Bill Self tore into his Kansas basketball team after watching undefeated Pac-12 school Arizona State shred his once-proud Jayhawk defense for an unheard-of 95 points Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse.
“This is the softest team that Kansas has had since I’ve been here,” Self, in his 15th year as KU’s coach, declared after the Jayhawks allowed 58 second-half points in a 95-85 loss to the No. 16 Sun Devils — KU’s second straight loss, which dropped the second-ranked Jayhawks to 7-2 overall.
KU fell to another Pac-12 school, Washington (74-65), on Wednesday at the Sprint Center, KU’s home-away-from-home.
“When I say soft, I throw that term around a lot. I don’t know how else you could describe the last four halves we’ve played if you don’t say that,” Self added, noting, “a lot that is experience. A lot of that is youth. A lot is just the way we are physically built and the way our skill set is. The bottom line is we have to become tougher on that end.”
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The 95 points were the most allowed by a Self-coached KU team in a regulation game. Kansas has allowed 100 or more points twice under Self and 96 another time in games that went to overtime.
Sunday’s total was the most points scored by a visiting team in Allen Fieldhouse in a regulation game since Kentucky scored 95 in a 150-95 loss to the Jayhawks on Dec. 9, 1989.
Arizona State’s 58 second-half points, which blew open a close game that KU led 40-37 at halftime, were the most allowed in a half by a Self-coached Jayhawks team in a single half.
It’s the most scored against a KU team in a half overall since Texas Tech scored 60 in the second half back on Feb. 13, 1999.
“I can’t remember the last time a team gave up 58 in a half. I don’t know if that’s ever happened. That was disappointing,” Self said. “We have such little margin for error when you’ve only got seven guys. Our seven are good enough. We just didn’t play very well again today. That is a good team. But you should never have three guys under 5-foot-11 get 72 points. They dominated us.”
Indeed … guards Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and Remy Martin scored 29, 22 and 21 points, respectively. The Sun Devils (9-0) hit 14 threes in 28 tries and 50.8 percent of their shots overall. KU hit 47.8 percent of its shots and was 14 of 38 from three.
The Devils, who had 17 assists on 33 baskets and forced 16 KU turnovers while committing 10, handed KU its second-worst home loss in the Self era. Texas won 74-63 on Jan. 22, 2011.
Overall, KU is 225-11 under Self at Allen.
“I don’t know if it was fatigue. We were so slow. They got anything they wanted against us, anything,” Self said. “Our guards are good. I love our guards. That’s a different level over there, though. Martin took our ball five times (off steals; Svi Mykhailiuk suffered four turnovers). He dominated the game. Svi … we love him and everything. His ballhandling the second half was atrocious. High dribble … they picked on him. They basically played six guys and yet they had all the energy. They came to win the game.”
Self wasn’t finished.
“They were playing with one big guy who is a freshman, not that highly recruited. He kicked our butt,” Self said. Romello White had 13 points and seven boards in 32 minutes for Arizona State.
“We’ve got nobody we can throw it to unless it’s a lob. We’ve been through this before,” Self added of periods in which the Jayhawks struggle. “We go through it every year. I told our guys I hate going through it this early. We are a long ways from being a good team.”
Self said the Jayhawks (7-2), who will drop dramatically from their No. 2 ranking this week, might have to change the way they play to combat fatigue.
“We practiced it,” Self said of playing zone. “It’s hard to play a team like that zone. They’ve got four shooters in all times who can really shoot the ball. We’ve got to do something. Even our supposed best athletes and defenders, they get tired. They go right around us. I bet of their 72 points they got (from guards), 30 were driving to the right. We don’t have a big guy who can contest. We don’t have a guard who can keep them in front of us. I think it’s fatigue. We’ve got to get in better shape. We may have to start playing slower offensively so to not be fatigued.
“It’s not broken,” he added of the program. “We execute so well offensively, but there’s a lot of corrections need to be made. You can’t feel sorry for yourself. You can’t pout.”
This definitely would classify as a humbling loss for the Jayhawks.
About 100 Sun Devil fans stayed long after the game to pose for pictures on the lower level of the fieldhouse while chanting, “ASU, ASU.”
Probably 1,000 or so KU fans headed for the exits a minute or two before the final horn.
“I didn’t see that,” senior guard Mykhailiuk said of KU fans leaving early. He had 14 points, six assists and four turnovers in 34 minutes. He was one of five Jayhawks in double figures: Lagerald Vick had 25 points and seven rebounds; Devonté Graham added 19 points and eight assists; and Udoka Azubuike and Malik Newman scored 13 points apiece.
“I would say that’s how we played the last two games,” Mykhailiuk added, referring to Self’s “soft” assessment.
Senior guard Graham said Self “did mention” being upset about the squad allowing 58 points in the final half. Key stretch was a 15-0 Arizona State run that turned a 52-50 deficit into a 65-52 lead at 11:09. Martin, Holder and Evans had had four points each in the run, while KU was 0 for 6 with four turnovers in that span.
KU trailed by 14 at 68-54 with 9:46 left. The Jayhawks cut the gap to six on two occasions.
“It goes back to us not being locked in defensively the second half, trying to get in a shootout with them. We couldn’t make shots. They were making all theirs,” Graham said.
ASU hit 57.6 percent in the final half and was 7 of 14 from three.
Of possibly needing to slow it down offensively in the future, Graham said: “I mean if that’s something coach wants to do. It (fatigue) is mental I feel like. We only have seven players. You will get tired. You have to fight through that.”
▪ Sophomore guard Newman, who hit 5 of 12 shots, was kneed in the head late in the game and suffered concussion-like symptoms, Self said. Self said he’d probably miss some practice time in advance of the next game, Saturday’s 7 p.m. nonconference clash at Nebraska.
▪ The No. 16-ranked Sun Devils joined Oral Roberts, Nevada, Richmond and San Diego State as the only teams outside the Big 12 to defeat KU at home the last 15 seasons. Texas A&M was in the Big 12 at the time the Aggies downed the Jayhawks.
▪ Arizona State became the first nonconference team to win in Allen Fieldhouse since San Diego State on Jan. 5, 2014.
▪ The last time KU lost two straight in the same regular season was at Colorado and at Florida in the 2013-14 season.
▪ Arizona State extended KU’s losing streak against Pac-12 schools to three games. Washington beat KU 74-65 on Wednesday at the Sprint Center, while Oregon ended KU’s 2016-17 season by stopping the Jayhawks 74-60 on March 25 at Sprint Center.
▪ Overall, KU has dropped two straight games. The last time KU lost back-to-back contests was to Villanova in the 2016 Elite Eight, followed by a loss in the 2016-17 season opener to Indiana in Hawaii.
▪ Bobby Hurley improved to 39-35 in three seasons as Arizona State’s coach.
▪ The Sun Devils are now 5-5 all-time versus KU.
▪ Arizona State has defeated four ranked teams in Hurley’s tenure: No. 2 KU; No. 15 Xavier, 102-86, this season; No. 23 USC, 74-57, on Feb. 12, 2016; and No. 18 Texas A&M 67-54 on Dec. 5, 2015. The Nov. 24 Xavier win had been the highest ranked nonconference team Arizona State has defeated since it beat No. 7 Maryland in the 1994 Maui Invitational.