Although teams have changed throughout the past 13 seasons for Kansas, the primary goal has stayed the same — to be conference champions. Here’s a look at how the Jayhawks have clinched the Big 12 title in each of the last 13 years.
In Bill Self’s second year as head coach, the Jayhawks were ranked No. 1 in the country in the preseason poll. After opening the season 20-1 and winning their first 10 conference games of the season, the Jayhawks lost four of their final six games of the regular season.
This skid gave Oklahoma the opportunity to gain ground on Kansas, ultimately leading the two teams to share the Big 12 title.
After losing a core of star players in seniors Keith Langford, Aaron Miles and Wayne Simien, the Jayhawks had small expectations, starting the season unranked in the national polls.
Kansas finished the season strong though, winning 12 of its final 13 games, including a handful of impressive conference road wins.
In a combination of the Jayhawks finishing conference play strong and the Texas Longhorns dropping their penultimate game of the season, the Jayhawks managed to tie with Texas at a conference record 13-3, becoming co-champions once again.
Sophomores Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers were coming into their own nearing the end of the regular season, in which the Jayhawks went undefeated in their final eight conference games.
The regular season finale, however, was the deciding game in Kansas’ quest for a three-peat.
The Jayhawks defeated Kevin Durant’s No. 15 Longhorns by a score of 90-86 in the final game of the regular season to take sole possession of the Big 12 title at 14-2 over the Texas A&M Aggies by one game.
The Jayhawks blew through the first half of the season, starting off 20-0 before falling to No. 24 Kansas State in Manhattan for the first time in 25 years. Kansas went on to lose two more conference games, one of those by only three points against Texas in Austin.
Though that game came midway through conference play, it would turn out to be the game that kept the Jayhawks and Longhorns tied for Big 12 champion with matching conference records of 13-3, three games ahead of the rest of the conference.
With the majority of the 2008 national championship team gone, the Jayhawks were thought to be facing a rebuilding year. The top four scorers from the national title squad left for the NBA draft, leaving junior guard Sherron Collins as the only player averaging over three points in the previous season.
But, with the help of a breakout season from sophomore center Cole Aldrich, Kansas kept in contention for the conference crown again.
The Jayhawks dropped only two conference games, a single-possession loss against No. 17 Missouri in Columbia, and a 19-point drubbing against unranked Texas Tech, but Kansas was still able to secure the title, undisputed, for the second time in three seasons.
Kansas was back atop the preseason polls with a plethora of talent returning to the team as well as a top-10 freshman class of recruits including Xavier Henry, Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson.
The Jayhawks lost one conference game at Oklahoma State near the end of conference play, but the loss had virtually no effect on their conference standings, ultimately taking their sixth-consecutive Big 12 title by a margin of four games.
Yet again, the race for the conference champion was between Texas and Kansas. The No. 2 Jayhawks fell to the No. 10 Longhorns in Allen Fieldhouse 74-63, breaking a 69-straight home win streak and taking their first loss of the season after starting 18-0.
However, Texas went on to lose three of its final five conference games while Kansas won its final five games, giving the Jayhawks a one-game edge to take the conference title over the Longhorns.
Four starters were lost from the previous year, including the Morris twins, leaving Kansas with yet another underestimated team.
After losing to Missouri by three points in Columbia, the Jayhawks avenged the loss in Lawrence later that season with a 19-point comeback against the No. 3 Tigers.
That game — the last time the Jayhawks and Tigers would face off before Missouri’s departure from the Big 12 — pushed Kansas to a two-game lead over Missouri, keeping the conference title streak alive for another year.
A three-game skid in the middle of conference play, including a shocking loss to then-0-8 TCU, left Kansas at 7-3 and its streak thought to be in jeopardy. It was the first time since 2005 that the Jayhawks had lost three straight games, but Kansas spent no time wallowing in defeat.
The next game up for the Jayhawks was No. 10 Kansas State. In addition to beating the Wildcats by 21 points with the help of a 30-point showing from freshman Ben McLemore, Kansas went on to win the next six conference games, solidifying its tie for first place with Kansas State with a conference record of 14-4.
Kansas reloaded its roster with three five-star recruits in Andrew Wiggins, Wayne Selden Jr. and Joel Embiid, which helped place Kansas at No. 5 in the national polls.
As expected with a young team, the Jayhawks suffered a few losses throughout conference play but went 6-1 against ranked conference opponents, including defeating top 25 opponent Iowa State twice.
Kansas once again finished conference play at 14-4, but this time with a two-game lead over No. 21 Oklahoma to hit double digits in consecutive titles.
In just the second game of the regular season, the No. 5 Jayhawks faced a harsh reality when they suffered a 32-point defeat to the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats. As conference play approached though, the Jayhawks regained their composure as the Allen Fieldhouse element was in full effect.
Kansas beat top 25 opponents Iowa State, Oklahoma, Baylor and West Virginia in Lawrence — all teams who were within two games of Kansas in the conference standings. The strong home court showing came through as the deciding factor in Kansas’ 11th title win.
Conference play opened with a bang when No. 1 Kansas defeated No. 2 Oklahoma 109-106 in a triple-overtime thriller in Lawrence. For the next handful of games, the Jayhawks experienced a roller coaster of wins and losses, but in typical Kansas basketball fashion, the Jayhawks finished conference play strong.
Kansas went undefeated in its final 11 games of the season, including back-to-back wins over No. 10 West Virginia and No. 3 Oklahoma again. These crucial games propelled the Jayhawks to the top of the Big 12, ending the season with a conference record of 15-3.
In the Jayhawks’ most recent conference title, experience paved the way to success. Returners Landen Lucas, Frank Mason III, Devonte’ Graham and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, along with freshman phenom Josh Jackson, earned Kansas a No. 3 preseason ranking.
The team rolled through Big 12 play relatively unscathed, suffering only two losses, including a hard-fought overtime defeat of Iowa State. Kansas claimed its record-tying, 13th-straight conference title with dominance, taking the conference crown with a four-game lead.
— Edited by Danya Issawi