It seemed inevitable. Running the table for the months of January, February and March would have been extremely difficult and after the way January started, a 13-0 conference start probably seemed a stretch. Still the Jayhawks went into Stillwater the favorites and were greeted by the first sellout crowd in 4 years.
Kansas brings out the best in people, the best from the fans and yesterday the best from the other team. There were certainly things the Jayhawks could have done better but it's hard to say if they could have done enough. Plain and simple this one seemed over by the end of the first half. Oklahoma State was on fire and Kansas didn't have it, in the words of Bill Self, Kansas "sucked".
Today is a new day, rivalry week part II begins on Wednesday with Kansas State coming to town for senior night. The most important takeaway from this loss won't have anything to do with what happened on the court in Stillwater. The most important takeaway will be in how Kansas responds on Wednesday in Lawrence and Saturday in Columbia.
Statistically there isn't much more that can or needs to be said than a 69% eFG% by the Cowboys. Kansas ended up close to average for their part but still came up slightly short. Ultimately this boiled down to an off shooting night by Kansas and having zero chance to overcome the blistering shooting of OSU. The question becomes, how much of that was due to poor defense by Kansas and how much of that was unavoidable. I'd say most would probably fall somewhere in the middle but Coach Self will likely put this squarely on the defense and challenge the team. This has been an area of concern all season for Kansas, the bad thing is that the next time it pops up it could be the end of the season.
Other than that, Kansas didn't play horribly. The Jayhawks took care of the basketball better, they got to the free throw line and on a normal shooting night from OSU, I'd say Kansas probably wins the rebounding battle. On paper it's a stat that the Cowboys win, but it's a bit of a flawed stat tonight based on the shooting percentages and the way the game was played.
The biggest problem underneath is that the Cowboys completely neutralized and eliminated Cole Aldrich and the Kansas bigs from being a major factor by jumping out to a big lead and forcing Kansas to chase. Cole gets a bit lost in a game like this and Kansas can't let that happen to one of the most dominant big men in the game this year.
If I were to look at one stat that might be an indicator to the shooting woes it would be the assist column. Kansas only had 10. After the Cowboys opened up a big lead the Jayhawks, and often Sherron Collins, tried to win it in one possession. The last five minutes Kansas looked good, just needed to turn that on 15 or even 35 minutes earlier.
On the individual side of things there isn't a whole lot positive to take away. The biggest thing for me is hands down the way Oklahoma State took our inside advantage completely out of the game. Cole was chasing blocks, OSU was passing off for easy dunks. Long shots were either dropping for the Cowboys or resulting in long rebounds. Come tournament time, I'll be checking the bracket for a team that is slightly undersized, quicker than Kansas and more athletic than Kansas. That's a team I'll be rooting against from the get go because I don't want to see our bigs up against a team like Tennessee, A&M or OSU again.