If the Kansas Jayhawks can win their next two games, they would clinch at least a tie for their 10th consecutive Big 12 championship. You'd think that would have them giddy, but their goals right now are a little closer to home.
Earlier this month, Kansas went on the road to Texas and were soundly beaten in all phases of the game, losing 81-69. As the month nears its conclusion, the motivation to get a little payback is all the fuel that's needed for the Jayhawks in tonight's rematch at Allen Fieldhouse.
"The big thing is we can't talk about anything past Saturday because if it doesn't happen Saturday, it's a one game lead as opposed to a three game lead. Saturday is big," head coach Bill Self said. "To me it's not even about the league race Saturday, it's about playing Texas and playing a team that's already handled us once, and one of the residual effects is that it's big for the league race, but also it's just an opportunity for us to try to play better against a team that smacked us around pretty good."
Indeed, the Jayhawks would love and will embrace the opportunity to capture another league crown, but the main focus as March nears is to simply get better and start playing their basketball at the right time. Playing a better game against and old foe in the Longhorns would go a long way towards the team's psyche as the best time of the season approaches.
The other storyline is the fact that Kansas and Texas are back atop the conference. The series has featured some memorable games and memorable players. Often the game would be play with the conference title as the prize. A win for Texas would cut the Kansas lead to one game and a KU win would lengthen the lead to three games.
"You stop and think about it, there have been some really good players playing this series," Self said. "I started thinking about all the great games we've had with them, and certainly we've had some, and we've had games that actually meant something toward the league race and things like this, and this is definitely one of those times. Hopefully it'll be a classic, as well, after we sit back and look at it for a while."