It wasn’t the end of the world Saturday, February 2, 2013, in Lawrence, Kansas, but for Kansas fans, the end was in sight. Many fans needed to be talked down from jumping off the bandwagon after the Jayhawks lost in not-so surprising battle with Oklahoma State, 85-80. The game came down to the final seconds as Kansas tried to repeat a last second miracle comeback as they did against Iowa State at home last month.
But, it wasn’t meant to be. OSU pushed the scoring from the start and held as much as a 14 point lead in the game. The the Hawks credit, they erased that deficit and held leads of 4 points at times in the second half before the Cowboys took the lead for good with 2:45 left to play. Kansas was in position in the final seconds to cut the lead from 80-83, but an ill-timed Elija Johnson turnover lead to a breakaway OSU score, ending scoring at 85-80.
It was the Markel Brown and Marcus Smart show as they found no roadblocks on the way to scoring 28 and 25 respectively. Being pre-season picks for first team Big 12 players and freshman was no mistake. They rose to the occasion and put Kansas in their place.
Ben McLemore tried his best with 23 points to put the Kansas offense on his back with Jeff Withey and Kevin Young barely reaching double digits adding support. Withey contributed 11 points and 3 blocks, but only came down with 8 rebounds and had 4 turnovers. That’s not a characteristic Bill Self wants to see in his pound-it-in the paint offense.
The glaring statistic in this defeat is Kansas allowing OSU to shoot 43 percent from the floor. This marks a rare occasion where Kansas allowed an opponent to shoot over 40 percent, and they paid the price. Kansas offense is not built to compete in a shootout and the Cowboys took advantage and pulled off a stellar defeat in Allen Fieldhouse, which just doesn’t happen under Bill Self.
It was only a matter of time as the Jayhawks have flirted with defeat on several occasions requiring a comeback effort and blowing big leads making victories much more difficult. Was it a matter of Kansas overplaying to their talent level? Was is luck getting Kansas wins in the clutch? It was more the tenacity and grit of a team with less offensive mindedness than Bill self teams of the past. This year’s Kansas team lives off its defense and at times has issues manufacturing points on offense. The Hawks have accomplished more than most thought they would at this point in the season.
More so than a wake up call, this game potentially underscored the Kansas weaknesses that have always been there. This isn’t the demise of the 2012-2013 Kansas team. They will bounce back and finish out the season strong. More than likely they will win the Big 12 title, but that’s not to say they won’t lose another game along the way. The door might be opened far enough for a shared title this year.
What’s up in the air is the chance for a number 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Kansas needs to finish out the conference schedule strong and more than likely will need to win the Big 12 conference tournament to secure a number 1 seed. The road isn’t closed, but the journey just got a lot more difficult.
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