How has the world changed since KU started its Big 12 title streak
Here is The Kansas City Star’s coverage of each time the Kansas Jayhawks won the Big 12 basketball championship during their record 14-year streak from 2005-18.
Click or tap on each headline for a full version of that year’s story.
Wayne Simien scored 25 points and grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds in Kansas’ 72-65 victory over Kansas State — a win that gave Kansas a share of the Big 12 title. Then he grabbed a microphone and began the Senior Day speech he’d been rehearsing for years. “Get comfortable,” he said, “because I’ve been waiting for this my whole life.”
In what was initially pegged as a “rebuilding” season, the Kansas Jayhawks have somehow emerged as Big 12 champions. “Everyone was jumping around and hugging and celebrating,” Julian Wright said of a jubilant KU locker room after a 66-52 victory over Kansas State. “It was the most fun we’ve had all year. You wouldn’t have thought we’d have that much energy after a game.”
No one can say the Jayhawks didn’t earn their hardware. Not after Saturday, when Kansas staved off one of the more jaw-dropping efforts in recent Allen Fieldhouse memory. “This time,” guard Brandon Rush said, “we didn’t want to share it with anyone.”
Truly, this was a blueprint for another Kansas road loss. The Jayhawks shot two of 11 from three-point range. Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson played through foul trouble and eventually fouled out. Only this time, those blunders would have cost KU at least a share of the Big 12 regular-season title, and Sherron Collins knew that. The sophomore from Chicago has picked up enough Jayhawk lore to understand that he couldn’t let KU’s seniors fall short of their fourth straight league crown.
Sherron Collins had everything to do with KU’s fifth straight regular-season title. On Saturday, he led the Jayhawks with 21 points and seven assists and didn’t allow his young teammates to panic under the heat of a 14-point first-half deficit. Now, he was wearing a blue Big 12 champions T-shirt, celebrating on the court with a bunch of guys he barely knew a year ago. Somewhere along the way, they became his “young fellas,” and they looked up to him. Collins believed all along that he had the ability to lead.
Thirty seconds remained in Sherron Collins’ Allen Fieldhouse career when Cole Aldrich pulled Collins in for a hug, their last on that hallowed slab of wood. The crowd began to chant Collins’ name as flashbulbs from hundreds of cameras captured a moment he wasn’t ready to face. “I didn’t want to get off the court,” Collins said. “I just wished the game could keep going all night.”
The second-ranked Jayhawks clinched the outright Big 12 regular-season championship on Saturday with a 70-66 victory over No. 22 Missouri at Mizzou Arena, but in the process, Bill Self’s team totally flipped the script. Yes, after seven in a row, the end result has become predictable. But the path to this ring had more twists and turns than any KU fan would care to stomach. “Three weeks ago, we had no chance,” Self said.
Before the year, Bill Self said he believed a 14-4 record would be good enough to win the Big 12. Kansas wound up finishing two victories better, after a regular-season-ending home victory over Texas. “It’s amazing,” Tyshawn Taylor said. “A lot of people didn’t think we would be this good. Our goal is to always win the Big 12 championship.” That goal has been reached eight straight years, and 2012 marks the fifth time in that stretch that KU won’t share the title.
In the moments after Kansas’ 81-58 loss to Baylor on Saturday, Bears coach Scott Drew invited students down to the floor of the Ferrell Center for a delayed court-storming. The Jayhawks had left the floor, slowly walking back to the locker room. This was the scene from the Jayhawks’ ninth straight Big 12 regular-season title, perhaps the saddest and most conflicted celebration of KU’s astonishing streak.
After the Jayhawks busted out the Big 12 championship T-shirts and displayed all 10 championship trophies on a long table at midcourt, Bill Self grabbed a microphone and started looking toward his team on the baseline. It was Senior Night, of course, but Self wanted to take a moment to look over toward freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. “Wiggins!” Self shouted. “Stand up!” “Jo,” Self said, looking toward Embiid, hiding near the corner of the court. “Stand up!”
The Jayhawks trailed by 18 points in the first half. It did not matter. They trailed by eight points with 2:32 remaining. It did not matter. Kansas was not losing to West Virginia on Tuesday, clinching the outright Big 12 title with an 76-69 overtime victory. Let’s take a breath. How did this happen? “Wow,” Kansas coach Bill Self said, grabbing a microphone on the floor after the game. “Are you guys tired?”
Tony Romo, along with Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, made sure to get outside the locker room to congratulate No. 1 KU following its 86-56 basketball victory over 23rd-ranked Texas. “He was sitting right next to us courtside. I just told him, ‘You’re my boy!’ He pointed back at me,” Devonté Graham said with a smile. It also was a thrill for KU coach Bill Self, who also grew up a Cowboys fan while living in Oklahoma. Romo shook his hand outside the locker room, ribbing the coach in the process: “Did you need to play the starters with a minute and a half left?”
Bill Self had ESPN color analyst Bill Walton speak to the team at the shootaround. “I asked him if he led the league in assists ever. Twenty minutes later he was talking to our guys still,” Self joked. Later, Dwight Coleby was congratulated by Walton after scoring a career-high tying 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting as KU won its 13th Big 12 crown in a row, tying the NCAA record for consecutive Division I conference championships set by UCLA from 1967-79.
Kansas coach Bill Self’s voice cracked as he introduced point guard/team leader Devonté Graham to 16,300 fans who remained in their seats for Senior Night speeches after the Jayhawks’ 80-70 victory over Texas on Monday night at Allen Fieldhouse. “I knew he was going to be good,” Self said. “I didn’t know he’d probably be 2018 Big 12 player of the year, though.” “Coach Self … I don’t know where to start. Everybody talks how I’m such a good leader,” Graham said, his voice trailing off as he screamed, “Ahhhhhhhh” in breaking down, putting a towel over his face and looking skyward.