Jayhawks to Face Huskers Today

Kansas is 19-0 and just three wins away from tying the best start in school history. But listen to coach Bill Self and the players talk, and you'd ever know they're chasing history.

“We haven’t picked one thing out,” Bill Self said after KU’s 83-59 victory over Iowa State on Wednesday. “We’re just trying to get better. We talked about that after the game. I said, ‘Do you guys feel different about being undefeated? They’re like, ‘No.’ Good gosh, it doesn’t matter. We want to try and stay undefeated, don’t get me wrong because that means our team’s winning. But that hasn’t registered with our guys, I don’t think.”
    
The Jayhawks get their next chance to stay unbeaten on Saturday in a 12:45 p.m. tipoff against Nebraska at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas actually just beat Nebraska, 79-58, two weeks ago in Lincoln. After starting the season 11-2 and winning six straight games, the Cornhuskers (11-5, 0-3) have lost three consecutive games in conference play. Nebraska’s last two losses have been nailbiters, though, falling to Baylor, 72-70, and at Colorado, 55-51.
    
While Self isn’t crazy about playing on Saturday after the Wednesday game against Iowa State  (“I don’t know why our league does that”), he’s looking forward to the challenge. Self knows Nebraska will be well prepared having a week off after last playing Baylor on Jan. 19.
    
“Doc will have something up his sleeve,” Self said of NU coach Doc Sadler. “When we played them up there in Lincoln they just played us straight man-to-man for 40 minutes. Who knows how they’ll play us this time. They are a hard team to pressure because they play four guards all the time. We just need to focus on getting better and keeping our energy level high. When we play with a lot of energy, I think we hit another level athletically and we are hard to deal with.”
    
Junior swingman Brandon Rush had his best game of the year at Lincoln, scoring 19 points, grabbing six boards, and dishing out four assists. Junior Mario Chalmers (14 points) and seniors Russell Robinson (10) and Sasha Kaun (10) also scored in double digits. Nebraska was led by center Alex Maric with 19 points, while guard Ryan Anderson added 12. KU controlled the boards (37 to 24) over the shorter Cornhuskers and outshot Nebraska from the field (53.8 percent to 40 percent).
    
Now, round two comes up Saturday.
    
“It’s going to be a pretty tough game,” said sophomore forward Darrell Arthur. “I think it was pretty tough going there and beating them. They pressure pretty good. They play four guards so it’s hard to get out on the shooters.”

Senior forward Darnell Jackson is ready to rumble.

“We’ll just have to do the same things we did when we went down there,” he said. “Just pay attention to the scouting report and go out there and play hard and not get too comfortable or satisfied with what we’re doing because we haven’t done anything yet.”

Those are words Self loves to hear. Stay hungry, stay focused, and stay together. Jackson admitted, though, that there could be a “great danger” in becoming complacent.

But with Self talking to the players daily about the task at hand and the team's overall maturity, that shouldn't happen.

"We're more experienced," Jackson said. "A lot of guys know what to expect when we're playing against teams and know what to do on the court. Sometimes, we don't even have to look over at coach Self and run plays because we know what (he) wants us to do, so we just go out there and have to do it."

And if the ‘Hawks "do it" on Saturday, they should continue to roll and take one step closer to their best start in KU history.

But make no mistake, Kansas isn’t thinking about its place in the record books. Not yet, anyway.  KU just want one more win in conference play.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re 4-0 and we just need to try and be 5-0,” Self said.

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