Tyler Self admits he might become a bit emotional walking onto James Naismith Court with his dad, Bill, and mom, Cindy, amid a shower of flowers tossed his way during Senior Night introductions before Monday’s Kansas-Oklahoma game at Allen Fieldhouse.
Self, a fifth-year senior guard out of Lawrence’s Free State High, could conceivably break down and cry after the contest while delivering a short speech to 16,300 fans sure to stay in their seats to hear comments from KU’s outgoing players.
He is 100 percent sure about only one thing: He will be fully focused for the 8 p.m. tipoff as he makes his first — and last — start as a Jayhawk.
“I doubt it’ll be the same as my other appearances,” Self said. He has played 86 minutes in 42 games in his college career, usually entering after fans chant his name near the end of lopsided victories.
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“Getting to start will be a special moment I’m sure. It’ll be a bittersweet moment,” Self added of opening with fellow seniors Landen Lucas and Frank Mason in their final home games at KU. “But everybody will be ready to go. I don’t think any of us seniors would want to go out with anything but a win on our last night. I’m pretty sure everybody will be jacked up, ready to play.”
KU coach Bill Self said Tyler, per Senior Night tradition, will start next to Mason and Lucas, as well as freshman Josh Jackson and junior Devonté Graham. Regular starter Svi Mykhailiuk will come off the bench on this one, special occasion.
“I’m excited, but it’s kind of sad since it’ll definitely be the last home game I’ll be part of,” said Self, who has scored five points on 2-of-9 shooting and dished out three assists against six turnovers in 10 games in his senior season. For his career, he’s scored 14 points with 10 assists, 19 turnovers and seven rebounds.
Senior Night can definitely be sad for the honorees, who on occasion, shed tears.
Last year, for instance Jamari Traylor broke down and wept during his Senior Night speech.
“I haven’t really thought about it yet. I could see it happening, especially during the speeches,” Tyler said of one or more members of the senior trio sobbing.
When asked which senior would be most likely to succumb to emotion, he said, “I don’t know. I could. I possibly could. I don’t know.”
Tyler Self said it’s been a joy being in the same class as forward Lucas, from Portland, Ore., as well as guard Mason, from Petersburg, Va.
“I think we have a little bit of everything in this class,” Tyler said. “Everybody kind of brings something different to the table. As a senior I’ve tried to step up and lead and coach the young guys as much as I can, bring my experience and knowledge to the team and help move them along as quickly as possible, try to get everybody ready for the biggest stage.”
Self and Lucas are roommates who both graduated last May and are pursuing master’s in business administration.
“Landen is a smart kid who definitely understands the game and the way we try to play here. Every day he’s trying to help the younger guys see it through his eyes,” Tyler said.
Mason, a lock for Big 12 player of the year and strong candidate for national player of the year, “has been unbelievable not only scoring the ball but leading our team. He’s done everything he can to help us win. It seems every time we need a big shot he’s there to make one,” Tyler stated.
Oklahoma at No. 3 Kansas
- When: 8 p.m. Monday
- Where: Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence
- Records: OU 10-18, 4-12 Big 12; KU 26-3, 14-2
- Radio: 1240-AM, 98.7-FM
- TV: ESPN
Oklahoma (10-18, 4-12): Oklahoma snapped a two-game losing streak by pounding Kansas State 81-51 on Saturday in Norman. Lattin scored 17 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had three blocks. The Sooners have lost nine of their last 11.
Kansas (26-3, 14-2): KU beat OU 81-70 on Jan. 10, in Norman. Frank Mason scored 28 points.… The Jayhawks converted 15 Texas turnovers into 28 points in Saturday’s 77-67 win in Austin – the most points off turnovers for KU since the season-opener against Indiana.… KU has won 33 straight home finales dating to the 1983-84 season.
RPIs as of Sunday: OU 167, KU 1.