LUBBOCK, Texas | It’s a good thing that Kansas coach Bill Self likes to view losses as teaching opportunities. He’ll have plenty of material after the Jayhawks’ humbling 84-65 loss to Texas Tech on Wednesday night.
For starters, he can drill KU on how it’s normally a good thing to guard one of the Big 12’s best 3-point shooters (Texas Tech’s Alan Voskuil scored 35 points and made nine of 14 from three).
Then, Self can advise the Jayhawks to make it a priority to feed the ball to Cole Aldrich (KU’s big man shot the ball just five times and had eight points).
Next, Self can give a lecture about the importance of keeping your composure. The Jayhawks fought back from an 18-point deficit to trail by just two early in the second half, but two technical fouls – one on Self and one on KU’s Marcus Morris – stalled their own momentum and gave Voskuil four points at the free-throw line.
Lastly, thanks to the Missouri Tigers, Self can talk about how life is made up of second chances. Missouri beat Oklahoma 73-64 on Wednesday night, handing KU at least a share of its fifth straight Big 12 regular season championship.
The Jayhawks, now 24-6 and 13-2 in the league, may have whiffed on one opportunity to win the title outright, but they’ll get another one on Saturday against Texas at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Sooners and Tigers are both one-game behind KU at 12-3.
Yes, in the end, this meltdown in United Spirit Arena can just go down in the books as a teaching opportunity. Although, when Texas Tech’s fans began to chant “O-ver-rated!” it was hard to disagree with their assessment of the freshly-anointed No. 9 team in the land.
This game, broadcast for the country to see on ESPN2, will certainly stop the talk of the Jayhawks playing their way into a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Losing to Texas Tech, which was just 2-12 in the league entering the game, could also end any hopes of KU earning a No. 2 seed or opening the tournament in Kansas City.
Fittingly, all of those positive vibes that the Jayhawks earned over the last two months officially evaporated when Voskuil sunk two threes to cement his career high.
Voskuil began his Senior Night as hot as any player could ever hope to be for his last home game. He swished four threes in the game’s first seven minutes to pace the Red Raiders to an early 21-10 lead.
It was almost like the Jayhawks were determined for Voskuil, one of the top shooters in the league, to prove that he could make shots. Brady Morningstar started on him and left him for a few open looks.
Self subbed in Travis Releford, who promptly helped away from Voskuil and was burnt for another three. Kansas eventually switched to a 2-3 zone, which cut down on the Red Raiders’ three party.
The Jayhawks got some help from the officials – rare for a road game – who called Texas Tech for 13 first-half fouls. KU, which shot just 32 percent from the field, went to the line 14 times and made 10.
The Jayhawks never really turned on the jets, but they defended enough to cut a 39-21 lead to 39-28 at the half.
To start the second half, KU left the cheap imitation of the team that had gone 6-1 on the road in conference play in the locker room. Freshman Marcus Morris started the half with two dunks, and the Jayhawks turned their 7-0 first-half run into a 13-0 run.
KU kept surging thanks to the individual effort of Morris, who ran down an offensive rebound after three tries to corral it and passed it to Collins. The ball ended up with Morningstar for a three, and KU clawed all the way back to within 41-39.
Kansas made its surge with the help of a half-court trap, but Texas Tech eventually calmed down and managed the pressure. Soon enough, Voskuil heated up again for two more open threes, and the Red Raiders stayed ahead for the rest of the contest.
The Jayhawks, who had to witness yet another group of students rush the floor, have now lost three in a row in Lubbock.