Nine days ago, Kansas coach Bill Self sat inside Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa, demanding that freshman forward Cliff Alexander play with a more consistent motor. The Jayhawks had just suffered an 86-81 loss at Iowa State, and Alexander, a former top-five recruit, was limited to just two minutes in the second half.
Self wanted more. For now, the message appears to be taking hold.
Alexander earned Big 12 newcomer of the week honors on Monday after averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds in two victories last week. The rise in production helped No. 11 Kansas, 5-1 in the Big 12, take sole possession of first place in the conference standings after Saturday’s victory at No. 17 Texas.
Alexander notched a double-double (13 points and 13 rebounds) in last Monday’s victory over Oklahoma. He then recorded 15 points and nine rebounds in Saturday’s victory inside the Erwin Center in Austin.
“We haven’t seen Cliff run like that all year,” Self said after the game. “I think he got four dunks blocked, and still he took it right at the rim every time. He was impressive.”
Alexander earned the newcomer honor for the first time this season. Kansas freshman Kelly Oubre, who took home the honor last week, has won it twice. The Jayhawks will return to the floor at 8 p.m. Wednesday at TCU.
K-State’s Nino Williams and Baylor’s Rico Gathers shared Big 12 player of the week honors.