Kansas basketball: Jayhawks hoping amended starting lineup can spark a new fire in team

Johnny Furphy will be with the Kansas basketball starting five when the Jayhawks tip off at 1:00 p.m.
Allstate Maui Invitiational - Day Two
Allstate Maui Invitiational - Day Two / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

There will be a minor shake-up today for the Kansas basketball team when the No. 3 Jayhawks and No. 9 Oklahoma square off in an early afternoon showdown in historic Allen Fieldhouse.

According to head coach Bill Self, Australian freshman Johnny Furphy will get the nod in the starting lineup over 5-star guard Elmarko Jackson. Jackson had started all 15 games of the 2023-24 season leading up to this point.

“We’re going to start Johnny tomorrow,” Self said in his media presser. “Johnny’s going to start, we’re going to try something different and we’re going to see how that goes. Obviously, I think he’s playing with more confidence.”

Fresh off the ugly loss to UCF on the road — arguably the sloppiest performance of the year — the KU coaching staff opted to make some tweaks in the rotation.

Furphy has been showing flashes of his athleticism and energetic nature. He has not seen more than 20 minutes of action in any contest during the current campaign, but the 6-foot-9 wing could see an uptick in minutes with the first unit.

Through the first half of the regular season, Furphy averages 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds on 48.3% shooting. Meanwhile, Jackson's numbers are much less impressive, posting 5.4 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 rebounds at a 35.2% clip.

The last two games have been disastrous for the first-year guard. He did not connect on any of his four shot attempts against TCU and left a zero in the scoring column once again versus the Knights, adding two turnovers in 22 minutes of play.

There is not expected to be a drastic difference in the distribution of playing time, though we have seen Coach Self ride the hot hand, such as when the struggling Nick Timberlake saw 30 minutes last month.

“Maybe it’ll be good for Elmarko coming off the bench, kind of watching what’s going on first,” Self later said.

After the loss, it was evident that the Jayhawks needed to make a change. Perhaps this is the one that will make the group finally click.