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Why Bill Self ‘could feel this coming’ before Kansas Jayhawks were upset by BYU

Bill Self had a feeling the Kansas Jayhawks’ 19-game home-court winning streak was in jeopardy during Tuesday afternoon’s shootaround at Allen Fieldhouse.

KU’s 21st-year head coach told the media after his No. 7-ranked Jayhawks’ 76-68 loss to unranked BYU that his team’s energy was lacking earlier in the day.

And it obviously would have taken great focus and energy to slow a Cougar attack that cashed 13 3s to KU’s three.

Calling it a “terrible” shootaround, Self lamented Tuesday night that “the focus wasn’t very good. The energy level wasn’t as good (at shootaround). You could feel this coming. It’s not anything from an attitude standpoint. It happens over the course of a season where you have days like this and our speed — even though I don’t consider us a fast team — our speed didn’t take away their skill, and it had to in order for us to have a good chance at winning tonight.”

Self didn’t simply shrug this one off as “one of those days.”

The Jayhawks (21-7, 9-6), who hit 39% of their shots to BYU’s 39.3%, went 3-of-15 to the Cougars’ 13-of-34 mark from 3.

Also, KU converted 19 of 31 free throws (Hunter Dickinson was 6-of-15 from the line) to BYU’s 19-of-24.

KU, which seems to thrive at home regularly after the final TV timeout, also was outplayed this night down the stretch.

After Nick Timberlake and Dickinson hit 3s to tie the game at 66 with 2:28 left, BYU (20-8, 8-7) went on a 10-2 run to close the contest.

Self didn’t see a lot of leadership down the stretch with Kevin McCullar out for the fourth time in five games with a knee bruise.

“I would say it’s got to be Juan (Harris, 12 points, six assists, four turnovers), KJ (Adams, 11 points, 5-of-13 shooting) and Hunt (17 points, 11 boards), but tonight I don’t know that we had anybody (as a leader). Juan probably more so than anybody just because the ball was in his hands,” Self said.

“I actually saw some things with guys’ frustration that really wasn’t as mature as what we should have considering the age of some of our guys. There wasn’t as much thinking ‘next play’ as there was thinking ‘last play,’ and that’s not a good sign. If you are in the stands and watch you could see body language and things like that happen.”

Kansas Jayhawks guard Johnny Furphy (10) and head coach Bill Self exit the court after the BYU Cougars defeated the Jayhawks 76-68 in an NCAA college basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Lawrence.
Kansas Jayhawks guard Johnny Furphy (10) and head coach Bill Self exit the court after the BYU Cougars defeated the Jayhawks 76-68 in an NCAA college basketball game on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Lawrence.

Self said as much as getting beat by 3s, the Jayhawks also could be faulted for “not scoring in tight and missing free throws.”

The combo of Dallin Hall and Jaxson Robinson combined for 36 points on 7-of-15 3-point shooting for BYU.

Self reiterated after the game that help is not necessarily on the way regarding a return of McCullar.

“We’re preparing like he won’t (be back),” Self said. “But this is who we are. When we’re good we are pretty good, and when we’re not, we’re not. We played pitifully tonight, but when I say we played pitifully that also can give the appearance I’m taking something away from BYU. BYU was better than us tonight. The second half after we got up 12 (41-29 with 18:30 left) they controlled it. We hoped to score. They actually ran offense to score.

“They caused us to look bad and they were successful. It’ll help if we had Kevin back, but we’ve been dealing with this for about five weeks where he hasn’t been himself from a health standpoint. When he played he wasn’t himself. We’re not counting on it, We hope it could happen. We’re not banking on it.”

BYU coach Mark Pope called the victory “really, really, really special.” After the game and after making it through the handshake line, he waved to a large contingent of Cougar fans who attended and roared after each made 3.

He was asked where the victory ranks in his five seasons at BYU.

Rarely do visitors come to Lawrence and win evidenced by Self’s 313-18 record at Allen Fieldhouse in 21 seasons at KU.

“This is special because we all have such a deep respect for this program and this venue,” Pope said. “This arena, this team, this coach and these players — it’s an all-time mecca. What makes it most special for me is we talk all the time about faith in our program. Certainly it’s an important part of our university, and watching our guys’ faith in each other tonight and faith in the process ... their faith in their abilities and their work I thought was really special to watch.”

KU will next meet Baylor at noon Saturday in Waco, Texas.