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Moments That Popped: KU’s lopsided loss to UH ends regular season

Jayhawks struggle to respond against Cougars’ early onslaught

3 min read
KU guard Jamari McDowell, a Houston native, looks to make a play against No. 1 Houston during the Jayhawks' 76-46 loss on Saturday in the regular season finale. [Kansas Athletics photo]

Houston — There’s nothing easy about walking into the home of the top-ranked team in the nation and pulling out a win.

The 14th-ranked Jayhawks men’s basketball team learned that all too well Saturday in Houston. The Cougars pounded on the Jayhawks early and never let up, leading to a 76-46 loss in their regular season finale.

Coach Bill Self praised the Cougars after the game, saying he hopes they clinch the No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament later this month.

As for his Jayhawks, Self was less optimistic. The team is battling injuries to its two best players (more on that below), and couldn’t match the intensity of the high-flying Cougars, who clinched the Big 12 Championship outright during the game with Iowa State’s loss to K-State.

To his credit, Self tried to halt any Houston runs early with a trio of timeouts. They were largely ineffective as the fast-moving Cougars kept their foot on the gas.

“It was one of those days,” Self said.


Johnny Furphy: The freshman was all over the court, scoring points (9), grabbing rebounds (5), dishing out assists (4), and blocking shots (2). Furphy played with an intensity that largely went unmatched by the rest of his teammates, which is a testament for the youngster playing in a hostile environment against the top team in the nation.


Lack of intensity: From the opening tipoff, Kansas didn’t match Houston’s intensity. The Cougars flew across the court, scoring in transition, dropping alley-oops that ignited the crowd, forcing turnovers, and making it difficult on a Kansas offense that wasn’t at full health. Parker Braun summed it up perfectly postgame, “If you want to beat a team like this in their own building, you’ve got to bring it, and we didn’t, obviously. They threw the first punch and we folded.” At one point, the Jayhaws found themselves down 25 points in the first half (34-9) before closing the gap at halftime (40-21). Self said he wasn’t as concerned about his team’s effort rather than its intensity. The Jayhawks did have scoring chances and opportunities early to keep the game close, but the buckets didn’t fall. “The few good possessions we had we came away empty,” Self said. “On the few bad possessions they had, it seems like they got 3 points at the end.” He’s not wrong. The Cougars drained 11 3s, each one further igniting the raucous crowd.

Injuries bite hard: Kevin McCullar Jr., the team’s leading scorer, started today’s game but only played 15 minutes before taking the bench. Self said McCullar is still fighting a knee injury and isn’t 100%. During pregame warmups, Self said McCullar wanted to try to play, which the coach admitted postgame that it’s a decision he regrets. Then, halfway through the second half, big man Hunter Dickinson went to grab a rebound and immediately grabbed his arm before he headed to the locker room. Self said that Dickinson dislocated his shoulder and it was popped back in. Dickinson will undergo an MRI and his status heading into the Big 12 Tournament is unclear. “I don’t feel great about the big picture, only because I don’t know what our health situation is,” Self said. “If we had our five guys and they're all lined up and they're healthy, we can play with anybody. But we're not right now.”


Kansas heads into the Big 12 Tournament in unfamiliar terriroty. The Jayhawks, who are used to opening the tournament as the top seed, will likely fall somewhere in the middle of the pack after a 22-9 regular season and 10-8 showing in Big 12 play, including a 2-7 mark on the road.

The Big 12 tourney tips off Tuesday at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

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