Kansas coach Bill Self thinks his team's latest game might provide some valuable experience for his players, especially the bevy of freshmen.
The seventh-ranked Jayhawks will try to apply some of those early season lessons when they host Chattanooga on Thursday night.
Kansas (1-1) has nine freshmen on its roster, two of which have started the first two games. Some of the inevitable growing pains were evident Tuesday in a 67-64 loss to No. 21 Michigan State.
Kansas led for much of the second half but couldn't build a large enough advantage to fend off the Spartans, who outscored the Jayhawks 35-29 in the second half en route to the upset.
"We've got a long ways to go with competing and understanding how to compete and being tougher mentally and that kind of stuff, but we did some good things," Self said.
Elijah Johnson scored 16 points, but freshman Ben McLemore was the only other Jayhawk in double figures with 14. Kansas did make half of its shots after converting 38.7 percent in a 74-55 win over Southeast Missouri State on Friday.
Jeff Withey was held to eight points after scoring 17 in the opener and highly touted freshman Perry Ellis had four following a 15-point performance in his collegiate debut.
"Our freshmen are going to be good, but they're pretty green and naive," Self said. "They're not the typical heralded freshmen who've had a lot of exposure and are worldly. They've been pretty sheltered. This will be a great learning experience."
Kansas will get to stay relatively close to home while it tries to learn. The Jayhawks have three games in Kansas City, Mo., and five in Lawrence before a trip to fourth-ranked Ohio State on Dec. 22.
The first of those contests takes place against an opponent that has lost 21 in a row to ranked teams.
With one starter back from last season's 11-21 squad, the Mocs don't appear poised to pull off an upset Thursday.
Chattanooga opened the season with an 88-53 win over Tennessee Temple on Monday as junior forward Z. Mason scored 16 points. Senior forward Drazen Zlovaric, the returning starter, had 11 points and eight rebounds and the Mocs recorded a school-record 23 steals - six by freshman guard Farad Cobb.
Chattanooga, 3-47 all-time against Top 25 opponents and 0-23 on the road, is 0-2 against Kansas. The Mocs fell 90-76 in the most recent matchup Nov. 21, 2003, in Lawrence.
The Associated Press News Service
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