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Jayhawks fall to Iowa State: Is it time for Kansas to press the panic button?

The Jayhawks have dropped two of their last three games. Can they pull out of this conference skid?

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 7 Kansas Jayhawks dropped to 4-3 in the Big XII this week after losing two of their last three conference games. They dropped a shocking road loss to West Virginia after entering as 9.5-point favorites, bounced back with a very close win over Cincinnati, and lost again to No. 23 Iowa State on Saturday afternoon.

The Jayhawks were a top-10 AP Poll team as of Monday, but we can expect them to drop out of the elite group and into the teens in next Monday’s poll. What has been going on with the powerhouse Jayhawks lately? This is a team with wins over UConn, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Kentucky on its 2023-24 resume, but January has been a shaky month. They also suffered a loss to UCF a few weeks ago.

Kansas gave away turnovers that turned into Cyclone points and going 7-for-20 from the three-point line. It wasn’t necessarily a case of sloppiness — Iowa State ranks third in the nation in opponent turnovers. However, the four-point finish indicates a closer game than what really happened — the Cyclones held a comfortable lead for most of the second half, and while Kansas attempted to stage a comeback, they couldn’t quite get there. A garbage time three-pointer at the end turned a seven-point win into a four-point win.

Against UCF, Kansas lost big-time in the turnover margin and struggled from the three-point line. Against West Virginia, the Jayhawks had better ball security, but still went 7-for-23 from the perimeter and lost on the boards. The Big XII is the best conference in college basketball and has been for several seasons, and this schedule is grueling even for the best of teams. It won’t get easier for Kansas — they have upcoming games against No. 4 Houston, No. 15 Baylor, No. 20 Texas Tech, and No. 11 Oklahoma in the coming weeks.

It might not be total panic-button time, as the powers in the Big XII are constantly shifting with the results of head-to-head matchups, but the Jayhawks’ path to a conference title and a top seed in March Madness are not looking clear these days. Kansas lacks depth on the bench, and frankly, this schedule does not slow down at all for the starters. They have dropped outside the top 20 in both adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency at KenPom. They are getting beaten on the three-point line in these losses and will need to address that. The need for a sixth-man and a consistent perimeter presence — both offensively and defensively— are becoming apparent as we go deeper into the season.