Refocused and re-energized

Photo taken by: Nick Krug

Photo taken by: Nick Krug

Kansas basketball is back on track for its ninth straight Big 12 title.

By Brennan Keller

Coming into the 2012-2013 college basketball  season, many sports analysts expected Kansas to coast to their ninth consecutive Big 12 regular season championship.

When the Jayhawks played their conference opener against Iowa State  on January 9th, nobody was expecting Kansas to
struggle as much as they did.  In fact, the Jayhawks deserved to lose that game, but freshman sensation Ben McLemore
refused to let the Cyclones leave historic Allen Fieldhouse with a rare victory.

Although Kansas came out with a hard-fought win that evening, the road to the 2013 Big 12 conference title has
presented the Jayhawks with more obstacles and challenges than were originally expected.  After a sloppy 61-56 win in Morgantown over West Virginia, the Jayhawks’ consistency and toughness completely disappeared.  Kansas turned around and lost a heartbreaker at home to Oklahoma State and then they bounced back and played absolutely
terrible against TCU.

The result?  The worst loss Kansas has had in the last
three decades.

To make matters worse, the Jayhawks had to quickly prepare to play an Oklahoma squad that has played extremely well at home all season long.

After their third consecutive game of poor shooting and point guard play, Bill Self and Jayhawk fans across the country questioned if this year’s team had the toughness and determination  needed to win a Big 12 regular season title and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

After this unexpected three game skid, an angry Kansas team completed the season sweep of Kansas State with an emotional
83-62 win that helped ease the pain of a long week.

Energized after a victory that put the Jayhawks back on top in the Big 12 standings, the Jayhawks crushed Texas at home 73-47 in a game that was supposed to be much closer than the final score indicated.  Elijah Johnson broke out of his cold shooting streak that had plagued him for most of conference play by scoring 12 points off 5-10 shooting. After the blowout win, Kansas appeared to have regained their energy in time for their biggest road game of the season against Oklahoma State.

The winner of that game would put themselves in great position to win at least a share of the conference crown.  In a game that featured more defensive stops than offensive highlights, Kansas was able to come away from Bill Self’s’ alma mater with a 68-67 double overtime victory. With the impressive road win, Kansas quieted their critics and rejuvenated their fan base.  After turning around and embarrassing TCU last Saturday, the Jayhawks continue to prove that the road to the Big 12 still goes through Lawrence.

Tonight’s game against Iowa State is perhaps the biggest game of the season for the Jayhawks.  The Cyclones are undefeated at home this season and they will be seeking revenge after a crushing overtime loss to Kansas earlier this year.