In a season of struggles for college basketball's blue blood programs, Kansas held steady for much of the season's first half, never dropping out of the top 10 of the AP Top 25 and at times looking like its usual strong self. But now, after a 75-68 loss at Oklahoma on Saturday, the No. 9 Jayhawks have dropped three straight games for the first time since the 2012-13 season and are poised to tumble significantly in Monday's new polls.
De'Vion Harmon scored 22 to lead an Oklahoma attack that racked up 46 second-half points against a Jayhawks' defense that has slipped considerably while the Kansas offense has struggled to cement an identity without last season's star duo of Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike on the roster.
The loss dropped KU to 10-5 (4-4 Big 12). It's the first time since the 1987-88 season that the Jayhawks have slipped to 4-4 in league play. Barring a miraculous turnaround that allows the Jayhawks to catch unbeaten Baylor in the league standings, it will be the second time in the past three years that the Jayhawks don't at least win a share of the Big 12 title after Kansas won at least a share of the league title for 14 straight years from 2005 through 2018.
The Jayhawks led 16-10 early and surged ahead 52-51 midway through the second half on Saturday but could not contain Austin Reaves down the stretch. After missing all four of his shot attempts in the first half, Reaves racked up 16 points in the second, thanks to 10-of-11 free-throw shooting.
His ability to get in the paint only underscored how this Kansas team is still learning to defend the paint after Azubuike's graduation, even with reigning Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Garrett patrolling on the perimeter. The Jayhawks are scheduled to return to action Thursday against TCU, while Oklahoma (9-4, 5-3) is scheduled to take its three-game winning streak on the road Tuesday to No. 5 Texas.