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A&M, Kansas try to shove frustration aside

Saturday's Big 12 action featured a pair of overtime thrillers.

The byproduct of any thriller though, is a team practicing through a frustrated heartbreak the following week.

Next Saturday, both teams -- Texas A&M and Kansas -- will meet at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.

"I’ve never, as an assistant or a head coach been through a situation like this," Aggies coach Mike Sherman said of his team, which has lost four games by 14 points. "It’s certainly been unique to my career, and something I don’t wish on anybody. It’s been difficult."

Saturday's 53-50 loss in four overtimes to Kansas State was the fourth this season in which Texas A&M held a double-digit lead.

The Aggies' held a 10-point lead midway through the fourth quarter against the Wildcats.

"Every coach will go back and say we could have, should have, would have done this, but not with the frequency I’m going to have to at the end of the season," Sherman said.

Kansas, though, saw Saturday's 31-30 loss as the next step in trying to move forward and capture the first conference win of the season.

The Jayhawks surrendered a 24-3 fourth-quarter lead over an always-dangerous Baylor offense. While A&M's Sherman may be criticized for being too conservative -- he elected to kick a 20-yard field-goal on 4th-and-1 in the fourth overtime -- Gill will hear nothing of the sort.

One play stood between the Jayhawks and snapping its seven-game losing streak. A Jordan Webb pass to Tim Biere fell incomplete, and the streak continued.

"We’ve made great strides and I think the biggest stride has been on the defensive side of the ball," Gill said. "Guys are understanding what we’re trying to do defensively and they’re playing pretty well at this point in time."

The Jayhawks gave up just 10 points a week ago to Iowa State after giving up at least 40 in the previous seven games. Baylor, the nation's No. 2 offense, had just three points before the furious fourth-quarter comeback.

The biggest reason has been forcing turnovers. Kansas had just two forced turnovers in its first five games. In its last three, the Jayhawks have forced nine turnovers.

The losses are done, though, and both teams have to devise ways to move forward mentally.

"Our guys are believing in what we’re doing and how we go about each and every day," Gill said. "As coaches, we continue to move forward and keep our heads up and keep on working. That’s what we talk about. Keep on choppin’ wood and keep on working, because that’s the only way that I know how you continue to get better and find yourself a better chance to be successful."

For Sherman, the difficulty lies in correcting the negative while not further bruising a team struggling with confidence.

"There’s so much of the game that’s mental, that mindset to have the confidence to win a game like we did had the other day in a critical situation," Sherman said. "That carries over into this week, have the confidence to be able to make plays and try to as a coach, hold them accountable for what we didn’t do, but at the same time, remind them we have the ability to be able to make those plays. We’ve just got to make them."

Kansas feels the win coming. The growth the past two weeks has been undeniable. Texas A&M, though, is charged with denying the Jayhawks a chance to end an eight-game skid.

"We continue to be close, we’re getting close to some things here," Gill said. "Earlier in the year, we were not close, and now as we continue to close that gap, which we have, and be competitive in the ball game, now we’re hoping this is the week we’ll be able to finish a ball game and get a W."