Jayhawks can learn from Saturday’s disappointing loss

Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State was a disappointment — but not a shock — for many Jayhawk fans, even though it was only Kansas’ eighth loss at Allen Fieldhouse under coach Bill Self.

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Emily Wittler/KANSAN
Seniors Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson scramble for the ball during last Saturday’s game against Oklahoma State at Allen Fieldhouse. This was the first time in 16 games that Releford didn’t score double figures.

Self and senior forward Kevin Young both said the Jayhawks were living “on borrowed time” leading up to the game. Similarly, freshman guard Andrew White III said he didn’t know when the Jayhawks would lose, but he felt a loss coming.

“Just performance-wise, we had been walking on that fine line of winning and losing for a long time, so as a team, we feel we were overdue for a loss based off how we’ve been playing,” White said.

A chance to be ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll following Michigan’s loss to Indiana vanished as the sun set on Allen Fieldhouse Saturday evening, as did the opportunity to open up a two-game lead on Kansas State in the Big 12 standings.

But senior center Jeff Withey isn’t focused on the opportunities the Jayhawks missed by losing on Saturday.

“We can spin it into a positive just like we have in the past with losses,” Withey said. “We thought that we were a lot better than what we were, obviously.”

Recent history suggests Kansas will learn from the loss as Withey said.

The last time the Jayhawks lost at the Fieldhouse was against Texas on Jan. 22, 2011, the day after then-sophomore forward Thomas Robinson’s mother died. Following that loss, Kansas won its next six games and 17 of its final 19 games.

The only glitches were a Valentine’s Day loss at Kansas State and the Elite Eight disappointment against Virginia Commonwealth.

However, Self said there is a difference between that team and this year’s team, and it’s something that the Jayhawks can accommodate for, but can’t completely fix.

“I’ve said all along we’re never going to be a physically tough team,” Self said. “We can be a mentally tough team and play more physical. When you’re 180 at the 4 and 220 at the 5, that’s not exactly a lot of beef. That ain’t Thomas or the twins out there.”

Before the 2011 Texas loss, the previous Fieldhouse defeat was Feb. 3, 2007 against Texas A&M. Kansas actually had to respond to a home loss twice that season, and the results were promising both times.

Oral Roberts University upset the Jayhawks in Lawrence in the second game of the season. Kansas won 15 of its next 16 games before falling to Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas. Two weeks later, Texas A&M knocked off Kansas in the Fieldhouse. But then, the Jayhawks strung 14 consecutive wins together before falling to UCLA in the Elite Eight.

As Self noted, that year’s team featured players like Julian Wright, Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers, Sherron Collins, Russell Robinson and Darrell Arthur. Although this year’s team isn’t devoid of talent, Self said the team must play to its potential to be successful.

“We have less margin of error for this team than any team I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Self said. “I think as much as anything it’s a mental approach as it is anything else.”

  • Updated Feb. 4, 2013 at 9:07 pm
  • Edited by Taylor Lewis