Warning sirens going off in Lawrence

By Steve Sell
January 04, 2018

There was an alleged rumor the sun didn’t come up in the east on Wednesday in Lawrence.

Darkness cast a pall over Kansas basketball fans throughout the day as they tried to make sense out of the second double-digit loss at home this season, this one to a Texas Tech team that had never won at The Phog.

KU has very seldom lost at home during Bill Self’s tenure. The Arizona State loss last month rattled the windows, but the stunner against Texas Tech shook Jayhawk Nation to its foundation.

KU never once led in the game, that in itself a remarkable fact. That Texas Tech was up comfortably throughout the game and that the Jayhawks never went on one of their patented runs made this a night of head scratching and heart checking.

KU got out-toughed on the boards as the Red Raiders threw them around like rag dolls on the offensive glass. And it’s not like they have a lot of size, as they pretty much played four guards throughout just like the Jayhawks.

It’s been a long time since Kansas players and fans have had to do so much soul searching. It doesn’t get any easier on Saturday when KU goes on the road to play TCU, which is coming off a 3-point win over Baylor and has just one loss, a game it let get away against Oklahoma. If there’s a positive, the road team is 8-2 so far in Big 12 play, a stunning stat.

Kansas was coming off an incredible 3-point shooting display at Texas, but clanked it at a 6-of-26 clip on Tuesday, 0 of 12 in the second half. McPherson High coach Kurt Kinnamon, a devout Jayhawk follower by the way, often says after his games that even when his team shoots it well from beyond the arc, 3-point shooting can be “fools gold.” And with virtually no inside game other than Udoka Azubuike, the Jayhawks are relying more and more on 3-pointers than any teams Self has coached.

The Big 12 has a chance to be fascinating this season. Three teams are 2-0 so far, but two of them meet on Saturday as Oklahoma travels to West Virginia. The Sooners are No. 7 in the country and the Mountaineers are No. 6 and I can’t wait to see how WVA’s Jevon Carter accepts the challenge of trying to slow down OU’s freshman phenom Trae Young, who is the best player in college basketball. Hard to believe the so-called recruiting “experts” had him ranked the No. 23 freshman in the country as he has flashed to the head of the class with his Steph Curry-like play.

Texas Tech is the only other undefeated team and it hosts Kansas State. Maybe the Red Raiders are for real as they have climbed to No. 18 in the country and certainly will go up a few spots if they complete the Sunflower Sweep.

I’ve maintained all season in this column that KU never has been more vulnerable. I know it’s been said the last couple of years that its conference title streak was going to end, but it didn’t. This year, however, the Jayhawks do appear ripe for the taking and the rest of the Big 12 is there with a hungry appetite.