For No. 2 Jayhawks, earning a win goes beyond the box score
Kansas has bounced back nicely from its only loss — one that might not sting as much as is it did three weeks ago.
Up two spots to second in the Top 25, the Jayhawks appear to be in good position to continue their roll with a sixth consecutive victory Wednesday night against visiting Holy Cross.
Since shooting 34.8 percent in a 79-73 defeat to then-No. 13 Michigan State on Nov. 17, Kansas (6-1) has averaged 90.8 points and 53.0 percent shooting, winning the Maui Invitational and holding its last three opponents to fewer than 70 points. The Jayhawks’ defeat also doesn’t look as bad considering Michigan State is undefeated and moved to No. 1 in the poll after last week’s top two teams — Kentucky and Maryland — lost.
Kansas was hardly dominant in Saturday’s 75-69 victory over Harvard, but coach Bill Self wasn’t completely disappointed with the effort.
"We need to be more competitive in certain situations," he said. "We certainly can play a lot better (but) I’m not discouraged at all."
Frank Mason scored a season-high 21 points and the Jayhawks shot 47.5 percent. Kansas, though, went 13 of 25 from the free-throw line and was outrebounded 39-31 by a Crimson team that recorded 32 points in the paint and outscored the hosts by three in the second half.
"We were disappointed in not really paying attention to details," Mason said.
Not simply being satisfied with a victory is something Self continues to drive home to his players.
"We did miss a lot of free throws and layups; just little things like that could have been a bigger outcome or bigger lead in the end," guard Devonte Graham said. "We will correct it."
Kansas has one more opportunity Wednesday to clean things up before facing a talented a Oregon State squad in Kansas City on Saturday. The Jayhawks have won 26 straight at home against unranked nonconference opponents.
Playing its first Top 25 opponent since knocking off then No. 25 Harvard last November, Holy Cross (3-5) is looking to avoid a third consecutive defeat overall.
In their first season under former Northwestern coach Bill Carmody and his deliberate offensive system, the Crusaders are averaging 63.3 points and shooting 39.4 percent. However, they made 49.2 percent while setting a season high for points in Saturday’s 88-84 overtime loss to Albany.
Junior guard Anthony Thompson shot 17.2 percent from the field and went 4 of 36 from 3-point range in the first seven games, but was 6 of 10 from the beyond the arc and finished with a career-high 23 points Saturday.
"We’re not going to be any good unless he plays well for us," Carmody said.
Junior Malachi Alexander is averaging team highs of 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds.
This is the first meeting since Kansas beat Holy Cross 81-57 to open the 2002-03 season.