Kansas City, Mo. It sure looks as if Kansas University’s basketball team (28-4) has wrapped up the overall No. 1 seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament entering Friday’s Big 12 semifinal versus (22-10) Baylor in Sprint Center.
The likelihood of that made some media members wonder whether or not the Jayhawks have a deep desire to win a 6 p.m., contest against BU, as well as Saturday’s title game.
“Sure. You are here. You always want to win,” KU coach Bill Self stressed after an impressive 85-63 quarterfinal victory over Kansas State.
KU pounded Baylor, 102-74, on Jan. 2 in Allen Fieldhouse and also won, 66-60, on Feb. 23, in Ferrell Center, in Waco, Texas. The Jayhawks have beaten Baylor seven times in a row, but lost to the Bears two of the last three times they’ve met in the Big 12 tourney.
View a gallery of images from the Jayhawks' Thursday matchup against the Wildcats at Sprint Center.
“We played them last year in the tournament in a really low-scoring game and eked out a win,” Self said of a 62-52 semifinal victory. “We played them this year the first time and we were as good as we’ve been all year. The second time it was basically a one-possession game and we made some good plays late that allowed us to win.
“Their zone has always given us problems. It gives everybody problems at times and certainly we didn’t attack it very well the last time. With the short turnaround I hope we’re prepared to do a much better job against them.”
Of Baylor, guard Frank Mason III (16 points, seven assists vs. KSU) said: “They have a lot of length on the wings and have some great athletes, good coaching staff and play a good 2-3 zone, extended 2-3 zone. It was great to get a chance to play against that a little bit today so we can have a little bit of advantage tomorrow.”
Baylor beat KU, 81-72, in the 2012 Big 12 tourney and again, 71-64, in 2009.
“Their defense,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said of what makes KU so difficult to beat. “I think that’s been consistent and that’s why they’ve been where they’ve been at. And I think a couple of years past they had some teams that were mostly on the offensive end, but didn’t consistently guard as well as this team is doing and they really make you work for everything.”
— See what people were saying about KU’s quarterfinal vs. rival K-State during KUsports.com’s live coverage