A surprise defeat to an undermanned opponent knocked Kansas out of the top spot in the rankings. A meeting with Nebraska should be just what the Jayhawks need to rebound from their first loss.
Third-ranked Kansas looks to beat the Cornhuskers for the 14th consecutive time when it opens its Big 12 schedule Wednesday night in Lincoln.
The Jayhawks (14-1) cruised to a season-opening 14-game winning streak, outscoring opponents by an average of 27.6 points while shooting 51.3 percent from the field. It was their best start since opening 20-0 during the 2007-08 national championship season.
Kansas’ superb start came to a sudden end Sunday with a 76-68 loss at then-No. 16 Tennessee. The defeat was especially surprising given the Volunteers played with three walk-ons and two freshmen after four players were arrested on misdemeanor gun and drug charges Jan. 1.
Negating that apparent advantage, the Jayhawks turned in one of their worst offensive performances, shooting 37.7 percent while committing 16 turnovers to Tennessee’s eight.
“The thing I will tell you is this: I don’t know if Tennessee was a team until this past week. I don’t know if Kansas is a team yet,” coach Bill Self said.
The Jayhawks might have the ideal chance to rebound against Nebraska (12-4, 0-1). They hold a 27-3 advantage on the Cornhuskers since the inception of the Big 12 in 1997, and have won 13 straight meetings by an average of 20.4 points since a loss at Lincoln on Feb. 15, 2004.
Kansas, which won a fifth consecutive Big 12 regular-season title by going 14-2 in conference play last season, has also won five consecutive visits to Nebraska, including a 68-62 victory last Jan. 28.
Sherron Collins will try to help the Jayhawks continue that success. The senior guard had 22 points Sunday but struggled at times from the field, making 7 of 20 shots - 2 of 10 from beyond the arc. The performance came four days after he put up a season-high 33 points in a 71-66 win over Cornell.
Collins’ 15.6 points per game are second on the team behind freshman guard Xavier Henry’s 15.7. Collins averaged 19.5 points on 60.9 percent shooting in two meetings with Nebraska last season.
The Cornhuskers are also trying to rebound from a loss after falling 64-53 at Texas A&M in their conference opener Saturday, when they shot only 37.0 percent from the field.
Ryan Anderson, the team leader with an average of 11.2 points, is looking for a better performance after making 2 of 8 shots and finishing with seven points Saturday. The senior guard had totaled 31 points and shot 61.1 percent over the previous two games - both wins.
While Nebraska averages a conference-low 68.9 points, it’s also the stingiest defensively, allowing 58.6 per game.
The Cornhuskers have dropped six of their last seven meetings with ranked opponents, but don’t appear intimidated by the Jayhawks.
“We want to compete with them and we want to win,” freshman guard Eshaunte Jones told the team’s official Web site. “We need to just look at it as another game. It’s a big game, but we’ve played basketball just like they have. To me, it’s not going to be any different than any other game. I think if we just stick together as a family and play together, we’ll be just fine.”