LAWRENCE — Bill Self still expects this Kansas group to make history, and the 15th-year coach told his team that much after Tuesday night’s home defeat to Texas Tech.
It’s not, however, the type of history his players likely enjoyed hearing him predict, and whether the Jayhawks are able to prove their coach wrong could be essential in whether they’re able to achieve the more coveted history within the program’s crosshairs.
“I told our guys after the game, I said, ‘Hey guys, I mean, we didn’t play well, they made us look bad — real bad at times,” Self recalled Thursday. “But it’s not going to be the last time we leave out of here sad this year.’ ”
KU has never lost three contests at Allen Fieldhouse in any single season under Self, who entered this campaign with only 10 defeats at the Phog. In fact, Self-led Jayhawk teams had only lost a pair of games in a single season twice before (2005-06, 2006-07).
A third season was added to that list with Tuesday’s 85-73 defeat to the Red Raiders, which followed the team’s early-December tumble against Arizona State. If the team does indeed suffer another home setback, the No. 10-ranked Jayhawks (11-3, 1-1 Big 12) will have multiple home defeats in conference play for the first time under Self, who has led the program to a national record-tying 13 straight regular-season conference championships.
“We certainly haven’t put ourselves in a very favorable position, but it’s Week 1,” Self said. “Eleven percent of our conference play, if I’m not mistaken, is done. Still got 89 percent left. We still have opportunities, as does everybody else, to improve if they’re not happy with the way they started.”
On the bright side, Self doesn’t expect to be alone in facing difficulties at home, a reality illustrated by teams’ 2-8 record at home through the first 10 games of Big 12 play — noteworthy, as the Jayhawks assume the road-team role for their next contest.
“It’s going to be a gauntlet. Nobody is going to run the table,” Self said. “Certainly there will be a lot of ups and downs, so you’ve just got to move on to the next one as quickly as possible (and) have a short memory.”
KU’s next opponent certainly experienced a down in its Big 12 opener.
No. 16 TCU (13-1, 1-1), which the Jayhawks will face at 8:15 p.m. Saturday at Ed & Rae Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, was unable to hold a late lead in an eventual 90-89 home defeat to Trae Young (39 points, 14 assists) and Oklahoma.
“They’ve only had one hiccup. That was the game they controlled ’til the very end,” Self said of TCU. “I think they’re really good. I think (coach) Jamie (Dixon) is a terrific coach. I think they’ve recruited really well.”
Seniors Kenrich Williams and Vlad Brodziansky anchor a Horned Frog starting five that were all part of the team’s run to the NIT Tournament championship last spring. Williams, a 6-foot-7 guard, is averaging 14.8 points and 9.2 rebounds, while the 6-11 forward Brodziansky is averaging 13.7 points and 4.4 rebounds.
Everyone in TCU’s starting lineup averages at least 11.1 points.
“They have some holdover guys that have really blossomed and become really good players in their junior and senior seasons,” Self said. “They have a nice blend of newcomers that are really helping them, but they really have a lot of veteran experience that’s rock solid.
“It will be a hard game. … Jamie and TCU, with the commitment they made to basketball, the arena and everything, they’re not going anywhere. They’re going to be good for a long, long time.”