KU-ISU Notebook: Clemence injures knee, expected to miss ‘extended period of time’

Iowa State center Osun Osunniyi (21) drives to the basket past Kansas guard MJ Rice (11) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Ames, Iowa — An already injury-riddled Kansas basketball team took another hit on Saturday afternoon, during a 68-53 loss at No. 13 Iowa State.

Sophomore forward Zach Clemence left Saturday’s game with a knee injury that KU coach Bill Self said was nothing “significant” but would keep the big man out for “an extended period of time.”

“We don’t know what that is,” Self said of Clemence’s injury which came as he fell to the ground after hustling back on defense to make a hustle block with 4:24 to play in the first half and KU trailing by just six. “Whether it’s a week or two weeks, we’ll know more probably (Sunday). But, yeah, we’re a beat-up team.”

Because of the quick turn-around and No. 8 Kansas having to play host to Big 12-leader Texas on Monday night, Self said he tried to limit the minutes for point guard Dajuan Harris Jr., once the game was out of reach.

Others who played through some kind of ailment on Saturday included Bobby Pettiford (hamstring), Kevin McCullar (finger) and MJ Rice (back).

“We’re beat up,” Self said. “I tried to keep Juan out because we play Monday, and Bobby couldn’t go today. He was out there, but he never pushed off. We’re beat up.”

Those were not the only Jayhawks who have been plagued by injuries this season. Super-senior big man Cam Martin did not suit up because of his shoulder injury, and guard Kyle Cuffe Jr., who has been out all season with a knee injury, missed the game entirely because of a death in the family.

Asked if how concerned Self was about the growing number of injuries facing his team and if he had thought about how to handle the next couple of days leading up to the UT game, the Kansas coach said, “I hadn’t even thought about the next day or two. I’m just trying to figure out how I can hurry up and get back and eat my chicken finger sandwich right now. That’s about the best thing that’s happened to me today. And it’s really good, just so you guys know. Melted cheese.”

Conference talk

Saturday marked the first game of the second half of the Big 12 Conference race, which promises to be a down-to-the-wire sprint involving anywhere between two and five or six teams.

Saturday’s loss certainly hurt KU’s chances temporarily, but Self said before the trip north that KU’s path to a league title was clear.

“I don’t know what the number is,” he said when asked what record would win the Big 12. “But I think five (losses) would be really looking good right now. For us to have a chance we’re going to have to go steal a couple and then hold serve at home. And holding serve at home has become more difficult than it ever was in the past.”

KU is now down to three more road games before the end of the regular season — at Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State and at TCU.

In terms of preparation for the four-week stretch that will decide the conference champion, Self said this week that he views weeks based solely on the two games closest together.

“I usually break it down (to) games that week,” he said. “And it’s always the Saturday-Monday or the Saturday-Tuesday games I’m looking at.”

For instance, even though they were in the same week on the calendar, Tuesday’s win versus Kansas State and Saturday’s game at Iowa State were in different preparation weeks, with the ISU game being paired with the upcoming Big Monday battle with Texas at Allen Fieldhouse.

Nice timing

It’s certainly not unusual for the parents of Kansas freshman Gradey Dick to attend one of their son’s games, at home or away. But the timing of Saturday’s clash with Iowa State could not have worked out much better for Dick’s mom.

Saturday’s men’s hoops game was the first of a doubleheader of basketball at Hilton Coliseum, with the women’s team playing Baylor later in the day. According to KU spokesman, ISU planned to host a women’s hoops reunion after their battle with the Bears and Dick’s mom, formerly Carmen Jaspers, was planning to stay in Ames for the festivities, along with her parents.

Originally from Ackley, Iowa, she played at ISU from 1986-89 and scored 1,097 points during her career while finishing second on ISU’s career field goal percentage list at 61.9%. In 1989, she was named Iowa State’s Female Athlete of the Year

This and that…

Saturday’s loss snapped a two-game KU winning streak. The Jayhawks now have lost four of their last five conference games, making them the first Self team to have to suffer through that kind of stretch… Iowa State’s win snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Jayhawks, dating back to 2019… KU is now 4-3 in true road games this season and 7-4 in games played away from Allen Fieldhouse… Self is now 14-6 at Kansas inside Hilton Coliseum… Iowa State remained unbeaten at home this season with the win.


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