As a reward for winning a 12th straight Big 12 regular-season title — and in response to top-ranked Villanova’s loss to Xavier — Kansas University’s No. 2-ranked basketball team figures to ascend to No. 1 in both the AP and USA Today polls on Monday.
“I mean, I feel like we deserve it. I feel we’ve worked pretty hard,” KU senior forward Jamari Traylor said after the Jayhawks’ 67-58 win over Texas Tech on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.
The win pushed KU’s record to 25-4 overall and 13-3 in the league.
“It’s not the most important thing,” Traylor added of a top ranking. “We still have a couple more games left in Big 12 play. We want to win those. We want to win the Big 12 tournament as well, go in March with a little momentum and just go on from there,” he added of the NCAAs.
Images from Saturday's game between the Jayhawks and Red Raiders at Allen Fieldhouse.
On Monday, a few hours after being tapped No. 1 for the second time this season, the Jayhawks will tangle with a No. 25-ranked (19-10, 10-6) Texas team that defeated No. 3 Oklahoma, 76-63, on Saturday in Austin. Tip will be 8 p.m., at Frank Erwin Center.
“We’ve got to keep it going, getting better day by day,” Traylor said.
The Jayhawks will have almost no preparation time as Sunday is a travel day to Austin after a short practice or shooting session.
“This isn’t like NFL football where you rest your starters the last game,” coach Bill Self said. “We are playing for seeds. We are playing for a lot of stuff. We want to continue to play well. If we have to, we can take Tuesday and Wednesday off (then start preparing for Saturday’s 3 p.m., Senior Day contest vs. Iowa State).”
Though his team has won nine straight games, Self is not thrilled at the way the Jayhawks have been playing.
“We right now are going through a semi-phase we think we can turn it on when we want to. That happened tonight,” Self said. “We were close to cracking them at 20 (point lead with 10 minutes left) and the next thing it’s eight (points).”
— See what people were saying about Kansas vs. Texas Tech during KUsports.com’s live coverage