Welcome to the Big 12, where the league makes no sense and projecting league favorites doesn't seem to matter.
That's right, in a conference in which Kansas has been the lone constant for the last decade-plus, winning the league or at least a share of it for 14 consecutive seasons, it might finally be the time -- seriously, maybe, perhaps -- that Kansas might not win it.
It's at least a feasible outcome to consider after the No. 11 Jayhawks fell on the road to Texas 73-63 on Tuesday, dropping them to 5-3 in the Big 12. During their remarkable run of supremacy under Bill Self since he took over in 2003, only once -- the 2015-16 season -- did KU start 5-3 or worse through eight games in league play. They went on to win the regular season by two games in that season.
Smart money is on not knee-jerking based on this result and riding with Kansas to win it. After all, this is a sustained run of intra-conference dominance that is reaching rarefied air. But the Jayhawks are far from infallible, as Kentucky proved this past weekend, as Texas proved Tuesday, and as Arizona State, Iowa State and West Virginia have proved throughout the season in a variety of ways.
On Tuesday the Longhorns did it the old fashioned way: by hammering KU on the boards, by capitalizing off second-chance points, and by double-teaming KU star Dedric Lawson at every turn. Lawson was limited to just 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
Texas, meanwhile, went 10-of-28 from the 3-point line, got 16, 14 and 13 points from Dylan Isetkowski, Kerwin Roach and Jaxson Hayes, respectively, and outscored KU in both halves to clinch another stellar win.
For Kansas, there is no simple solution, only a problem, which is winning on the road. All five losses this season have come away from Allen Fieldhouse in true road games -- at Arizona State, Iowa State, West Virginia and now Texas. The solution is (obviously) to win on the road, but that requires the personnel. Texas exposed its weakness in the post in the worst way, and with Udoka Azubuike out for the season and Silvio De Sousa still doing the NCAA eligibility limbo, it's not likely that deficiency will be solved soon.
The bright spot for KU despite the loss was the star turn of true freshman Ochai Agbaji, who three weeks ago had every intention to redshirt the season. How that was possible, no one knows. He scored 24 points against the Longhorns, taking eight shots and making 10, including a 2-of-4 mark from 3-point range, while grabbing seven rebounds and collecting two steals. He's taken six or more shot attempts in three consecutive games for KU now, and there's a concerted effort, rightfully so, to get him more involved.
For Texas, good heavens, talk about a bipolar basketball team. Tuesday simply is more validation that it can beat anyone in the sport; it has also proved this season that it can stumble against anyone. Shaka Smart and Co. have one of the most enigmatic teams, and their resume reflects that, with quality wins over North Carolina, Kansas State, Purdue and Kansas, and losses to Radford, VCU, Oklahoma State and Providence.
They're a complete riddle.
But for now, they're on the upswing. Notching their best home win of the season, the Longhorns can take solance in the instant enhancement of their postseason resume, and in rigorously shaking up the Big 12.
Now it's officially up for grabs to take -- again. Will it be the year the league hands a trophy to a team that doesn't hail from Lawrence, Kansas? If the Jayhawks can't win anywhere besides their home court, it seems anything is possible in the Big 12.