Kansas has wrapped up the
outright Big 12 title and has an emotional Senior Night behind it, but
the Jayhawks can't quite cruise into the league's postseason tournament.
There is one game left in the regular season,
against a Missouri team that is 22-8 overall, 10-5 in the Big 12, and
forces nearly 20 turnovers per game. The Jayhawks easily won the first
meeting, 84-65, but they did commit 23 turnovers against all that
"It's Missouri, and we haven't won over there the
last couple of years," Kansas coach Bill Self said after Wednesday's
win over Kansas State. "We have the No. 1 seed locked up, we have the
trophy locked up, we have a three-game lead going into Saturday's game.
But forget the records, we're playing Missouri, and that's enough said.
We'll celebrate this win tonight, but we'll have their full attention
by tomorrow afternoon."
In any case, Kansas (28-2, 14-1) can't afford a
hangover from Wednesday night's key victory over the fifth-ranked
Wildcats. It was the final home game for Kansas' only senior, star
guard Sherron Collins, and, almost certainly, junior center Cole Aldrich.
Those two helped Kansas go undefeated at home in
the past three seasons and extend the Jayhawks' nation-best home
winning streak to 59 games.
"It was a very emotional day," Collins said after
the victory. "I was trying not to get too caught up in it, but it was
hard not to. I kept remembering it was my last game. All of my
teammates kept reminding me. It was wonderful."
KANSAS 82, KANSAS STATE 65: The Jayhawks took down
the second-place team in the Big 12 to win their sixth consecutive Big
12 title. Freshman guard Xavier Henry led the way with 19 points for
Kansas, which needed a couple of big runs in the second half to
dispatch the Wildcats.
Kansas State tied the game at 45 with seven
consecutive points to begin the second half, but the Jayhawks came back
with a 12-2 run. Later, with Kansas leading 59-55, the Jayhawks went on
a 16-2 spurt to take control.
--Maybe conducting a trophy presentation for the
Big 12 championship after claiming just a share of the title was an
Whatever the case, Kansas came out flat in its
next game and was never in it at Oklahoma State, falling 85-77. 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.
"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
What coach Bill 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: In the first meeting against
Missouri, Kansas had a staggering 56-28 edge on the boards, which
contributed greatly to the lopsided victory for the Jayhawks. If C Cole
Aldrich repeats his effort against the Tigers -- 12 points, 16 rebounds
-- Kansas will have a great chance of dominating inside, silencing the
home crowd and making the atmosphere a little less frenetic on Saturday.
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.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
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
Kansas 82, Kansas State 65
at Missouri, Saturday, March 6
at Big 12 tournament, March 10-13
IN FOCUS: 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.
--Senior G Sherron Collins might have gotten
caught up in the all the emotions of Senior Night as he missed eight of
nine shots in the first half against Kansas State before recovering his
shot and finishing with 17 points. "In the beginning I was really
jittery," he said. "I was a little too anxious and wasn't playing well.
I was shooting quick shots and guarded shots, but the coaches kept
telling me to relax and play the game. I just had to take a couple of
deep breaths. I had a little pep talk with myself at halftime, and
everybody else was so confident."
--Freshman G Xavier Henry had a team-high 19
points against Kansas State, leading the Jayhawks in scoring for the
fifth time in six games. He has scored at least 15 points in seven
--Junior C Cole Aldrich had a fairly quiet night
against Kansas State -- nine points, four rebounds and three blocks --
but he did reach more milestones. His 109 blocks are tied for second on
the school's single-season list, and he has 800 rebounds in his career,
the 12th Kansas player to hit that level.
On To Mizzou
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