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Monday, April 2, 2012

Keegan

Kansas underdog … on paper

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— Cartoonists would sketch slingshots in the hands of the Kansas University players, all aimed at the giant of college basketball, Anthony Davis. He plays for Kentucky, the winningest program of all-time.

It makes for a nice story line. It also doesn’t fit anymore. It did in November, when nobody quite knew what to make of a KU team that had lost all four starters, including two NBA lottery picks, plus a reserve chosen in the second round.

Not now. Not with Kansas feeling so confident heading into tonight’s national-title showdown in the Superdome.

Sure, Davis, to this point, has been the best player in country, as evidenced by his trophy case stuffed with national-player-of-the-year hardware. But Thomas Robinson was next best and was the only player who was a unanimous first-team All-American choice. And he plays for the second-winningest program in history.

Las Vegas has made Kansas 61⁄2-point underdogs. On paper, it makes sense.

“Yeah, they probably should,” Kansas coach Bill Self said of the Wildcats’ being portrayed as the favorites. “But I’ve never known a game to be played on paper.”

Sunday afternoon, Robinson already sported that steely eyed warrior look he brings into games.

“I think we realized a long time ago that we could play with anybody,” Robinson said.

Added Tyshawn Taylor, who is 0-for-20 shooting threes this tournament while directing a team that is 5-0: “Them being the best team in the country all year, that’s good. But, I mean, it comes down to one game.”

Kansas has a healthy respect for its opponent, but the self-esteem of this team never has been higher.

“Anthony Davis is a great player, but he’s not Superman,” Robinson said. “We just have to be Kansas, do what we do best, keep being aggressive. He is a good player, but we’re not going to change anything we do. Just stick to the program.”

Coaches forever talk about how they never look at anything but the next game, but they’re only human. They play the bracket out in their minds, too.

“I dreamed about it as soon as I saw the brackets,” Self said of the match-up. “You look at the brackets. You look at the region. You say, ‘OK, first game, who do we have to beat to get to the Sweet 16? Who is the potential match-up? How do we match up?’ You look at your region. I did look. I said, ‘How cool would it be to play Kentucky in the finals?’”

Very cool. It’s never happened. The schools Self called “the bluest of the blue bloods” never have met in the title game.

When Self went through the match-ups, he didn’t sound intimidated or pessimistic. He sounded confident.

Self on Taylor vs. Marquis Teague, a 6-foot-2 freshman from Indianapolis: “Teague is explosive as anybody. That would be a great match-up with Taylor.”

On Elijah Johnson vs. Doron Lamb, a 6-4 sophomore from Queens, N.Y.: “Great match-up. They’re similar guys. Both guys can get on a roll.”

On Travis Releford vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist: “Pretty interesting deal. Gilchrist is obviously a better scorer and can post and do some things, but Travis is pretty good, too. He kind of knows his role. He’s strong for his size. He’s good at that.”

On Robinson vs. 6-9 sophomore Terrence Jones from Portland: “Heck of a match-up.”

On Withey vs. Davis, a 6-10 freshman from Chicago: “Great match-up.”

“One difficult match-up is (Darius) Miller off the bench,” Self said of the 6-8 senior from Maysville, Ky. “He can be their leading scorer. That’s something we probably can’t match. I also think this: (Conner) Teahan can make shots.”

That was on-paper talk about the individuals participating in the game, not the sum of the parts, which forms a team.

“It will be interesting, very interesting,” Self said. “I don’t think it’s about match-ups. I think it’s about team concepts, more so than match-ups.”

According to the oddsmakers, Kentucky’s 61⁄2 points better, so in a way, Kansas already is behind, and that’s when the Jayhawks play their best basketball. This game has the feel of one that will be close as the college basketball season nears its final seconds.

Comments

VaJay 2 years ago

In 2008, after watching the remarkable comeback - I was elated & jumping up & down. This year, I may jump up & down after, but I'll be crying tears of joy, just thinking of the adversity TRob has faced & overcome.

Light it up tonight 'Hawks!

Can't wait...

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Dan Harris 2 years ago

Think about all of our upsets over the last 20 years(PAINFUL I know ) If any of those teams had to play us in a 7 game series they might have won 1 but never the series, fortunately we only have to play them once.

We have not played a complete game yet in the tournament ...........................!

Tonight we will play for 40 minutes............................................!!

Tonight....................................................!!!

Tyshon will have more threes then turnovers Withey will break Noah's block record Rele shuts down the Kidd Robinson is a beast with 25/15 EJ will once again hit the clutch shot at the end

Tonight the WHOLE team will be the Hawk to Rock!

Tonight our beloved Hawks shock everyone except the TRUE believers(got goose bumps typing that!)

Kansas 71-Kentucky - 68

RCJH

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FLJHK 2 years ago

Will they wear the blue uniforms tonight or break out the crimson?

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Redlandsjhawk 2 years ago

Anyone know where I can rent or buy one of those heart zapping machines?

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Hawkamania 2 years ago

Someone asked Kentucky's Lamb about their previous matchup with Kansas earlier in the year and he forgot they even played.

LETS MAKE HIM REMEMBER TONIGHT BOYS!

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nwhawkfan 2 years ago

"1988"

1988 - a leap year.

1988 - KU goes up against a heavily favored opponent in the final. The Jayhawks are given little to no chance to win by most of the national media.

1988 - Danny Manning's last game before leaving for greener pastures.

1988 - KU is led by the Naismith national Coach Of The Year.

1988 - Peter Frampton and Spandau Ballet haven't had a hit in a while.

1988 - Unheralded players come off the bench to make big plays for KU.

In his book "A Season Inside," John Feinstein would write:

"It had fallen into place for the Jayhawks. But their victory had little to do with luck. It had to do with grit and perseverance and an extraordinary coaching job..."

"They had suffered together, living through all the near-misses and the key injuries, wondering often if there was such a thing as a happy ending and holding each other as if the other were a life raft when it seemed so often that their epitaph would be, 'If Only...'"

"Now, there would be no epitaph, just a legacy - and a happy ending."

We...Can...Do...This !!!

Again.

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Justin Daniel 2 years ago

I sure wish I was as confident as some of you guys. I just don't see how Kansas can win unless it plays close to perfect. There is absolutely no margin for error. If we continue to miss easy buckets around to rim, turn the ball over like we did last game and shoot under 30% from it is going to be a longgggggg night. I hope I am wrong more than anybody, but I think Kentucky wins this one. What is even more upsetting is it will be vacated in a couple of years, just like everything else sleezball Cal has touched.

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phoggyjay 2 years ago

Almost time... Kansas will win by 1 point in a classic National Championship title game. Can't wait, Rock Chalk!

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oldalum 2 years ago

Bleacher Report had a clip from ESPN's First Look or something like that. First something. Only one of the four picked KU, and three of the four predicted a very close game and said many nice things about Kansas. The fourth guy picked UK in a blow-out and all he could talk about was the November game. Needless to say, to me he sounded stupid and uninformed. lol

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justinryman 2 years ago

I have a bad feeling, that if Kansas wins by 2 or less, that some people will still vote Kentucky #1.

If Kansas loses by more than 5, I have a feeling that Louisville, Ohio St., and UNC might all be voted ahead of us in the final poll.

the way the press is treating KU, not giving them a punchers chance to win, I don't have a good feeling about the final voting.

Here's to winning by 11 and making Kentucky look like the youth they are!!!

Rock Chalk Jayhawk

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kcn18 2 years ago

Please Connor Teahan just this one game can you make your open 3s please. Thanks

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FarSideHawk 2 years ago

I just read the preview on ESPN. All 5 of the experts have unanimously picked UK to win. There is no point of watching this game anymore. I'm going to catch up on some sleep.

I suggest you all do the same.

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KUUBERFAN 2 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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FLJHK 2 years ago

Before the UNC game I posted and predicted a KU win, 81-69. Turned out to be pretty close.

A week ago, I posted my Final Four predictions. To date they have been completely on-target both in terms of style of game and outcome. At that time I predicted a KU win tonight, in a more up-tempo type game than the Ohio State game. Later in the week, I predicted a KU win in the final, 72-65.

I stand by that prediction today, but acknowledge one other possibility. This could be a UNC in '08 type game. In other words, it could be an easy and convincing KU win.

Coach Self has said that this team has not yet played its best game. Tonight may be that night.

Rock Chalk!

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bobku 2 years ago

Haven't most of KU's Games during this tournament been late in the evening whereas most of Kentucky's have been earlier in the day?

Rock Chalk!

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4Runner 2 years ago

Did anyone else notice the interview with the UK players where Davis has his practice jersey draped down his back, tucked into the back neck of his tee shirt like a cape?? Maybe a retort to TRobs "he's not Superman" comment? If that was his comeback, just know this,,, The Jayhawks are Kryptonite!! Rock Chalk Jayhawks!! Go KU!!!

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KULA 2 years ago

Fox Sports ran 2001 computer simulations on the title game. Kansas came out the winner in 54% of the projections. So they ran another 2001 simulations (guess they couldn't believe it). Again, Kansas came out the winner 54% of the time. Heart and head in the same place. Go Jayhawks!

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Tuskin 2 years ago

KU cannot beat UK on the highlight reel. UK has an amazing knack for coming up with a few incredible passes and astounding finishes every game.

But they aren't consistent about it. After watching the Louisville game, I feel much better about our chances. Our defense is better than Louisville's, and our inside offense is better. I actually feel better about today's game than I did about Saturday's.

And I feel that Self has the appropriate defensive strategy dialed in. I wasn't impressed by the defense shown by Kentucky's guards. Inside, yes, they get their blocks, just like we do.

It all looks good to me. Go, Hawks!

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PurePierce 2 years ago

I used to like Jay Bilas. He seemed to like KU. Something has changed. Today on Mike and Mike he was asked about our defense, specifically about us holding the last two teams around 12 % in the last 5 minutes. He gave us no credit. He said the other teams had folded and that one team didn’t have its frigging point guard. He said if we won it would rank with the biggest upsets ever. You stupid sob, it wasn’t even just the last two teams, the last 4 shot just around 24% for the whole second half.

Heck, Bobby Knight even gives us a chance. He didn’t pick us but he didn’t say it was hopeless. He also picked us over Ohio State.

The press we are getting is sounding a lot like 2008. The analysts before every game then wrote that the other team’s guards were going to eat us alive. Hadn’t they ever watched our guys?

Oh well, obviously I’m ticked off.

Go get ‘em guys. Rock Chalk Jayhawk KU.

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jaybate 2 years ago

Just read USA Today's 4.2.12 rag this morning and it was disgracefully biased, of course.

I've never read such consistently negative bias about any team in a Final Four.

Obvious inference: the media gaming complex is lining up for a perfect storm of sheep shearing with peek media biasing of betting expectations.

There is going to be so much insider money made on this game, when KU beats UK it is going to be stunning.

Every way you look at this on paper, KU is the tougher, more physically mature, more mentally mature, more battle tested, and better team.

TT is better than UK's PG, and UK has zero way to go if he gets fouled up. KU just rotates EJ, if TT gets fouled up, and loses little.

EJ is tougher than Lamb, but not quite as good of a trey shooter, but in a dome, that doesn't matter, because neither side will shoot well from trey and both sides will be going to the glass to stop the other from running. Note: Majerus is flat wrong about KU not being able to rebound with UK.

Travis is the only place where KU is vulnerable. Travis had inadequate backup for guarding Kidd-Gilchrist and Travis will have his hands full with this guy. But Travis can guard him to his average, if he does not get fouled up.

Thomas can take Terence, if Thomas is concentrating and on his game. He can outscore him and out rebound him.

Jeff is taller than Davis and will force Davis to shoot it farther out, or be blocked. Davis can get Jeff in foul trouble if Davis is allowed to put in on the floor. Our wings will see to it that Davis is stripped if he tries to put in on the floor.

Miller is a great scorer, and could get Kevin fouled up in a hurry. But Self could and should bring Justin the minute Miller shows up and let Justin put wood on him and burn up 2-3 fouls the first half on Miller to keep him from getting in a shooting rhythmn.

CT and Kevin will score on UK for sure.

We win.

Sheep get shorn.

Cal goes home empty handed again.

Let the investigations begin as soon as they don't win.

Kid

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HAWKTOPIA 2 years ago

“ AVERAGE PEOPLE IN AN ABOVE AVERAGE SYSTEM WILL BEAT EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE IN A BAD SYSTEM EVERY TIME.” Fujio Cho, Toyota

One player can be the difference for a team. Be that Player!

I do not feel that Kentucky can run and D-up with this KU team for 40 minutes. While I hope and anticipate a great KU performance, and victory, and all the jubilation that accompanies the best teams playing their best ball when it counts.

I long in my heart, for that moment, with only a short time left on the clock, that the slow rhythmic basal hum of "rock chalk" tickles the rafters, and builds to fill that dome, and lets the world know who we are.

RCJHKU!

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HawkKlaw 2 years ago

Tonight's the night. The showdown of “The Bluest of the Blue Bloods” haha. (I bet Roy, Dean, Wooden and Coach K would take issue with Bill Self's statement...but I can dig it.)

I can't wait for the hype to be over and for the game to be underway. As a rational sports enthusiast, I would say that Vegas is right for favoring UK. But all of us KU fans know that our boys can hang with anyone. Plus, we have the advantage of seeing first-hand how UK can slaughter teams if they're not at the top of their game. We played one decent half against UK in November...time to put two great halves together and get this 'Ship!

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Vernon Riggs 2 years ago

The ony national 'Expert' that I have heard pick Kansas is Bruce Bowen on Mike and Mike this morning. He might know a thing or two about playing defense.

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bbeckum 2 years ago

I don't remember a KU team ever getting so little respect. I'm not complaining; we play the faux-underdog well, But it's as if everyone in the country had forgotten we're second in wins, all-time. (OK, I am complaining) I get it that UK has been ranked #1 most of the season and plays with five-six nba players. But how many KU teams, loaded with nba players,have lost in the first round? To much less talented teams than this year's KU squad. I know we're gonna win and I can't wait.

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KUUBERFAN 2 years ago

We have been casted as underdogs from the beginning. Even Doug G. thought we wouldnt get by Detroit. KU has proved them wrong so far, lets hope Bill and his men can do it just one more time. Rock Chalk ya Muthas...oh yeah I am back babeeeee...lol.

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nighthawking 2 years ago

dont like the kentucky rednecks- The only thang they good for be Kentucky Fried Chicken. Cornel Sanders the only good man I no from Kentucky.... kyspelchek.com

Rock Chalk !!!!!!!

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Steve Gantz 2 years ago

They didn't consider this relatively unknown factor. In my 3 years on campus I saw the Jayhawks lose in person only twice. That was part of the sudden end of the 50 some game homecourt winning streak.

I will be attending the game tonight, my first in person game since I graduated in 88. The odds are in favor since they've very rarely lost while I've been in attendance.

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DRsmith 2 years ago

Whatever it is, I need some of what you guys are smoking. Remember, puff puff pass.

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jaybate 2 years ago

Sorry its taken awhile to see this game clearly, but I've been busy in NYC. But it came to me in MOMA yesterday. I slept on it last night and it came clear this a morning.

The Lawrence Airmen will win by 10, maybe 15, unless we have a horrid shooting night; then we will win by 2.

This is KU men v. UK boys.

Forget the hand wringing.

Neither team will shoot great outside. Its a dome. But one team will shoot better outside than the other; that will be KU, because this will be KU's fourth straight dome game and only UK's second.

Also, Tyshawn's trey slump is due to end. Its been 3 weeks now. And Conner is due for a 3-4 game. And Elijah is dialed in and will make his big one again.

KU will guard and rebound better than UK, because that is our strength.

UK will make more shake and bake offensive moves, because that is their strength.

Both teams will block and alter shots.

KU is trained to guard hard and be physical.

UK is trained not to be aggressive on defense in order to keep their OADs on the floor all the way.

Neither team is deep.

What depth each team has is geared to reinforce its strength. UK's Miller keeps UK scoring. CT, KY, and Justin keep it guarding, rebounding and trey shooting. Conner proves again and again that though he is not a great on ball defender, he is good enough to play team defense 20-30 minutes, which enables our 3 great starting perimeter defenders to not hold back.

UK only plays 6. KU plays 7-8.

KU can rotate 4 bigs that can guard and rebound, but only 3 can score. UK has 3 good ones.

But here is the deciding factor.

KU has proven it can keep playing its defense-rebounding game minus any one player for a game.

UK cannot do without Teague.

And Tyshawn is a man and Teague is a boy. Tyshawn can guard 45 minutes and Teague cannot.

Cut off the head.

The body dies.

This is the real reason UK might go zone.

Cal cannot afford to lose Teague, and Cal knows Self will attack Teague with the older better TT until Teague fails, the same way Self and TT broke down Craft.

Teague can make a bunch of great plays, but sooner or later Tyshawn will break him.

But if UK goes zone, then we are exceptional at slicing zones and our trey shooters will combine to beat them.

We can out defend them.

Our pg will finally cut the head off theirs.

The next default is to run and hope we have less in the tank.

But we like running and running leads straight to the pain barrier, where KU is best.

UK's best shot is to attack through Kidd-Gilchrist, foul Travis up, then keep attacking through Kidd-Gilchrist.

Travis is too wily now.

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MorganR 2 years ago

This is so exciting!! KU has had so many great wins over the years; including by this team. In 2008, North Carolina and Memphis were supposed to be better than KU but KU won. For me, this team and the way they play together has the same feel as Danny and the Miracles.- but with more players that can deliver miracles. In addition to Mr. Robinson, Messrs Taylor, Releford, Johnson, Withey, Teahan, Young, Tharpe,and Wesley have all had tremendous games and are capable of changing the game,

I admire the magnanimity of the KU players for spotting the opposition several points in the first half but I hope you won't do that this game. I hope you have fun.

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april28 2 years ago

If you are looking for inspiration, watch this and smile.

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Eric Baker 2 years ago

I like your comment, Keegan, about us kind of already being 6.5 points down if you look at the Vegas line. I hope Bill tells the team about that, and they come out playing as if they have 6.5 point deficit, because, for some reason, they play better when they're down.

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Dyrk Dugan 2 years ago

this game is all about a bit of payback from a previous meeting, and Coach Self vs. Coach Cal.

and we have the advantage in both. Hopefully, we had our bad turnover game on Saturday vs. Ohio St....because if we turn the ball over that frequently, and also don't shoot well, we will lose this game....but i don't look for both to happen again.

they're still freshman and sophomores....yes, they are extremely talented freshman and sophomores....but now they're playing a team, that's a little longer in the tooth...AND have all the demands and expectations of a blue blood programs like they do....we are in the same boat.

So UK better hammer us....or i think we'll win the game. if it's close late...one possession either way at the three minute mark....i don't see how we lose in that situation. We have been through too many battles like that.....we won't panic, and they just might.

all I know is, i'm really looking forward to it. No matter what happens, i'm so proud of this team, this coaching job....it's been tremendous, and so much fun to follow and cheer for.

Yoiu can do it guys...you truly can. Go Jayhawks!

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jhox 2 years ago

To me the key is turnovers. We played them close in the first game, until we had a bad stretch of turnovers. If we can just limit ourselves to no more than 7 or 8 turnovers, we can win this game. Of course, it wouldn't hurt if Kentucky actually missed a few outside shots, and we'd hit one occasionally. Every time I've watched them in this tournament they've been unconscious from behind the arc.

They are definitely due to miss a few shots, and we're due to get hot and make a few. Why can't tonight be the night we finally put it all together?

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Bob Forer 2 years ago

In a ten game series, Kentucky might win seven games. But we are only playing one. And with a small sample size, there a large margin for error, especially when you are talking about kids who have never been on a stage this tall before. I don't expect us to win, but it certainly isn't beyond the realm of possiblity, and if we do pull it out, as far as upsets go, it would not be monumental.

In his "Pyramid of Success" the late great John Wooden taught us that in basketball, with everything else being equal, the group of five with the more skilled players will invariably win. But he also stressed that lesser skilled players who play as a team can compete with, and even beat five vastly superior athletes. It's happened many a time before, a good example being George Mason's beat down of Connecticut, a team loaded with future NBA talent, in the regional finals.

Although we have little margin for error, we don't have to play our best to win. But we do have to play as a team, and leave it all out on the court. This season, particularly the last four games, have demonstrated that our group of young men are capable of coming together as a team at the highest level when all the marbles on the line. If we put can play thirty minutes of basketball similar to the last few minutes of the past few games, we can beat Kentucky, and beat them soundly.

I am not betting on us, but I wouldn't bet against us either.

Let's all enjoy the game, and RCJHKU!

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Bob Forer 2 years ago

In a ten game series, Kentucky might win seven games. But we are only playing one. And with a small sample size, there a large margin for error, especially when you are talking about kids who have never been on a stage this tall before. I don't expect us to win, but it certainly isn't beyond the realm of possiblity, and if we do pull it out, as far as upsets go, it would not be monumental.

In his "Pyramid of Success" the late great John Wooden taught us that in basketball, with everything else being equal, the group of five with the more skilled players will invariably win. But he also stressed that lesser skilled players who play as a team can compete with, and even beat five vastly superior athletes. It's happened many a time before, a good example being George Mason's beat down of Connecticut, a team loaded with future NBA talent, in the regional finals.

Although we have little margin for error, we don't have to play our best to win. But we do have to play as a team, and leave it all out on the court. This season, particularly the last four games, have demonstrated that our group of young men are capable of coming together as a team at the highest level when all the marbles on the line. If we put can play thirty minutes of basketball similar to the last few minutes of the past few games, we can beat Kentucky, and beat them soundly.

I am not betting on us, but I wouldn't bet against us either.

Let's all enjoy the game, and RCJHKU!

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SaltLakeHawk 2 years ago

T-Rob's right: Anthony Davis ain't superman.

T-Rob is superman.

T-Rob, We need you big time. You need to make Terrence Jones your b*tch. Be a beast. Stay true to your T-Robness. No 3-Rob. T-Lob is alright though.

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bbeckum 2 years ago

Just saw on espn that Withey is two blocks short of tying Noah's record for the ncaa tournement. Also, Dick V is picking UK. That's great news for us. When will he learn?

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Hank Cross 2 years ago

This KU team has a toughness that I've never seen from a previous team. They are battle-scarred and battle-ready. I believe that they will impose their will on UK and win the NC.

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