TULSA, Okla. — Entering the first weekend of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, you may have heard that a No. 16 seed has never beaten a No. 1 seed.
The Kansas Jayhawks are looking to make sure that trend doesn’t change on Friday when they take on the UC Davis Aggies.
After more than a week without playing meaningful basketball, the Jayhawks have ascended upon Tulsa, Oklahoma, for the first two rounds of the tournament. Despite just learning who Kansas’ opponent will be after UC Davis’ Wednesday night First Four win over N.C. Central, senior guard Frank Mason III said he thinks his team is prepared for the matchup. He said the Jayhawks watched Wednesday’s game in order to prepare.
“I think the guys did a good job of focusing in on their actions that they run,” Mason said.
Despite constantly increasing attention in terms of National Player of the Year hype, Mason is still focusing on his play above any accolades.
“It’s a great accomplishment for me just to be mentioned as one of the top candidates for Player of the Year,” Mason said. “But it’s not something I focus on or really think about.”
“I just think about ways we can get better as a team and things I can do to make sure my team is successful, and that’s really what I focus on,” Mason said.
When asked about reestablishing momentum after the loss to TCU, Kansas coach Bill Self said it’s important for the Jayhawks to return to the way they were playing at the end of the regular season.
“I’d like for us to get back to playing with a free and easy mind, which I think we’ve done for the most part offensively, but with a sense of urgency defensively that we have to make others play poorly,” Self said.
UC Davis arrived in Tulsa shortly after its victory over N.C. Central in Dayton, Ohio. Although the Aggies were forced to play in one of this year’s de facto play-in games, they’re looking to continue a hot stretch of their own. Coach Jim Les’ squad has won seven of its last eight contests, including wining the Big West Tournament.
“We’re really excited to be in this position, but at the same time we know that we want to keep this team together,” UC Davis senior guard Brynton Lemar said. “So we’re just trying to embrace the moment and stay with it.”
Les has some familiarity with Self’s teams; he coached Bradley when the No.13-seeded Braves knocked off the Jayhawks in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Lemar exuded a bit of confidence at the end of UC Davis’ media session Thursday when he whispered into the microphone, “Watch out for us.”
You can listen to play-by-play coverage of each Kansas Jayhawks men’s basketball game throughout the NCAA tournament on KJHK 90.7 FM in Lawrence and throughout much of northeastern Kansas. Follow @KJHKsports on Twitter for coverage of the team throughout the postseason.