Big 12 Power Rankings: Iowa State Takes Our Top Spot

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 6th, 2014

We took the week of New Year’s off for our Big 12 power rankings and all of us learned a lot about ourselves and the world. We’ve found that there are too many networks airing the Tournament of Roses Parade, Mark Dantonio and Rich Homie Quan are becoming best friends, and the top seven in the Big 12 basketball race will shuffle a lot between now and Selection Sunday. The four of us were all in agreement with Iowa State as the best team in the league right now and teams ranked #8-#10. Agree or disagree with us? Let us know in the comments.

1. Iowa State — 4 points (previous: 3rd)

Comment: “The Cyclones just keep on rolling. I still worry about their inability to force turnovers, but they have the fewest questions of any team among the Big 12 contenders right now.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)

Fred Hoiberg still has alma mater undefeated entering league play. (Ames Tribune)

Fred Hoiberg still has alma mater undefeated entering league play. (Ames Tribune)

2. Baylor — 10 points (previous: 4th)

Comment: “Kenny Chery might be the most underrated and efficient player in the Big 12. A point guard shooting 50.5 percent from the floor is rarely heard of at the college or pro level. He also averages more assists (5.2 APG vs 4.0) and fewer turnovers (2.1 TOPG vs 2.9) than Marcus Smart. What a find for Scott Drew.” – Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso)

3. Kansas — 12 points (previous: 2nd)

Comment: “I’m resisting the urge to really hammer Kansas for its loss on Sunday to San Diego State. The schedule has been far too difficult for this young team. Unfortunately, it doesn’t get much easier to start the Big 12. This team needs confidence, badly.” – Taylor Erickson (@tc_erickson)

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Big 12 M5: 01.06.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 6th, 2014

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  1. Is it time to hit the panic button in Lawrence? San Diego State walked into Allen Fieldhouse on Sunday and beat Kansas, 71-67, ending the Jayhawks’ 68-game home winning streak against non-conference opponents. The Aztecs committed five more turnovers, blocked five fewer shots, had five fewer assists, and took 10 fewer free throw attempts than Bill Self’s team, and still somehow managed to get the huge win. It doesn’t get any easier for Kansas, though, as their first five Big 12 games over the next couple of weeks come against Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Baylor.
  2. Speaking of panic buttons, Oklahoma State opened up Big 12 competition with a loss to still-streaking Kansas State. CollegeBasketballTalk cites Michael Cobbins’ season-ending injury as a key reason for the loss. Although Kansas State only outrebounded the Cowboys by one board, Cobbins’ presence would have been helpful against Thomas Gipson, who went for six of his 11 points in the final five minutes of the game. It’ll be something to continue to monitor as Travis Ford’s team deals with strong frontcourts at Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State midway through conference play.
  3. Oklahoma got its best win of the season on Saturday, rallying to beat arch-rival Texas, 88-85. The game could have ended differently for the Sooners, as Isaiah Cousins received two technical fouls that resulted in an ejection after elbowing Texas guard Demarcus Holland late in the game. In the first half, Cousins and Texas guard Isaiah Taylor were hit with technical fouls for jawing at each other. Fortunately, Jordan Woodard stepped up to score the Sooners’ final 10 points, sealing the win with two free throws at the 1:08 mark. Up next, Kansas invades the Lloyd Noble Center on Wednesday night.
  4. Another day and another win for unbeaten Iowa State. The Cyclones got out in front of Texas Tech by 15 before the Red Raiders mounted a comeback to tie the game with 12:33 in the second half. Enter the Cyclones’ Monte Morris. He checked in seconds later and finished the half with five points, one steal and a blocked shot in the 73-62 victory. I guess we can add Morris to the arsenal of Fred Hoiberg’s many weapons at his disposal.
  5. West Virginia basketball fans will remember Saturday’s win against TCU as its own version of “The Flu Game.” (Eh, maybe not). In addition to the Horned Frogs’ front line, Eron Harris battled the flu all week and still dropped 22 in WVU’s 74-69 win in Fort Worth. “I was sick all week—sick out of my mind,” Harris told MetroNews. “It was the flu. I just couldn’t go (during the week of practices), but I felt better waking up today (Saturday).” First there was Michael Jordan and now… Eron Harris. That’s a fair comparison in my book.
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Big 12 Power Rankings: Kansas State’s Going Streaking

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 24th, 2013

It feels like an eternity ago since Kansas State stumbled out of the gates. They’ve since dealt with injuries — most notably to Thomas Gipson — as the Wildcats got off to a 2-3 start. Soon, Gipson returned to form and with some help from freshman Marcus Foster, the Wildcats have now won six in a row including wins over Ole Miss and Gonzaga. K-State placed seventh in our power rankings last week.  Where does Bruce Weber’s team stand a week later?

Someone has just entered the conversation for Big 12 Coach of the Year again...and it's Bruce Weber. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

Someone has just entered the conversation for Big 12 Coach of the Year again: Bruce Weber. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

1. Oklahoma State (11-1, 5 points). Comment: “While I think Kansas will ultimately be the better team in the end, the Cowboys are still the better team right now. The combination of Marcus Smart and Markel Brown is as difficult of a backcourt as you’ll see in the nation. ” – Taylor Erickson (@tc_erickson)

2. Kansas (8-3, 9 points). Comment: “Huzzah to the mainstream media for steering clear of the ‘no place like home’ headline bait provided by the Jayhawks’ whipping of Georgetown in the first game played at Allen Fieldhouse in nearly a month.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)

3. Iowa State (10-0, 12 points). Comment: “Every time the Cyclones score 90 points in a game, an angel gets its wings. Probably.” – Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso)

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Big 12 M5: 12.23.2013 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 23rd, 2013

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  1. The rapid maturation of Kansas center Joel Embiid was on display once again in the Jayhawks’ big win over Georgetown on Saturday. Embiid scored 17 points on just four shots, harassing the Hoyas into foul trouble throughout the game. Without injecting his draft stock into the conversation, it remains downright scary where Embiid could be come March if he continues to develop at the current rate.
  2. Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford acknowledges how good his team already is, but like any coach in the country right now, he knows that there’s plenty of room for improvement. The Cowboys have continued to roll along and still figure to contend for the Big 12 crown, but unlike Kansas, Iowa State and even Baylor, Oklahoma State hasn’t grabbed many national headlines away from their home court. That’s not always a bad thing, though, as pressure to perform can derail a lot of teams.
  3. West Virginia has had plenty of chances to make a positive statement this season, but while they were never expected to live in the upper echelon of the Big 12, their season so far has been a complete dud. Sunday’s home loss to Purdue just put the Mountaineers under more pressure to overachieve once conference play gears up, and Bob Huggins won’t argue that his team still has plenty of work to do.
  4. A concerted effort to be more aggressive on the glass has been big for Kansas State after a rough start to their season, and it paid dividends once again in the Wildcats’ big weekend win over Gonzaga. Bruce Weber’s team collected at least 71 percent of available defensive rebounds for the third straight time on Saturday, and with a limited scoring arsenal at their disposal, preventing second-chance buckets will be one of the keys if the Wildcats are to win an uphill battle towards an at-large bid.
  5. TCU point guard Kyan Anderson was crucial as he helped dig his team out of a double-figure deficit against Tulsa over the weekend. Oddly, of the Horned Frogs’ seven wins against D-I opponents this season, two of them have come over the Golden Hurricane, which plays in a different conference. TCU is unlikely to find many Tulsas lying around the Big 12 this season, however, so it’s a good thing they were able to get those two wins.
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Big 12 Power Rankings: A Lot More Than Kansas and Oklahoma State

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 19th, 2013

Five weeks.

That’s the amount of time we as a microsite have had to regret our preseason projected Big 12 standings. Like most everyone else, we pegged the league as a two-headed horse race between Kansas and Oklahoma State but with the Jayhawks’ recent struggles and the Cowboys looking good but not great, two more teams have emerged as viable contenders. Baylor and Iowa State have compiled early resumes on par with the preseason leaders and our first batch of power rankings reflect, perhaps, the deepest league in college basketball. Plus, four-headed horses are prettier to look at anyway.

Texas scored a huge road win over North Carolina on Wednesday night. (photo via USA Today Sports)

Texas scored a huge road win over North Carolina on Wednesday night. (photo via USA Today Sports)

1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 5 points)

Comment: “The Cowboys are 10-1 and their only loss, which came against #21 Memphis, doesn’t look as bad after the Tigers nearly knocked off Florida earlier this week.” – Kory Carpenter (@Kory_Carpenter)

T-2. Iowa State (8-0, 7 points)

Comment: “This year’s Cyclones are more than just a bunch of three-point shooters. Their fast pace, efficient offense and the fact that any of about seven different guys can emerge on any given night makes Iowa State one of the most entertaining watches in college hoops — unless you’re an opposing coach.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)

T-2. Kansas (7-3, 7 points)

Comment: “Yes, the Jayhawks have three losses. But they have faced one of the toughest schedules in the country and have impressive wins over Duke and New Mexico.” – KC

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Big 12 M5: 12.19.13 Edition

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 19th, 2013

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  1. The headline says it all here in a story from Ken Corbitt of the Topeka Capital-Journal. Kansas State could make a statement with a win over #21 Gonzaga Saturday in Wichita. The Wildcats are 7-3 and beat Ole Miss at home earlier in the season, but they don’t look like an NCAA Tournament team right now and Shane Southwell is right. He called the game against Gonzaga a chance at a “tournament resume win,” and with a tough Big 12 schedule ahead, the Wildcats need all the help they can get.
  2. Not unlike dozens of other academic cases each season, West Virginia forward Jonathan Holton is waiting in limbo to see if he will be cleared to play this season. Head coach Bob Huggins originally said Holton would redshirt if the matter wasn’t resolved in a timely fashion, but Allan Taylor of West Virginia Metro News reported that Huggins is leaving the door open for Holton to play this season. Holton averaged 17.5 PPG and 14.1 RPG at junior college last season, so his promise is significant.
  3. Bill Self believes Memphis transfer and senior forward Tarik Black will break out of his funk soon after averaging a measly 2.8 PPG and 2.4 MPG so far this season. He began the year in the Jayhawks’ starting lineup but eventually lost the job to rising star Joel Embiid. Black can, however, become a valuable third big man if he improves over the next few months, and we’re not one to typically question Self on his prognostications about talent development.
  4. Oklahoma State led lowly Delaware State 30-16 at halftime Tuesday night, thanks to Delaware State’s strategy to hold the ball as long as possible to limit possessions. It worked for 20 minutes, but the Cowboys turned things up in the second half and eventually won, 75-43. Travis Ford’s halftime message, as told to John Helsley of the Oklahoman: “Guys, I don’t have a problem with your effort, but you’re not playing the way we’re capable of playing.” Thirty points against Delaware State at halftime? Talk about an understatement. 
  5. You’ve probably seen this clip by now, but it’s worth posting for the few readers who haven’t yet caught. It’s Southern Illinois head coach and former Kansas staffer Barry Hinson unloading on his team after another disappointing loss Tuesday. There are too many great phrases here to pick just one for you. Hinson spent nine seasons as the head coach at Missouri State before working as the Director of Basketball Operations at Kansas from 2010-12.
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Big 12 M5: 12.18.13 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on December 18th, 2013

morning5_big12
  1. If anyone knows what North Carolina head coach Roy Williams is going through with respect to the suspensions of Leslie McDonald and P.J. Hairston, it is Texas head coach Rick Barnes. Last season, Texas guard Myck Kabongo was held out for the first 23 games of the season for a violation of NCAA rules, but it wasn’t until December 21 until Barnes even knew if Kabongo would play at all. This season, Williams and North Carolina sit in a similar state of semi-permanent limbo waiting for rulings on McDonald and Hairston. What exactly is the NCAA waiting on?
  2. Bill Self called his team’s passing so far this season “awful,” and he isn’t wrong. The Jayhawks have trouble in that department but thinks they are getting better as time goes on. “We’ve always played inside-out. I think we’ve been less effective doing that this year,” he told Jesse Newell of the Topeka Capital-Journal. Perhaps most frustrating for Self is that he has two guys — Naadir Tharpe and Wayne Selden — who can make as sweet of passes as you’ll see any player in the country make, but they’ll turn around and fail to make a simple post entry pass on the next play. Frustrating, indeed.
  3. Oklahoma is 10-1 this season and senior forward Tyler Neal has been one of the reasons for the Sooners’ early success. At 6’7”, Neal has played all over the court this season, wherever head coach Lon Kruger needs him. “I’ve always kind of had that thought process that the more positions you can play — the more you can help the team and when guys go down whatever happens, foul trouble or whatever — the more you can be out there,” he told Ryan Aber of The Oklahoman. Neal is averaging 6.2 PPG and 3.6 RPG for the Sooners thus far this year.
  4. If you’re a fan of West Virginia sports, you will have some downtime this month. The Mountaineers’ football team is done for the year, and as Dave Hickman of the Charleston Gazette points out, the basketball team plays just two games in a 20-day period. WVU beat Marshall in a nice win on Saturday, it plays Purdue on Sunday, and then Bob Huggins’ team has another week off before playing William and Mary on December 29.
  5. Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall wants to play Kansas. Bill Self, on the other hand, doesn’t want to play Wichita State. Marshall told reporters recently that he offered Kansas a three-game series with sites rotating between Lawrence, Kansas City, and Wichita. Bill Self said he’s never heard from Marshall on the subject. You can tell the two sides won’t be playing anytime soon. The Shockers got another impressive win last night on the road at Alabama and improved to 11-0. They are ranked #11 in the country and would give Kansas a great game, but playing Wichita State doesn’t make sense for Kansas right now and likely won’t make sense as long as Self is coaching.
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Making Big 12 Teams Better Before the Trade Deadline

Posted by Kory Carpenter (@Kory_Carpenter) on December 17th, 2013

When you consider high school recruiting and player transfers, college basketball already has its own form of free agency. But what if college hoops adopted another NBA mainstay and began trading its players back and forth, and what if the trade deadline was December 31, right before conference play begins? Here are a few such hypothetical trades that could help Big 12 teams improve heading into January. And no, Kansas State fans — you can’t trade Bruce Weber.

1. Texas forward Prince Ibeh for Oklahoma State guard Stevie Clark: The Longhorns are 160th in the country in three point shooting percentage at 34.0 percent. They have guards that can score off the dribble and have gotten good production out of big men Cameron Ridley and Jonathan Holmes, so sending Ibeh to Oklahoma State wouldn’t kill their frontcourt. Stevie Clark would immediately become their best perimeter three-point shooter and would help spread the floor with his 43 percent shooting from deep. Oklahoma State has enough scoring potential in its backcourt already with Marcus Smart, Phil Forte, Markel Brown and Le’Bryan Nash, and Ibeh would be the only player in the rotation over 6’8”, helping a small frontcourt match up against the bigger teams in the Big 12.

Stevie Clark

Stevie Clark Would Help the Longhorns’ Backcourt Significantly (NewsOK.com)

2. Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler and guard Jordan Woodard  for West Virginia guard Juwan Staten. West Virginia is in the bottom half of the Big 12 in rebounds per game, rebound margin, defensive rebounds, rebounding percentage, and blocked shots. Spangler would give them 9.0 RPG, 1.4 BPG, and a 65.6 percent shooting rate, making him the Mountaineers’ best post player. And while Woodard isn’t on the same level as Staten, he is still averaging 11.9 PPG and 4.9 APG and would complement fellow guard Eron Harris well. For Oklahoma, the Sooners would then have three of the top seven scorers in the Big 12 in Cameron Clark, Buddy Hield, and Staten, which would represent a go-for-broke type of deal for the Sooners. Losing Spangler would kill any interior presence they had, but it would make them one of the best perimeter teams in the league. They already play faster than all but seven teams in the country, so why not add another high-scoring guard, push the tempo even more, and see what happens?

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Evaluating the Best Coaching Jobs in the Big 12

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 16th, 2013

Will Leitch over at SportsOnEarth.com gave us his top 25 jobs in college basketball last week. And while there are a few things we would change (Wichita State and Temple seem too high, whereas Michigan seems too low), the list was close to perfect. His criteria was spot on too, as you can see here. Building upon his idea, we thought we would try our hand at a Big 12 list of college basketball jobs. As Leitch explains, the list isn’t necessarily a rundown of the best programs, although that often comes with having a top job. It instead comes down to a simple question: Where would we want to coach if we had our pick of the litter in the Big 12?

Bill Self has the best job in the Big 12, and it isn't close. (AP)

Bill Self has the best job in the Big 12, and it isn’t close. (AP)

  1. Kansas: Kansas was #2 overall on Leitch’s list and is undoubtedly the best job in the Big 12. It has one of the best fan bases in the country and the athletic department will pay a successful coach as much as anyone.
  2. Texas: Texas hasn’t been great in a while, but it is still a top 10 job nationally with seemingly unlimited resources at its disposal and the benefit of in-state recruiting. Fans can be apathetic with respect to hoops, which could be a plus or a minus depending on the success of the coach. Stress about basketball is rarely an issue in Austin, as Texas hoops fans don’t seem to mind a coach who puts together an occasional winner without ever really challenging for a national title. If you can take advantage of everything Texas has to offer as a head coach, you could set yourself up for your career. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 M5: 12.12.13 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 12th, 2013

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  1. Friday’s battle between Iowa State and Iowa should be one of the best games of the week. The Cyclones and Hawkeyes are both ranked, which doesn’t happen very often, and there just aren’t many venues that get rocking like Hilton Coliseum can for a big game. One match-up to keep an eye on is the battle between guards Monte Morris and Devyn Marble, not just because of their talents (Morris has done a great job backing up DeAndre Kane, while Marble stars for the Hawkeyes), but because of their close personal ties going back to their time growing up in Michigan.
  2. This one’s slightly dated, but if you haven’t read Gary Parrish’s column from earlier this week defending the track record of Baylor head coach Scott Drew, we definitely encourage you to do so. Some people enjoy being so critical of Drew that they lose track of what he’s accomplished in Waco. Baylor was a college basketball wasteland in the early 2000s, reeling from one of the biggest scandals to ever hit the sport (google Patrick Dennehy) in addition to not having won an NCAA Tournament game in over 50 years, and now they’re one of the game’s few programs that can boast a pair of Elite Eight appearance in the last four years. Some of the wrinkles to Drew’s persona rub people the wrong way, but while that’s understandable, you also have to give the guy his due for what he’s molded mostly out of thin air.
  3. ESPN’s Myron Medcalf wonders where the help is for Kansas’ Andrew WigginsTrust us, he’s not the only one. Wiggins almost single-handedly brought Kansas back to within striking distance in Tuesday’s loss to Florida, but his teammates were nowhere to be found. Without beating the drum any more than we did yesterday, it’s abundantly clear that this team isn’t on the same page. The next chance for Kansas to regain its form comes on Saturday against New Mexico in Kansas City.
  4. Speaking of the Jayhawks playing in their second home at the Sprint Center, it was announced yesterday that Kansas will square off against Utah there on a date to be determined next season. The Utes haven’t been relevant nationally for quite some time, but this season’s edition is off to a solid (albeit somewhat empty) 8-1 start. Larry Krystkowiak’s team only has one senior in its rotation, so it’s a pretty good bet that the team Kansas will play next season will look a lot like the current version of the Utes in terms of personnel.
  5. A defensive breakdown at a crucial point in the game cost West Virginia a valuable win against Gonzaga on Tuesday, according to Mountaineers guard Juwan StatenThe Bulldogs scored on 16 of their final 24 possessions and used a late 13-0 run to race right past Bob Huggins team. Right now, the big-picture issue the Mountaineers have is that they possess the statistical profile of a bubble team, but the resume of a squad that would be pretty clearly out of the field of 64 68 if the NCAAs started today.
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Gonzaga Churns Out Another Victory; Could These Bulldogs Be Different Come March?

Posted by Bennet Hayes on December 11th, 2013

First things first: Gonzaga’s 80-76 win over West Virginia on Tuesday night will not go down as any sort of victory for the ages. Heck, it may not even count as a “good win” come March. But before we strip away all its value, with say, a game of “name a Mountaineer”, let’s also give the Zags a little credit. Grabbing a road victory, in a hostile environment, over a competitive power conference team is never an easy task. Every Big 12 team – Oklahoma State and Kansas included – will be happy if they leave Morgantown with a win this season. Signature victory it is not for Mark Few’s team, but with another “taking-care-of-business” performance in the books, the Zags look poised to hang around the top of the polls for yet another season. Of course, that upward November to March trajectory has ended in a Tournament nose-dive too often for almost anyone to take the Zags seriously these days — no matter how good a regular season they may register. The familiar question begs: Is this Gonzaga team built to win in March?

Kevin Pangos And The Zags Can Score The Basketball (Just Ask West Virginia), But Will That Offensive Efficiency Finally Equate To March Success? (AP)

Kevin Pangos And The Zags Can Score The Basketball (Just Ask West Virginia), But Will That Offensive Efficiency Finally Equate To March Success? (AP)

Let’s hold off for a moment on evaluating Tournament potential, and first admit that the Zags are pretty good at picking up wins in the months leading up to March. Down eight with eight minutes left, and with Ken Pom’s win probability graph suggesting just a 15% chance of a Gonzaga win, this game long looked like one that might not support the above thesis. But in those final eight minutes the Zags did what they do best: score the basketball. The nation’s most efficient offense pumped in 24 points before the buzzer sounded, with a trio of Kevin Pangos threes serving as Coliseum-silencers along the way. Gonzaga has now scored at least 79 points in every game this season; this despite playing at a tempo that ranks below the national average. Just like last year’s 32-3 team, who finished second nationally in offensive efficiency, these Bulldogs can really score. Read the rest of this entry »

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College Basketball by the Tweets: Some Good Tuesday Night Games

Posted by David Harten on December 11th, 2013

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“Quality over quantity” might be the best way to describe Tuesday night in college basketball. A majority of schools are in finals week, and as a result, players need their study time. So that means rest. Or easy opponents. Or both. But that wasn’t the case with No. 13 Kansas and No. 19 Florida yesterday. It’s safe to assume that these two schools aren’t in finals prep this week, so they took the opportunity to play each other in Gainesville. Jayhawks coach Bill Self went with four freshmen in the starting lineup. It perhaps wasn’t the greatest of ideas against the Gators’ dual point guard system, but it was the Gators’ zone that stifled Joel Embiid, Perry Ellis and most of the rest of the Jayhawks, leading to a 67-61 win. This prompted a short debate about KU’s offense versus the zone.

Part of the situation with Self seemed weird. Why start four freshmen? It almost seemed like a move that Chuck Daly would make, a la the 1992 Dream Team’s scrimmage against that college all-star team (although I’d be willing to bet Self wouldn’t throw the game.) Maybe it was a move to prepare the Jayhawks’ youth for the conference season, when trips to Manhattan, Stillwater, Ames and Norman await.

That youth showed early for Kansas, who allowed the Gators to go on an blistering 21-0 run. Andrew Wiggins keyed a near comeback, bringing his team back to within range before Florida held them off. For the most part, Kansas was sloppy with the ball, couldn’t shoot and was horrible defensively.

It all added up to a 67-61 loss. Read the rest of this entry »

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