Kansas' reign as the No. 1 team in college basketball lasted just one week when it climbed to the top of the polls earlier this season. Its performance against rival Kansas State on Saturday ensured its concurrent run as No. 1 will extend longer than that.
The Jayhawks outlasted the Wildcats 62-58 in the second edition of this season's Sunflower Showdown inside Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kansas, extending their winning streak to 14 just days after earning the No. 1 ranking. Kansas improves to 26-3 overall with the win and 15-1 in the conference.
Kansas State, infamously involved in a brawl with the Jayhawks in the season's first meeting, did not make it easy on their rival and managed to keep it close to the end. Even as KU stars Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson battled injuries that cropped up throughout the game, K-State's shooting struggles and lack of overall firepower doomed it. After the game went deadlocked at 48-all with 8 minutes remaining, K-State scored just 10 points thereafter, going 2 of 11 from the floor to close the game.
KU's continued winning ways coupled with its strong resume and sensational surge has it steady as the projected No. 1 overall seed in Jerry Palm's Bracketology projections -- where it was entering the day.
1. Kansas with a strong Big 12 edge: With Kansas escaping Bramlage and Baylor falling 75-72 on the road to TCU, look what we have: KU leading the Big 12 The Jayhawks have a one-game lead in the Big 12 standings over the Bears with two games to go.
2. Kansas injuries a concern: 7-foot force Udoka Azubuike went down twice in this game -- once early, and once late -- with what appeared to be lower leg injuries. He stepped on a foot the first time then landed awkwardly on it later. While he played through both dings, it's certainly concerning: he's only played more than 30 games in a season once in his four years, and twice played 12 games or fewer. Hopefully it's just a minor scare and nothing that lingers for him, because he's KU's most impactful defender and one of the eight-or-so best players in college hoops this season.
3. Dotson the difference: The darting, dodging and dipping Dotson may be the most criminally underrated player in the conference -- and oh, by the way, he leads the league in scoring. He doesn't have the flashy athleticism to wow you or the flammable scoring to go full Markus Howard, but his consistency as a high-level guard who can get to the basket and generate offense remains elite. He's as important to KU as Azubuike has been. Scoring 25 points, going 8 of 8 from the free-throw line and playing 38 of 40 minutes in this one, he validated what we already knew: this team can go as he goes. And the way he went Saturday, KU seems destined for a deep postseason run.