KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For the first time since December, sophomore guard Lagerald Vick received the starting nod. And for the first time all season, freshman guard Josh Jackson was relegated to the bench to start a game.
Suspended for backing into a parked car and fleeing the scene without leaving contact information, Jackson stood under the basket in his crimson and blue warm ups, rebounding for his fellow Jayhawks during pregame.
His courtside demeanor was not sullen nor dejected, but supportive, as he both cheered and offered bench-side advice. But Jackson serving as a de facto cheerleader didn’t pay the Jayhawks any favors, as No. 8 seed TCU upset top-seeded Kansas 85-82.
“It showed,” said senior guard Frank Mason III about not having Jackson on the court. “It was really tough out there [without him]. We could have used him for more points, more rebounds. We just missed his presence out there."
Vick had large shoes to fill, as Jackson averages 16.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Vick’s numbers didn’t come close. Vick finished the day with nine points and six rebounds.
Junior guard Svi Mykhailiuk stepped up in Jackson’s absence, scoring 18 points. 13 of those came in the first half.
But Mykhailiuk would rather have Jackson on the floor.
“I wish he could have played,” Mykhailiuk said. “He would have helped us in everything.”
Because of Jackson’s absence, Self elected to play bigger than normal. With senior center Landen Lucas anchoring the fifth spot, sophomore forward Carlton Bragg Jr., freshman forward Mitch Lightfoot and junior forward Dwight Coleby all rotated in for 19 minutes combined.
Those three combined for three points, three rebounds and three turnovers.
"Everyone on the bench had to step up and contribute and fill Josh's shoes,” Coleby said. “I don't think we did the best job that we possibly could have done."
Jackson didn’t speak with the media after the game, but coach Bill Self spoke for him.
“He feels bad,” Self said. “He feels bad. I'm not trying to minimize anything, but he did, you know, with the mistake, he went and took care of his business and did that stuff. But it was a culmination of things because we had an incident — one other incident before. So certainly he feels bad and he could have handled it better. Certainly that's — it's a teaching moment not only for me, but also for our guys to learn and hopefully be better from it.”
Kansas finds out who it plays next in the NCAA tournament on Sunday.
— Edited by Ashley Hocking