Okay, we finally saw Kansas suffer its first Big XII loss. But, there are good points and bad points that can be drawn from the loss today. The good points are simply, KU still remains at the summit of the conference, with many chances to extend or maintain advantage. Though, a lot of challenges are still in Kansas's path.
With a win over Texas today, Kansas would have had a 3 game lead in standings. Which would've been a stiff task to overcome by Texas and other contenders. Yet, what was probably more revealing was the way Kansas witnessed defeat today. We saw a lack of energy from the players, that really wasn't a factor during Kansas 7 game win streak. Tharpe, was out of sync running the offense. Embiid looked very fragile against a freight-train, anchor inside duo of Ibey and Ridley. Backed down to the challenge and war inside the paint was also eye-opening.
Wiggins, in which the last few games he was able to turn it on in crucial stretches to have back to back career highs. Wasn't meant to be today. If going 2-12 from the field and missing his 1st 10 shots wasn't an indicator of his overall low performance this game. The other stat that also leaked through today, was the free-fall defense that has been a numerous occurrence last few games did. Kansas gave up 81 points in a game against Iowa State, where they relied on offense to seal the win on Wednesday. Furthermore, Texas was ranked 6th in Big 12 scoring offense coming into the game. That same 6th best offensive team in conference was able to amass 81 points and out-hustle Kansas on every 50-50 balls to the floor. Shooting near 44% from field and out rebounding Kansas on the boards 44-37. Showed the lack of toughness inside by Kansas bigs.
Now back to the challenges that lie ahead. Texas really didn't seem to be a threat in Big XII mostly by everyone. Their interior game and stellar guard play has put them in a good shot for league crown. Even though Texas will still have to go to Ames and Norman. 2 chaotic venues, that Kansas has passed already. A trip to Manhattan and revenge match up in the Phog that's now circled February 22nd on KU's schedule is the last true test for Texas to deal with remaining. With the loss, the Big XII race just got a little bit more tighter. Someway, this could bring back the same dangerous caution back in Jayhawks minds. As last year Kansas lost their first 3 games in February, mirroring a possible outcome this year. Hopefully, that debacle never happens again, much less right now. Since Tuesday's game with Baylor in Waco should be labeled as a must win for the Hawks.
Because knowing how this conference can roll. One loss can snowball into a much bigger monster later in season's end.