The first Saturday of 2021 did not disappoint. There was one wild result after another. There were crazy upsets from coast to coast — most notably Shaka Smart’s Texas Longhorns dealing Bill Self the most lopsided loss Kansas‘ Hall of Fame coach has ever suffered inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Final score: Texas 84, Kansas 59.
That’s a 25-point win for UT.
I’m just going to assume that Self will never suffer another home loss that lopsided, in part because I’m assuming this is the last season in Self’s coaching career that Allen Fieldhouse will ever be that empty because of a global pandemic. Nothing is guaranteed, of course. But with multiple COVID-19 vaccines approved and in the process of being distributed, there’s at least a chance college basketball arenas will look something close to normal next season, at which point home-court advantage would be a real thing again.
Because, right now, it’s not.
“This doesn’t happen in the Fieldhouse,” Kansas forward Jalen Wilson said after Saturday’s beatdown. “This is very embarrassing.”
And yet totally understandable.
To be clear, Kansas losing by 25 points to Texas (or anybody else) isn’t totally understandable (even if this KU roster is far from the most talented Self has ever coached). What’s totally understandable is a visitor accomplishing something inside Allen Fieldhouse that no other visitor had accomplished in more than 30 years — i.e., beat the Jayhawks by 25 points — because this is the first time Allen Fieldhouse has ever looked or felt this way. Normally, opposing teams walk into this historic building and are forced to deal with 16,300 fans well-versed in the Rock Chalk Chant. It’s cool and intimidating in a way that influences both visiting teams and referees. But on Saturday, there were only 2,500 fans in attendance. So the place doesn’t have the same edge, and it’s likely among of the reasons the Jayhawks never made a real run to get back in the game when they went down big, because there wasn’t a crowd sizable enough to push them and/or cause problems for a Texas team that grabbed momentum and never let go.
Texas moved up to No. 4 in Sunday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. Kansas dropped to No. 5. And Baylor remained No. 2. So that’s three Big 12 school in the top five — all of which are, like everybody else, looking up at Gonzaga, which improved to 10-0 Saturday with an 85-62 victory over San Francisco. Nine of the Zags’ 10 wins have come by double-digits. And Gonzaga is now the first team to score 85 points in each of its first 10 games since the 1993-94 Arkansas Razorbacks.
That Arkansas team won the national title.
The Zags look equipped to follow that pattern.