Class of 2020 Kansas signee Bryce Thompson received word on Thursday that he had become KU’s latest McDonald’s All-American.
The game will be played April 1 in Houston.
One of 24 high school boys to earn a spot in this year’s McDonald’s game, the 6-foot-5 combo guard from Booker T. Washington High is the highest-ranked player in the 2020 class to sign with Kansas.
Ranked No. 19 overall in the 2020 class by Rivals.com, Thompson, who signed with KU back in November, is currently averaging 24.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game this season, according to the Tulsa World.
He recently was named to the Bass Pro Tournament of Champions all-tournament team and also earned game MVP honors at the Norm Stewart Classic.
Said KU coach Bill Self of Thompson, shortly after the future Jayhawk signed his national letter of intent in November: “The signing of Bryce is one of our most important signees in recent memory. Landing at Top 20 player is a positive statement for our program on and off the court. … He’s a lead guard and scoring guard. We’ve had some of our best success with these type of combo guards. He’s going to bring energy to our program and he’s going to bring talent. We anticipate him being an impact player for us.”
Thompson becomes the 10th player from Oklahoma and fourth from Tulsa to earn a McDonald’s All-American Game roster spot and is the 46th Jayhawk to earn the honor.
Here’s a look at the rest of that list:
1977 – Darnell Valentine
1981 – Greg Dreiling
1984 – Danny Manning
1985 – Ricky Calloway & Tony Guy
1986 – Mark Randall
1987 – Mike Maddox
1990 – Darrin Hancock
1991 – Ben Davis & Calvin Rayford
1993 – Jacque Vaughn
1994 – Raef LaFrentz
1995 – Paul Pierce & Ryan Robertson
1996 – Lester Earl
1997 – Eric Chenowith & Kenny Gregory
1998 – Jeff Boschee
1999 – Nick Collison
2001 – Aaron Miles & Wayne Simien
2003 – J.R. Giddens & David Padgett
2005 – Mario Chalmers, Micah Downs & Julian Wright
2006 – Darrell Arthur & Sherron Collins
2007 – Cole Aldrich
2009 – Xavier Henry
2010 – Josh Selby
2012 – Perry Ellis
2013 – Wayne Selden Jr. & Andrew Wiggins
2014 – Cliff Alexander & Kelly Oubre
2015 – Carlton Bragg Jr., Cheick Diallo & Malik Newman
2016 – Udoka Azubuike & Josh Jackson
2017 – Billy Preston
2018 – Devon Dotson, Quentin Grimes & David McCormack
Now that the dust has settled and suspensions have been handed out for the brawl that marred the latest edition of the Sunflower Showdown, it’s time to take a quick look back at the performance of KU freshman and native Kansan Christian Braun.
The 6-foot-7 guard from Burlington, who attended high school at nearby Blue Valley Northwest, was sensational in his 29 minutes against KU’s in-state rival.
He scored a career-high 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting and made 6 of 10 3-pointers, tying him for the most made triples by a KU player in a single game this season. Senior graduate transfer Isaiah Moss also hit six in a game (tying his career-high) in KU’s win at Oklahoma.
All of those marks were career bests for Braun, and all of them came from a clear effort on his part to be more aggressive both behind the 3-point line and in front of it.
He shot was he was open, never hesitating to pull the trigger. And when he wasn’t, he put the ball on the deck and drove hard to the basket.
Some of his shots around the rim were a little wild and came off a little hard. But I never once saw KU coach Bill Self do anything but clap about the effort. You can’t constantly preach that your players be more aggressive and then be upset when they are. And Self wasn’t.
There’s no doubt that Self will discuss some things about Braun’s drives to the rim and try to find ways for his surging freshman to attack with more control. But that type of performance was exactly what Self has been searching for from his bench, Braun and Moss in particular.
Their ability to be threats and consistent outside shooters changes everything for this Kansas team and makes 7-foot center Udoka Azubuike, who is in the middle of easily his best season as a Jayhawk, all the more dangerous down low.
That was just Braun’s part of what made Braun’s night so memorable. And that was part of the reason Self was disappointed that Braun’s efforts were overshadowed by that ugly ending.
In addition to his stats, Braun brought great intensity and passion — something that Self pointed out is typical of Kansas kids in this game — and both his play and his energy fired up his teammates and the Allen Fieldhouse crowd.
His arrow slinging gesture after made 3-pointers is one that has been missing since Svi Mykhailiuk left town. And you can bet it’s one that the Kansas fans and coaches have been missing.
Here’s a look at more specifics from Braun’s big night:
• The 20-point night topped his previous career-high of 11 points, nearly doubling it.
• His 6 3-pointers did double his previous best output in that area and also were the most 3-point makes by a KU freshman since Quentin Grimes went off for 6 3-pointers in the opener against Michigan State a season ago.
• Braun also added two steals, which tied a career high and spoke even more to the aggressive nature with which he played.
• And his 7 made field goals and 15 attempts — which were both career highs — outdid his production in that department from his previous five games combined.
Braun has been on a serious uptick since the start of conference play, logging more minutes and contributing more meaningful statistics while on the floor.
It should be interesting to see just how much this last outing helps advance his contributions to this team, and, with David McCormack (2 games) and Silvio De Sousa (12 games) suspended, the third-ranked Jayhawks (15-3 overall, 5-1 Big 12) will be playing plenty of four-guard lineups during the next week or so, giving Braun plenty of opportunities to build on what he did against the Wildcats in the weeks to come.
If you’re a college basketball fan and you watched Tuesday night’s 81-60 KU victory over Kansas State and the melee that followed and did not think back to the 2011 throw down between Cincinnati and Xavier, you might have missed that one.
This one, which had embattled KU junior Silvio De Sousa at its epicenter, was eerily similar to that one in so many ways, with rivals squaring off, tempers flaring out of control quickly and all of it coming after a lopsided win by the favored team.
Here’s a quick recap of what happened in that one.
With the clock winding down and Xavier — Cincinnati’s crosstown rival — leading the Bearcats by 23 points, two players got in each others’ faces and just outside of the paint on the final possession and quickly tackled each other to the floor in front of the Cincinnati bench.
From there, the entire Cincinnati team spilled onto the floor and players from the Xavier bench quickly entered the picture.
Unlike Tuesday’s brawl, which was mostly confined to a 20-30-foot space behind the south goal in the handicap seating section at Allen Fieldhouse, the Xavier-Cincinnati mess spilled to parts of the entire half of the court, with mini-fights breaking out at various points instead of one big mob of players pushing and shoving.
Most of the action in that one stayed on the court and it took about the same amount of time to regain control, with officials, coaches and staff members eventually separating the two teams.
One player, Xavier forward Kenny Frease, was clocked so hard on the left side of his head that the punch drew blood. Frease, no doubt caught up in the hysteria of everything, hopped up from the floor with a bandage on his face and raised his fists into the air toward the crowd, exposing his gash and riling up the home crowd.
Fortunately for KU and K-State, nothing quite that horrific was a part of Tuesday’s mayhem. But the image of KU forward Silvio De Sousa holding a stool high over his head certainly indicates that the two programs dodged a bullet.
But even without blood, this one was nearly just as ugly, as players from both teams temporarily lost control of their emotions following a game that was not nearly as intense on the floor for the 40 minutes that preceded the incident.
If anything, this was a fairly tame Sunflower Showdown, with No. 3 Kansas taking control early and never giving the Wildcats much hope that they could win or come back.
The game was not overly physical, there was no controversial moment or call that fanned fiery emotions and even the KU crowd was relatively tame, given the fact that the home team had control on the scoreboard for 30+ minutes.
That, like the incident at Xavier nine years ago, is what made what followed so surreal. If there’s bad blood going in or something significant happens during the game that creates a tense situation, it’s easy to see how these sorts of things can and do happen.
But this one pretty much came out of nowhere and, even worse, spilled into the stands.
As Big 12 officials and representatives from KU and K-State try to sort out the appropriate punishments for those involved in what took place on Tuesday, it’s worth looking back at the Xavier-Cincy fallout.
After all, that is the closest thing I can remember seeing that is anywhere close to what we saw on Tuesday night.
In that mess, eight players were suspended a total 30 games for their roles in the fight.
Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates, Cheikh Mbodj and Octavius Ellis were suspended six games apiece and UC guard Ge’Lawn Guyn received a one-game suspension.
Xavier’s Dez Wells and Landen Amos each received four-game suspensions, while Musketeers Mark Lyons (2) and Tu Holloway (1) also were suspended.
Don’t be surprised if similar or even lengthier suspensions are levied toward a handful of KU and K-State players when the Big 12 and school officials make their final rulings on this mess.
KU coach Bill Self and K-State coach Bruce Weber both said on this morning’s Big 12 teleconference that they were still in communication with the conference office about how to proceed, with Weber saying he thought something would be known sooner rather than later.
Cincinnati-Xavier fight in 2011
Normally, off days for the Kansas men’s basketball program mean a light workout, some film study and lots of rest.
But on Sunday, the third-ranked Jayhawks took the day off from basketball altogether. And replaced it with football.
During what normally would have been reserved for a little shoot-around after their 66-57 win at Texas on Saturday, the Jayhawks on Sunday tossed the football around instead.
KU coach Bill Self attributed the reason behind the unusual occurrence inside the KU practice gym to “Chiefs fever.” He also learned a few things about some of his players.
“I was pretty impressed,” Self said. “I thought (freshman point guard) Dajuan (Harris) showed some real capabilities as a quarterback and I think David (McCormack, or Chris Teahan) has the best arm on the team.”
The idea came from former KU forward Wayne Simien, who told Self that the Miami Heat did this from time to time around the Super Bowl during his playing days in the NBA.
The lighthearted football fun included three different throwing stations, where players competed with deep throws, accuracy and mobility, and some pick-up style routes that a even attracted a few of the KU coaches, including Self.
The biggest surprise for Self came from junior forward Silvio De Sousa, who not only fared well in the skills competition but also revealed to Self that he actually had played football before.
“Silvio, believe it or not, had the best hands,” Self said. “He said he actually practiced football at IMG (Academy) before and put pads on and everything. That was actually something that I didn’t know he had in him.”
Asked if De Sousa, who stands 6-foot-9, 245 pounds, had played tight end during his brief time on the gridiron at IMG, Self answered with a different position.
“He said he’s a wideout,” Self joked. “He may not know the difference between a tight end and a wideout, but I didn’t get into it with him and say, ‘Is that the one that lines up right next to the tackle?’ But, I mean, you look at that body, he probably could be quite a tight end.”
While the football outing proved to be a lot of fun and provided a lot of laughs, McCormack said the Jayhawks at first were a little worried about what was coming.
“I was definitely caught off guard,” he said while grinning from ear to ear. “None of us had a clue (that was coming). I wasn’t sure if it was a new form of boot camp or if we were just going to have a fun day. So it was definitely a pleasant surprise.”
As for who stood out to him, McCormack had no problem tooting his own horn.
“I would say I probably have the best arm on the team,” he boasted. “And I think a lot of people would say that, too. I definitely had to bring out my inner quarterback.”
Self said KU’s schedule, which includes Big Monday games during the next two weeks, made it so this week was their only opportunity to have a little football fun on their off day.
Here’s a look at some of the action.
KU senior Isaiah Moss on Monday was named the Big 12 Conference Newcomerof the week after playing a key role in two Kansas road wins lastweek.
Moss, a graduate transfer from Iowa, started KU’s road win at Oklahoma and led the team with 20 points on a career-high six 3-pointers.
He followed that up with 5 points and a career-high 5 rebounds in last weekend’s win at Texas.
For the season, Moss is averaging 8.1 points per game on 40% shooting from 3-point range. And his usage — 23.2 minutes per game — has been on a steady rise since the start of Big 12 play, with the sharpshooter playing 30 minutes or more in three of KU’s first five Big 12 games this season.
Garrett doing ‘fine’
Junior guard Marcus Garrett’s hard fall in KU’s win over Texas turned out to be a shoulder injury and not a fall that affected anythingabove the neck.
“From what I heard, talking with (orthopedic surgeon) Jeff (Randall), it wasn’t a head (injury),” Self said Monday. “It sounded like it was a shoulder (injury). And what happened is, like many people do in football, he got a stinger and his arm went numb.”
Garrett left the game and went to the locker room but missed less than two minutes of game time and returned to the lineup to help lead KU to the win.
“We were fortunate with that,” Self said. “He’s fine.”
Kansas freshman Jalen Wilson is back on the practice court, and a decision about his status for the season appears to be nearing.
“He practiced up and down a little bit the other day,” Self said of the 6-foot-8 freshman from Denton, Texas, who broke his left ankle during the first week of the season. “But I still think we’re a couple of weeks away from determining whether or not he’ll try to come back this year.”
Self added: “We’re trying to rush it because if he is going to play you want him playing as soon as possible.”
If the injured ankle allows it and Wilson and the Jayhawks can find a way to fit him into the rotation, Wilson’s chances seem good.
“I, personally, see value (in Wilson playing) and he wants to come back. His parents are good with him coming back. He could potentially help our team. But I’m not going to put him out there and lose this year unless I’m confident and he’s confident that he can be part of our rotation.”
The status of the rehabilitated left ankle is the biggest question surrounding Wilson at the moment. And Self said Monday that he has not seen enough to know definitively if the ankle is fully healed.
“When I say go up and down, I’m talking about, you know, a few possessions and block-out break or something like that,” Self said of the extent of Wilson’s time on the practice floor. “But we haven’t stressed him to the point to know if he is physically ready to help us.”
For the first time since the injury, Wilson went through shoot-around with the team prior to Tuesday's win over Kansas State, taking jumpers and warming up in full uniform before the Jayhawks returned to the locker room for their final pregame instructions. Wilson did not suit up for the game.
Even when Wilson does fully return, Self said there would likely be a two- to three-week period of time when he would need to get his legs under him and find some kind of rhythm that clears the way for him to compete at the same level as his teammates.
That’s a physical issue, though. Mentally, Self said he thought Wilson would be fine.
“I think he’s really bright,” Self said. “So I think he’ll actually pick up on some stuff quickly. But that’s part of the two weeks, probably, letting him run with the first group and see if he can do it. “We don’t even know yet if he’s 100% healthy. Part of that is conditioning, part of that is a lot of (other) things. He hasn’t even tested to the point where he knows that he can be explosive.”
Ranked No. 47 overall by Rivals.com in the 2019 class, Wilson committed to KU and signed with the Jayhawks in June after receiving a release from Michigan, where he had committed and signed, following former Michigan coach John Beilein leaving the Wolverines for the NBA.
Wilson picked Michigan over KU initially but said at the time that getting a second chance to sign with the Jayhawks felt a little like fate.
“I always asked myself, ‘What if Coach Beilein left,’” Wilson told the Journal-World in an interview in June. “So I was always prepared for that, and Kansas has always been in my mind.”
Back-to-back road wins over Oklahoma and Texas, coupled with a handful of losses by other teams in the Top 5 last week, cleared the way for the Kansas men's basketball team to move back into the Top 5 of the Associated Press poll.
KU (14-3 overall, 4-1 Big 12) moved up three spots to No. 3 in Monday's new poll and the Jayhawks now sit behind new No. 1 Baylor (15-1, 5-0) and second-ranked Gonzaga (20-1) in this week's AP poll.
Gonzaga dropped a spot despite not losing, with Baylor receiving 33 first-place votes and 1,591 points from the 65-member media panel and Gonzaga receiving 31 first-place votes for 1,588 points.
Kansas received the only other first-place vote.
The nation's last remaining unbeaten team, San Diego State (19-0), and Florida State (16-2) round out this week's Top 5.
Baylor's move into the top spot ties the record for most No. 1 teams in a single season (7) in the history of the AP poll, which dates back to the 1948-49 season. Seven different teams also were ranked No. 1 back in 1983.
RUTGERS ON THE RISE
The Scarlet Knights bounced back from a loss to Illinois by beating Indiana and Minnesota at home, running their record at the RAC to 13-0 this season — the best start in school history. That was enough to get Rutgers (14-4) into the poll at No. 24 for the first time since the final poll of the 1978-79 season. And with Seton Hall at No. 10, the state of New Jersey has two teams ranked for the first time since the Pirates were joined by Princeton in the last poll of the 1990-91 season.
Iowa, which has been in and out of the poll all season, made the biggest jump back in at No. 19 after its win over then-No. 19 Michigan. The Hawkeyes were joined by No. 22 Arizona — which beat a ranked team in Colorado — and No. 25 Houston, which romped through SMU and then-No. 16 Wichita State last week.
ON THE WAY OUT
The Wichita State Shockers dropped all the way out after losing to Houston and Temple. The Wolverines also fell out, along with Big Ten rival Ohio State and Creighton, whose one-week stay ended with a loss early last week to Georgetown.
No team has been falling as steadily as Ohio State, which was 9-0, was ranked in the top five and received first-place votes just six weeks ago. The Buckeyes have lost six of their last nine games, and five of their last six, to complete their tumble from the poll. Their lone victory in the last few weeks was against lowly Nebraska.
Complete AP Top 25:
1 - Baylor, 15-1, 1,591 (33)
2 - Gonzaga, 20-1, 1588 (31)
3 - Kansas, 14-3, 1,470 (1)
4 - San Diego State, 19-0, 1,422
5 - Florida State, 16-2, 1,335
6 - Louisville, 15-3, 1,303
7 - Dayton, 16-2, 1,139
8 - Duke, 15-3, 1,065
9 - Villanova, 14-3, 1,055
10 - Seton Hall, 14-4, 1,034
11 - Michigan State, 14-4, 1,004
12 - Oregon, 15-4, 886
13 - Butler, 15-3, 867
14 - West Virginia, 14-3, 758
15 - Kentucky, 13-4, 755
16 - Auburn, 15-2, 637
17 - Maryland, 14-4, 525
18 - Texas Tech, 12-5, 399
19 - Iowa, 13-5, 398
20 - Memphis, 14-3, 394
21 - Illinois, 13-5, 280
22 - Arizona, 13-5, 225
23 - Colorado, 14-4, 154
24 - Rutgers, 14-4, 152
25 - Houston, 14-4, 151
Others receiving votes: Wichita State 94, LSU 83, Michigan 73, Northern Iowa 42, Ohio State 36, Stanford 28, Wisconsin 28, Penn State 24, Liberty 21, Florida 21, Arkansas 19, Virginia 13, Creighton 13, Duquesne 13, Purdue 9, East Tennessee State 6, Indiana 6, USC 4, Marquette 2, BYU 2, Harvard 1
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Norman, Okla. — Devon Dotson may not have played in KU’s 66-52 victory over Oklahoma on Tuesday night at Lloyd Noble Center.
But that does not mean that Dotson did not play a role.
Sidelined because of a hip pointer that kept him out of parts of last Saturday’s loss to Baylor and may keep him out longer depending on how treatment and recovery go the rest of the week, Dotson found ways to impact KU’s most recent victory even while wearing street clothes on the Kansas bench.
The two biggest benefactors of Dotson’s presence in Norman on Tuesday night were junior guard Marcus Garrett and freshman Christian Braun.
Those were the two players who Dotson kept in contact with throughout the hard-earned, shorthanded victory, lending advice when he could, encouragement when needed and tips throughout.
“To the team, he just told us go get a win,” Braun said of Dotson’s words of encouragement after learning at Tuesday’s shoot-around that he would miss the game. “You know, every game in conference play, you just have to find a way to win.
“But, personally, he just told me if I needed any help, you know, at shoot-around with plays or if I was going to be handling the ball, which I didn’t have to because Marcus did such a good job, he just told me if I needed any help to let him know. So he helped us all out just with plays and little stuff that we take for granted because he always does it.”
Garrett had a little more communication with Dotson throughout the game, as he played 38 minutes, handling point guard duties for nearly all of those.
“He put confidence in us,” Garrett said of Dotson. He was just telling us before the game, ‘Just play our game. Just keep doing what we do and we can still win the game.’ On the court, he was coaching us, telling us what he was seeing on the bench. That helped out a lot.”
At halftime, the conversation between Dotson and Garrett turned more specific.
“He was basically telling me the reads off the pick and roll,” Garrett recalled.
That input no doubt helped the Jayhawks both execute and remain calm in Dotson’s absence on Tuesday night. And with no exact timeline known for his return, it should serve the Jayhawks well moving forward should Dotson have to miss any more time while his left hip heals.
“I have no idea. I have no idea,” Self said when asked if he knew when Dotson might be back on the court.
“Devon’s a tough kid,” Self said. “I mean, he's a tough kid, but I guess the pain and where it is and everything and any type of movement that requires any quick-twitch or change of direction or anything like that, he hurt. He was laboring quite a bit. So we were better off playing other guys at 100% than him at 50, probably.”
Self and the Jayhawks head to Texas this weekend for a 1 p.m. Saturday showdown with the Longhorns in Austin.
A source close to the Kansas basketball program told the Journal-World on Tuesday afternoon that KU point guard Devon Dotson will not play in tonight's 8 p.m. game at Oklahoma.
Kansas coach Bill Self said Monday that he thought Dotson would be fine for the game and that the hip pointer Dotson suffered in last Saturday's loss to Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse would not keep him out of KU's next game.
At that time, KU had not yet practiced following Saturday's loss, and had only run through film and a walk-through in preparation for the matchup with OU.
Senior guard Isaiah Moss is expected to slide into the starting lineup in Dotson's place, with junior Marcus Garrett and freshman Christian Braun likely handling the bulk of the point guard responsibilities against the Sooners.
KU and OU tip off at 8 p.m. from Lloyd Noble Center on ESPN.
For the second time this season, the status of an injured ankle belonging to Marcus Garrett was a hot topic heading into KU's next basketball game.
And for the second time this season, it does not appear that Garrett will miss any additional time.
"It's getting better," Garrett said Friday morning of the left ankle he rolled during Wednesday's win at Iowa State. "I'll be good for tomorrow."
Tomorrow, of course, brings the third-ranked Jayhawks' Top 5 showdown with No. 4 Baylor. And because of both the low-grade severity of the injury and the magnitude of KU's next game, Kansas coach Bill Self said he fully expected Garrett to play against Baylor when the Jayhawks and Bears tipoff at noon Saturday on CBS at Allen Fieldhouse.
Asked if he thought Garrett would be 100% for the Baylor game, Self was less sure.
"I don't know; I honestly don't," he said. "We didn't practice (Thursday). We just watched tape and (had a) walk-through. So, he didn't push it at all. But I can't imagine him not getting jacked up to play and adrenaline taking over."
That was not always the case. Garrett, who said he landed on a teammate's foot which caused the ankle to fold over in the win against the Cyclones, said he was initially much more worried about the severity of the injury.
"It felt more serious than what it really was," he said.
After missing roughly 8 minutes in the first half after being examined on the bench and back in the KU locker room, Garrett returned to the game late in the first half and then played the first 10 minutes of the second half. He moved well, running, jumping and cutting without issue and helped the Jayhawks cruise to their biggest win at Iowa State since 2003.
With around 10 minutes remaining and the game well in hand, Garrett asked out of the game and did not return.
"Yeah, it started doing some crazy stuff," he said Friday. "It started getting sore so I was just asking to come out."
As for how this latest injury — to the opposite ankle — compared to the ankle injury that kept him out of the second half of KU's loss to Villanova a few weeks ago, Garrett said the two were "very different."
"The feeling at Villanova was almost like I couldn't move," he said. "This game, it felt like that but once I started moving it loosened up."
Provided Self and Garrett are correct in their assessment of the junior guard's status for Saturday, expect to see KU's most experienced player and top defender in his usual spot in the starting lineup when the Bears and Jayhawks open play.
The standings show the Kansas Jayhawks at 1-0 in the Big 12 Conference race, with an early lead on five other Big 12 teams in the race to win this year’s Big 12 crown.
But that’s not quite the way KU coach Bill Self sees it.
The man who has made a career out of winning on other coaches’ home floors actually sees the Jayhawks sitting even after the first game of Big 12 play.
Let me explain, as Self did on Monday’s edition of “Hawk Talk” with Voice of the Jayhawks Brian Hanni.
The formula Self’s uses is simple. A home win is worth nothing and a home loss is worth negative-1. A road win is worth plus-1 and a road loss doesn’t hurt you.
So today, after knocking off West Virginia, 60-53 at Allen Fieldhouse last weekend, the Jayhawks are even because they won at home.
“To me, winning a home game is just breaking even,” Self said. “It’s not a bonus. It’s not anything. It’s just breaking even. If you lose a home game then it’s a big minus. And certainly winning a road game is a plus and losing a road game is breaking even at most places.”
The No. 3-ranked team in the country will have a chance to move to plus-1 in Self’s eyes on Wednesday night, when they take on Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, where they will look to get back to their winning ways away from home after a rough run in that department last season.
“(That’s) the best way to win a league,” Self said Monday night of winning on the road. “Our road record has been so good up until last year in league play. Just winning at home’s not enough. You’ve got to go .500 or better on the road.”
Had the Jayhawks done that a season ago, their NCAA-record streak of consecutive conference titles would be alive and well at 15 in a row.
“Instead we went 3-6,” Self reminded, making even a perfect 9-0 mark at home more or less irrelevant in the league race that Kansas lost by two games to Kansas State and Texas Tech.
“Home wins, (it’s) imperative that you get them,” Self said Monday. “But road wins are the ones that actually give you a chance to separate yourself. You’ve got to split on the road at worst, and then you’ve got to win them all at home. And if you don’t do that then you’ve got to steal one somewhere.”
Given the fact that the Jayhawks will be a road favorite on Wednesday night, winning in Ames would not be considered stealing one. But since KU still can go unbeaten at home this season, the Jayhawks are not quite in the position of needing to think about stealing anything yet.
Here’s a quick look at the Big 12 standings along with where each team sits according to Self’s system.
Baylor 1-0 – Even after home win vs. Texas
Kansas 1-0 – Even after home win vs. WVU
Oklahoma 1-0 – Even after home win vs. K-State
Texas Tech 1-0 – Even after home win vs. Oklahoma State
TCU – 1-0 – Even after home win vs. Iowa State
West Virginia 1-1 – Plus-1 after road loss at KU and road win at Oklahoma State
Texas 0-1 – Even after road loss at Baylor
Iowa State 0-1 – Even after road loss at TCU
Kansas State 0-1 – Even after road loss at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State 0-2 – Minus-1 after road loss at Texas Tech and home loss vs. WVU
So the only blood drawn in the race to date came from Monday’s road win by West Virginia at Oklahoma State. Every other team did what it was “supposed to do” and now we move onto Round 2.
No. 4 Baylor gets its chance to move into plus territory tonight with a road game at No. 22 Texas Tech.
And TCU will get the same chance in Manhattan against Kansas State.
It may be a bit early to start tracking this stuff, but wins away from home — and what Self often refers to as “holding serve” at home — are the way the Big 12 will be won.
Asked the annual question about what record he thought it might take to win the conference this time around, Self, at first, gave no answer and then settled in on a record that he seemed to think might do it.
“Oh, I have no idea,” he said. “I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it. I think you could probably give it another 10 days or two weeks (and) probably get a feel for that. But 14-4 (in Big 12 play) right now, to me, looks like a very, very good record.”