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Saturday, February 27, 2016

Jayhawks looking to make it a dozen in a row

Kansas head coach Bill Self has a laugh with Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) as time begins to expire in the Jayhawks' 66-60 win over Baylor, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self has a laugh with Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) as time begins to expire in the Jayhawks' 66-60 win over Baylor, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016 at Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.

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If Kansas University’s No. 2-ranked basketball team, which has won eight consecutive games, today is able to defeat a Texas Tech squad that has won five in a row and six of seven, the Jayhawks will be crowned Big 12 champs for the 12th-straight season.

A victory in the 11 a.m. tip in Allen Fieldhouse would assure yet another accomplishment for the ages for KU’s hoops program, which is on the heels of UCLA, which won an all-time best 13 consecutive Pac 10 titles from 1967 to ’79.

“Oh, they would be excited. I think they would be excited regardless of where you get it, but certainly an opportunity to do it at home would be great,” KU coach Bill Self said of his players having a chance to gain at least a share of the crown with two games yet to play.

A KU victory would give the Jayhawks at least a share of the 2015-16 crown today no matter what happens in the Oklahoma-at-Texas and West Virginia-at-Okie State games. A KU win plus OU and West Virginia losses would give the Jayhawks the undisputed title.

“We shouldn’t even be talking like that. We should be talking about playing Texas Tech, and that’s how we’ll handle it with our guys,” stated Self, realizing nothing is guaranteed against a Tech team that has wins over No. 3 Oklahoma, No. 21 Baylor and No. 14 Iowa State in the five-game stretch of wins.

“If we are able to take care of business and do well, then you have a chance to celebrate a little bit. But the reality of it is, our last three games are against teams that are all ranked in the top 25 in the RPI, so we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” Self added.

Of course, it’d take a monumental collapse — KU travels to Texas on Monday and faces Iowa State next Saturday in Allen — for the Jayhawks to not earn Big 12 title No. 12 in a row.

The fact the Jayhawks at one point were 5-3 overall and 1-3 on the road has made some wonder where this title would rank in 13th-year coach Self’s eyes.

“Not all of them we were picked to win, but the majority of them, it was expected,” Self said. “So I don’t think I’d have one that stands out more than any others, at least in my mind, but I do think this one would be significant for our players and for me and our staff, because it’s a year in which if we’re able to do it, it’s a year in which the conference was probably the best it’s ever been, and it was as old (veteran players) as it’s ever been.

“There are a lot of positives about our league that winning it this year, at least from our perspective, would probably be more of an accomplishment because you’re not going through one or two teams. You’ve got to beat six or whatever. And so that to me is pretty significant, if we’re fortunate enough to win.”

Of course, the league has been tough other seasons too.

“I think they are all tough. You’ve got Durant (Kevin, Texas) and Griffin (Blake, Oklahoma) and Beasley (Michael, Kansas State) back-to-back-to-back. There’s never going to be players that good in our league, or consecutive,” Self said. “I hope that happens again, but certainly that’s not the norm in any league. I think there are more good teams (this year). Last year there were a lot of good teams. I think there’s more really, really good teams in our league than there ever has been.”

Fourth-year KU junior Landen Lucas acknowledges it’d be special to win league again after being 5-3 at one point.

“We felt kind of a back-against-the-wall mentality, especially from the fans, but as a group I feel there was not a ton of panic,” Lucas said. “We were, ‘We’ve got this. We’re going to be OK.’ Every year I feel there’s a point in time you are in doubt a little bit. This year was a little more than normal.

“I think that Kentucky game (which started KU’s current eight-game win streak) was huge for us, get a good win in front of our fans and fix the small problems on the road we were having because we were doing fine at home. We did a good job of that and were kind of able to change it around, and now things are looking great for us,” Lucas added.

To win No. 12 in a row at home would be special, the Portland, Ore., forward indicated.

“After everything we’ve gone through this season, to have a chance to do that at the place where most of the big wins have come is going to be fun,” Lucas said.

Lucas said winning league is what keeps the current players united in a tight bond with former players.

“We kind of have an understanding to represent some streak that has been made by those people who have come before us and made possible by them,” Lucas said. “There’s just kind of an understanding there’s something greater than us we have to keep alive. Every time they are back we do talk to them about it. We understand what’s on the line every year.”

Self, whose team chants, “Big 12 champs,” in the huddle at the end of every practice, said “The goal for this team is not to win 12 in a row but one in a row. Every team in America has a goal of winning league. Our guys have done some things to put themselves in position to do that. What we have to do is finish the job. Now you’ve got to close. I think our guys will be excited for the opportunity to do that.”

This, that: Tubby Smith is 45-46 in his third season at Tech and 556-272 in his 25th season overall. He is 2-8 versus KU and 0-5 while at TTU; Self is 17-6 vs. Tech, 16-3 as KU coach. ... Tech’s top seven scorers average between 10.9 and 8.6 points per game. Guard Toddrick Gotcher averages 10.9 points per outing, followed by guard Devaugntah Williams (10.8 ppg) and forward Aaron Ross (10.7 ppg). Ross averages 13.1 ppg in league play. Forward Zach Smith averages 7.1 rebounds per contest. ... KU has won 13 in a row against Tech and leads the all-time series, 30-4. ... KU is 15-0 against Tech in Allen Fieldhouse. ... KU beat Tech, 69-59, on Jan. 9 in Lubbock. Frank Mason III had 17 points and 10 boards for KU. Mason, by the way, surpassed the 1,000-point mark on Feb. 20 at K-State and is 56th in career scoring at KU at 1,020 points.

Probable Starters

TEXAS TECH

(18-9, 8-7)

F — Zach Smith (6-8, Soph.)

F — Matthew Temple (6-10, Jr.)

G — Justin Gray (6-6, Soph)

G — Keenan Evans (6-3, Soph.)

G — Toddrick Gotcher (6-4, Sr.)

KANSAS (24-4, 12-3)

F — Perry Ellis (6-8, Sr.)

F — Landen Lucas (6-10, Jr.)

G — Frank Mason III (5-11, Jr.)

G — Wayne Selden Jr. (6-5, Jr.)

G — Devonté Graham (6-2, Soph.)

Tipoff: 11 a.m. today, Allen Fieldhouse

TV: ESPN (WOW! channels 33, 233)

Rosters

TEXAS TECH

0 — Devaugntah Williams, 6-4, 205, Sr., G, Canton, Ohio.

2 — Devon Thomas, 6-0, 170, Jr., G, Silver Springs, Maryland.

3 — C.J. Williamson, 6-6, 200, Fr., G, Orlando, Florida.

4 — Donovan Ham, 6-2, 200, Fr., G, Atlanta.

5 — Justin Gray, 6-6, 210, Soph., F, Tampa, Florida.

11 — Zach Smith, 6-8, 215, Soph., F, Plano, Texas.

12 — Keenan Evans, 6-3, 180, Soph., G, Richardson, Texas.

15 — Aaron Ross, 6-8, 225, Jr., F, North Little Rock, Arkansas.

20 — Toddrick Gotcher, 6-4, 205, Sr., G, Garland, Texas.

21 — Rokas Ulvydas, 6-11, 235, Soph., F, Kaunas, Lithuania.

22 — Jordan Jackson, 6-3, 180, Fr., G, Houston.

30 — Andrew Sorrells, 6-3, 170, Fr., G, North Richland Hills, Texas.

32 — Norense Odiase, 6-9, 260, Soph., C Fort Worth, Texas.

34 — Matthew Temple, 6-10, 235, Jr., F, Wichita Falls, Texas.

Head coach: Tubby Smith. Assistants: Joe Esposito, Vince Taylor, Pooh Williamson.

KANSAS

0 — Frank Mason III, 5-11, 185, Jr., G, Petersburg, Virginia.

1 — Wayne Selden, Jr., 6-5, 230, Jr., G, Roxbury, Massachusetts.

2 — Lagerald Vick, 6-5, 175, Fr., G, Memphis.

4 — Devonté Graham, 6-2, 175, Soph., G, Raleigh, North Carolina.

5 — Evan Manning, 6-3, 170, Sr., G, Lawrence.

10 — Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, 6-8, 195, Soph., G, Cherkasy, Ukraine.

11 — Tyler Self, 6-2, 165, Jr., G, Lawrence.

13 — Cheick Diallo, 6-9, 220, Fr., F, Kayes, Mali, Africa.

14 — Brannen Greene, 6-7, 215, Jr., G, Juliette, Georgia.

15 — Carlton Bragg, Jr., 6-9, 220, Fr., F, Cleveland.

21 — Clay Young, 6-5, 205, Soph., F, Lansing.

22 — Dwight Coleby, 6-9, 240, Jr., F, Nassau, Bahamas.

31 — Jamari Traylor, 6-8, 220, Sr., F, Chicago.

33 — Landen Lucas, 6-10, 240, Jr., F, Portland, Oregon.

34 — Perry Ellis, 6-8, 225, Sr., F, Wichita.

42 — Hunter Mickelson, 6-10, 245, Sr., F, Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Head coach: Bill Self. Assistants: Kurtis Townsend, Norm Roberts, Jerrance Howard.

Comments

Barry Weiss 5 years, 9 months ago

this will be a tough game for sure. go jayhawks! no one wants to be "that team" that ends the streak. pretty neat pressure.

Bryce Landon 5 years, 9 months ago

Going back to the end of the Roy Williams era, if KU wins today, it would also be 14 of the last 15 years where Kansas won the Big 12. The only blip was in 2004, Bill Self's first year at Kansas, when Final Four-bound Oklahoma State won the Big 12.

Steve Macy 5 years, 9 months ago

I have to go to Manhattan on Monday. I hope Kansas Sampler has shirts ready on Sunday. RCJH

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 9 months ago

Go for it, Steve! Just get home safely.

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