LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Perhaps Kansas' basketball players lost interest in playing a third exhibition game -- one more than usual -- this unusually long preseason.
Or maybe the Jayhawks simply had some flaws exposed in a closer than expected 86-57 victory over Fort Hays State on Tuesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
"I didn't think we were very good -- no energy, flat the first half. Defensively we were bad. I thought they outscrapped us," KU coach Bill Self said, willing to offer several reasons for a close call -- KU led by just five points at halftime -- against the NCAA Division II Tigers.
"The reality is," Self said, after a game in which Devonte Graham scored 27 points on 6 of 10 3-point shooting and everybody else was 3 of 21 combined, "when you've got a couple of guys who are supposed to be two of your better players that don't compete and others who don't understand ball movement and where to be, you are going to look bad."
The players Self singled out were Svi Mykhailiuk (eight points, 4-of-13 shooting, 0 for 7 from 3 with eight rebounds) and Malik Newman (eight points, 3-of-9 shooting, 2 of 6 3s), who started the game but not the second half.
They did not enter the final stanza until 12:33 and 12:49, respectively, after combining for just seven points with one assist against five turnovers in the initial half.
Walk-on Clay Young entered as a reserve in the second half a few minutes before Self called on Mykhailiuk and Newman.
"I didn't think Svi or Malik deserved to be out there, to be honest with you," Self said.
"We've got some issues guarding the ball. They just go around Malik and Svi too much and Billy (Preston, 11 points) and Mitch (Lightfoot, no points, three rebounds, 16 minutes). That's four of our eight guys they just attack them off the bounce. We've got to do a better job guarding the ball.
"I was disappointed in their effort," Self added of Newman and Mykhailiuk. "We didn't start them the second half. We wanted to play Marcus (Garrett, seven boards, three points, 23 minutes) to give us energy. Marcus made four plays the first two minutes that Svi and Malik either don't make or can't make from an activity standpoint. I thought it was good for those two to see Marcus out there doing that.