Self thinks Texas Tech could present similar challenge to Baylor

Kansas head coach Bill Self huddles up his players during a break in action against Baylor during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024 at Allen Fieldhouse. Photo by Nick Krug

On the plus side for Kansas, head coach Bill Self thinks his team’s preparation for Baylor could apply well for the game against Texas Tech on Monday, too.

“That may be something good from a scouting-report standpoint, that we can still probably not have to change a ton in a very short amount of time,” Self said after the 64-61 victory over the Bears.

On the other hand, Self also wasn’t happy with how his team played in the late stages against Baylor, citing “four or five plays” that by all rights could have cost KU that win.

The final moments of the game included a series of errors by transfer guard Nick Timberlake, who was making his first start as a Jayhawk. Timberlake’s errant pass and missed free throw overshadowed what could have been a heroic second half after he had made a pair of 3s and snagged a steal for a triumphant two-handed dunk.

Asked about Timberlake’s performance in the postgame press conference, Self simply said, “We won.”

He and Elmarko Jackson (one point, one assist, four steals in 21 minutes) will likely be called upon for extended action for the second time in three days against Tech because Kevin McCullar Jr. is still dealing with knee issues. As Self said, “I can’t imagine Kevin being a lot better on Monday if he can’t hardly move on Saturday.”

Dajuan Harris Jr. also suffered an ankle injury late against Baylor, though returned to the floor promptly. Self said he didn’t know anything about how Harris’ ailment might progress. Jamari McDowell was also dealing with an illness Saturday.

Whatever happens, it’ll be another tight-rotation game for KU. The Jayhawks were prepared to deploy walk-ons Michael Jankovich and Wilder Evers if needed on Saturday. Instead, three starters played 36 minutes, Harris played 32 and Timberlake 31.

Center Hunter Dickinson said of his recovery plans between Saturday and Monday that he would “get in the cold tub, drink this smoothie right here, probably just relax,” adding, “I don’t feel young anymore, I’m an old 23 now.”

He’ll match up with another veteran big man in Tech’s 7-foot Arizona State transfer Warren Washington, who averages 10.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 blocks. The Red Raiders lost one of their scorers, Devan Cambridge, to a season-ending injury, but have gotten plenty of production from the various guards who space the floor around Washington, led by Pop Isaacs (16.9 points per game) and Joe Toussaint (12.7).

“They’re a lot like Baylor in that they’re going to put four guards around their big,” Self said.

The 23rd-ranked Red Raiders beat UCF 66-59 Saturday afternoon even as Isaacs was held to seven points, as the rest of their starting lineup made it to double figures despite the team’s 38.3% shooting performance. They went on an 8-0 run late to dispatch the Knights, advancing to 17-6 on the year and 6-4 in conference play, just half a game behind the Jayhawks.

KU will hope for a more successful Saturday/Monday turnaround than last week.

“We had a spurt like this and gave one up to Kansas State, so (we’re) just trying to really capitalize on this week and get that win against Texas Tech,” forward KJ Adams said.

Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. Monday at United Supermarkets Arena.


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