Hawks look to take Big 12 back

Will the match up against K-State tomorrow help the Hawks get back in the game?

By Dylan Gehlbach

I don’t think that anyone could have expected this.

After a 66-72 loss at Oklahoma, the Kansas Jayhawks’ Men’s Basketball team has dropped its last three games to unranked opponents with one loss coming at home. This slump immediately follows a league-best 18-game winning streak.

While the bottom has clearly fallen out from under the formerly second-ranked team in the nation, fans are in a state of distress wondering what is happening to their Jayhawks. I’m not sure the players and coaches understand what the problem is either. There is only one thing that is clear right now: they must make adjustments immediately or they are in a very real danger of losing the Big 12 after winning the conference the last eight seasons.
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A very good Kansas State basketball team will enter Phog Allen Fieldhouse tomorrow night to try to wrestle the conference title out from the Jayhawks’ beaks. With the loss to Oklahoma and K-State’s win over a very good Iowa State team, the Wildcats now lead the Jayhawks in conference record by a game (KSU: 8-2, KU: 7-3). This recent development makes the showdown in Lawrence at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow night the most important game of the season for both teams.

Bill Self will do all that he can to make sure Kansas is ready for battle. The key to winning will be the same as when the Jayhawks were able to hold of the Wildcats in Manhattan earlier this season: Defense.

Unfortunately, this is exactly what Kansas has been lacking the past three games. In the games against Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma, opponents shot field goal percentages of .433, .391 and .448, respectively. These are shocking statistics considering Kansas had the best defensive percentage in the nation in these games, especially since TCU is one of the worst offensive teams in college basketball. It will be impossible for Kansas to win if K-State shoots near .400.

I admit, I thought that it was important that Kansas have a bad loss in the middle of the season to regroup and gain new strength before tournament time, but these three losses like have taken that concept to another level. Because of these losses, Kansas’ once cocky attitude has instantly become a frail ego. If the Jayhawks get off to a rough start in tomorrow night’s game, it will be nearly impossible for this team to recover against the hot Wildcats.

But there is a potential silver lining here: Kansas could win. And then some.

If Kansas finds a way to win, they’re back in the driver’s seat in the conference race with history on their side. They’ve stand on the brink of mediocrity. If they step back from the edge, I don’t think they will ever look back. A win here could prelude to the best basketball that this team has played this season. This rut could scare them straight. And that’s a very good thing. The teams that win national championships are those that are the hottest at the end of the year.

So I will leave you with this.

The last time Kansas lost three straight games to unranked opponents was in 1988 when the Jayhawks won the National Championship. So that’s something.

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