In certain ways, Wednesday was just another night at Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas won its 51st straight game here, in this case by fending off Baylor 73-68 to relegate the Bears to 0-15 in Lawrence.
Punctuating that point, Baylor coach Scott Drew now has more losses at Allen (10) than KU coach Bill Self does (nine) in Self’s 226 games here.
“One day, we’ll win up here,” Drew said afterward.
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But there was plenty more hovering over this than business as usual.
That went beyond the fact that the Jayhawks (20-2 overall, 8-1 Big 12) continued to serve notice that they’re a legitimate national title contender by beating a second top five opponent in five days — what Self aptly called a “big-boy” win — as they gather steam toward a 13th straight conference title.
It went beyond freshman Josh Jackson, a key pivot point on where KU can go, scoring a career-high 23 points as he morphs out of some recent growing pains into a player Self called “beyond his years.”
And it went beyond the recent reset of some missing defensive grit, part of what fills out this team’s profile. This is a group with both the talent and the nerve to find a way to win, and it doesn’t hurt that among them they have an obvious feel for each other on the court.
But this also has come during what Self called a “unique last short period of time” – as was illustrated moments later when he was asked about why sophomore Lagerald Vick still was playing in the wake of a report by The Star on Monday that revealed a school investigation had found that Vick likely hit a female student multiple times in 2015 and recommended two years of school probation.
It’s not known if Vick ever was put on probation, and he continued to play Wednesday.
The finding of the investigation sounds appalling, and if Vick did what the report suggests it’s hard to understand why he’s still with the program.
But it’s also important to note that the university investigation is not a court of law and uses preponderance of evidence standards — meaning that the issue in dispute is more likely than not to be true.
We can only hope that there is somehow something mitigating in the gap between that and procedure and the legal process, because otherwise there is something troubling here.
Self on Monday declined to comment to The Star, but on Wednesday he pulled out a prepared statement that he says is all he’s allowed to say in relation to the report and added that the media “can believe that or choose not, but that’s the fact.”
Then he read:
“I have been told that I cannot comment on a university investigation, or whether one is or is not taking place or has ever taken place, OK? And due to previous practices by the university and by the athletic department, I would not be giving any details of such investigation.”
Then he added, “So what was reported was reported. I haven’t been made aware of anything. So that’s where that is, and that’s the last time and the only thing that I will say concerning that, because I (have) basically been told that’s all that can be said.”
The image of that will linger, though, until something further clarifies what happened.
And that report comes on the heels of the indefinite suspension of sophomore Carlton Bragg, who has been charged with possession of drug paraphernalia in City of Lawrence Municipal Court, and an ongoing investigation of an alleged rape in McCarthy Hall, which houses the basketball team and other students.
Police have released no information about a suspect in that matter. Five KU players have been listed as witnesses in the police report, but the definition of a witness in this context is broad and does not automatically connote any connection.
So the unique time will last until these stories come to some conclusion — and all should have learned from the previous trouble with Bragg why there’s no point to making assumptions. Bragg in December was arrested and charged with assault and suspended indefinitely by Self. But he was reinstated days later after the Douglas County District Attorney’s office dropped the charge following a review of surveillance video.
Meanwhile, Kansas and Self are navigating a thorny stretch of the season admirably — even as the true measure of what this season is about on and off the court won’t be evident until all is more transparent.