If Kansas is unable to win its fourth straight Big 12 conference championship, its recent struggles away from Allen Fieldhouse will be the reason why.
The sixth-ranked Jayhawks try to bounce back from another disappointing road defeat as they look to avoid losing their third straight game away from Lawrence when they play Iowa State on Wednesday.
Kansas (24-3, 9-3) is in second place in the Big 12, 1 1/2 games back of conference-leading Texas. The Jayhawks appeared to be on track to win their fourth straight Big 12 title, as they opened the season with 20 straight wins, but they have dropped three of seven since.
“Usually you are pretty settled in on who you are as a team by now. We just haven’t had the intangible things that are controllable be as positive as it was earlier in the season,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We are playing for an opportunity to win a league championship. It’s disappointing to me that we are talking about intangibles right now because it’s the time when intangibles are the most important.”
All of the Jayhawks’ losses have come on the road, as they’ve lost two straight, and three of their last four away from Allen Fieldhouse. They have not lost three straight road games since Feb. 14-March 6, 2005.
“Every away game we either barely win or we lose,” sophomore forward Darrell Arthur said. “We just have to play better away, play more aggressive. We have to correct that.”
Arthur is averaging a team-high 13.5 points, but matched his season low with six points before fouling out with 6:04 remaining in Saturday’s 61-60 loss at Oklahoma State. He has scored 14 points on 5-of-12 shooting in his last two games after scoring 45 points on 18-of-30 shooting in his previous two.
On Saturday, the Jayhawks committed 21 turnovers - one below their season-high - and finished with only seven assists. They managed to rally from a nine-point second-half deficit to go ahead 58-54 in the final 3 minutes, but could not hold on, as Brandon Rush missed a 3-pointer from the left corner as time expired.
“I felt like we were out of rhythm the whole game. We weren’t all on the same page,” said senior forward Darnell Jackson, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday. “I don’t know what it is, but we need to find it out and work through that so we all can stay on the same page because we played terrible.”
Kansas looks to get better results against the Cyclones, whom they beat 83-59 on Jan. 23. The Jayhawks held Iowa State to 31.1 percent shooting and outrebounded them 46-33, while Jackson had 21 points and 11 boards and Arthur had 16 points.
The Jayhawks have won five straight over the Cyclones by 17.6 points, and 12 of the last 14 meetings. They’ve also won three straight at Hilton Coliseum, and five of six there.
Iowa State (14-13, 4-8) is 12-4 in Ames this season, but has lost four straight home games against ranked opponents since a 72-60 victory over then-No. 12 Iowa on Dec. 9, 2005.
The Cyclones, who are in 11th place in the Big 12, are coming off a 76-64 loss to Texas Tech on Saturday—their fifth defeat in six games.
Senior center Jiri Hubalek finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds, and is averaging 18.7 points—5.5 better than his season average—in his last six games. Hubalek had eight points and eight boards against Kansas last month.
Iowa State, which has played three ranked teams this season, has lost 10 in a row against Top 25 opponents since its win over the Hawkeyes more than two years ago.