After his team was never even competitive against Kansas on Jan. 16, Texas Tech coach Pat Knight called the Jayhawks "special" and was relieved the Red Raiders wouldn't draw a rematch, at least not during regular-season play.
When told of the assessment, Kansas coach Bill Self held off before authorizing the label. Even though the Jayhawks improved to 15-1, they're not a special team yet, at least not by the standards that have made Kansas an elite program nationally.
Self even recalled the 2008 national championship team and compared one intangible.
"That team enjoyed making other people look bad and this team doesn't really treasure that," Self said. "But we're a lot younger, too."
In spite of the 15-1 record, questions abound, even among veterans.
Such as, why can't senior point guard Sherron Collins, a street-tough player if there ever was one, influence this team to go for the throat? Or why isn't junior center Cole Aldrich playing more aggressively and getting off the ground the way he once did? Or why is sophomore guard Tyshawn Taylor confused about his role at the outset of conference play?
But then, that's the way it is sometimes with Kansas. The team is overanalyzed to the point the 89-63 drubbing of Texas Tech raised questions, simply because the Jayhawks failed to expand much on a 24-point halftime lead, causing Self to question their killer instinct.
Despite all the issues, Kansas has the ingredients to be a special team. For some of the overmatched clubs in the Big 12, like Texas Tech, the Jayhawks are already at that point.
--By holding Texas Tech to 32.8 percent shooting, including 20 percent in the first half, Kansas limited an opponent to worse than 40 percent for the 13th time in 17 games. The 89-63 romp marked the 10th win by a margin of 25 or more points.
--Kansas dominated the glass against Texas Tech, gaining a 48-37 advantage. That included 19 offensive rebounds the Jayhawks converted into 20 second-chance points while also netting 34 points in the paint.
ON THE SPOT: Chemistry remains an issue for Kansas after G Tyshawn Taylor expressed uncertainty regarding his role on the squad prior to the Big 12 opener at Nebraska. Taylor remained in the starting lineup, but he's being pushed by G Brady Morningstar, a starter last season who was suspended for the first semester but immediately gave the Jayhawks a lift with his defensive presence and his court savvy.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We traded baskets (against Texas Tech) and that sickens me from a competitive standpoint. We forced 14 turnovers in the first half and only two in the second half. It was a bad defensive performance (in the second half), but still we played well enough to win." -- Kansas coach Bill Self.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
SEASON RECAP: A loss at Tennessee to close nonconference play was something Kansas coach Bill Self said he began anticipating weeks earlier and pointed to weaknesses with execution on both ends of the court. While the defeat gave the Jayhawks a primer on what to work on, they didn't cure all their ills immediately with flaws still exposed in wins against Nebraska and Texas Tech to open Big 12 play.
PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Marcus Morris, C Cole Aldrich, G Xavier Henry, G Tyshawn Taylor, G Sherron Collins. Key Subs -- G Brady Morningstar, F Markieff Morris, G Tyrel Reed, F Thomas Robinson.
Tennessee 76, Kansas 68
Kansas 84, Nebraska 72
Kansas 89, Texas Tech 63
vs. Baylor, Wednesday, Jan. 20
at Iowa State, Saturday, Jan. 23
vs. Missouri, Monday, Jan. 25
at Kansas State, Saturday, Jan. 30
at Colorado, Wednesday, Feb. 3
IN FOCUS: Baylor is usually a weaker team on the road, though the Bears will present challenges with 3-point threats LaceDarius Dunn and Tweety Carter, and a dominant inside presence, C Ekpe Udoh, who will provide a tough matchup for Kansas C Cole Aldrich. Defensively, Baylor zones opponents almost exclusively, which will be another different look. The visit to Iowa State is a game Kansas should win, though the Cyclones can cause problems at various spots offensively with F Craig Brackins, F Marquis Gilstrap and G Lucca Staiger.
--G Sherron Collins had led Kansas in scoring in three straight games before he was held to nine points on 3-for-10 shooting against Texas Tech. Over the previous three games he totaled 77 points on 46.8 percent shooting, with 13 assists.
--F Marcus Morris regained his inside touch against Nebraska and Texas Tech, totaling 39 points in the two games. By going 7-for-10 with a team-high 20 points against Tech, Morris shot at least 50 percent for the eighth time in 10 games.
--G Brady Morningstar has 26 assists against eight turnovers since returning on Dec. 22 from a first-semester suspension. Three turnovers against Tech marked just the second time Morningstar committed more than one turnover.