Starting with Saturday night's game against Texas, the Kansas Jayhawks begin the home stretch in their push for a ninth consecutive Big 12 regular season championship. At 20-4 and 8-3 in the league, the Jayhawks are hoping to use their convincing win over Kansas State, Monday night as a springboard to bigger things beginning with their game with the Longhorns.
The sight of Texas (11-13, 3-8) will bring back memories of classic matchups between the two schools, especially with it being the night that Mario Chalmers will have his number retired. But, Rick Barnes' squad has struggled this season and though they are not the same team that usually enters Allen Fieldhouse, they've improved greatly with the return of Myck Kabongo from suspension and the improvement showed in their double-overtime win over Iowa State, Wednesday night.
"They look good to me. Kabongo really makes a difference from a speed standpoint," Kansas coach Bill Self said, Thursday at his weekly press conference.
With Kabongo back in the fold, the Longhorns are playing faster with two ball handlers on the floor along with guard Jevan Felix.
Starting with Saturday night's game will come a big stretch that will play a heavy role in Kansas' quest for the league title.
Next Wednesday night's trip to Oklahoma State, followed by a Monday night road game at Iowa State (which follows a home rematch with TCU) will determine a lot and will be pivotal battles which could determine the Jayhawks' faith. The recent three game losing streak has put Kansas in this position, which could also make the team battle tested before March arrives.
"Whoever is going to it win will have to play their best ball down the stretch," Self said. "Our path is probably as tough or tougher than anyone else, so it'll take a great effort on our guys' part,"
The Texas game will provide a great opportunity to catch fire heading into the home stretch with ESPN College Gameday broadcasting live from Allen Fieldhouse, the eyes of the college basketball world will be on Kansas basketball.
"It's great. It's an infomercial for your school for 12 hours or however long it is," Self said. "