While Kansas navigates quirky Big 12 schedule, coach Bill Self talks road woes

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

From a Kansas perspective, one of the worst aspects of the 2023-24 Big 12 men’s basketball schedule is the Jayhawks do not get the opportunity to avenge road losses to Texas Tech, Iowa State, West Virginia and UCF in return games at Allen Fieldhouse.

With 14 teams in the Big 12 Conference and 18 games assigned to each squad, home-and-homes are few and far between. KU in fact plays five teams twice (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas State, Houston) and eight teams once (TT, ISU, WVU, UCF, TCU, Texas, Cincinnati, BYU).

Indeed, the Jayhawks as a matter of pride would like to get another chance to defeat teams that upended the Jayhawks before loud, rowdy crowds in opposing buildings.

“Yes,” KU coach Bill Self said Thursday, asked if his players would love to have rematches at home against the Red Raiders, Cyclones, Mountaineers and Knights.

“There’s people that would like to bring us back to their place, too,” Self added of TCU and Cincinnati, teams KU beat at Allen Fieldhouse in the only matchup of the season scheduled between the teams.

“That’s the way it works. Yes, we’d like to do that. Hopefully we’ll play well enough to play a couple of those teams in Kansas City (in the Big 12 tournament), but the reality is we haven’t played well away from home.”

Self highlighted that KU is 2-5 on the road, including a nonconference win over Indiana. The Jayhawks are 1-5 on the road in Big 12 play.

“Granted, we weren’t the favorite at Tech even with a healthy Kevin McCullar, at least according to what people (who check the odds) told me,” Self said. “That (79-50 defeat on Monday in Lubbock) would have been a hard game regardless, but still it certainly warranted a much better effort than what we gave.”

McCullar has missed the last two games because of a knee injury.

The Jayhawks, who do get a chance to avenge their 75-70 overtime loss at Kansas State in a rematch March 5 at Allen Fieldhouse, on Saturday play an Oklahoma team that hopes to atone for a 78-66 loss to KU on Jan. 13 in Allen.

Tipoff between the No. 25-ranked Sooners (18-7, 6-6) and No, 6 Jayhawks (19-6, 7-5) is 3 p.m. Saturday at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman with a live telecast on ESPN.

One common thread in KU’s road losses is the opponents sizzling from 3 in front of their own fans.

For instance, Texas Tech hit 10 of 26 3s to KU’s 3 of 16 on Monday.

Other results:

  • Kansas State hit 9 of 26 3s to KU’s 3 of 15 in a five-point Wildcat win;

  • Iowa State iced 14 of 30 3s to KU’s 7 of 20 in a 79-75 Cyclone victory;

  • West Virginia made 12 of 21 to KU’s 7 of 23 in a 91-85 Mountaineer win and

  • UCF hit 7 of 20 to KU’s 6 of 18 in a 65-60 Knights victory (KU led by 16 in that game).

“I don’t buy into a team being more geeked up (at home) shooting the ball better,” Self said. “I’d think being more geeked up is playing with more energy or being a half step quicker or quicker twitch.

“Shooting the ball I never really bought into that. Going into the (Tech) game we knew Tech, Baylor and BYU were the three best 3-point shooting teams in the league,” he added.

Aside from Darrion Williams, who was 4-for-4 from 3 on a night he scored 30 points, nobody else on the Red Raiders was over 50% from 3.

“Actually by the numbers we did a nice job on six of their eight players. Two went 17-of-19 from the field,” Self said of Williams (12-of-12 shooting) and Warren Washington (5-of-7).

KU likely will have to play quite well on the road Saturday to sweep the regular-season series versus OU. The Sooners are honoring legendary coach Billy Tubbs, promoting the game as a chance to “remember the life and legacy of Billy Tubbs,” who died in 2020.

“This is ‘Billy Tubbs Day.’ I think they will hang the banner for coach Tubbs, which will be great,” said Self. He had also heard OU grad/country singer Toby Keith, who died on Feb. 5, would also be honored Saturday. Keith was honored at the recent OU-Oklahoma State game.

“It’s sold out,” Self added of 11,562-seat Lloyd Noble Center. “This will be a turned-up game for us, even more so for them based on other things going on surrounding the game.”

Asked what the problems have been in struggling on the road entering the OU contest in Noble Center, where KU has won two in a row and six of the last 11 meetings, Self said: “I think a lot of it is not being quite tough enough to finish and playing through some adversity when it hits. Also, some of it is law of averages. That also plays a factor, too.”