Notebook: Jayhawks finish off perfect season at home by beating Bears
With Saturday’s 78-70 victory over Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse, the 2018-19 Kansas men’s basketball team achieved something that not even last season’s Final Four bunch did — a perfect record at home.
After losing three games inside Allen Fieldhouse a season ago, this year’s Jayhawks rolled their way to a 16-0 record inside KU’s home building, winning by an average of 13 points per game.
Even though the only seniors who were honored were in the band, on the spirit squad or managers on KU’s bench, Saturday marked the 36th consecutive victory in a home finale, the sixth undefeated season at home under head coach Bill Self and the 20th unbeaten run at home in the history of Kansas basketball.
The Jayhawks now have won 20 in a row dating back to last season.
Such accomplishments helped take some of the sting off of being the team that snapped KU’s 14-year Big 12 title streak by finishing behind Kansas State and Texas Tech.
“Whether I want to admit it or not, it was deflating to not win the league,” Self said. “It was.”
Added KU junior Dedric Lawson: “It means a lot. We lost a couple games in my collegiate career (at Memphis) at home that we should’ve won, and just being here, Allen Fieldhouse, is just a great place to play. The fans, they call it the Sixth Man and they definitely are. They help us out a lot and give us the energy we need to go out and win at home.”
Player of the Year talk
Although the Jayhawks will not finish on top of the Big 12 standings for the first time since 2005, Lawson will finish atop the conference in scoring and rebounding.
So will that be good enough to earn him Big 12 player of the year honors, which have gone to Jayhawks Frank Mason III and Devonte’ Graham in each of the past two seasons?
“He’s definitely worthy,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said after Saturday’s loss. “I don’t know if he’ll end up winning it, but every coach respects the heck out of him. And Bill always does a great job of getting his best players shots.”
Self, too, was asked whether he thought Lawson would win the award and, true to the form he has operated with throughout his career when talking about these sorts of things, Self was somewhat skeptical about Lawson’s chances.
“I think that Dedric is the best player in our league,” Self began. “But I’m not sure that that’s always the reason guys win awards. I’ve been a big proponent in the past that it means something to be the best player on the best team. I think there are three people who have a chance to win it. I could make a case for Dedric, but I could make a case for the other two, as well (Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver and K-State’s Barry Brown Jr.). I hope he does, because, selfishly, it would be great for him and it’d probably guarantee his jersey getting hung up in the rafters. But the reality of it is that the other two kids are deserving of it, too.”
Lawson, himself, whole-heartedly agreed with that take.
Asked if he thought he should win the player of the year honor, Lawson reluctantly offered up the following: “Uhhh… Ha. Yeah, I guess so. Yeah. As far as if you’re putting it in stats. But everything comes with winning, and this year we failed to do that. I think winning cures it all. Those guys are winning. Shouts out to both of those players and their teams for winning and being first place.”
Key 2020 visitors
Top 5 Class of 2020 guard R.J. Hampton and Class of 2020 forward Isaiah Cottrell, both made visits to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday to take in the KU-Baylor game from behind the Kansas bench.
The 5-star Hampton, who stands 6-foot-5, 170 pounds and hails from Little Elm, Texas, is regarded by many as the top prep guard in the country, regardless of class.
Cottrell, a 4-star prospect ranked No. 69 overall in the class by Rivals.com, is a 6-9, 195-pound power forward from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas.
Saturday’s win clinched the outright No. 3 seed for Kansas in next week’s Big 12 tournament at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., where the Jayhawks will play No. 6 Texas at approximately 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Texas lost its finale to TCU on Saturday and split with the Jayhawks this season, winning in Austin, Texas, and falling in Lawrence after missing a last-second shot that would have won the game.
Self said after Saturday’s win that the Jayhawks will have to lock in on a whole new level to have success next week.
“Texas can easily beat us,” he said. “They already have, and they got beat (Saturday) and probably (are) now thinking they’ve got a must-win situation. … It’ll be good. We need to go over there with a free mind and win one game at a time. I certainly would like to stay over there through Saturday.”
This and that…
KU now leads the all-time series with Baylor 32-5, including a 17-0 mark in games played in Lawrence, 16-0 inside Allen Fieldhouse… The Jayhawks now have won 23 or more games for the 30th consecutive season, a streak that began in 1989-90… KU also has now won 12 or more league games for the 19th consecutive season, dating back to the 2000-01 season… The Jayhawks finish the 2018-19 regular season with all-time marks of 2,271-857 overall and 788-113 in Allen Fieldhouse, including a 250-13 record in the 16-year Self era… Self is now 677-208 overall and 470-104 while in charge of the KU program.