Tough to take

For 36 minutes and change Saturday night, Kansas went into the hostile arena of a vaunted rival and did what it needed to do in order to walk out with a win. Then inexplicably after a Tyshawn Taylor baseline dunk with 3:26 left, the Jayhawks let it go - prompting everyone to ponder what went wrong.

"Everything, everything," Head Coach Bill Self repeated when the question was posed.

Self classified the final three minutes when KU was outscored 11-0 as "disappointing."

It was tough to hide the frustration of having the game in their grasp and watching it disappear. Thomas Robinson was playing like the player of the year candidate he is scoring nearly at will (29 points on 11-17 FG, and 13 rebounds) KU was playing from the outside in and was shooting over 50 percent from the floor on the road.

That's why for 34 minutes of this one (minus last 3 minutes of the first half, last 3 of the second half) Self felt KU played as well as it can making it a bitter pill to swallow.

"We blew the game," Thomas Robinson solemnly said. "Give them credit for making shots but we blew the game.

"We did it to ourselves," said center Jeff Withey who failed to score a point. "It's a rough loss. It stinks. We had the win. We just let it go."

"I don't think it was fatigue but it could've been, but we obviously made some really bad plays late. Really bad plays that just put them in position to win the game," said Self citing the turnovers and the discrepancy at the free throw line (KU 5-9, MU 14-20). "They still gotta make shots."

Whatever could go wrong with an 8-point lead with less than three minutes left, did. Fingers will again point at senior guard Tyshawn Taylor. Taylor scored 21 points and kept KU in the game during its rough patch in the first half. Most people will only look and analyze what Ty did the last 3 minutes of the game which was pick up a charge, turn it over, and miss a couple of free throws.

"You guys are really good at analyzing a lot of things about his game. I do the same thing so i can't be mad at you. He's damn good. He is damn good," Self repeated for emphasis, "and he played so well the first half and kept us in the game. Second half he just didn't make good decisions on the road down the stretch. I'll put the ball in his hands any day."

Self adamantly stood by his point guard and KU fans should too. He has been playing terrific basketball and even though it didn't go his way down the stretch he has been playing basketball at a super high level and is a big part of why KU is a top 10 team.

Other fingers will point at the officiating. The charging call against Robinson which looked to be a dicey call appeared to shift the momentum in this one. But you have to expect bad calls in games on the road. It's part of the deal.

"I was told i don't want to see the tape by a couple of people that watched it and were unbiased they certainly weren't Kansas people but that goes with the territory it didn't come down to one call. We had the ball up 6 under three," said Self.

For Missouri, they have a lot of weapons and Frank Haith has done a great job utilizing his talented lineup. KU succeeded at keeping Missouri out of the paint for the most part, and played terrific transition D, but the Tigers hurt KU from outside the arc. During the most critical stretch of the game Missouri made plays and most of them came from deep - and came from Marcus Denmon.

Denmon had been mired in a shooting slump but you could see early in this one he was confident and determined. It started with his first shot of the game - a three-pointer defended perfectly by KU - and he nailed a 30-footer. Denmon finished with 29 points including 6-9 from three. 9 of his points came during Mizzou's final push.

"They had a guy that was unbelievable tonight played his tail off and made shots," Self said referencing Denmon.

"I don't think we did a good job on him by any stretch, but I mean he made two threes where his body was turned sideways i mean those are big time shots. He made some plays out there that really were defended pretty well."

For KU there is little time to mope. In the Bill Self era KU has been excellent in not letting one loss turn into two. The Jayhawks head to Waco for a return match against Baylor Wednesday and KU can ill-afford to drop another road contest if it wants to stay atop the Big 12 standings. The loss stings but Self feels good about this group.

"I'm leaving out of here disappointed about the loss but I'm leaving here knowing we've got a good team," said Self. "Tonight was our game to win and we just didn't get it done. They made all the plays late and certainly deserve credit for making those plays..They were big time plays."

"It's obviously not good with the conference situation the race and all those things but still though we've been in this situation before. I think one thing that should give us a little bit of confidence is knowing that when we play a certain way - play inside out and do some things that we're pretty good."


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