Struggling Champs

Despite a lopsided win in his team's last game, Kansas coach Bill Self isn't pleased with his defending national champion Jayhawks.

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Self will be looking for a more consistent effort when his squad continues a six-game stretch at Allen Fieldhouse against Kent State on Monday.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Kansas –12 point spread favorites (NCAAB Odds) for today's game (View Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 54% of bets for this game have been placed on Kansas –12 (View NCAAB Bet Percentages).

The No. 22 Jayhawks (4-1) opened their homestand with an 85-53 rout of Coppin State on Friday, their 27th straight victory in Lawrence. Cole Aldrich scored a career-high 23 points and Brady Morningstar added a career-best 21 and hit six 3-pointers for Kansas, which went on a 34-3 first-half run to bounce back from losing the CBE Classic title game Tuesday.

However, Self - still adjusting to losing his entire starting lineup from last season's title team - isn't happy with the unfocused performances he's getting from the Jayhawks. Kansas reserves allowed Coppin State to cut a 32-point deficit to 17 in the second half, forcing him to call a timeout and lecture his young players.

"I thought we played well the first 10 to 15 minutes of the game," Self said. "We were terrific defensively, we dominated the glass and we made shots. "We were up 42-10, we subbed and it went to 24, and then they cut it to 17 in the second half.

"Even though the game was never in doubt, there was a stretch for 15 minutes where they outscored us by 14 points. That can't happen if you respect the game enough to guard and play the way you're supposed to play. I'm glad we made shots and I'm glad we won, but we need to be tougher."

Freshman Tyshawn Taylor added 10 points and a season-high six assists for Kansas, which shot 53 percent and made eight of 16 shots from 3-point range. Taylor has averaged 10.5 points in four games since being inserted into the starting lineup, and appears to be grasping what Self is expecting - which for Taylor is defending the opponent's best guard.

"I like the challenge and I think that I can be a good defensive player," Taylor said. "If Sherron (Collins) can do less on defense, it means he can do more on offense, so I think coach will be doing that a lot more."

Collins had 11 points and eight assists Friday and is averaging team highs of 18.2 points and 4.0 assists. Aldrich is contributing 15.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.6 blocks per game and will be looking for his third consecutive double-double.

While Self has the luxury of working out his team's kinks in its intimidating home arena of Allen Fieldhouse, Kent State (3-2) has been on the road learning its lessons. The Golden Flashes will be trying to regroup from consecutive losses at the South Padre Island Invitational in Texas, the most recent being a 77-71 defeat to Texas A&M on Saturday.

Al Fisher had 24 points, but Kent State was outscored 16-7 over the final 3:30 as it failed to close out an opponent for the second straight game. The Golden Flashes led Illinois by six with 6:40 to play before losing in overtime Friday.

"This is a lot we can feel good about and take from the game," first-year coach Geno Ford said after Saturday's defeat. "Even though we came away with tough losses against two good teams, it's better for us than playing sloppy against two bad teams and winning.

"Hopefully it shows us how good we can be so that we find a way to get to the next level and win a game like this down the stretch."

Fisher is averaging 21.8 points and shooting 52.5 percent from the floor - 40.0 percent from 3-point range.

This will be the first meeting between Kent State and Kansas.

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