Another high-wire act for Jayhawks

By Steve Sell
February 28, 2017

The Kansas Jayhawks once again played faucet basketball on Monday.

They turned it on and off in their home finale against ninth-place Oklahoma, finally turning it on over the final 10 minutes as they rallied for a 73-63 victory, which included a 31-9 second-half avalanche of points.

KU continued what has to be a worrisome trend of falling behind teams, only to rally at the end. Even though this probably isn’t one of Bill Self’s very best teams, the Jayhawks find themselves at No. 1 in country with a week left in the regular season, which shows the parity in college basketball.

When KU played the Sooners in Norman, they were down 9 at the half and came back strong. This seems to be a pattern for KU against the bottom half of the Big 12, which now includes Kansas State since its season has cratered as coach Bruce Weber appears to be all but gone unless the Wildcats win out and then do some serious damage in the Big 12 Tournament.

When I was watching Monday’s game, I didn’t feel a sense of panic even when the Jayhawks were down 54-42. 

That’s because there’s always Frank Mason to bring them back.

Josh Jackson was experiencing an off night as he had hands of butter, Svi Mykhailuk remained in the witness protection program and Devonte’ Graham was nowhere to be found. Only the toy bulldog Mason was keeping them from getting embarrassed, along with the steadiness of Landen Lucas.

Then Graham caught fire and Legerald Vick provided a spark. Once Jackson joined the fray, the Jayhawks steamrolled the Sooners and you can thank the deafening Allen Field House crowd for rattling the Sooners into a jittery mess. Lon Kruger was out of timeouts with 6 minutes to go and you knew then it was bad news for them.

You just have to wonder how many more times KU can get away with its hire-wire act. I know this team has tremendous resolve and a belief it can come back from any deficit. The Jayhawks definitely have made games much more exciting this year, but there’s going to come a time where they’re going to cross the point of no return and the season is going to be over.

This may be Self’s best coaching job. He doesn’t have a lot of depth, there’s little size other than Lucas, and the team is way too soft on the boards. He’s also had to handle a spate of off-the-court distractions that have made KU fans somewhat uncomfortable.

But when you have the best player on the court every game, in Mason, you always have a great chance to win.