On paper, you wouldn’t think that Saturday’s match up against last-place Oklahoma State (10-18 overall, 3-12 in conference) represents much of a challenge for the Jayhawks. But if you look a little deeper, you’d see a much more ominous opponent.
Bill Self, who is from Edmond, Okla., played at OSU from 1981-85. He was then an assistant at OSU from 1986 to 1993, coaching under Leonard Hamilton and Hall of Famer Eddie Sutton, before moving on to become the head coach at Oral Roberts.
Coincidentally (or maybe not), no one has handed Self more losses since he’s been at Kansas than his alma mater. In fact, last year, OSU became the first team in the Self-Kansas era to sweep the Jayhawks.
Per sports-reference.com, Kansas is 18–10 against the Cowboys since Self began coaching in 2003-04, with seven of those losses coming at Gallagher-Iba Arena. More importantly, the Jayhawks are just 1-4 in their last five meetings in Stillwater. Couple that with the fact that KU is 2-5 on the road in Big 12 play this season and this could make for a closer game than expected.
"I think the sense of urgency — having your back against the wall — we know we have to be different than we have been [on the road]."@CoachBillSelf on road games at this point in the season and in the league race #KUbball
— Kansas Basketball (@KUHoops) February 28, 2019
Bill Self’s struggles against his former school are not unlike North Carolina coach Roy Williams’ struggles when playing Kansas. Roy didn’t play at KU obviously, but you can tell he’s uncomfortable playing Kansas due to the fact that Kansas was home for him for 15 years.
Since he’s been at UNC, the Tar Heels are 0-3 against KU with losses by an average of 14 points. Seeing Kansas on the jersey seems to affect him and perhaps the same thing happens to Self when he steps into that arena and sees his old school’s colors
In other words…Oklahoma State is like Bill Self’s kryptonite.
If Kansas wants to achieve at least a share of their 15th straight Big 12 title, then they can’t be susceptible to the kryptonite this time around. The Jayhawks sit one game back from Kansas State and Texas Tech with just three games remaining: At OSU, at Oklahoma, and at home versus Baylor.
Texas Tech and K-State also have three games remaining and the odds of each of them losing more than one game are slim – meaning Kansas needs to win out to keep their conference hopes alive.
Will Bill Self and KU overcome their road woes at Oklahoma State? We’ll find out at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
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