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The Day After: Outplayed in Oklahoma

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Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) vent after a foul was called against the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) and Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) vent after a foul was called against the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

Saturday's 67-62 loss at Oklahoma State by the Kansas University men's basketball team continued the Jekyll and Hyde pace of the season for the Jayhawks, who have shown a wild tendency to look amazing one game and lousy the next, sometimes even good and bad from half to half.

This team has avoided the fate of having that trend produce a .500 record, but Saturday's effort certainly made for a .500 afternoon. Great for one half and lost for the other.

KU coach Bill Self said after the game that he didn't think his team had played all that well in the first half, rather they “just made shots.”

“If you go 7-of-9 from three, you should have a lead,” he added.

And the Jayhawks certainly did. After leading by 14 at one point, KU settled on a 41-30 first-half lead and cruised to the locker room in total control. But rather than roll over, Oklahoma State found a way to get fired up in the other locker room and came out on fire. The Cowboys took their first lead of the second half less than four minutes into it and then controlled the rest of the game the way the Jayhawks controlled the first half.

Despite a terrible second half, KU found a way to hang close and actually had a possession to tie it inside 30 seconds, but the Jayhawks' trend of sloppy, sluggish offense in the second half did them in down the stretch, as well, and OSU snagged the victory that set off a court storming for the second year in a row.

Quick takeaway

I talked about it on the radio last week and wrote about it after the game: If I'm any one of KU's future opponents, I open the game with a press and see what that can get me. I don't care if pressing is not in your arsenal. Against these Jayhawks, at least right now, you better find a way to get it there because, to date, KU has not shown it can handle the press very well at all. Part of that is a lack of experience against it. Part of that is a lack of the type of intensity and focus needed to really execute against a press. And another part of it is bad energy. Rather than taking it as a challenge and desiring to prove that they can beat the press, the Jayhawks appear annoyed and flustered by it and one turnover or mistake quickly turns into two or three, which, in turn, fuels the team applying the pressure, particularly on the road. There's no doubt that KU has the talent and coaching to figure out how to handle pressure better. But what started as a little hiccup late in victories against TCU and Iowa State has become a full-blown problem.

Three reasons to smile

1 – Regardless of when they came or how tough they were to get in the second half, KU's shooting was red-hot from behind the arc. Kansas hit 7 of 9 from downtown in the first half and finished the game 10-of-20 from three-point range overall. No matter what the result, knocking in 50 percent of your shots from three-point range makes for a good day in that department.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) roars after a three during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Brannen Greene (14) roars after a three during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

2 – The Jayhawks weren't good in many areas — especially individually — but they were OK on the boards. That probably shouldn't go down as a reason to smile, given KU's size advantage, but let's face it there weren't many other reasons to smile. KU matched OSU rebound-for-rebound, snagging 13 offensive boards and 22 defensive boards. There were times when Jamari Traylor (4) and Perry Ellis (3) looked great on the offensive glass, but, again, with KU's superior size it probably should've held a 5-10 rebounding advantage over the Cowboys.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) eyes his man while adjusting his socks at half court during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) eyes his man while adjusting his socks at half court during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

3 – Cliff Alexander looked slow and a little lost at times, especially during the hustle moments when the ball was loose or up for grabs. But he was the only Jayhawk to hit better than 50 percent of his shots and finished 4-of-5 from the floor for 8 points and 4 rebounds in 16 minutes. The 16 minutes show you just how not into the game Alexander was from an effort and energy standpoint, but, offensively, he did well when he was in there.

Three reasons to sigh

1 – I asked Self after the game who he felt he and this team should look to for an energy boost during moments like the start of the second half when the other team is taking it to KU. His answer was the same one we've heard all season — Jamari Traylor — but, for the first time, Self was not praising Traylor's energy and instead seemed very annoyed by his lack of it. Traylor had a couple of moments where he played under control and took it strong to the basket on offense, but he coughed up six turnovers against zero assists — alarming numbers for one of the team's veterans — and carried that signature bad body language with him for way too many minutes.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) takes some ribbing from the Oklahoma State student section before inbounding the ball during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) takes some ribbing from the Oklahoma State student section before inbounding the ball during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

2 – KU's free throw shooting, in general, was bad (10-of-19 overall, 2-of-6 in the second half), but Frank Mason's struggles at the line seem to be a bigger problem. Mason, who is shooting .759 from the free throw line for the season (second best on the team), missed the front end of two crucial one-and-ones late in the game, which wound up costing the Jayhawks precious points and feeding the Oklahoma State momentum. It's easy to look at the 10-of-19 total and say, “If they just would've made five more free throws,” but sometimes it's more the how and when they're missing them that hurts the most.

Kansas head coach Bill Self shows his frustration after a string of turnovers by the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Kansas head coach Bill Self shows his frustration after a string of turnovers by the Jayhawks during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 7, 2015 at Gallagher-Iba Arena. by Nick Krug

3 – There's no denying that this team has a ton of individual talent, good depth and a great shot to still win the Big 12 title. Saturday did not change any of that. But I did see moments, especially when KU got up by double digits, where it looked as if these guys just kind of expected that because their jerseys say “Kansas” and they play in this powerhouse program that it should or at least could be easy. Lazy bounce passes, poor execution and a lack of fire all made me wonder if they're still a little too drunk on power to realize that, at KU, you have to make sure you at least match your opponent's intensity night in and night out because they're going to be gunning for you every time. This team has gone up and down in that area all season and usually looked great when challenged with a hugely hyped game or following a loss. But if they truly want to make any kind of memorable run in March, they've got to find a way to bring that against the TCUs and Texas Techs of the world as easily as they do against the Iowa States and big-name programs.

One for the road

KU's second consecutive loss in Stillwater, Oklahoma:

• Snapped KU's five-game winning streak and made the Jayhawks 8-2 in Big 12 play for the first time since the 2011-12 season.

• Dropped KU’s all-time advantage in the series with Oklahoma State to 110-56, including a 21-9 mark in Big 12 games.

• Marked the second straight win for OSU against KU inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, tying the series at 33-33 inside the facility.

• Made Self 344-73 while at Kansas, 14-10 against his alma mater (13-7 at Kansas) and 551-178 overall.

• Made KU 2,145-826 all-time.

Next up

The Jayhawks will stay on the road for a 8 p.m. Tuesday meeting with Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. href="http://www2.kusports.com/news/2015/ja...">KU destroyed the Red Raiders 86-54 on Jan. 10 in Lawrence.

By the Numbers: Oklahoma State beats Kansas, 67-62

By the Numbers: Oklahoma State beats Kansas, 67-62

Comments

Bill Kackley 6 years, 8 months ago

Matt, I agree 100% with your paragraph about the press. I, also, have felt since the Iowa State game that we have a problem there. It isn't all just the players. Too beat a good press you have to make them pay. You have to attack it just like Oklahoma attacked WVU's press at Norman. There was no sign that the team was attempting to attack the press, they were just being content to get it inbounds and then over the 10 second line. Players have to be taught that mind set.

Dirk Medema 6 years, 8 months ago

@ WVU is likely to be one really ugly game; even more so for us than them. We'll likely lose 1 other game (@OU?), but even with only our current one game lead, that should still be enough to at least tie for #11. ISU would have to go undefeated to win outright, and if they can do that they would deserve it. WVU may beat us (once, we'll have them figured out by AFH) in them thar hills, but they're likely losing several more in a brutal 2nd half and finish mid-pack.

Winning just one trophy is never the goal, so we'll definitely need to figure out how to break and attack the press to earn more hardware.

William Weissbeck 6 years, 8 months ago

It's not just that we are getting poorer at the line, we are lackadaisical at the line. I noticed this first with Devonte Graham late in the ISU game. But it seems evident in Ellis and to some degree Mason. It's not that we lack height as much as vertical explosiveness. That's something that is hard to coach. I can't figure out our problems with the press compared to previous years. We should have the guards. I'm thinking it's the lack of that post guy in the middle that is both the safety valve and the guy who turns and passes down court over the press. We clearly have the wing shooters that can hit open 3's if the last man defending on the press defends the basket.

Dave Miller 6 years, 8 months ago

Oklahoma State's press wasn't all that good. But it was good enough. There were several times if KU had attacked the press it would have (should have) resulted in layups and probably some free throws added in. Should have been 10 to 13 points, but instead it was what we saw. No real effort, no one on the floor really cared, no pride. Time to man up guys! Time to take some personal accountability. Time for a team meeting and for someone to emerge and take charge and say " I care."

Rodney Crain 6 years, 8 months ago

"just kind of expected that because their jerseys say “Kansas” and they play in this powerhouse program that it should or at least could be easy"

Heard those words somewhere before...

Someone mentioned words of caution after some article about a shoo-in, about being careful at Ok State, about beleiving your own press clippings...

Oh yeah that was me.

Jerry Walker 6 years, 8 months ago

Vainglorious: a vainglorious woman who always insists on being the center of attention.

Rodney Crain 6 years, 8 months ago

Aww Jerry can't think of anything original to add... What a surprise? He cannot comment on the team, program or article, or even disagree with me.

His only thought is to repeat himself from another post about me. I think that is called Obsession. Hope you are not cyber stalking me :)

Its ok Jerry we got it, you just don't. Actually my post was to show people like you that others agree with me about our team. You remember our team don't you, the subject of this article.? We think just having Kansas on our uniform is enough. We do not play with the level of energy to beat teams, especially on the road for a complete game.

Got any comment on the point? Or do you have another word for the day to try to label me with?

Jack Jones 6 years, 8 months ago

Inexperienced talented young players, who have not made the progress that previous Bill Self -coached teams have typically made by this point in the season ~ plus, the lack of a physically and mentally tough, talented post player.

Edward Daub 6 years, 8 months ago

A common theme with Matt Tait is evaluation of Jamari Traylor's performance. Jamari is strictly a role player! We need Cliff Alexander to be in the game for 30+ minutes, but evidently he lacks energy or effort? I don't understand why Cliff is benched so often, but the Coach knows best. Bottom line is KU needs more P.T. out of Cliff!

Greg Lux 6 years, 8 months ago

Take the team into the video room and make them watch the first half of the 1988 National Championship game of KU vs OU. OU pressed the entire first half and KU broke it time after time for easy layups. The game as tied 50 - 50 at half time but KU would not have been in the game if not for all the times they broke OU's press getting 2 on 1 situations for easy layups. When team press you MUST make them pay a price for that decision. Getting easy points is the price. Our team is to content to just get the ball over half court. That is not good enough. You must make them pay by getting easy baskets.

Bob Bailey 6 years, 8 months ago

What happened. Back in the days Pitino coached KY we beat them like 150 to 90, or some such. Pitino bitched about us running the score up, and coach said if you'd stop pressing, it wouldn't be so easy!

What happened to the 'coaching'?

Kristen Downing 6 years, 8 months ago

Does anyone know or have heard from previous players how Bill Self handles the team at halftime? I'm very seldom impressed with how his team's play right after the half. Just curious.

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