Kansas basketball coach Bill Self takes nothing for granted in his team’s pursuit of a 13th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title.
“The league race is not over yet. TCU was up 12 on us the first time we played them. They could come in and beat us. Iowa State proved that. Other teams can do that,” Self said in previewing Wednesday’s game.
The No. 3-ranked Jayhawks (24-3, 12-2 Big 12) — who trailed TCU (17-10, 6-8) by 10 points in the first half of an 86-80 victory over the Horned Frogs on Dec. 30 in Fort Worth, and lost at home to Iowa State 92-89 in overtime on Feb. 4 — do not have the championship assured yet, but they are mighty close.
A win on Wednesday would clinch at least a share of the Big 12 title and tie UCLA for most consecutive regular-season conference crowns in college basketball history. The Bruins won 13 straight Pac-10 titles under John Wooden, Gene Bartow and Gary Cunningham during 1967-79.
The Jayhawks enter Wednesday’s game with a three-game lead over West Virginia and Iowa State in the league standings with four games to play. Baylor (9-5) played host to Oklahoma on Tuesday night.
“I think we’ll be excited to play and focused,” Self said, noting he would not stress the implications of Wednesday’s game before the game.
“I won’t give an impactful speech about that. I don’t think those really work that well anyway — at least mine don’t. Maybe mine just aren’t any good. We’ll talk about how this can be a special night, but it won’t be anything more than that.”
There figures to be a short trophy presentation and ceremony after the game if the Jayhawks win. That would follow a halftime in which former KU player Brandon Rush will have his No. 25 jersey retired.
KU on Wednesday will try to slow 6-foot-11 junior forward Vladimir Brodziansky, who scored a career-high 28 points in the first game against TCU.
“They were so good off ball screens and rolling him to the basket. We did an awful job guarding it,” Self said. “They picked on us, found something that worked. He’s a good player. We didn’t guard him very well.”
KU, since the start of Big 12 play, has won games after falling behind by double digits six times — at Baylor (12 points), at TCU (10), vs. Oklahoma State (11), at Kentucky (12), at Kansas State (12) and vs. West Virginia (14).
“I’ve kind of grown up knowing KU wins Big 12 every year. Until I got here I didn’t know how hard it was,” freshman Mitch Lightfoot said. “I didn’t realize all the stuff that went into it. It’s hard. This is a tough league. Every team here has a chance to win every game they play. It’s been awesome getting to see how challenging it is.”
Of playing for the league title Wednesday, Lightfoot added: “It’s certainly gone through our minds. We said something about it. The thing for us is that’s what is expected. We’ve got to win games and win games we’re supposed to win.”
TCU at No. 3 Kansas
- When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
- Where: Allen Fieldhouse
- Records: TCU 17-10, 6-8 Big 12; KU 24-3, 12-2
- Radio: 1240-AM, 98.7-FM
- TV: ESPN2
TCU (17-10, 6-8): TCU has dropped three consecutive conference games after winning three in a row.… Miller is 13 of 20 from three-point range in the last five games.… Brodziansky is seventh on TCU’s single-season block list (61).
Kansas (24-3, 12-2): KU leads the all-time series, 13-1. TCU’s only win in the series was 62-55 on Feb. 6, 2013 in Fort Worth.… KU has at least 12 league wins for the 17th-straight season, starting in 2000-01.… Mason has converted 33 of 63 threes (52.4 percent) in Big 12 games.
RPIs as of Tuesday: TCU 59, KU 1.