Self disappointed by KU’s inability to grind

photo by: Nick Krug

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike (35) is fouled on the shot by Texas Tech forward Zach Smith (11) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas basketball coach Bill Self has an interesting theory about upperclassmen and underclassmen that played a fairly important role in the Jayhawks’ 12-point home loss to No. 18 Texas Tech on Tuesday night.

Sure, the Red Raiders out-rebounded the Jayhawks 44-29, and, yeah, Chris Beard’s squad did a better job of taking care the ball and making clutch shots when they mattered most.

But, according to Self, it was not so much the numbers that showed up on the stat sheet that cost Kansas as what he saw with his own eyes on the floor.

“So you miss a shot,” said Self, setting up his point. “What do you do after the ball’s shot?”

On Tuesday, the answer for Texas Tech was a whole lot, as the Red Raiders were far more active on nearly every possession, grabbing 18 offensive rebounds and outscoring KU 15-4 on second-chance points. The answer for Kansas was not much.

“They were 6-of-24 from 3,” said Self, refusing to allow KU’s off shooting night of 6-of-26 from 3-point range to be used as an excuse for a poor offensive night. “And they found some ways to score.”

The reason they did was simple in Self’s eyes. And it had everything to do with desire.

The Red Raiders started five seniors, many of whom have taken their lumps in past meetings with Kansas. But Self said that fact was only part of the reason Texas Tech led from start to finish and outplayed KU all over the floor.

After all, freshmen Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver combined for 23 points and nine rebounds on seven of 15 shooting in 54 combined minutes, adding phenomenal support to Texas Tech’s upperclassmen.

“I’ve always thought that a senior can kick a freshman’s butt from an experience standpoint, but never from a try standpoint,” Self said. “To me, age is irrelevant when it comes competing and trying. Young kids may not know how to do it as well and know how to focus at game point and stuff like that. But for the most part, they say, ‘Which would you rather have, talent or experience?’ And the answer’s obviously both, but you want competitors. You want guys who really want to compete.”

The Jayhawks had too few of those on Tuesday night and the Red Raiders had an abundance. When looking at it through that perspective, the final score is hardly a surprise.

The big question for Kansas now is this: Will seeing the result of that kind of lopsided effort in the try department inspire change or lead to more of the same?