At the start of this brutal three-game stretch to open conference play against Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Texas, I sent a text to a friend of mine (and fellow KU diehard) that said if Kansas wins two of three, I’d take it.
That’s what happened, but the way that loss on Saturday took place changes the perception a bit. It’s impossible for it not to change things. There’s no use dwelling on the game and what went wrong. There’s already been plenty of time for that. The question is what comes next. Because how Kansas comes out the next time it takes the court will speak to if this team has the potential we thought it did and if the Texas game was an outlier of sorts—the Longhorns couldn’t miss, Kansas couldn’t finish anything, and the long holiday break seemed to hit the Jayhawks hard.
A staple of the Jayhawks’ dominance under Bill Self is that one bad game has not turned into a worse stretch. Kansas rarely loses back-to-back games, but it definitely doesn’t happen when that first loss was by more than 10 points. Dominate the Jayhawks and, historically under Self, the next opponent KU faces has to pay the price for it.
I went through the Sports Reference game logs to see how Kansas has bounced back from double-digit losses during the regular season over the last four-and-a-half seasons.
Loss: 102-90 to Gonzaga
Next game: 94-72 win over Saint Joseph’s
Loss: 67-55 to Baylor
Next game: 66-52 win at Oklahoma
Loss: 77-60 at Iowa State
Next game: 77-68 win against TCU
Loss: 73-63 at Texas
Next game: 79-63 win against Texas Tech
Loss: 91-62 at Texas Tech
Next game: 64-49 win against Kansas State
Loss: 81-68 at Oklahoma
Next game: 78-70 win against Baylor
Loss: 95-85 against Arizona State
Next game: 73-72 win at Nebraska
Loss: 85-73 against Texas Tech
Next game: 88-84 at TCU
Loss: 80-64 at Baylor
Next game: 83-77 at Iowa State
Loss: 85-69 at West Virginia
Next game: 79-73 against Kentucky
Every single time, Kansas has come back the next game to get a strong win. Even in the painful 2018-19 season, Self had his team ready to go the next game. In fact, the last time Kansas lost a regular-season game by double digits and went on to lose its next regular-season game was at the Maui Invitational in 2005 when the Jayhawks lost to Arizona 61-49 and then the next day dropped a one-point game to Arkansas 65-64. That’s an incredible steak.
There are some similarities between this team and the Final Four team of 2017-18 (and the 2018-19 team, if we’re being honest). Both play small with athletic wings and streaky shooters, and there were nights when the 2018 team couldn’t make a shot and it led to some lopsided losses (the 2018 team had multiple double-digit losses where it scored less than 65 points).
To take it a step further, the 2018 team loss by 12 to Texas Tech at home on January 2. KU’s next game in 2018? At TCU. What is the 2021 squad’s chance at redemption? At TCU on Tuesday.
History says you should feel good taking the Jayhawks to win on Tuesday.