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Thursday, February 27, 2020

Top-ranked Kansas aiming to treat Saturday clash with K-State like ‘any other road game’

Kansas guard Christian Braun (2) goes baseline against Kansas State forward Xavier Sneed (20) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Christian Braun (2) goes baseline against Kansas State forward Xavier Sneed (20) during the first half, Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020 at Allen Fieldhouse.

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The goal for the top-ranked Kansas Jayhawks is to treat Saturday’s 12:30 p.m. rematch with Kansas State in Manhattan like any other road game.

But given the fact that the first meeting between these two teams ended with a brawl that led to suspensions for four players, the Jayhawks also know that what they will walk into Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum will be different from anything they have seen this season.

“They hate us,” sophomore guard Ochai Agbaji said of the Wildcats on Thursday. “When we first ran out there to warm up (last season), they were just booing, so we know how it’s going to be this time. We’re going to get a lot of boos, a lot of jeers, everything. We know what to expect, so we’re ready for that.”

While Saturday’s atmosphere may be more charged up than normal, Kansas coach Bill Self said he had not talked to his team about handling the K-State crowd, which figures to come early, be loud and hoist several anti-KU signs.

“It’s always that way,” Self said Thursday during his weekly news conference at Allen Fieldhouse. “It’s not like (focusing on the crowd is) going to be our point of emphasis going over there. Our point of emphasis is being poised and playing hard, competing hard, how to guard their actions and how to take advantage of how they guard us.”

One thing that Agbaji and freshman guard Christian Braun said had helped put the brawl on the back burner was the fact that it took place 38 days ago.

“Obviously, we’ll be on better behavior,” Braun said. “But it’s been a while since that last game, and we’re not focused on that. We’re more focused on getting in there, getting a win and getting out.”

Added Agbaji: “I would say everybody’s moved on. We haven’t really had any talks with Coach or anything. We’re just going to treat it like any other road game. … It was just a mistake. Emotions got going. I think that’s all it was.”

The 12-game suspension handed down to Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa was the longest of the four suspensions that came after the Jan. 21 brawl. KU’s David McCormack was suspended two games, and Kansas State’s James Love (8) and Antonio Gordon (3) also were penalized.

Self said De Sousa would not be in Manhattan on Saturday, and that he has remained upbeat despite missing 10 games for his role in igniting the fight, which included a blocked shot and taunting gesture. De Sousa also lifted a stool above his head during the melee but dropped it before using it.

The junior forward’s suspension has two games remaining, and Big 12 rules stipulate that he is not allowed to travel to road games or sit on the bench at home games until the suspension is lifted.

“He’s been practicing, and he’s actually doing great,” Self said of De Sousa. “His attitude’s good. He certainly had a bad moment, but his attitude’s good. And he’s contributing in every way he possibly can with the limitations put on him.”

De Sousa, who was suspended indefinitely by Self before the Big 12 Conference announced its official suspensions on Jan. 22, will be eligible to return to the court on March 7 against Texas Tech during KU’s regular-season finale in Lubbock, Texas.

While the rematch of January’s game-gone-wrong will be a big part of the story on Saturday, Agbaji and Braun said their team’s focus was on closing out the season strong and charging toward a Big 12 title.

Kansas (25-3 overall) and No. 2 Baylor are tied atop the Big 12 standings at 14-1 with three games to play.

“(This is) just another step towards our goal,” said Braun, who originally is from Burlington and will be getting his first taste of the Sunflower Showdown in Manhattan. “I’m excited to play in front of a loud crowd. That’s always fun, wherever it is. But I’m just excited to be able to compete again with a crazy environment.”

Added Agbaji: “We knew we had to play them twice, obviously. It’s going to be a hostile environment; that’s how we get it everywhere. So we’ll take it as any other road game, just like in Waco. It was loud and rowdy. We can see it the exact same way as that, but (the Wildcats) just hate us a lot more.”

In the 10 games since the brawl, Kansas is 10-0 and has climbed to the No. 1 ranking in the national polls. The Wildcats, meanwhile, are 1-9 in their last 10 games and enter Saturday at 9-19 overall and 2-13 in Big 12 play.

Its lopsided numbers like those that Braun, who scored 20 points on 6 of 10 shooting from 3-point range in the first meeting with K-State, remembers from his childhood while watching the games and rooting for the Jayhawks. Now that he’s a part of the rivalry, the 6-foot-7 guard who finished his prep career at Blue Valley Northwest said he was excited to add to them as a player.

“Most of my memories (of the rivalry) come from wins,” Braun said. “So we’re going to try to keep that going.”

Comments

Trace Stark 1 month ago

If the wildcats should happen to win, WATCH YOUR BACKS MEN!!!! There is little honor amongst their fanbase.

Creg Bohrer 1 month ago

And I thought Missouri fans were a classless lot. K-State has one upped them for sure.

Bryce Landon 1 month ago

Iowa State fans have been just as bad if not worse.

Bryce Landon 1 month ago

KU and KSU have gone in totally different directions since the brawl. KU has just kept racking up the wins and is in position to win or tie for the conference title. KSU is in the conference basement looking up at everybody else.

I expect a toxic atmosphere in Bramlage Coliseum similar to what we saw in 2015 when they won, stormed the court, and tried to attack our players. I'm still thankful that Bruce Weber got between the fans and Bill Self on that night; his actions might have saved Self's life.

Dane Pratt 1 month ago

We should not treat it like any other game. K-State in both football and basketball view our match ups as the most important games of the year and that's how we should look at them. As a fan I want to beat them more than any team on our schedule. We should go into Manhattan with a mission to destroy our opponent.

Dirk Medema 1 month ago

Get up 20 and give the kitties a reason to go home early. Then have the guards dribble out the clock.

Creg Bohrer 1 month ago

Better yet Dirk.. Get up 20 and instead of dribbling it out leave Dok under their basket and have one of the guards hand the ball to a k-state player and tell him go ahead.

Steve Zimmerman 1 month ago

It's time for McCormack to kick their butts on the court! No blood, no glory! I meant, no baskets, no glory!

Michael Leiker 1 month ago

I paid way too much for 5th row seats for them to treat it like any other road game. This is obviously just lip service.

Robert Brock 1 month ago

KU and K-State need to go separate ways after the next round of conference realignment.

Barry Weiss 1 month ago

wow, I had no idea K-State has fallen off that bad. but these rivalry games can get hairy.

Benjamin Shear 1 month ago

There is no rivalry. KSU wants there to be, but it's never been competitive over the past 20 years. If there is a rivalry, it's not in basketball, more about the Douglas/Johnson county part of the state vs Riley county. Folks over there are always resentful of Douglas/Johnson county and Sedgwick county.

Benjamin Shear 1 month ago

Talk about a tale of two cities and teams. KU is 10-0 and playing their best basketball. KSU is 1-9 and the fans want Weber gone. I've always said, there is no rivalry if the other team never wins. KSU wants to be rivals with KU, but they will never be until their is more parity.

I know lots of people from that part of the State. It's seems so strange to me that the KSU fans are so classless. That's not reflective of the people out there. Maybe it's because of Weber, but the fans act like true bottom feeders.

Len Shaffer 1 month ago

The "rivalry" reminds me of what someone once said about the Yankees and Red Sox (before the Red Sox started winning a lot more): "It's not a rivalry if one team always wins; it's a hammer and a nail."

Dane Pratt 1 month ago

Would be a mistake to fire Weber. He’s got two conference titles, five tournament appearances and three wins against KU. Can they realistically do any better than that?

Benjamin Shear 1 month ago

No, in reality they can't do better. It's not like there is a plethora of in state recruits to actually compete for. KU can get recruits from all over the nation because they are KU. KSU has to do much more prospecting. I believe KSU fans THINK they can do better, but Weber is about as good as it can get for them. And you are 100% that they really have had a ton of success, for them, in the past few years.

Steve Schoenekase 1 month ago

The last time this was a legit rivalry, where the two teams were at least close to being evenly matched over a period of time, Lonnie Krueger was still coaching at KSU (late 80's and early 90's). Even then KU's main rival was Mizzou. KSU has had a few good seasons over the past 30 years, and they've beaten us a couple of times, but overall they are a mid-level, mid-major program trying to compete with the big boys week after week. It would be like putting Creighton or Tulsa in the ACC? No offense to Creighton or Tulsa, but they can't compete at that level year after year.

KSU reminds me of that little yapping dog that was always following Spike, the bulldog, around in cartoons. They are like the annoying little cousin who's always whining "when do I get a turn?" I wish they would get better because that would make the entire Big XII better, but they won't. Enjoy your Wabash Cannonball dance little kitties, while the Rock Chalk Chant rains down on your parade!

Bryce Landon 1 month ago

I remember the cartoons you're talking about! One was "Tree For Two" and the other was "Dr. Jerkyl's Hide" from Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies.

The problem with your analogy is that Spike proved to be coward, and ended the cartoons groveling before Chester. KU never grovels to KSU!

Tony Bandle 1 month ago

Random Thoughts:

1] Just got back from 10 days in Kauai and I am trying to catch up...is Roy fired yet?..is Brucie fired yet?....has Rat Face stopped dyeing his hair???

2] If I was ever going to bet my mortgage on a game this would be the one. NO WAY this team goes into Manhattan over-confident. The Hawks will handle this game like the cold-blooded assassins that they are and will take care of business.

3] Trap Game alert!!!!!!....at Texas Tech next Saturday.

4] De Sosa will be available to play next week....I wonder if he even gets in?

Dane Pratt 1 month ago

After watching DMac foul out in four minutes of play, can't rule out Silvio.

Benjamin Shear 1 month ago

My best guess is De Sosa will be a role player the rest of the year. The rotation has been figured out. With him coming back, it allows McCormack to go ahead and play 4 minutes, score 4 points, and foul out. Now there is still a big man in reserve.

Tim Orel 1 month ago

For all the lop-sidedness, KSU DID share the title last year, which KU failed at, and KU needs to remind the Kitties that KU is the dominant power in the state by winning in Manhattan again, another thing they failed at last year. The only things KU has won this year are a tournament in Hawaii and the game against KSU in Lawrence. We need to sweep the kitties and then watch KSU lose in the first round of the Big 12 tourney so their season will be out of its misery.

Shannon Gustafson 1 month ago

"The only things KU has won this year are a tournament in Hawaii and the game against KSU in Lawrence."

What?

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