Avengers: Bill Self's KU teams never have suffered a Big 12 sweep
As astonishing as the Kansas basketball team’s do-or-die comeback was in the final minutes Monday night against West Virginia, the Jayhawks’ absurd rally and overtime victory helped preserve an equally staggering example of the program’s dominance.
The Mountaineers, up 14 points with less than three minutes to play in regulation, had a chance to do something no team has pulled off since Bill Self became the head coach at Kansas before the 2003-2004 season: sweep KU.
That’s right. No Self-coached Kansas team has ever suffered two regular-season losses to the same Big 12 opponent. The Jayhawks, in the 14th season of the Self era, now have played 88 home-and-home series. KU has swept 60 of them, split 28 and never come away 0-2.
As one might predict from the program’s toughness-preaching coach, Self said after KU’s 84-80 overtime win against WVU he and his players take pride in the fact that Big 12 foes just don’t sweep his teams.
“Sure we do. They probably should’ve,” Self added, of WVU ending the sweep-less streak this season. “They were better than us in Morgantown and they were better than us tonight for the most part — for the large part of the game.”
However, with the Allen Fieldhouse crowd growing more rambunctious by the second as the No. 3 Jayhawks (23-3 overall, 11-2 Big 12) chopped away at the West Virginia lead, KU preserved a less-discussed aspect of its conference dominance. What’s more, it marked the fifth occasion in Self’s tenure that KU thwarted a sweep with an overtime victory.
The last team to sweep Kansas was Iowa State, in 2001.
Below is a rundown of the Jayhawks’ avenging ways over the course of the past 14 seasons. When Big 12 opponents won the first meeting with Kansas, Self’s teams are a perfect 16-0 in rematches.
Lost at Iowa State, 68-61 | Won rematch, 90-89 (OT)
Lost at Nebraska, 74-55 | Won rematch, 78-67
Lost at home to Kansas State, 59-55 | Won rematch at K-State, 66-52
Lost at Missouri, 89-86 (OT) | Won rematch, 79-46
Lost at Kansas State, 84-75 | Won rematch, 88-74
Lost at Missouri, 62-60 | Won rematch, 90-65
Lost at Missouri, 74-71 | Won rematch, 87-86 (OT)
Lost at home to Oklahoma State, 85-80 | Won rematch at Oklahoma State, 68-67 (2OT)
Lost at TCU, 62-55 | Won rematch, 74-48
Lost at Texas, 81-69 | Won rematch, 85-54
Lost at Iowa State, 86-81 | Won rematch, 89-76
Lost at West Virginia, 62-61 | Won rematch, 76-69 (OT)
Lost at West Virginia, 74-63 | Won rematch, 75-65
Lost at Oklahoma State, 86-67 | Won rematch, 94-67
Lost at Iowa State, 85-72 | Won rematch, 85-78
Lost at West Virginia, 85-69 | Won rematch, 84-80 (OT)
In the old days of the Big 12, when Kansas only played the teams from the south division once in the regular season, the Jayhawks didn’t even encounter any potential sweeps in 2005, 2007, 2010 or 2011. Still, in both 2008 and 2011, KU earned retribution for losses to Texas in the Big 12 Tournament.
Since the round-robin, 18-game schedule went into effect in 2012, KU has overcome a potential 0-2 mark against a league team at least once every season.
The Jayhawks’ latest star freshman, Josh Jackson, obviously has only been around for a few weeks worth of Big 12 battles. But the culture Self long ago established was apparent to Jackson and his teammates on Big Monday, with a West Virginia sweep in play.
“Sometimes it’s not our night, like tonight I don’t really think it was,” Jackson said after chipping in 14 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and three assists. “But you’ve just gotta get it done on the defensive end. As long as we make our opponents play bad, I think we’ll be fine.”
Now 408-86 as KU’s head coach, Self’s teams thrive on pulling off the preposterous, particularly at Allen Fieldhouse, where he improved to 218-10. On the rare occasions when an opponent looks like it has KU’s number, that’s when Self can employ atypical tactics.
“I didn’t talk once about the league race. I didn’t talk about any of that stuff,” Self said of his message leading up to the West Virginia rematch. “All I told ’em was, ‘You’ve got a chance to play a team that put a pretty good knot on your head the last time we played.’ And they were motivated. I think they just tried too hard early on in the game.”
— Addendum: On the subject of losing twice to the same team in a season, it has happened in the Self era — just not in terms of a regular-season sweep. Below are the teams who pulled off multiple victories over Self teams during one campaign, over the past 14 years.
Lost at Texas 82-67 | Lost Big 12 Tournament rematch, 64-60, in Dallas
Lost at Michigan State, 75-62 | Lost Sweet 16 rematch, 67-62, in Indianapolis
Lost to Kentucky, 75-65, in New York | Lost NCAA title game rematch, 67-59, in New Orleans
Iowa State, after splitting in the regular season, won Round 3, 70-66, in Big 12 title game, in Kansas City