Texas Tech-Kansas Preview

Bill Self doesn’t need to remind his Kansas players about the

school’s last game in the Big 12 Championship.

Atop the rankings once again, the Jayhawks look to make up for

last year’s early tournament exit Thursday when they face Texas

Tech in quarterfinal play in Kansas City.

A year ago, Kansas won its fifth straight Big 12 regular-season

title, but it was upset 71-64 by Baylor in its first game of the

tournament. It was the first time the Jayhawks lost their initial

contest in the 13-year history of the event.

Though Kansas (29-2) went on to reach the round of 16 in the

NCAA tournament and came back to win another conference

championship this season, a majority of its roster is back and

still remembers the sting of last year’s defeat.

“For us to win the conference and then lose our first game in

the tournament was very disappointing,” said star guard Sherron

Collins, who had 16 points against Baylor. “We’re trying not to let

that happen. We’re working hard and staying positive.”

Winners of consecutive games since dropping their only league

contest at Oklahoma State on Feb. 27, the Jayhawks certainly have

the motivation to earn a league-record seventh Big 12 tournament

title some 40 miles from their Lawrence campus.

“We are a lot better basketball team than we were last year,”

Self said. “Last year if one guy out of two did not play well, we

probably did not have a great chance to win. This year it has been

proven that we probably have enough depth and balance.”

With four players averaging double figures and eight playing at

least 15 minutes per contest, Kansas won the league’s

regular-season title by four games. The Jayhawks returned to the

No. 1 spot in the poll after previously top-ranked Syracuse lost at

Louisville on Saturday, and they’re likely headed to a No. 1 seed

in the NCAA tournament.

In 2008, Kansas won the national championship after winning the

league tournament in Kansas City. However, the Jayhawks feel they

have something to prove as the event returns to the Sprint

Center.

“We want to go play like we’re the best team in the country and

finish the season off as the best team in the country,” freshman

Thomas Robinson said.

That quest beings Thursday against ninth-seeded Texas Tech

(17-14), which snapped a seven-game losing streak with an 82-67 win

over Colorado in Wednesday’s first round.

Kansas won 89-63 at home in its only meeting with Texas Tech on

Jan. 16. Marcus Morris had 20 points as the Jayhawks held the Red

Raiders to a season-low 32.8 percent shooting. Morris is averaging

15.5 points and 8.0 rebounds while shooting 63.2 percent from the

field in two career games versus Texas Tech.

Though Kansas has won nine of 12 against Texas Tech, Red Raiders

coach Pat Knight knows anything is possible, especially after what

Baylor did last year.

“Yeah, it’s going to be tough,” said Knight, whose team allowed

a league-worst 76.4 points per game during the season. “It’s like

comparing my win/loss record to my old man’s. It’s going to be

tough. (But) you get a chance to play the No. 1 team in the

country. A lot of funny things happen in these conference

tournaments.”

Texas Tech leading scorer Mike Singletary (14.8 points per

game), who had 13 against Colorado, looks to bounce back after

being held scoreless versus the Jayhawks in January.

This is the second tournament meeting between the teams. Kansas

won 90-50 in the 2002 semifinals in Kansas City.