Monday, February 20, 2006

Big 12 up for grabs

Kansas focuses on Bears


Bill Self watched Oklahoma State's dismantling of Texas on TV on Sunday from his Parrott Athletic Center office.

Several of his Kansas University basketball players viewed the Big 12 Conference battle from their apartments; all congregated afterward for an afternoon practice as a first-place team.

"It wasn't like there was any celebrating going on," said KU coach Self, whose squad improved to 10-2 by mashing Missouri, 79-46, Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.

Texas dropped to an identical 10-2 following its 81-60 Sunday shellacking in Stillwater, Okla.

"They certainly weren't disappointed," Self said of his No. 22-ranked team, which takes a 19-6 record into Tuesday's 7 p.m. home battle against Baylor; No. 6-rated UT will take a 22-4 record into Wednesday's contest at Kansas State. "But their whole deal was, 'We've got to play well on Tuesday.' I'm serious. All we talked about was Baylor.

"We've got to take care of our business. We can't worry about other people helping us, although we probably did get some help today. It doesn't mean much if we don't play well on Tuesday."

The Jayhawks and Longhorns hold a two-game lead over Oklahoma (8-4). Colorado (7-5) is the only other team with a winning record, followed by Texas A&M; (6-6), Nebraska (6-6), Texas Tech (6-6), Kansas State (5-7), Iowa State (4-8), Oklahoma State (4-8), Missouri (4-8) and Baylor (2-10).

"I don't think today's game was a major upset. It was a minor upset," Self said. "If you've ever played in Gallagher-Iba (Arena), you know how tough it is to go win there, especially when OSU plays well, and they played very well today. They played great, but I also thought Texas had a tough day."

Self said he was not looking past Baylor, a 2-10 team whose two league victories were against K-State and Missouri - teams that beat the Jayhawks.

"Expect the unexpected. That's the way the league is," Self said. "When you think somebody is supposed to win, watch out. We know we have Baylor coming in here, and we can't be looking ahead. We need to focus in on the Bears."

Holding a share of first place at this stage of the season has to be somewhat gratifying to the Jayhawks, who opened league play with a victory over Colorado followed by losses to KSU and MU.

"When we were 1-2? We were thinking, 'Good gosh, let's just try to get to 10 wins,''' Self exclaimed. "We are there now. We've put ourselves in position to play for some high stakes if we stay focused, remember who we are and don't let distractions bother us."

Self indicated the team's goal every year was to win the regular-season conference crown.

The contenders

Texas (10-2, 22-4 overall) Remaining games: Wednesday: at Kansas State Saturday: Kansas March 1: at Texas A&M; March 5: Oklahoma

Kansas (10-2, 19-6 overall) Remaining games: Tuesday: Baylor Saturday: at Texas March 1: Colorado March 4: at Kansas State

Oklahoma (8-4, 17-6 overall) Remaining games: Today: at Texas Tech Saturday: Kansas State February 27: Oklahoma State March 5: at Texas

"It's always been in our minds since Day One," freshman Brandon Rush said. "Now we have an opportunity to get it now. It's one of our goals. We can go get it.

"You can't look past Baylor," he quickly added. "They snuck up and won two quick games. We can't look past 'em."

¢ Arthur still open: Darrell Arthur, a 6-foot-9 high school senior from Dallas' South Oak Cliff High who recently eliminated Indiana from his list of schools and narrowed his list to KU, Baylor and SMU, told on Sunday he has decided to reopen his recruitment and let other schools get involved. UConn has showed some interest in Arthur, as well as Texas. KU remains his leader.

Arthur on Saturday scored 16 points - two the second half - in South Oak Cliff's 64-54 loss to Montrose Christian of Rockville, Md., in the finals of the Dallas Morning News Classic.

Texas signee Kevin Durant, a 6-11 senior, had 18 points for Montrose.

Arthur hit eight of 17 shots while missing all five three-point tries. He had 11 rebounds. Durant hit six of 15 shots, one of six threes. He had eight boards.

"It was fun in the beginning. I was frustrated in the second half," Arthur told the Morning News.

After the game, Durant encouraged the Arthur to consider UT. Arthur said Durant asked about Texas women.

"I told him I'd see what I could do for him" Arthur told the paper.

Arthur told the Louisville Courier-Journal over the weekend he might reconsider Indiana later depending on whom the school hired to replace outgoing Mike Davis.

"I liked (Davis) because he's very good with players, and he's a good family person," Arthur said. "A lot of people told me that he could leave, but I didn't think he would resign this year."


Susan Mangan 13 years, 11 months ago

Amen, Original Bob! Those nay-sayers forgot that we were supposed to be "bad" this year. We have a bunch of young players that Self has turned into a focused and determined team. Win or lose, Self has accomplished a lot this season.

Sigmund 13 years, 11 months ago

Are we having fun yet? Yes, yes we are! This team is a ton-of-fun to watch. Sure they can dig themselves into a hole in a heartbeat, but (and this is a full-throated 'but') when these players click as a team, they simply explode!

bethnbob 13 years, 11 months ago

I knew it was going to be a different story when MU came here, and the same is going to happen when we go to KSU. With UT losing to OSU the Big 12 is ours!!!!!!!!!!!

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