“Everybody's taken a positive step forward to get better. Statistically, it may not be the best league, but I don't think you'd have to look past one other league to make a claim that our league's as tough as any league in the country.”
No off nights. Therein lies hope for OSU and the few other teams that can count themselves as contenders.
Remember, too, that the Jayhawks started 7-0 in the conference a year ago, then went 7-4 the rest of the way. While still more than solid, something similar would create an opening for OSU.
This KU team's youth allows for the possibility of uneven performances, as well as the toll the season's grind can have on first-year players. The Jayhawks are still careless with the ball, too, a factor that didn't materialize Saturday until OSU freed itself from some foul distress and went on the attack defensively in the second half.
So, again, there's hope for the Cowboys.
Of course, there's history, too, in favor of the Jayhawks. They consider their claim on Big 12 championships a birthright, now at nine straight and counting. They're in the driver's seat again. And with 7-footer Joel Embiid developing as the college game's most impactful player, the Jayhawks can win in many ways and aren't overly reliant on shot-making.
KU has a two-game lead on OSU, yet still must visit Gallagher-Iba Arena in what promises to be an energized environment, an 8 p.m. tip on a Saturday following a full day of ESPN GameDay festivities.
So there's one game the Cowboys can get back. And they'll need a bit of help.
But there is hope.
And the Cowboys aren't conceding.