The streak has been awfully impressive as we have counted out Kansas several times, but seven straight times, the Jayhawks have finished the season atop the regular-season Big 12 standings. We knew this season would prove to be a challenge for coach Bill Self, the coach of all seven conference titles, with the losses of Conference Player of the Year Marcus Morris, his brother Markieff Morris, the starting backcourt of Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar, along with a few more contributors off the bench. The thin silver lining in the losses is starting gigs for the talented Thomas Robinson and Elijah Johnson and returning starting point guard Tyshawn Taylor. As Taylor and Johnson watched from the sideline due to recent suspensions, Robinson joined them with an injury (hyper extended knee), leaving just five scholarship players for their exhibition opener against Pittsburg State.
Against this Division II opponent, the pre-season ranked No. 13 Kansas Jayhawks came through with a 29-win in ugly fashion. With its starting backcourt suspended along with five-star guard Ben McLemore and freshman swingman Jamari Traylor ruled are partial qualifiers, Kansas put the ball in the hands of point guard Naadir Tharpe. Tharpe responded by turning the ball over seven times in the first half, accounting for nearly half of the Jayhawks 15 turnovers in 20 minutes. Tharpe settled down in the second half, but still finished with nine turnovers overall to go along with his 12 points.
In the frontcourt, it must be mentioned that Robinson did not suit up in the game, little-used center Jeff Withey responded with a monster outing with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. Even with that, Kansas finished a +1 in the rebounding battle against a Pittsburg State team whose tallest player stands 6'6".