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Kansas coach Bill Self hopes Jayhawks here to play for themselves, each other: 'Just enjoy it'

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Kansas forward David McCormack (33) celebrates with Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) and Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) after an and-one bucket during the second half on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at United Center in Chicago. The Jayhawks defeated the Hurricanes, 76-50 to advance to the Final Four.

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) celebrates with Kansas forward Jalen Wilson (10) and Kansas guard Dajuan Harris Jr. (3) after an and-one bucket during the second half on Sunday, March 27, 2022 at United Center in Chicago. The Jayhawks defeated the Hurricanes, 76-50 to advance to the Final Four. by Nick Krug

New Orleans — With an 0-2 record in their two most recent games at the Final Four, the Kansas Jayhawks are looking to get back on the winning side of things this year against Villanova.

Jay Wright’s Wildcats were the most recent team to beat Bill Self and his Jayhawks in the Final Four, winning 95-79 in the 2018 semifinal behind a record-setting shooting performance.

Self said this week that he tried to forget about what happened in that game after the first five minutes.

Six years before that, the Jayhawks (32-6) faced another future champion, falling to Kentucky in the national title game in the very same building they’ll be playing in this week.

Those types of memories, and others, have come flooding back in the days leading up to their departure to New Orleans. And upon the team’s arrival on Wednesday, KU associate AD Scott “Scooter” Ward made a comment on the team bus about not being very happy the last time they left this city.

“I said to ‘Scoot,’ ‘You know I was pretty happy,” Self said Wednesday. “I wasn’t happy we lost, (but) that particular team we played was probably as good as any college basketball has seen in a particular period of time. That was a hard game for us. We have two hard games (up next) if we are fortunate enough to win (on Saturday), but I think this team can compete with anybody.”

They’ll get a chance to prove it at 5:09 p.m. Saturday, when they take on 2nd-seeded Villanova (30-7) in the first of two national semifinals that day.

Although only a couple of KU’s current players were around for that loss, Self said on Wednesday that he thought the memories of that game, and how dominant Villanova was that night — they shot 18-for-40 from 3-point range and tied the NCAA Tournament record for 3-pointers made in a game by hitting 13 in the first half alone — could play a role in this year’s game.

“We probably played the best team college basketball has seen in a decade,” Self said of the 2018 Wildcats. “So, we probably weren’t going to win that game regardless, if they shot the ball like that. I feel like maybe that game has added a little bit extra oomph to our prep.”

While there’s been a lot of talk this week about what winning two more games would mean for Self or for the Kansas program as a whole, Self said he wanted his

“I want them to play for the program and the past and the history,” he said. “But more than anything I want them to play for themselves and each other. Just enjoy it.”

Here's a look at our coverage from New Orleans so far:

• KU guard Ochai Agbaji is in position to add name next to Danny Manning’s on exclusive list

• Hi Mom: KU coach Bill Self’s mom has been back in the bleachers for KU’s run to the Final Four

• Villanova’s Caleb Daniels completes ‘marathon’ from New Orleans to Final Four

• Bill Self, Jay Wright agree – 2018 matchup has no bearing on this year’s game

• Self finds it ‘pretty special’ to have Kansas City-area kids Ochai Agbaji and Christian Braun as key part of KU’s run

• Bill Self hopes Jayhawks play for themselves and each other and ‘just enjoy it’

• Photo gallery from Day 1 of KU-Villanova

• Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski reached out to KU coach Bill Self after passing of Self’s father

• Bill Self breaks down Villanova guard Collin Gillespie

• Villanova, Jay Wright give initial thoughts on Kansas

• A quick capsule glance at Villanova

• Kansas enjoying ‘great experience’ in its first day at the Final Four

• Jayhawks arrive in New Orleans ready to soak up ‘college basketball’s best’

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