Kansas Looks for Deeper Run This Year

St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO), March 17, 2016 | Go to article overview

Kansas Looks for Deeper Run This Year


DES MOINES, Iowa * Kansas might never have a better shot at its second national title under coach Bill Self than this year.

The Jayhawks (30-4) won the Big 12 Conference's regular season and tournament titles and were the best team in arguably the best league in America. They open NCAA Tournament play Thursday against Austin Peay (18-17) as the No. 1 seed in the South Region.

But after second-round losses in its last two tournaments as a No. 2 seed, Kansas is more focused on the first weekend than the Final Four.

"It motivates us a lot," said senior Perry Ellis. "We've experienced what it feels like to lose and we just don't want that. I feel like we're a really focused team and we're ready to get after it."

The Jayhawks last reached the Final Four in 2012, losing to Anthony Davis and Kentucky in the title game.

Unlike the past two years, when Kansas had youngsters like Kelly Oubre and Andrew Wiggins, this season's roster is full of experienced players who have proven themselves over the past four months.

The Jayhawks start four upperclassmen, led by Ellis. He was a first-team All-Big 12 pick after averaging 16.7 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, and he scored 58 points in three games as the Jayhawks rolled to the conference tournament title.

Juniors Frank Mason III and Wayne Selden were among the best guards in the Big 12 this winter, and Devonte Graham came into his own as a sophomore.

"It's great to have older guys. They know what to expect from coach (Self) and from each other," Mason said. "We've been through a lot of different scenarios."

Kansas is on a 14-game winning streak, but it did have its ups and downs, at one point losing three straight league road games by double digits. …

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