LAWRENCE — Bill Self gave the scorer’s table a kick so aggressive it’s kind of amazing the front-facing video board didn’t lose a few pixels upon impact.
With the way the No. 11-ranked Jayhawks played in their Big 12 home opener Tuesday night, though, it’s kind of hard to blame the longtime Kansas coach.
KU stumbled early and often en route to an 85-73 defeat to No. 18 Texas Tech, falling behind by 16 in the game’s first 10 minutes and getting no closer than six in the second half. The Jayhawks (11-3, 1-1 Big 12) missed all 12 of their second-half 3-point attempts and were out-rebounded by 10 on the offensive glass.
It was only the 12th defeat in 14-plus seasons at Allen Fieldhouse for Self, who did a number on the scorer’s table after Malik Newman was stripped of the ball with 4:38 remaining and the Jayhawks trailing by eight. The Red Raiders, eight-point underdogs, never trailed.
Devonte’ Graham had a game-high 27 for the Jayhawks but went 2 for 8 from 3-point range, part of a KU attack that made only 6 of its 26 attempts beyond the arc. The Red Raiders (13-1, 2-0) entered the game with the nation’s 26th-best 3-point defense, allowing opponents to shoot only 29.9 percent from distance. KU, which made 17 3s in its Big 12 opener at Texas, shot 23.1 percent.
Tech got a team-high 15 points from Keenan Evans but had five players score at least 11. The Red Raiders made 21 of 25 free throw attempts in the victory and out-rebounded the Jayhawks overall 44-29, also holding a 15-4 edge in second-chance points and a 26-8 advantage in points off turnovers, of which KU had 15.
The problems began early for KU, which played a final 14 seconds of the first half that perfectly represented why Tech carried a 43-32 lead into the break.
Zhaire Smith hit an off-balance jumper to give Tech its 11-point edge, and on the ensuing inbounds play, no Jayhawk player stayed back to get the ball to Lagerald Vick as the clock continued to run. Udoka Azubuike eventually turned around and got the ball to Vick, but pressed for time, Graham missed a rushed layup on the other end to complete the half.
It wasn’t the Jayhawks’ only botched inbounds play of the first half.
Tech stormed out to a 23-7 lead, but KU used a 10-2 run and a pair of Svi Mykhailiuk’s three first-half 3-pointers to trim the deficit to eight. A Graham 3-pointer soon after had KU within seven, 29-22, but Evans registered a driving layup, an interception of Mykhailiuk’s ensuing inbounds pass and assist to Brandone Francis on a trey ballooned the lead to 12 in a span of just six seconds.
When the first half was finished, the Red Raiders had out-rebounded the Jayhawks 23-13 and 9-3 on the offensive glass. It took until the 4:09 mark of the opening period until KU registered its first offensive rebound, an effort which led to Tech scoring eight second-chance points in the opening 20 minutes. The Jayhawks finished the half with none.
KU clawed within six early out of the break, but the Red Raiders kept the Jayhawks at arm’s length for first half of the second period. Tommy Hamilton’s layup with 9:25 to play capped an 8-2 run and gave Tech a 62-49 advantage.
Consecutive baskets by Marcus Garrett, Graham and Newman — with, in a role reversal of what occurred, a critical steal by Mykhailiuk on a Tech inbounds pass thrown in — sent the Jayhawks on a 7-0 run and again made the deficit six and forced a Red Raider timeout with 8:42 to play.
Davide Moretti ended the streak with a 3-pointer, though, and a Francis steal of Graham at the top of the key and driving layup again pushed the Tech lead to nine, where the game hovered the rest of the way as the Red Raiders continued to make their free throws. Smith was fouled on an open-lane driving dunk with 1:10 to play and made his ensuing free throw to push the margin to 10 and effectively end the Jayhawks’ hopes of a comeback.
KU will look to rebound — both literally and figuratively — when it returns to action with an 8 p.m. Saturday tilt at No. 16 TCU.