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Jay Bilas: ‘Kansas is starting to emerge’ in tough Big 12 

Jay Bilas: ‘Kansas is starting to emerge’ in tough Big 12 

LAWRENCE, Kan. (BVM) – With the NCAA Tournament fast approaching, college basketball programs around the country are bracing for the final stretch of conference play heading into conference tournaments. Perhaps no conference is as competitive this season as the Big 12 Conference, which only has three teams with losing records in conference play and just one with a losing record overall with a 12-13 Oklahoma.

Given the highly competitive nature of the Big 12, it comes as no surprise that picking a conference winner is easier said than done. For former Duke basketball star and current ESPN analyst Jay Bilas, he can’t even pick a winner at this late in the season.

“There are a bunch of good teams in the league. It’s the best league. It’s really a league that doesn’t have a bottom,” Bilas said. “I’m not sure yet who the best team in that league is but that really speaks to the overall quality of the Big 12.”

Bilas has also seen a different energy in the conference that he has never seen before.

“This is the first year that I remember where every game I do one team comes in desperate and angry and it’s not easy to play against desperate and angry all the time,” Bilas said. “That’s a desperate and angry league. …It’s a constant 15-round fight for every team in the league.”

While Bilas hasn’t selected a conference winner yet, he does see one team starting to rise from the pack.

The Kansas Jayhawks are currently 20-5 with an 8-4 record in conference play, good for third in the Big 12 standings. But with a huge in-conference matchup against the Baylor Bears on Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks have a great chance to further establish themselves.

“Kansas is starting to emerge a little bit,” Bilas said. “They’re just not a perfectly constructed team.”

So what are the Jayhawksweaknesses exactly? Bilas sees the team’s lack of interior dominance as a big factor as Kansas has had to slightly change its style of play due to this roster.

“They don’t have a big guy to throw it into like they used to that gets an angle in the post, moves you up the lane, and all of a sudden they’re getting a layup out of it,” Bilas said. “They’re not able to do that this year.”

However, Bilas is encouraged by what he has seen out of some of the pieces the Jayhawks have and how they have performed of late.

“Their bench is starting to perform at a higher level,” Bilas said. “Ernest Udeh and Joseph Yesefu have had some really good games of late. So if those guys can continue that and they don’t have a dip when they have to go to the bench, I like the way Kansas plays.”

It remains to be seen just how good the Jayhawks will be as they enter their final stretch run before the NCAA Tournament. However, with improvement from their bench and some strong recent performances, expect Kansas to once again be competing for a title in college basketball’s most competitive conference.

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