Even though the losses have piled up, Kansas women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider has been impressed with what he’s seen out of his team the last three weeks.
“I think most situations, when you’re having a tough year, everybody’s just kind of ready for it to get over with. We’ve gone the other direction,” Schneider said. “I really feel like we’ve made a lot of improvement.”
That makes Friday’s Big 12 Tournament opener — an 8:30 p.m. matchup against seventh-seeded TCU at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City — all the more important for the 10th-seeded Jayhawks.
KU, which is 5-24 and on a 20-game losing streak, has one last chance to get a victory to create some positive vibes heading into the offseason.
“It’s something I want from the players, because I’ve seen just how hard they’ve worked,” Schneider said. “At no time have they quit. We’ve continued to fight every game.”
Because of a quirk in the schedule, it will be the third time in 17 days that KU and TCU have faced each other. The last matchup — a 55-52 TCU win in Fort Worth on Monday — was one of KU’s best chances at picking up a conference victory.
With 11 seconds left and KU trailing by three, guard Lauren Aldridge hit a jumper and was fouled, but the 82 percent free-throw shooter missed her attempt. Chayla Cheadle grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled, but she also missed both of her tries as KU failed to tie it or take the lead.
Later, Timeka O’Neal’s potential game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer came up short.
TCU, 16-13 and 8-10 in the Big 12, had an easier time with KU in the first matchup in a 70-44 victory on Feb. 17 at Allen Fieldhouse.
Big 12 women’s basketball tournament
At Oklahoma City
Friday’s first round
(8) Iowa State vs. (9) Texas Tech, 6 p.m. (FCS)
(7) TCU vs. (10) Kansas, 8:30 p.m. (FCS)
(4) Oklahoma State vs. (5) Oklahoma, 11 a.m. (FSKC)
(1) Baylor vs. Iowa State-Texas Tech winner, 1:30 p.m. (FSKC)
(2) Texas vs. TCU-Kansas winner, 6 p.m. (FSKC)
(3) West Virginia vs. (6) Kansas State, 8:30 p.m. (FSKC)
First two quarterfinal winners, 1:30 p.m. (FS1)
Second two quarterfinal winners, 4 p.m. (FS1)
Semifinal winners, 8 p.m. (FS1)