Given how Kansas' non-conference schedule came to a close, it is likely eager to begin Big 12 play.
The 18th-ranked Jayhawks open their conference title defense Wednesday night at Oklahoma, attempting to get a leg up on a 10th straight regular-season Big 12 crown.Kansas' conference schedule begins with the Sooners, No. 25 Kansas State and No. 9 Iowa State in a six-day stretch."It's a tough setup without question but we can get off to a great start if we do things better," Jayhawks coach Bill Self said.The Jayhawks (9-4, 0-0 Big 12) have lost four of their last eight, including Sunday's 61-57 home defeat to San Diego State which snapped a 68-game home winning streak against non-conference foes."The way I see it, we got exactly what we deserved," Self said. "They were better than us."The Jayhawks' 17-of-57 shooting against the Aztecs tied for the fewest field goals they've made since a Dec. 1, 1998, loss to Kentucky in which they went 15 for 51."We all missed shots we usually make, and that's going to happen from time to time with a young team," freshman Andrew Wiggins said.Wiggins and reserve guard Frank Mason led the way with 14 points each, but Wiggins went just 4 of 14 from the floor. After shooting 55.6 percent in the Jayhawks' 5-0 start, he's hitting 39.1 percent of his shots during their 4-4 stretch.Kansas was also outrebounded for the second time this year, 51-39."It was a game in which we never got in rhythm because they guard, and it just goes to show, if you defend and rebound on the road you have a great chance to win," Self said. "It should be a lesson to our guys when we go to someone else's house."The Sooners (12-2, 1-0 Big 12) are in better spirits and will be out to keep things rolling after opening conference play Saturday with an 88-85 win at Texas.After opening the season with seven straight home wins, the Sooners proved to be beatable in Norman, falling 102-98 in overtime to Louisiana Tech on Dec. 30 before they bounced back against Texas."The league is really tough, so anytime you can win, let alone win on the road, you are going to feel good about it," coach Lon Kruger said after the win over the Longhorns. "We've got 17 more now, and we talk to our guys all the time about how significant and how tough every one of them is. We've got to prepare to play with great energy and great enthusiasm and great focus every night. Tonight was a good start."While Wiggins has been the conference's headline-grabbing freshman, Oklahoma's Jordan Woodard has been about as impressive lately. The first-year guard played only 20 minutes against Texas because of foul trouble but scored 12 points and is averaging 15.2 in his last six.His 12.2 points per game average is third on the team behind Cameron Clark (17.7) and Buddy Hield (16.3), while the Sooners' 87.3 per contest ranks among the best in the country.Hield led the way with 22 against Texas, hitting 4 of 7 from 3-point range as the Sooners made a season-high 13 3s on 28 attempts.Prior to a 72-66 loss in Norman on Feb. 9, 2013, Kansas had won 10 straight against Oklahoma, including four straight road games.Last season's win over then-No. 5 Kansas was the Sooners' only victory over a ranked opponent in their last 10 tries.