For the second time this year the Kansas Jayhawks will play Bill Self's Alma Mater in a matchup against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. As the Big 12 tournament enters day two the Cowboys might be a welcome tuneup for Kansas compared to a tough, physical Nebraska Husker squad that fell to Oklahoma State in round one.
In talking about the game Self hinted at preferring the matchup with the Cowboys but cautioned anyone from being too optimistic one way or the other.
Nebraska obviously got our attention here and we played really well against them up there. Oklahoma State, we played pretty well against them. But I've never gotten in the habit of hoping for something because usually what you hope for, you realize it's not the best thing for you. So I really don't care."
In the last meeting between these two teams just two weeks ago, the Jayhawks played well start to finish and the result was a 27 point victory. The game also marked the beginning of Elijah Johnson's reign as the starting point guard for the Kansas Jayhawks. Since that time Kansas has looked as well defensively as they have all year and while the game wasn't particularly telling, it could mark a key moment in the Jayhawk season.
As for the Cowboys, the feeling in the lockeroom was of relief after the close win, but also an understanding of what comes next in a matchup against Kansas. Forward Marshall Moses talked about what it takes to beat Kansas.
Kansas is probably the best team in America. They're efficient defensively. Offensively they've got two really good guys inside. They've got shooters. A great point guard. They've got depth on the bench. Basically what I took is that in order to have a chance against winning them, it's going to be a team effort and we all have to be ready to play and give our best effort for 40 minutes.
For guard Keaton Paige, it's an opportunity to get another shot at Kansas after a game that left a sour taste in the Cowboys mouth.
We weren't too happy when we left Lawrence last time. Like Marshall said we'll have to regroup tonight, get back to the hotel, go over some stuff and see what we can do tomorrow, team effort and see what we can do to come in and get a win.
Of the two matchups this is probably the one that gives the Jayhawks an easier path to the semifinals and a possible third meeting with Kansas State, but Kansas can't overlook a hungry Cowboy squad and needs to be focused on attacking the Cowboys in the same way they did in Lawrence.