Bill Self and Kelvin Sampson pleased KU-Houston game in Mexico no longer on schedule

Kansas’ scheduled trip to Mexico City for a Dec. 14 basketball game against Big 12 member Houston likely would have been a hit with fans located south of the international border.

It classified as a headache for the coaches from KU and Houston, who frankly were not looking forward to what was billed as a nonconference game meant to expand the conference’s footprint in a neighboring country.

Dec. 14 is the heart of the nonconference season with games between Big 12 teams usually beginning around the start of the New Year.

“I’m glad. Our schedule is loaded enough,” KU coach Bill Self said of recent news that Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark had postponed the game in Mexico City until 2025. The conference pointed out the rescheduled game for 2025 may or may not involve KU and Houston. Women’s teams from both schools also were to have played in the one-day doubleheader.

“That’s a long way to go for one game. We’ll be team players and try to help the league,” Self added. “… I am probably glad we are not doing it. I’m glad we’re not doing it this year.”

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson told the Houston Chronicle he was “ecstatic,” that the KU-Houston game was recently erased from the 2024-25 schedule.

“I was never a big fan of that,” Sampson said. He told the newspaper he was concerned the Cougars would have lost a nonconference matchup in order to play KU in a game that didn’t count in the league standings.

Sampson called Big 12 commissioner Yormark a “bag of fireworks” for coming up with innovative ways to market the league.

“Our commissioner is unbelievable,” Sampson told the Chronicle. “The Big 12 is lucky to have him. For him to come in and start just popping firecrackers, lobbing cherry bombs, that dude is a bag of fireworks. I love him. I absolutely love Brett Yormark.”

KU’s nonconference schedule for 2024-25 has not yet been announced. The Jayhawks will play North Carolina on Nov. 8 at Allen Fieldhouse in the first game of a two-year home-and-home series. Just four days later, it’ll be KU versus Michigan State in the Champions Classic in Atlanta.

Obviously those are two exceedingly difficult games at the outset of the nonconference campaign.

KU will play a yet-to-be-determined foe in the Big East/Big 12 Battle. That likely will be a road game for the Jayhawks, perhaps a return game at two-time defending national champ UConn since UConn made the trip to Lawrence this past season.

Also, KU will travel to Columbia, Missouri, in December to face the Tigers in a Border War contest.

The Big 12, which expands to 16 teams in 2024-25, has not yet announced if the league schedule will be 18 games or jump to 20 contests.

“We don’t want that, to go to 20 league games,” Self said. “You are already playing an exempt tournament, the Champions Classic, (another hard game) if the Big East Challenge continues, and we play (two) home-and-homes. Your schedule is basically done and you don’t even talk about buy games (against mid-major or low-major teams at Allen Fieldhouse). One of our problems this year, with our young kids, we didn’t play a schedule that allowed those guys to play through mistakes. Going to 20 league games would be that on steroids.”

Last year’s home-and-home games were against Missouri at home and Indiana on the road. KU has not yet announced which exempt Thanksgiving week tourney it’ll play in November.