Kansas-Oklahoma St. Preview
Coach Bill Self wants Kansas to have fun, but recent visits to Stillwater have instead left his team searching for answers.
Oklahoma State is already doing that during a season-high four-game slide.
The third-ranked Jayhawks attempt to avoid another road defeat to the Cowboys in this Big 12 matchup Tuesday night.
Self wasn't satisfied with his club's effort in Saturday's 70-63 win over TCU. The Jayhawks (15-2, 4-1) shot 43.3 percent from the field and 5 of 20 from 3-point range, four days after losing 74-63 to then-No. 11 West Virginia.
"The last two outings have been very lackluster and certainly we have to be better, a lot better this week," coach Bill Self said. "Basketball is supposed to be game that's played with great energy and it's supposed to be a fun game to play and we haven't acted like it's a fun game to play this last week."
The same could be said of Kansas' last two games at Oklahoma State (9-8, 1-4), losing both while shooting 40.0 percent from the floor and 64.9 from the free-throw line. The Jayhawks also blew an 11-point halftime lead in a 67-62 defeat on Feb. 7 to drop to 2-4 in their last six visits.
"We haven't played well in Stillwater, for the most part, since I've been here," said Self, who is 3-5 there since joining Kansas in 2003-04. "We have to do some things better, the ball is sticking a little bit."
That could lead to Self giving freshmen Carlton Bragg Jr. and Cheick Diallo more playing time. They certainly made a case for it Saturday with Bragg scoring 10 points in 16 minutes while Diallo had nine while adding nine rebounds and five blocks.
"They're getting better, there is no question about that." Self said. "I think Cheick's attitude has been so good even when he hadn't played, he's always out there bouncing and he can't help but get better when you care as much as he does."
Wayne Selden Jr. is averaging 10.3 points on 37.9 percent from the field over the last three games. That's a major drop for the junior guard, who totaled 45 points and hit 54.5 percent of his field-goal attempts the previous two contests.
Selden had a team-high 15 points at Stillwater last year, while Perry Ellis had 10 with 10 boards. Ellis came one rebound shy of matching those numbers Saturday after averaging 21.0 points during the three prior games.
The Cowboys are trying to prevent their first five-game slide since dropping seven in a row from Jan. 27-Feb. 17, 2014. Showing improvement in the first half would help their cause.
Oklahoma State has been faced with a halftime deficit of at least 12 points in each of its last four games. It's lost the last two by seven total points, including Saturday's 74-69 defeat at Texas as the Longhorns' 15-point lead at the break proved too much.
"We just gotta play like we're down 30 at tip-off," said forward Leyton Hammonds, who had 18 points and nine rebounds after totaling 19 and 14 over the previous three games.
This will be the first time Hammonds gets serious minutes against Kansas after failing to score in 28 total minutes over his first five career matchups.
Jawun Evans - second on the team with 12.4 points per game - scored 12 on 4-of-13 shooting Saturday after he set a freshman team record with 42 points three days earlier in a 74-72 loss to then-No. 2 Oklahoma.
The Cowboys haven't lost five of their first six conference games since opening 1-6 in 2007-08.