Bill Self thinks the Kansas Jayhawks haven’t hit their stride yet. He is right, but only within certain parameters.
The Jayhawks did beat Tennessee and Michigan State in non-conference play, but those Jayhawks bear very little resemblance to this group, which has been tossed about and battered by injuries, suspensions, a player departure for personal reasons, and then had multiple players foul out of Monday night’s game at TCU. In that fight with the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Kansas blew a nine-point lead with 4:45 left in regulation and then fell behind by four points with two minutes to go.
The end of “The Streak” — Kansas’s remarkable 14-year hold on the Big 12 regular-season title — had never become more proximate or possible than in this very moment.
In that moment — with lineup combinations no Kansas fan could have imagined a mere two weeks ago, let alone two months ago — the Jayhawks rescued the game and their season.
K.J. Lawson — not brother Dedric — scored the tying basket to force overtime, and Davon Dotson poured in the decisive free throws late in overtime to give Kansas an 82-77 win which kept “The Streak” alive as a legitimate possibility. Falling three games behind Kansas State in the loss column — which would have happened with a KU loss — would have essentially ended one of college basketball’s most historic runs of uninterrupted dominance.
This team might not be where Bill Self wants it to be, but it did what the moment demanded against TCU — albeit barely.
“We’re not as good visually as what other teams we’ve had are. We made the game a lot harder on ourselves than what it is,” Self said. “That doesn’t mean we don’t have a good team… We haven’t hit our stride yet.”
“That’s the best locker room we’ve had all year by far,” Self said. “That was a game in which we played really well for the most part, then we screwed it up, then somehow or another were able to pull it back. We were fortunate that it went overtime after we screwed it up, and then we played really well in OT.”
The Jayhawks played well enough, as it turns out, to stay in the Big 12 title chase and put pressure on Kansas State to hold serve.
[bctt tweet=”The Jayhawks played well enough, as it turns out, to stay in the Big 12 title chase and put pressure on Kansas State to hold serve.” username=”CBBToday”]
The bottom line is this, and anyone who follows Big 12 basketball will not disagree with this statement: If Kansas State is to fend off Kansas for the title, it better lead by two games in the standings when the Wildcats go to Phog Allen Fieldhouse. If KSU leads Kansas by only one game when that rematch arrives in The Phog, a KU shared title — the continuation of “The Streak” — becomes a much stronger possibility.
Monday night’s win against TCU enabled the Jayhawks to keep that possibility alive.
Imagine what could happen if they hit their stride.
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