An embarrassing loss to the country's top team tarnished Kansas' early season hype. But following that defeat with a steady string of wins that includes a victory over a Top 25 opponent has the Jayhawks back on track.
No. 11 Kansas looks to pick up another big win Friday night when it hosts struggling Florida as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
The Jayhawks (5-1) responded to a 72-40 drubbing against No. 1 Kentucky on Nov. 18 with wins over Rider, Rhode Island and Tennessee by an average of 19.4 points. Most recently, Kansas topped then-No. 20 Michigan State 61-56 in the championship game of the Orlando Classic on Sunday.
"I think this is big," said Ellis, who leads the team with 15.3 points per game. "It's great for us, we came down here and got better as a team. It's a big momentum boost for us."
The Jayhawks received bench support from freshman forward Cliff Alexander as he continues to ease into the rotation. Alexander played a season-high 26 minutes and grabbed eight rebounds in addition to six points and four blocks.
Sophomore guard Wayne Selden Jr., though, continued to struggle. He shot 0 for 10 and owns a 26.5 field-goal percentage.
"He hasn't shot it well at all," coach Bill Self said. "He's been inconsistent, but last year he was inconsistent early, too. I don't know what he was (shooting) going into league play, but last year his 3-point percentage was not good at all going into league play. ... He'll make shots. He can't think about it. He's just got to go do it."
Selden struggled in last season's matchup with Florida, managing four points and four turnovers in a 67-61 loss in Gainesville on Dec. 10.
Florida (3-3) has experienced offensive inefficiencies of its own, averaging an SEC-worst 63.5 points.
The Gators entered this season with a No. 7 ranking but their three losses match their total from 2013-14, when they finished 36-3. They're coming off last Friday's 75-64 defeat to then-No. 5 North Carolina in the fifth-place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
On Monday, they fell out of the rankings after 68 consecutive polls, which was the third-longest active streak behind Duke (140) and Kansas (108).
"Right now, the truth is slammed in our face, which I think is great," coach Billy Donovan told the school's official website. "A lot of times, in your nonconference scheduling, when you're not playing against high-level competition, it's hard to get to the truth. For these guys ... it's bringing them closer to the truth in finding out who they are and who we are."
Dorian Finney-Smith is also averaging 10.3 points, and he was one of four players in double figures against Kansas last season with 15 off the bench.
Junior guard Eli Carter, fourth on Florida with 9.0 points per game, did not practice Wednesday because of a sprained left foot.
''I would say he's not playing," Donovan said. "That could change. ... He says he wants to try it. He wants to go. I've talked to him and he does not feel, right now with his foot, that he can get through a practice, and if you can't get through a practice, it's awful hard to play.''
A loss Friday would mark Florida's worst start to a season since Donovan took over in 1996-97.