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The Day After: Texas

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Kansas forward Joel Embiid is sent to the floor by Texas center Cameron Ridley while battling for a rebound during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas forward Joel Embiid is sent to the floor by Texas center Cameron Ridley while battling for a rebound during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

It may be Super Bowl Sunday, but there certainly was nothing super about the Jayhawks' 81-69 loss at Texas on Saturday.

Although the Longhorns holding a double-digit lead for the majority of the game came as a bit of a surprise, the fact that Kansas lost was not all that shocking. For one, it was on the road. For two, Texas has been playing solid ball lately. And, for three, as hot as KU had been it definitely was no shock to see them cool off.

The loss certainly makes the Big 12 race much more interesting as the Longhorns now sit just one game back with 10 to play. As you probably know, Saturday was not a total loss for the Jayhawks, though, as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both lost, giving them three and four Big 12 losses, respectively.

With Texas still having to return to Allen Fieldhouse (Feb. 22) and still staring at games at Iowa State, at Kansas State and home against Baylor and Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks remain in the driver's seat for a 10th consecutive Big 12 title. But Saturday's result definitely added some drama back into the race.

Quick takeaway:

As has been the case for decades, Kansas takes everyone's best shot every time they step on the floor. That becomes particularly true for road games, where the opponent's home fans often are as fired up as the players, if not more. To me, that was a big a reason for Saturday's outcome as any. You could just see the Longhorns really wanted this one and then went out and got it. No shame in losing a game to a team that played as well or as inspired as Texas did.

Three reasons to smile:

1 – I thought you could really see KU's competitiveness come out in this one. They did not play well and they shot the ball terribly, but it did not appear to me that anybody was willing to accept defeat. When trailing by double digits throughout the end of the first half and entire second half, I thought KU really dug in defensively and tried to do everything it could to get back into it. There were breakdowns and there were plenty of times were Texas did not care about KU's intensity or effort, but I thought it was there. It really showed in Wiggins, who has been solid defensively all year but really appeared to try to elevate his game there against UT to help KU get back into it. Maybe that had a little to do with the off night offensively.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins tries to defend a pass from Texas guard Damarcus Croaker during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. At left is Kansas forward Perry Ellis.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins tries to defend a pass from Texas guard Damarcus Croaker during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. At left is Kansas forward Perry Ellis. by Nick Krug

2 – In the first half, when KU could not hit an outside shot, the Jayhawks kept attacking the rim. Guards, bigs, whoever, KU refused to just settle for bad jumpers. It didn't really work out, as Texas' defense in the paint was fantastic, but it's better to struggle offensively while staying in attack mode than to struggle offensively because you're taking bad shots. There were a few of those in this one, but for the most part, KU remained aggressive offensively.

3 – Senior forward Tarik Black returned from injury and showed that his time off did not hit him with a case of amnesia and cause him to forget what to do and when to do it when in the game.

Kansas forward Tarik Black battles for a loose ball with Texas center Cameron Ridley during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas forward Tarik Black battles for a loose ball with Texas center Cameron Ridley during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Three reasons to sigh:

1 – Flat out, I thought the charge call on Wayne Selden with seven minutes left to play was atrocious. Sure the potential three-point play would've only cut the UT lead to 14 and far from guaranteed a different outcome, but it would've given KU some momentum with plenty of time left. Beyond that, it was just a bad, bad call.

2 – I love that Brannen Greene has the ability to come in cold and knock down a shot at almost any time. Says a lot about his game, his preparation and his mentality. But he's in danger of becoming a one-trick pony and no one proved that better than Jonathan Holmes, who had a monster block of a Greene three-pointer in Saturday's loss. A pump fake there would've given Greene a wide open 16-footer. I know the guy likes the three ball, but he's getting enough minutes now to warrant him becoming a little more than a spot-up shooter.

3 – Perry Ellis continued to struggle to finish shots against bigger bodies. It wasn't for a lack of effort, but over the past few weeks, Ellis has been physically bumped into missed shots far too often. The one that stood out in this game the most was off the beautiful dime from Naadir Tharpe across the lane in the first half. Should've been an easy deuce.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis turns for a shot against Texas center Prince Ibeh during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis turns for a shot against Texas center Prince Ibeh during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

One thought for the road:

The Jayhawks' first loss in Big 12 play:

• Made Kansas 7-1 in Big 12 play, keeping the 2002 Jayhawks the only team to have gone undefeated in a Big 12 season (16-0)

• Made KU 7-1 in conference play for the first time since the 2010-11 season

• Ended the Jayhawks’ longest winning streak of the season at seven

• Made the Kansas-Texas series 22-8 in favor of KU, including 6-6 mark in the Frank Erwin Center

• Ended KU’s win streak over Texas at five-straight

• Made Bill Self 12-8 all-time against UT (12-6 while at KU), 316-64 while at Kansas and 523-169 overall

• Made KU 2,117-817 all-time

Next up:

The Jayhawks will face another tough opponent and another road crowd on Tuesday, when they travel to Waco, Texas, to take on Baylor at 6 p.m.

Comments

John Randall 6 years ago

Excellent coverage, Mr. Tait. I waited in vain for props to Wayne, but have no quibbles with any of your observations.

Luckily, two of the classiest coaches (and programs) in the country didn't need stellar, even competent, work from the referees to display themselves exceptionally well. Officiating was even worse than Jayhawk offense, but certainly wasn't a deciding factor in the outcome.

Having a real conference race approaching mid-season really whets my appetite for the next six weeks. Bring it, keep bringing it, and then bring it some more!

Asad Zoberi 6 years ago

I thought you could really see KU's competitiveness come out in this one

I have a different opinion here. The game I watched showed very little competitiveness from KU players. For me, being competitive is to go after the 50/50 balls, go for the rebounds, get those loose balls. I did not see that much in the game.

Our guys appear to be shell shocked. There was no fire, no energy, no intensity. They were jogging back and forth without being hungry for the ball.

This KU team is a finesse team but not a tough team. They have a tough time against teams with Long/athletic players with the exception of Baylor although that game was close at home, take FL, SDSU and now TX.

Coach Self has to figure out a way on how to get them use their advantage and avoid match up problems because the way these past games have gone we may have an early exit in the tourney when faced with a similar team.

Jack Jones 6 years ago

It appeared that this game exposed three vulnerabilities that have been present in previous games to lesser outcomes. The first, is the fact that while this is one of the most talented group of individual players we've had for some time, it is also the most inexperienced. This inexperience leads to inconsistent play by any given player at any given time/game. The second is also a function of this inexperience ~ at times we have trouble being a solid defensive team ~ we struggle with teams with speed and quickness in trying to defend without fouling ~ and particularly with the new rules interpretations. I've felt that talent translates into good individual offense, while good individual defense is something that requires coaching and experience. The third, is one that the Texas game revealed dramatically ~ we are not yet a "tough", aggressive team for 40 minutes ~ think Taylor, Releford, Johnson, Withy from recent teams. Texas is the first team with really big body inside players who dominated our "bigs" ~ 12 blocked shots, big rebounding edge, number of fouls we committed (huge made free throw difference). The combination of team quickness and size could continue to be a problem for us going forward, particularly in NCAA tournament play. Obviously, the Big 12 conference appears to not be as strong as was advertised ~ given the performance of every other team, with the exception of Texas and Kansas. We cannot afford another stumble. as it appears the Feb. 22 Texas game will be huge if we are to win #10.

Ben Schwartz 6 years ago

Just want to point out Texas announced Felix is out with a concussion. He received it on the play where he got hammered driving to the rim and no foul was called. The point I want to make is the officials were absolutely terrible all night. People were at serious risk of being injured with the play they allowed... and it turns out someone was.

Sam Constance 6 years ago

So, I finally bit the bullet and signed up with my FB account because I had a question about one of the calls in this game.

I was stunned by the call and was hoping someone with a bit more robust understanding of the ins/outs of the rulebook could shed some light on whether it was as atrocious as I thought, or if I'm simply misunderstanding the rules.

The play I'm talking about was the one right after Greene had his shot blocked by Holmes. He blocks the shot and brings the ball down court and goes to the rim, where Frank Mason attempts to prevent a shot from going up and fouls Holmes. Hard. Initially, I thought they called the foul on Mason. It seemed like they might have missed the reach-in foul on Greene before Holmes jumped, but it didn't really matter because both he and Mason fouled Holmes and he would get his two shots.

Then, the announcers point out that they had called a foul on Greene, and that because of that call, the ball was "dead" and that Mason's foul was therefore a dead ball contact technical. So...

1) I've seen many plays where two different defenders foul an offensive player in a bang-bang sort of way, much like Greene and Mason did to Holmes. I've never seen the second player get assessed a technical for their foul, as long as their foul wasn't well after the whistle had blown and given them time to avoid fouling.

2) How is a player in Mason's position supposed to be able to instantly stop, in a situation where the crowd is going nuts and he may not have even heard the whistle? The announcers clearly didn't hear the whistle for the foul on Greene, as they thought the refs had missed it at first.

3) Isn't a dead ball contact technical intended to govern things like fighting (pushing, shoving, etc) after a play is over? Or is it appropriate to assign a technical for a player trying to complete a play?

Robert Rauktis 6 years ago

4) All of the above.

The monitor gives a phony reality which sometimes deceives the officials. The retrospectoscope is 20/20. Just ask any lawyer.

Glen Miller 6 years ago

We would have lost this game either way, because Texas just played that well...... but the officiating in this game was plum ridiculous. I thought it was ridiculously one sided and the free throw numbers prove that. We couldn't even breathe on these guys without a whistle and they were slamming us to the ground half the time. I'm sorry, but I couldn't believe how scared Embiid and Ellis looked at one point. They both looked like they didn't know what to do. To his credit, Embiid gathered himself up and played OK..... Ellis on the other hand has got to learn to play more physical. His finesse game is not going to work against teams like Texas. When he gets bullied a little bit he starts to lose his composure and that's a problem. He just disappears in some games.

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