The last time Kansas lost three games this early in the season was 2006, when they opened 2-3. But coaches like Self and Florida's Billy Donovan are not afraid to schedule a game like this early in the season. Remember, both squads started the season in The Associated Press top 10. Self and Donovan don't worry about the result at this point of the season because they believe a game like this will help in the long run. Both coaches are secure in their position, and each should make it to the Hall of Fame down the line.
It was a great environment in Gainesville as Florida won its 21st consecutive home game. There was a lot of emotion and pride on the line between these teams, as many of the players know each other from travel basketball. But the Rowdy Reptile fans were a factor early against a young Kansas squad, which started four freshmen and a sophomore.
The Gators used a 21-0 run over eight-plus minutes in the first half to build a big lead that Kansas could not overcome. Florida's zone defense was very active and gave Kansas trouble, creating havoc while leading to its tremendous first-half spurt. Turnovers were also a huge factor in the contest, as the Jayhawks had 16 in the first half -- prior to Tuesday's contest, 16 was the most they had in an entire game this season -- and finished with 24 for the game.
There were times when the Jayhawks' offense was simply out of sync. Their transition game veered out of control at inopportune times. Passing was a struggle and very little came easy. They looked unsure of themselves.
These are the signs of a young team trying to get together. Having new players in the backcourt was a factor, and their inexperience was evident. It will take time for the unit to mesh, but experience will lead to better results as they become more cohesive.
Rebounding was another area of concern for the Jayhawks. Kansas allowed too many second and third opportunities to the Gators, especially in the first half.
One player who shined for Kansas was Andrew Wiggins. The diaper dandy had 26 points and 11 rebounds, showing why he is going to be a special player at the next level. In the second half, he was more aggressive going to the basket. When he has the ball in transition, he is outstanding. My friends, he is a superstar. That is why people love his skills at the next level.
There are such great expectations tied to Wiggins. There are times when he is too nice a guy. He has a tendency of trying to please his teammates. But when he wants the ball and attacks the glass, he is tough to stop.
There is talent on the Jayhawks' roster. They're going through a learning stage and understanding how to play the game at the collegiate level. And it will not get easier with New Mexico, Georgetown and San Diego State ahead on the nonleague agenda. But I am confident that Self will get his team to right the ship.