Kansas University's basketball players were talking more about clinching the Big 12 Conference crown than extending the school's win streak over Kansas State in Manhattan to 23 games and counting.
"We have to start another 31-game streak," KU freshman Mario Chalmers said, aware the Wildcats had dropped 31 in a row to KU before KSU's victory in January in Allen Fieldhouse. "It's good to keep the other one going."
¢ Title specifics: The victory assured KU a piece of the Big 12 crown. KU will tie with Texas and gain the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament if the Longhorns beat Oklahoma today. Texas would win the tiebreaker because of a victory over the Jayhawks in head-to-head competition.
KU wins the title outright and garners the No. 1 seed if Oklahoma prevails over UT today.
"I might watch some just to see teams we might play down the line," said Julian Wright, who didn't appear to have the game on his list of must-see TV.
If KU is the tourney's No. 1 seed, it will play the No. 8 or 9 seed at 11:30 a.m. Friday in Dallas' American Airlines Center. If KU is No. 2 seed, it'll play the No. 7 or 10 seed at 6 p.m. Friday. KU has earned a bye and will not play Thursday.
¢ Bump: KU's Sasha Kaun tweaked his left ankle with 7:18 to play. He would have been able to return to the game if needed and left the arena without a limp after the contest.
¢ Frederick honored: Former Kansas University athletic director Bob Frederick and his wife, Margey, were introduced before the game as part of Senior Day festivities. Their son, Mark, is a senior non-scholarship player at K-State. He has failed to score in four games.
¢ Signs in the building: "Phog gone; Purple reigns."
"1-14-06: Enough said"
Also, a KSU fan was decked out in a full chicken suit.
¢ Anger: KSU coach Jim Wooldridge received a technical in the first half, complaining the Jayhawks set an illegal screen to free Chalmers for a three. : KU coach Bill Self and ref Steve Welmer entered into a heated discussion the second half that appeared to be over when Welmer appeared to have the last word in the discussion. Self became incensed and screamed at Welmer, who looked as if he were ready to give Self a technical, but didn't pull the trigger. Wooldridge complained to another ref that Self escaped a 'T' despite the exchange.
¢ Steals: KU had 13 steals to finish the Big 12 season with a conference-best 10.4 steals per game. Chalmers had three steals for his eighth consecutive multi-steal game. Chalmers, the conference leader with 3.3 per game, has at least one steal in 19 consecutive games.
¢ Rush back on top: Brandon Rush led KU with 24 points to break a streak of seven consecutive games in which someone else took team honors in scoring. Chalmers led the team in scoring five teams during that streak, Wright twice. Saturday marked the 11th consecutive time the Jayhawks were led in scoring by a freshman. Russell Robinson, with 24 points at Texas A&M;, was the last non-freshman to lead the team in scoring.
¢ Chalmers sets mark: With his three steals, Chalmers broke the Kansas freshman record for steals, currently at 81. Chalmers passed Darnell Valentine's 80 set in 1978.
¢ Historic title: By winning its 49th conference championship, Kansas moved into a tie with Kentucky for all-time league titles. The Ohio Valley Conference conducted research on this as follows: KU, Kentucky 49 titles; Penn 35; North Carolina, Utah 31. The list includes divisional conference titles as well.
¢ Rush update: Rush became only the fourth KU player to surpass 400 points in his freshman season.