The Kansas basketball team was at its lowest point all season in last night's 29-point loss to Texas Tech. With Kevin McCullar sidelined with a bone bruise in his knee, the Jayhawks could not get anything going offensively, scoring a season-low 50 points in the same game Bill Self was ejected for the first time at KU.
Following the defeat, the Jayhawks sit at 1-5 in road league games and fifth in the Big 12 in the race for the conference title. The team is still 14-0 at home for the year and 2-1 on neutral sites, but the road struggles appear to be too much to overcome with this group.
Nothing positive can be taken away from yesterday. Hunter Dickinson, Dajuan Harris, and KJ Adams combined to score 17 points on 5-for-30 shooting. No player stepped up in McCullar's absence. The final score reflected that.
Jayhawk fans might be compelled to more or less write the rest of the regular season off, but every team goes through tough stretches. As Hunter Dickinson put it postgame, when you're a school the caliber of Kansas, you're going to get everyone's best. Tech fans brought their best last night, and KU players brought their worst.
While there have been countless games where Kansas turns it over excessively or struggles to stop the three-ball, the Jayhawks have gutted out many challenging victories on neutral sites or at home. KU's resume includes wins over No. 1 UConn, No. 5 Houston, No. 6 Tennessee, No. 13 Baylor, No. 17 Kentucky, and Oklahoma when they were ranked ninth. Not many schools around the country can say they've won that many big games.
Is it possible that this team simply crumbles in hostile atmospheres? Maybe. The NCAA selection committee might not view it that way but no matter how you spin it, there are no road games in the Big 12 or NCAA Tournament. They are all neutral-site affairs, and Kansas did well in early-season neutral-site games.
By no means am I defending that horrendous performance vs. Texas Tech. It was one of the worst losses Kansas has suffered in the past decade. Still, this team is as battle-tested as they come, and that could prove to matter next month. When you have two potential All-Americans and a head coach with the experience and knowledge that Bill Self has, it is far too early to count the Jayhawks out.