Bill Self knew inexperience would cost his young Kansas team some games, especially early in the season.
The No. 22 Jayhawks, however, should have little trouble bouncing back from their first loss of the season when they return home to face Coppin State on Friday night.
Kansas (3-1) lost 89-81 in overtime to Syracuse in the championship game of the CBE Classic in nearby Kansas City on Tuesday. The loss came against an Orange team which entered with a 4-0 record after the Jayhawks dominated their first three opponents, who currently have a combined 6-11 record.
The result also ended Kansas’ 25-game regular-season winning streak versus non-conference opponents, dating to a loss at DePaul on Dec. 2, 2006.
“It’s all tough to swallow,” said junior Cole Aldrich, who had 15 points and 16 rebounds. “It was one of those that you look back and go ‘man.’ Every game can come down to one possession. There’s a lot of possessions that could have made us not in that situation.”
Future close games and similar situations like that one could continue to challenge the defending national champions, who return one starter while adding seven newcomers.
“At times, we looked pretty good, but we lost our composure for a couple stretches and those couple stretches allowed Syracuse to get back in it, no doubt about it,” said Self, whose team allowed a 13-2 Orange run in the second half.
A day earlier, Self’s club was solid, shooting 50 percent in a 73-54 win over Washington in the CBE semifinals in its first real test of the season. The Jayhawks, however, regressed against Syracuse and shot a season-low 41.9 percent — including 3-of-11 in overtime—while committing 17 turnovers.
Junior guard Sherron Collins, the only returning starter, had 21 points, while freshman Tyshawn Taylor added 17 for the Jayhawks. Taylor is one of four Kansas freshmen to have started a game this season.
While Aldrich has some big-game experience, Collins has taken over the squad, averaging 20.0 points after scoring 9.3 per game in each of his first two seasons for the Jayhawks.
“I’m confident right now because coach has given me the freedom to go out there and get my own shot and do what I want,” said Collins, whose nine 3-pointers made this season match the rest of the team combined.
Now, Kansas begins a four-game stretch of winnable non-conference contests at Allen Fieldhouse, where it will try to extend its home winning streak to 26 games.
The Jayhawks face Coppin State (1-1) for the first time since beating the Eagles 91-69 in Lawrence on Dec. 5, 1994 in the teams’ only previous meeting.
Coppin, which won’t play a home game until Jan. 10, faces its second straight ranked opponent after losing 66-46 at then-No. 11 Purdue on Nov. 22.
Senior guard Tywain McKee scored 17 points and sophomore Vince Goldsberry added 10 for the Eagles, who shot 30.0 percent from the field and went 3-for-18 from 3-point range versus the Boilermakers.
Though Coppin doesn’t figure to give Kansas too much trouble, McKee could pose a challenge for the Jayhawks guards. The Mid-Eastern Conference’s preseason player of the year, McKee is averaging 18.5 points on 17-for-30 shooting and 4.5 rebounds through two games.
“I think Mckee showed his ability to score,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “He is shifty and a good shooter.”
Coppin State has lost 29 straight games versus ranked opponents since a 78-65 victory over then-No. 6 South Carolina on March 14, 1997.