Kansas’ coach Bill Self, now in his 18th year, said he doesn’t think that an overtime loss at No. 14 Texas should devastate his No. 17 ranked team.
The veteran coach said the team needs to come back and keep working to put themselves in a position to beat Baylor on Saturday.
“We don’t need to be depressed about this,” Self said. “We need to be [ticked] that we didn’t close, but we don’t need to be depressed.”
The Jayhawks threw away an 11-point halftime lead and were defeated by the Longhorns 75-72 in overtime on Tuesday night at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.
With 1:27 left in overtime and up by two, Jayhawks power forward David McCormack fouled out and the team was unable to come back with two misses from Ochai Agbaji, and a turnover on a breakaway layup and a missed free throw from Jalen Wilson.
The game ended Kansas’ five-game winning streak as well.
When a reporter asked Self if Kansas (17-8, 11-6 Big 12) may have been better equipped to recover from the loss earlier in the season, he said too much emphasis was being put on his opinion on the loss.
“We played the No. 14 team in the country on the road,” he said. “Obviously it’s going to be a hard game regardless, and we played really well the first half and didn’t play as well the second half. They played really well the second half.”
Self emphasized that the team improved this game, despite the loss, and that they should take confidence in that.
“This game didn’t mean anything from winning the league standpoint,” Self said of the Big 12 Tournament. “Who gives a crap about the Big 12 seedings?”
He said the Big 12 seedings aren’t going “to be real” because teams will have played a different numbers of games and have faced different opponents.
Self said he would love for the team to finish second in the league, but that it isn’t likely in the given circumstances.
“When some teams are playing 14 [games], some are playing 18 and others are playing 16 and not everybody’s playing twice … we knew going into the year that we were playing for a seed in the NCAA Tournament, not the Big 12 Tournament,” he said. “So, this is not anything that should alarm us or rattle us at all.”
Self said he was pleased with a first half of the matchup, when Agbaji scored 14 of his 17 points and Bryce Thompson scored all 11 of his points.
“Gosh we were turned up,” Self said. “We just didn’t close it out. I shouldn’t say that. After the 14-minute mark [of second half] it was anyone’s game, but we certainly had our opportunities to close it out.”
Self said he wasn’t happy with the rebound totals, though.
Texas out-boarded KU, 50-38. Freshman wing Wilson led KU with 13 rebounds and 16 points, while McCormack had four rebounds and 12 points in 24 foul-plagued minutes.
“We’ve got to get our bigs playing big, that’s the bottom line,” Self said. “David has done a pretty good job with that offensively. We’re still not rebounding the ball. For him to get four rebounds, Mitch [Lightfoot] didn’t play hardly any. But we’ve got to do better than that. Jalen Wilson can’t be our best rebounder each and every game. We got to have our big guys getting some.”
Self said he wasn’t pleased with McCormack’s fifth foul. The 6-10 junior was eliminated from the game after he fouled point guard Matt Coleman, who made one of two free throws to cut the gap to 72-71 with 1:27 left, Kansas.com reports.
“I don’t know what he was thinking about trying to run up and guard Coleman,” Self said. “All we’ve got to do is channel him off, keep him on the side. We did a really bad job of ball-screen defense late.”
The Jayhawks were 8-of-24 from beyond the arc, while the Longhorns went 5-of-26. Texas hit 24-of-31 free throws to KU’s 12-of-21.
“The kids played hard,” Self said. “I’m proud of their effort. We played lights out the first half.”
Texas will travel to Texas Tech on Saturday. The Jayhawks will return home to meet Baylor at 7 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.
When asked if the team would be able to respond positively to this loss, Self said, “Absolutely.”
“They will take tomorrow off by the rules anyway,” he said. “If young kids can’t recover in 24 hours to get ready to play the No. 2 team in the country, there’s something wrong with our society or our team or whatever.”
Self said the team won’t be thinking about Texas anymore, as all eyes will be on Baylor.
“This is easy,” he said. “We are not going to be thinking about Texas after tomorrow. Come Thursday, it’s focusing on Baylor.”