No Big 12 basketball team looks to have what it will take to deny Kansas University (11-1) a ninth consecutive conference title, and the gap between the best and the rest appears wider than in most seasons.
Still, with a nonconference game against a Temple team that recently gave Syracuse its first loss, it’s too early to discuss whether KU has a legitimate chance at an undefeated Big 12 season.
KU ran the table in 2001-2002 en route to a 33-4 record that ended in the Final Four in Atlanta with a semifinal loss to national-champion Maryland and never has done so again.
The conference schedule is two games longer now with 18 games, which makes the feat even tougher. If the Jayhawks pulled it off this season, it would come as no greater a shock than some of the remarkable streaks going on of late with a team that only vaguely resembles the squad that lost Nov. 13 to Michigan State in Atlanta in the Georgia Dome, site of this year’s Final Four.
Streaks such as:
• In the past four games, sophomore guard Naadir Tharpe has played 71 minutes without committing a turnover and has 22 assists. He has made seven of nine three-pointers in the last three games.
• Senior starting power forward Kevin Young has not missed a shot from the field in three consecutive games. In 69 minutes of action, he has shot 8-for-8 from the field against Richmond, Ohio State and American.
• Since busting out of an 0-for-11, season-opening three-point shooting slump, senior guard Travis Releford has made 16 of 25 three-pointers (64 percent), nine for 11 (82 percent) in the last four games.
• In the last five games, scholarship players have made more three-point shots (43) than they have missed (42) for a percentage of .506. During that span, each opponent had an overall shooting percentage of less than .40.
• KU’s home-court winning streak stands at 29 games, second only to Syracuse (31). Saturday’s victory against American, the weakest team on KU’s schedule, pushed the Allen Fieldhouse winning streak against nonconference competition to 62 games.
Just eight of those 62 victims have lost by single-digit margins since Oral Roberts defeated Kansas, 78-71, Nov. 15, 2006. Would you believe 27 of the 62 victims (44 percent) have lost by margins of 30 points or greater? In both the 2007-08 and 2009-10 seasons, KU blistered seven teams by 30 points or more.
Bill Self’s record stands at 152-7 in his favorite basketball building.
If KU can defeat Temple and win each of its nine conference games in Allen Fieldhouse en route to a conference championship, Self would finish the season with two more consecutive Big 12 titles (nine) than Allen Fieldhouse losses (seven). Remarkable.