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Saturday, March 9, 2013

KU men look to defend Big 12 title streak today at Baylor

Kansas forward Kevin Young comes in to defend against a three-point shot from Baylor center Isaiah Austin during the second half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Kevin Young comes in to defend against a three-point shot from Baylor center Isaiah Austin during the second half on Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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— Kansas University’s basketball players — the ones who chant “Big 12 champs,” at the end of every practice during the two-month conference season — today go for their ninth-straight league title.

“Extremely bad,” KU senior center Jeff Withey said, when asked by a media member “how bad” he wants yet another championship ring.

“It’s important to keep up the tradition. It’s been going on for eight years now. We don’t want to be the group that doesn’t keep it going.”

The Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats enter today — the final day of the regular season — on the road tied for first place at 14-3, two games ahead of Oklahoma State (12-5).

K-State, which is 24-5 overall, meets OSU (22-7) in a 12:30 p.m. contest in Stillwater, Okla. At 5 p.m., the Jayhawks (26-4) will tip it up against sixth-place Baylor (17-13, 8-9) in Ferrell Center. By game time, the Jayhawks will know if they need a victory to tie KSU or to win the league outright.

“I think anything is possible,” KU senior Kevin Young said of final-day wackiness. “They (Bears) will come out strong and we are going to come out strong as well. It’ll be a fun game.”

KU hopes to keep alive the country’s longest active streak of conference titles and longest streak in school history. Ohio State, Belmont and Murray State entered the season having won three league crowns in a row.

“A lot of people thought it was Kansas and everybody else for the league race. Those people that thought that really didn’t get it, at least from our perspective,” said KU coach Bill Self. “Our league is good and you know it is good. The Big 12 just did not have a good preseason, but teams have played better since we got into league play.”

The Jayhawks, who have won seven straight games since a three-game losing streak, face a Baylor team, which is, at best, on the NCAA bubble. The Pierre Jackson-led Bears, who advanced to the Elite Eight in both 2010 and 2012, opened conference play 5-1.

However, BU has since dropped eight of its last 11 games and has work to do to convince the NCAA Tournament committee it deserves an invitation to the Big Dance.

“Yes, I think Baylor still has a shot to get in,” Self said. His Jayhawks won the first meeting between the teams, 61-44, on Jan. 14, in Allen Fieldhouse. “I know the league’s reputation doesn’t get talked about a lot, but I’ve studied it some here of late. We want to get six teams in from our league, without question. I just don’t want them (Baylor) to get in at our expense. But they probably need to play well from this point forward.

“They’re playing at home and this (a victory over KU) would be a great feather in their cap. We know we’ll get a great effort. It’s one thing to say, ‘Hey, we need to do this, (and) we need to do that,’ but when it gets down to the final deal and this has to happen, usually the focus is the best it’s been all year and I’m sure it will be for them.”

Jackson, a 5-10 senior from Las Vegas, who scored 10 points off 2-of-12 shooting with four assists and four turnovers in the first KU meeting, averages a league-leading 19.1 points and 6.5 assists a game.

“Pierre Jackson has had an unbelievable year,” Self said. “He is as talented as any guard in the country, period. The kid gets 20 (points) and seven (rebounds) every night and Isaiah Austin (7-foot freshman, 13.7 ppg, 8.9 rpg) is a lottery pick. There are a lot of teams in America that don’t have that.”

Asked how KU can slow Jackson, KU forward Young said: “I think we’ve got to pressure him, keep him on his heels, don’t let up the whole game. We’ll probably guard him with multiple players. Hopefully he doesn’t get too comfortable.”

KU coach Self actually picked Baylor to win the league in the preseason coaches’ poll in which coaches couldn’t pick their own teams.

“I think they are right there at the very top (talent wise),” Self said. “I picked them to win and OSU second and K-State third if I remember right going back.”

Baylor has lost two straight home games, to Kansas State (64-61) and Iowa State (87-82).

“It’s real frustrating because we want to win every game,” Baylor junior guard Gary Franklin told the Waco Tribune. “There are some of those we should have won and that’s pretty devastating.”

“One thing about this team is we’re not scared or going to back down,” senior guard A.J. Walton told the Tribune. “We’ll continue to work on our game plan and execution and try to make a good run.”

“We’ve got to regroup,” BU coach Scott Drew told the paper. “We knew what we had left and we put ourselves in this position. At the end of the day, the air is in the ball and as long as it’s bouncing, we’ve got a chance. So let’s just make the most of it and keep getting better.”

Austin excels: BU freshman center Austin is a 7-1, 220-pounder from Grace Prep in Arlington, Texas. KU tried to get involved in recruiting Austin, but never received a campus visit.

“He’s terrific. Everybody in the league who coaches against him feels the same way,” Self said. “He’s so long and so skilled and has touch. He can stretch the defense, play with his back to the basket. He’s a terrific prospect. We tried to recruit Isaiah like a lot of people did. He’s one of the better ‘gets’ that anybody in our league has gotten since the inception of the Big 12.

“He’s a guard that plays 6-11,” Self added. “He’s continue to mature physically and part of that is natural maturation process that everyone goes through. He’ll get bigger, stronger. He’s a force. He’ll play this game a long time.”

He could turn pro after his frosh season.

“I thought about it (the NBA draft) a little, but that’s not where my mind is right now,” Austin told the Waco Tribune. “We’re struggling in the Big 12 and hopefully we’ll make the tournament. That’s what everybody wants to do in college, play in the Big Dance and show everybody what they have. That’s what we’re focused on.”

Tourney talk: If KU is the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament, the Jayhawks would play a Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal at 2 p.m, Thursday, in Sprint Center. If KU is the No. 2 seed, it would play in a 6 p.m., quarterfinal Thursday.

Randle cuts two: Julius Randle, a 6-9 senior forward from Prestonwood Christian High in Plano, Texas, has eliminated Oklahoma and North Carolina State from his list of schools. He will choose either Kansas, Kentucky, Florida or Texas on March 20 on ESPNU.

Comments

Kevin Jenkins 1 year, 1 month ago

Wow, just watched another Ku-tcu game! Sorry I guess it was Baylor. I see EJ forgot to bring his car keys to start the car. No leadership from the seniors, but the freshmen played well. Maybe Billi let them watch the K-state game.

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Jason Keller 1 year, 1 month ago

I'm embarrassed to be a Jayhawk. Only because Bill let them get comfortable. This was not KU basketball today.

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Mike Bratisax 1 year, 1 month ago

Releford's younger brother Trevor hits half court 3 to win..Alabama beats Georgia.

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ParisHawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Personally, I'll be glad to see Kentucky make it to the NCAAs. I don't want to see them up their win total with some soft victories in the NIT, the way UNC did a few years ago.

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Chris1955 1 year, 1 month ago

Congratulations to our Jayhawks on their 9th straight Big 12 Conference Championship!

Which talking head was it who said if Bill Self wins 10 conference championships in a row, KU will put a statue of him in front of Allen Fieldhouse? Does anybody know how many UCLA won in a row during their glory years?

We'll be leaving the Holiday Express in Woodway to head to the KU/Baylor game in just a few minutes. I hope to see some of you there!

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theend 1 year, 1 month ago

Here are a few teams I DO NOT want to play in the big tourney.......MU,ISU,OSU,Creighton.

K State? No....doesn't worry me much.

Who else should I be worried about?

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shottybotch 1 year, 1 month ago

kstate had a few crappy calls not go there way at the end....but who cares! b12 champs 9 and running

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MrPilot 1 year, 1 month ago

Woohoo! 9 Straight!!! Let's go win it outright!

Rock Chalk!

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Konkis Dongington III 1 year, 1 month ago

Pressure's off. Still, I hope we come out motivated to take it all. RCJH!

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GreatJake 1 year, 1 month ago

It's all yours for the taking KU. Thanks OSU.

Did u see how angry KSUs coach was towards the end of the game.

RCJKU

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theend 1 year, 1 month ago

Stupid KState winning. Looks like they got this one.

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sasnak 1 year, 1 month ago

I live in Kentucky and our paper says that we have a great chance of getting Randle and that is words taken from Randle's mouth. It's all over but the shouting.

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jayhawkinATL 1 year, 1 month ago

Wow...way to wet the bed, Gators!!!

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kennethst 1 year, 1 month ago

Current brackets show MU an 8 seed and getting to play in Kansas City??? Why is that?? And shows KU having to play them or Creighton in 2nd round? Either will be very tough. I don't like it.

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kennethst 1 year, 1 month ago

Anyone else nervous about this game? I am. Then again......I'm always nervous.

My little 3 year old daughter drew a picture of her Baby Jayhawk sitting on top of a bear.....presumably the Baylor Bear ......My wife put her up to it. I think it's good.....and now is of course under a magnet on the refrigerator.

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iamakufan 1 year, 1 month ago

" By game time, the Jayhawks will know if they need a victory to tie KSU or to win the league outright."

Actually, KU cannot win it outright without winning today. If both KU and KSU lose today, they're tied. If KU loses and KSU wins, then we get 2nd. If KU wins and KSU loses, then and only then we have 1st outright.

on edit - after re-reading the article I see I misinterpreted what was being said. Sorry.

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Janet Olin 1 year, 1 month ago

Go, Jayhawks! Rebound, defend, rebound, defend, repeat. Make it 9. C'mon, Ben, show something good in a road game. RCJHGKU

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Steve Gantz 1 year, 1 month ago

I know I'll get removed for violating the usage agreement, and you can all click the suggest removal button if you'd like, in fact you can call me a troll, a KSU fan, an illiterate gap toothed incestual, meth addict (gasp) mesery fan, but I still miss playing the kittens from columbia and wish we'd have scheduled them this year.

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jayhawkab 1 year, 1 month ago

I said congratulations HornedFrog820 be proud of your accompishment it is something you can treasure all your life. I know beating KU will probably help your recruiting so good luck next year.

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jayhawkinATL 1 year, 1 month ago

BTW...was hoping to start off my day watching the Cats get thumped by the Pokes, but alas the major networks FAILED AGAIN by not booking the matchup between #9 and #13.

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Zhawkzz 1 year, 1 month ago

Gary...last I looked the KC pod games are on Friday, not Thursday. Sprint Center, NCAA and my tickets say that anyway. Or did they change it? If they did, a few folks like me will have to scramble to make hotel room changes.

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REHawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Hang a banner, Toad, right there above your DVD. And design another for the toilet seat. If you are fortunate beyond credibility, perhaps next season your squad will win another league game so that you can fill the house with banners, scrunch back in the recliner, clinch a cold one in your mitt and shriek Yee-Haw!

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FL_Jhawk 1 year, 1 month ago

Yes, Horney, our loss to you was a total embarrassment, and many of us have put it out of our minds, but it in no way taints another championship. It doesn't taint it since even with that humiliating loss, we came out of it stronger than ever are still in the running.

I am wondering though if you would have rather lost to KU both times and instead win a total of 6 games, ending up in 6th or 7th place?

If you prefer the lone KU victory and losing 17 out of 18, then you are a pathetic fan.

Now, I would think you would be rooting for KU henceforth. You ought to be hoping we will win the NCAA finals, then you can say you guys beat the National Champions!

KU fans like your coach and we would appreciate your support. Further KU loses only degrades you guys even more.

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HornedFrog820 1 year, 1 month ago

I think it's cute the way so many of you are obsessing over a couple recruits you have no chance of getting instead of focusing on the game at hand. What, do you think the game is as good as won and the Big 12 title is yours?

Well just remember something: Even if you win the Big 12 again, your championship will be tainted by losing to us. We embarrassed you for the whole nation to see on ESPN. It may be our only win of the Big 12 campaign, but it should be worth a lot more than one win. The nation will remember you more for crapping your pants against us than for winning a ninth straight Big 12 title.

Well, better go fire up the DVD player so I can relive that wonderful night.

FROGS FIGHT!

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Bradly Moore 1 year, 1 month ago

Randle will go to Kentucky, Wiggins will go to FSU, and if you think Ben is here next year, I would love to have some of the stuff you are smoking.

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Ron Franklin 1 year, 1 month ago

I've watched bracketology last few months and I have noticed of all the potential seeding placements Kansas keeps ending up with a KC showing. How does that work? Do they go out of there way to schedule that way?

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Born_And_Raised_A_KU_Fan 1 year, 1 month ago

All right, guys, let's finish the job! Let's go make rugs out of the Bears and take home some hardware!

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ollerfarm 1 year, 1 month ago

Wiggins and Randle and BenMcLe sounds pretty good.

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jayhawkinnc 1 year, 1 month ago

Oh.....and you too, Wiggins!!!!

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jayhawkinnc 1 year, 1 month ago

glad to see Randle still has us on his list. having to beat out 3 other schools is better than having to beat out 5. Come on Randle....you know you want to come play for The Phog!

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nostradavid 1 year, 1 month ago

We will win tonight, and everything will be ...

Hunky Dory !

Hunky Dory ! by nostradavid

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