games in the loss column with eight games to play.

“That’s obviously a concern,” KU coach Bill Self said after Tuesday’s loss. “We’ve put ourselves in a position where, you think, ‘Well, K-State’s got to come to our place and if we get 'em and do what we’re supposed to do at home, it’s a half-game deal as opposed to a game and a half.’ You think like that. But that’s not how you should look at it.”

So how should you?

Self tapped in to former Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Mora, whose “Playoffs!” rant is one of the most famous of all time, to further explain his current perspective.

“I feel like I should be Jim Mora right now,” Self began. “Because we shouldn’t even be concerned about the damn race right now. We should be concerned about, you know, trying to win a game and playing the right way and having the freshmen grow up and having some leadership and things like that that obviously (were) lacking today.

“Are we in a great position to win the league? No. Do we deserve to be in a great position? Absolutely not. Can we flip the switch? It remains to be seen.”

Rather than dwelling on the specifics of Tuesday’s loss — the 23 turnovers, the inept offensive execution and the 44-34 second-half deficit that turned a halftime lead into a crushing loss, to name just a few — Self drilled down to the core of KU’s problems, which, according to him, are much bigger and have lingered longer than anything seen in a single night.

“We’re obviously dealing with our fair share (of issues) right now,” Self explained. “But don’t put it on just turnovers or this or that. No, it’s leadership. It’s toughness. It’s paying attention to detail. It’s understanding what we’re doing. There’s a lot of things that happened before we even got to Manhattan that were reasons why we weren’t successful.”

Mental toughness?

“No, I’m talking everything,” Self said. “Mental, physical. Yeah, this team doesn’t have much (of that) right now.”

As a result, the Jayhawks will return home in search of the magic elixir that only can come from a cozy game in Allen Fieldhouse.

It worked last Saturday, when Kansas played arguably its best game of the year and drubbed No. 16 Texas Tech. And the team coming to Lawrence this Saturday does not have near the talent nor pedigree of the Red Raiders, who responded to the loss in Lawrence by destroying West Virginia by 31 Monday night in Lubbock, Texas.

After Saturday’s 11 a.m. game against Oklahoma State, however, the Jayhawks will go to TCU next Monday and then to Texas Tech on Feb. 23. Sandwiched in between there is another home game against a team near the bottom of the Big 12 standings — West Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 16 — and even if the Jayhawks sweep their 4 remaining home games, they likely are going to have to find a way to win on the road at some point if they want to stay in the race to the end.

Again, though, neither Self nor his players were too worried about the big-picture, down-the-road stuff on Tuesday in Manhattan.

“We’ve just got to try to get better and win a game this Saturday,” Self said. “I talked to them for 3 minutes (in the locker room). I didn’t sense anything. I don’t think there was any discussion about, ‘Yeah guys, one game at a time.’ It wasn’t like that. It was like, ‘Hey, we got our ass kicked and we’ve just got to take one game at a time.’ That was the extent of the conversation.”

The conversation in the other locker room was vastly different.

For the K-State seniors, the joy of Tuesday’s victory was obvious and evident more than an hour after the final horn sounded.

“It’s a bucket-list win,” K-State senior Dean Wade said after helping his team improve to 17-5 overall and 7-2 in the Big 12. “It also gets a little space in the Big 12 standings. I know Baylor (15-6, 6-2) is still up there with us, but to get this win puts space between us. The more space, the better, because in the Big 12, you never know what is going to happen.”

Added K-State point guard Kamau Stokes: “This is unbelievable. Rivalry game at home. Our first time (beating KU). And it’s our senior year, to go out at home with a bang.”

Those two, who walked down the ramp from the press room back to the K-State locker room with their arms around each other and smiles still plastered on their faces, handled the big-picture stuff. And fellow senior Barry Brown Jr. — who made an attempt to punctuate this one with a buzzer-beating dunk, just like a former Kansas player and one-time K-State Public Enemy No. 1 did during Brown’s freshman year — brought a little comedy and spice to this year’s rivalry game.

“Shout out Brannen Greene,” Brown said after Tuesday’s victory.

Comments

Layne Pierce 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Frankly The way we have played, we don't deserve to win.
When its officially over, which game do you want to point to, West Virginia, would be a good one, even Texas. Those are games we should have won, had we won them we would be in great shape, and even the KState game, teams that want to accomplish something do not have 23 turnovers.

This is the worst KU offensive team I have ever seen. We cannot pass, we cannot get to the basket, we don't move without the ball, there is no cutting. It is simply pitiful. Frankly, we should just worry about becoming average, because right now on the road, we are a disaster.

If things don't change we will be a 5 or 6th seed at best in the tournament.
Let's try to simply get better.

RCJH

Robert Robinson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I hate it when I'm right. I've said from day 1 this is the worst team in the Bill Self ear. I was laughing at all of you at the beginning of the year with the "we should be number 1" and the "we're better than Duke" comments

Tony Bandle 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Add Dok and Silvio to the floor and suddenly #1 doesn't look so outrageous, does it.

Marius Rowlanski 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Where did you ever say " I've said from day 1 this is the worst team in the Bill Self ear. I was laughing at all of you at the beginning of the year with the "we should be number 1" and the "we're better than Duke" comments"?

You have only 3 posts since 2017. Are you channeling info? Any help on the next mega jackpot?

Maybe you have a smarter alias. Let him free!

Brian Wilson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

If what Self says is true then he should be starting and developing McCormack. Develop our Freshmen!

Marius Rowlanski 2 months, 2 weeks ago

It wasn't a priority at the time. Like most people, we thought we had plenty of bigs but once again we find ourselves down to one experienced player and one not ready for prime time (I do think Silvio played great at the end of the season).

Unfortunately, this year we have no go-to player for clutch shooting or long-distance. We lack anyone near Frank Mason or Devonte Graham when it comes to leadership. I thought Vick would step into that role.

McCormack's skills were superior to that of Udoka when they first came to Kansas but Self saw Udoka and Dedric and thought he had the right team to bring back the hi/low offense and had Silvio(?), Lightfoot, and McCormack for backups.

Andy Godwin 2 months, 2 weeks ago

From day 1? From day 1 KU had two centers with NBA potential on their roster with experience playing in a final four game and a preseason all American in D. Lawson. When Udoka was available KU was beating top 10 teams, including #1 Tennessee who still have only one loss. I don’t recall anyone predicted losing 20% of KU’s starting lineup and the first player off the bench on day 1. Losing De Sousa seemed likely, but Self had been hoping for some compassion from the NCAA. Nevertheless, this team has gone from Self’s most talented on paper, to severely undersized with substandard outsider shooters. It is clear that KU does not have clutch players and many, especially Vick, struggles to carry out the game plan late in games. Since Udoka’s loss, and now officially De Sousa, few should be convinced Self can right this ship to get into the post season and make a run. They will likely finish tied for 3rd or 4th in Big 12, with KSU and ISU battling for first (don’t expect Baylor to have staying power). In 1988 KU made a remarkable and unexpected run from a lower seed, but it is not clear this team has the ability, maturity, and mental makeup to make much noise in April and March.

Barry Weiss 2 months, 2 weeks ago

"shout out to Brannen Greene"...lol...I guess Barry Brown knew all along he was going to dunk it on us if he had the chance with the win already in pocket. ok, cool, hope we stomp them in Lawrence. We are a turnover machine, no doubt.

Bryce Landon 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Barry Brown is an @$$hole. Just like the 1984 Oklahoma Sooners, Marcus Fizier and Jamaal Tinsley, and Marcus Smart. He can go f*** himself.

Dane Pratt 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Weber may have said something, IDK. But did he call out Brown?

Noel Backwards 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Hope we stomp them too and we probably will force 23 turnovers too if we are able to play as physical as KSU was last night without fouls being called. They got away with A LOT of contact numerous times in the second half.

Marius Rowlanski 2 months, 2 weeks ago

If only Sam had stayed. He would have been given much more playing time if he had ANY long-range shooting in his arsenal. Like Dwight Coleby, he left just when he was most needed.

Brad Watson 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Its a chemistry problem....we play better when Vick is not on the floor...we saw that in the first half....the kid is a great shooter...but lacks focus...freelances too much...he is a good kid...i like him...but we are better when he sits...and Coach realizes it...but what do you do....how do you make that change .... diplomatically....thats the issue....this is going to be a tough conversation for Coach...but hr needs to sit Vick down and tell him...his play is just too inconsistent and erratic and at times he disappears...we can not win that way...especially on the road....we have played poorly all year in my opinion....I like the kid......bit if we want to win...this change needs to be made.

Marius Rowlanski 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Vick is NOT a great shooter. I would say he is streaky. He can go from 0 points to 30 hitting seven out of seven three-pointers and then disappear or starts putting up forced long-range shots.

When Vick was a freshman, everyone couldn't wait to see just how high his ceiling is. There were even calls for him to start but when he came back for his sophomore year, he still showed promise but he started finding himself not to be the player taking the last shot.

The Vick/Self relationship has always seemed strained in that he too saw all that promise in his freshman season and now he can play 20+ minutes with very little impact on the game.

Dennis Strick 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Dr. Watson is correct! Once a player leaves, we need to let him stay gone. Mr. Vick physically and mentally checked out of KU during and after last season. Contract or no contract with Coach Self. I state for the record he is my second least favorite player on the roster in the Self era. I reserve the top stop for Mr. Brannen Greene who got a shout out from Mr. Brown's thunder dunk in the final few seconds last night but that is another story.

Once a player has checked out, even if they are still in their body they don't change their stripes. Vick is only here for himself and his mom. I would give up the buzzer-beater Vick wins to get him off the team. I personally think he is a horrible influence on the younger players and it is my guess that the older players have to constantly offset his negative attitude with positive vibes. We would be much further along as a team if the coaching staff had JUST SAY NO! to Mr. Vick coming back this season. I know coach was trying to do the right thing, but it is hurting the whole team.

Robert Brock 2 months, 2 weeks ago

The Jayhawks turned the ball over 24 times in Ames and only 23 times in Manhattan. We’re getting better!

Chad Smith 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I mean, at this point, with now three of our better players not on the floor ( Dok, De Sousa, and Garrett) I don't think you can really blame any one person. We are playing shorthanded and without experience. It's a recipe for disaster. Please don't kid yourself as a fan if you think we wouldn't be MUCH better with Dok out there playing. He changes the entire dynamic of our team and makes us way more difficult to defend.

I think we all understand as fans who have watched the game for decades, Injuries and players missing time happens. But not two potentially dominant players for entire seasons.

I think the best course of action is to get players like McCormack and KJ Lawson more playing time as they will be called upon in the tournament to make significant contributions. I think overall Dotson is playing good for a true freshman PG. He is explosive. Grimes has declined in my opinion, but he can still turn it around. Dedric Lawson has been a consistent scorer. Charlie Moore has actually started trending upward with better 3 point shooting.

Defensively, we actually haven't been terrible. You can always improve, but given our current frontcourt depth, pretty good. We are forcing turnovers and our defensive efficiency per KenPom is still top 15 in the country. Which means.....

The thing above all else for this team right now is valuing the basketball. 20+ turnovers each road game, I don't care how good you might be, is gonna yield bad results in the final score. Imagine how 10 more possessions for our team could have impacted the game.

I always trust Coach Self knows what to do, but I think the message right now is pretty simple: DON'T TURN THE BALL OVER.

Titus Canby 2 months, 2 weeks ago

My response to the MU (yes, MU) fan who's been hounding me all morning: "I hate it when we lose to a team we've beaten 8 straight times." "I applaud K-State for their best team in a long time beating our worst team in a long time on their home floor." "Gee, I hope our all-time NCAA record of 14 straight conference championships doesn't end this year." "Everyone once in a while, you have to throw a bone to your little sister." "Only 6 more months until football season."

Jeff Kallmeyer 2 months, 2 weeks ago

This team can't even do the simple things like block out to secure a defensive rebound.

Dale Koch 2 months, 2 weeks ago

I totally agree with the above mentioned remarks about Vick!

Bee Bee 2 months, 2 weeks ago

23 T O s and down three players. K S U should have won by 20. They suck.

Glen Miller 2 months, 2 weeks ago

Kansas State barely beat us when we played like absolute dog crap..... I'm not sure I'd be pounding my chest too much. Then again, they do storm the court every 4th year when they can sneak a win so who cares what they think. They have an inferiority complex and it shows badly.

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