Mission Not (Yet) Accomplished

The Jayhawks look to rebound (in more ways than one) from Saturday's loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Toughness, toughness, toughness is the order of the day as Kansas State looks to ruin Senior Day for Sherron Collins. More, inside...

   Maybe conducting a trophy presentation for the Big 12 championship after claiming just a share of the title was an omen.
   Whatever the case, Kansas came out flat in its next game and was never in it at Oklahoma State. The hot-shooting Cowboys combined clutch 3-point shooting with a 12-for-12 performance from two front-liners to hand the No. 1 Jayhawks their first conference defeat.
   The 85-77 outcome dropped Kansas to 27-2 overall and 13-1 in the Big 12. No, it has still not claimed the conference title outright entering the final week of the season, which includes a visit from red-hot Kansas State and a trip to Missouri.
   Suddenly, there's some intrigue to a season in which Kansas dominated the Big 12, despite the conference's No. 1 RPI and universal agreement from observers that this is the best collective brand of basketball in the league's brief history.
   "I didn't have the team ready," conceded senior guard Sherron Collins, whose 22 points didn't come close to offsetting Oklahoma State's hot touch. "I'm the captain. I'm the senior. I should have had us ready to play. It's my full responsibility when the team goes down."
   That might be stretching it a little. Everyone must take some ownership, including Bill Self, who slipped to 1-3 as KU coach in road games against his alma mater.
   What Self offered in his postgame remarks was a warning as the Jayhawks look ahead to the NCAA Tournament, where they're still a prohibitive favorite for a No. 1 seed.
   "Our toughness level was poor," Self said. "That can't happen in the tournament in a one-and-done deal. Hopefully we can learn and understand. We weren't ready to defend."
   --The 60.4 percent shooting by Oklahoma State in its 85-77 upset of Kansas on Feb. 27 was the best marksmanship in 20 years against the Jayhawks. The last time an opponent was hotter from the floor was in 1990, when Oklahoma shot 62.7 percent while beating Kansas in the second round of the Big Eight Tournament.
   ON THE SPOT: If a message was sent to a certain player during the loss at Oklahoma State, it was C Cole Aldrich. The junior logged just eight minutes in the second half and was limited to 11 points and five rebounds. Neither his presence, nor that of any of the other Kansas front-liners, prevented the Oklahoma State inside tandem of F Matt Pilgrim and F Marshall Moses from going 12-for-12 collectively for 26 points.
   QUOTE TO NOTE: "I am believing we can get something out of (the OSU loss). I don't think the thing is broken. I do think we need to evaluate our things. We need to take great pride in the things that help us win, especially this time of year." -- Kansas coach Bill Self.

   SEASON RECAP: It could be the loss at Oklahoma State was a sign of fate for Kansas. The last time the Jayhawks visited Stillwater, in 2008, they suffered a one-point defeat. Then they went on to win out, capturing the NCAA title. The defeat also meant that the only team to ever go undefeated in Big 12 play remains the 2001-02 Jayhawks squad coached by Roy Williams.
   PLAYER ROTATION: Usual Starters -- F Marcus Morris, C Cole Aldrich, G Xavier Henry, G Tyshawn Taylor, G Sherron Collins. Key Subs -- F Markieff Morris, G Brady Morningstar, G Tyrel Reed.
   Kansas 94, Colorado 74.
   Kansas 81, Oklahoma 68.
   Oklahoma State 85, Kansas 77.
   vs. Kansas State, March 3.
   at Missouri, March 6.
   at Big 12 Tournament, March 10-13.
   IN FOCUS: Kansas State enters with a six-game road winning streak and seven-game winning streak overall, which it launched after an overtime loss against Kansas on Jan. 30. Containing the Kansas State guards, which happened in the first meeting when Jacob Pullen and Denis Clemente combined to go 5-for-16, is important. The Jayhawks claimed a 19-point win at home against Missouri in the first meeting.
   --G Sherron Collins led Kansas with 22 points at Oklahoma State, but also committed a season-high six turnovers. Collins climbed to seventh on KU's all-time scoring list with 1,774 points.
   --G Xavier Henry, who rates anywhere between No. 9 and No. 16 on various NBA mock draft sites, moved to fourth on Kansas' all-time freshman scoring chart. He has 406 points. He led the Jayhawks in scoring in four straight games before following Collins with 17 points at Oklahoma State.
   --C Cole Aldrich played just 24 minutes at Oklahoma State, but was the only Kansas starter to shoot better than 50 percent, going 5-for-9. The 11-point outing marked the 20th time this season Aldrich netted double figures.

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