It's rare that one might pass on the opportunity to trade places with a member of the Kansas Jayhawks for a day.
It seems like a great life. If you're a Jayhawk, you've got big-time basketball talent. You're coached by one of the best in the game, you get to play at Allen Fieldhouse. You more than likely are having school paid for by way of a scholarship.
Well...maybe not this week. At least not according to Head Coach Bill Self, who sounded anything but victorious immediately following his team's 76-55 shellacking of Colorado State on Saturday night, at the Sprint Center in downtown Kansas City, Mo.
"We were awful," he said, bluntly. "Let that be your headlines. We didn't play very good. We, as a team, have gotten worse over the last two weeks. We've got to get a lot better and we need to start doing it through practice."
The game certainly didn't begin on a positive note. Lawrence, Kan. native Dorian Green - a sophomore standout at shooting guard for the Rams - cashed a deep three to open the scoring.
Less than three minutes later, with the Jayhawks owning a 6-5 lead, junior power forward Marcus Morris landed awkwardly after going up for a rebound, rolling his ankle and causing him to hobble off to the locker room for the majority of the first half.
Left without their primary scorer, the Kansas offense seemed flustered as they sought to find a way to adjust. Stretches of solid play defensively led to a handful of easy buckets in transition, and the Jayhawks managed to open up a 15-point lead late in the half, 33-18.
In his brother's absence, Markieff Morris shouldered the bulk of the load in the paint, leading the way with 9 points and five rebounds in the first half.
But the Rams refused to let Kansas put its foot on their throat. A jumper by center Andy Ogide set off a 16-8 run by Colorado State to close out the half, cutting the lead to seven points at intermission.
"Maybe guys were playing at such a high level early on (in the season) and they relaxed, I don't know," Self said. "That's our job to get it figured out. There's just no energy compared to where it was earlier. We've got 18,000 people here to watch us play and we came out flat."
Sophomore guard Elijah Johnson also went down briefly with an injury in the first half, a separated shoulder the Kansas training staff quickly popped back into place. Both Johnson and Morris returned to duty in the first half, and neither injury appeared to be serious.
"He just turned his ankle," Self later clarified, of Morris. "It was a pretty good sprain; it was great he came back. It doesn't hurt bad enough to miss practice. That's one good thing about him coming back, we know he can practice. He'll be out there."
Three minutes in to the second half it appeared to be more of the same, as Kansas struggled through turnovers and fouls and saw the lead dip to as low as five points, 44-39, shortly before the first media timeout.
Senior shooting guard Tyrel Reed noted after the game that everything the Jayhawks try to do starts with defense. That being the case, it should come as no surprise that they began to pull away during a lengthy stretch in which they dominated the defensive glass.
For the game, Kansas out-rebounded Colorado State 50-30, including 28-15 in the second half.
By the 10 minute mark, Self's squad had pushed their lead to 59-41, and the Rams were out of steam. They never threatened again, as Kansas cruised to the victory, 76-55.
Markieff Morris and Taylor led the Jayhawks in scoring with 12 apiece. Morris also posted a double-double, snagging 11 rebounds. Reed scored in double figures as well with 11 points.
Ogide led the Rams with 12 points, followed by Green and forward Travis Franklin with 10 each.
Now is when things get interesting for Kansas. Saturday's contest marked the ninth and final game of highly-touted freshman Josh Selby's suspension, passed down by the NCAA last month.
A week of practice – grueling practice, if Self is to be believed – and final exams await the Jayhawks, before Selby takes the court for the first time next Saturday, Dec. 18 versus Pac-10 foe Southern California.
Like everyone else, Self is interested to see how quickly the freshman guard can adjust to the pace of the college game - and how quickly the team can adjust to his presence.
"Now you've got a little bit different element, in that (Selby is) going to add a lot of energy and juice, but also the other people have to welcome that energy and juice," Self explained. "So if we handle it right I think it will be a great asset to us."