Although suffering a blowout loss just hours after being tabbed the No. 1 team in the country was embarrassing, Kansas believes it’s something the team can rally around.
The top-ranked Jayhawks hope to put this humiliating defeat behind them, tighten up their defense and continue their dominance over Colorado at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday.
Kansas’ stay atop the AP poll will likely be short-lived following Monday’s 84-68 loss at Kansas State. The Jayhawks (24-2, 9-2 Big 12) finished with 15.3 points fewer than their season average, had a season-low 23 rebounds and allowed an opponent season-high 56.3 percent shooting.
“I still feel like we’ve got a good team,” junior forward Marcus Morris said. “We just have a long ways to go. We need to defend. We’re going to get better. We’re going to buckle down and guard. We’re going to get better. We’re just going to be a new team.”
Markieff Morris, the conference’s leading rebounder at 8.2 per game, failed to grab a board and Tyshawn Taylor struggled defensively on Jacob Pullen, who had a career-best 38 points.
“I hate to say that a loss makes us better. But I think it can,” Taylor said. “We watched tape and we saw so many different dumb plays that we all made. And we just know what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to learn from that experience.”
The Jayhawks typically do learn from their losses, having played 192 contests since the last time they dropped back-to-back games in mid-January 2006.
A home game against Colorado, 0-14 all-time against top-ranked teams, could also help them get back on track.
Kansas has won 27 in a row at Allen Fieldhouse over the Buffaloes (16-10, 5-6) - the last seven by an average of 20.4 points - since a 75-74 loss on Feb. 10, 1983. First-year Colorado coach Tad Boyle was a member of that Jayhawks team.
“They’re No. 1 in the country and just got beat,” Boyle told the Buffaloes’ official website. “We’re not going to sneak up on them. But I do think the one thing we’re going to have to do is try and control the tempo of the game on offense.”
This will be the second time Boyle’s team faces the Jayhawks after a rare Kansas loss.
Three days after falling to Texas, which ended the nation’s longest home win streak at 69 games, Kansas defeated Colorado 82-78 on Jan. 25. Freshman Josh Selby, who is currently nursing a right ankle injury suffered in that game, had a team-high 17 points, while Marcus Morris added 15.
Although Kansas defeated the Buffaloes for the 16th straight time and has won 43 of 44 in this series, it had some trouble defensively.
Alec Burks, second in the Big 12 with 19.5 points per game, scored 25 and Cory Higgins added 19. The Buffaloes are one of five teams to score more than 76 points against the Jayhawks this season.
“I think the whole thing with them is guarding, eliminating transition, and obviously doing a good job defending Burks and Higgins,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We need to do a good job on those guys.”
Burks is coming off his worst performance of the season, finishing with eight points on 3-of-13 shooting last Saturday against Kansas State. Despite his sluggish outing, the Buffaloes still defeated the Wildcats 58-56 to win for just the second time in eight games, as a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder was waved off.