Oklahoma State alum Bill Self has a 13-7 record against his alma mater as head coach at Kansas. But Self’s record is just 3-5 at Gallagher-Iba Arena, including four losses as a top-10 ranked team in the Jayhawks’ last six trips to Stillwater.
The Travis Ford-led Cowboys have knocked off the Jayhawks when they’ve traveled to Stillwater as the nation’s No. 1-ranked team (85-77 in 2010), and also when KU was No. 4 (61-60, 2008), No. 5 (72-65, 2014), and last season 67-62 when the Jayhawks were ranked eighth.
OSU is the only team to beat KU each of the last three seasons, and the Cowboys will be going for their third consecutive victory inside GIA over the third-ranked Jayhawks on Tuesday night inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tip-off in the nationally televised game (ESPN2) is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“Obviously, we have a lot of respect for Kansas,” said Cowboys head coach Travis Ford. “I think this is one on the best teams [Self] had in a long time, and that says a lot. He’s got a great combination of veteran players, their top three or four scorers are guys who have been in the program for a couple of years or more, and then he’s got freshmen who are really coming on. Bill always does a great job of developing guys this time of year.
“I think this is one of the most dangerous teams that Kansas has had in a long time. That says a lot because they’re always the best in our league, so we have a tremendous amount of respect for them and understand the challenge in front of us.
“I haven’t seen too many teams that are better than them,” Ford added.
The Jayhawks and Self are 15-2 overall and 4-1 in Big 12 play, while the Cowboys are 9-8 overall and 1-4 in the conference.
While the Cowboys have had their share of success against KU in recent seasons – OSU and Iowa State are the only teams in the nation that can claim four wins over the Jayhawks since 2008-09 – only senior Jeff Newberry played extensively in the 67-62 victory over Self’s team on Feb. 7, 2015. He finished with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 assists. Current Cowboys Mitchell Solomon, Jeffrey Carroll, Leyton Hammonds, Tyree Griffin and Tavarius Shine also played sparingly.
The Cowboys enter the game averaging 70.1 points per game, which ranks 244th in the nation. KU is scoring 85.8 points (sixth best in the nation) and despite having frontline that includes Perry Ellis (6-8), Hunter Mickelson (6-10), Landen Lucas (6-10), Jamari Traylor (6-8), Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (6-8) and freshman Cheick Diallo (6-9), the Jayhawks have one of the nation’s best three-point shooting teams. The Jayhawks make an nearly 9 three-pointers a game and their 44.9 percent shooting from beyond the arc is second-best in the nation.
Ford knows his team is going to have to play its best game of the season, and find some ways to defend the Jayhawks.
“Right now, it doesn’t matter who we’re playing we’d better play at an extremely high level individually, which in term makes a collective group,” said Ford, who is 4-9 all-time against KU. “We need every individual playing to the highest ability they have in their body, which in turn makes us a better team.
“Our attitude needs to be the same every game, it really does. It doesn’t need to waiver. We need to understand who we are and play to our identity, and play with that mindset. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is.”