Kansas is back on top of the rankings, but its players are focused on other goals -- like adding to their lead in the Big 12.
The No. 1 Jayhawks have a good opportunity to remain perfect in conference Wednesday night with a road matchup against one of the Big 12's worst teams, Colorado.The nation's top-ranked team for the season's first eight weeks, Kansas has bounced back with six straight victories since its only loss at Tennessee on Jan. 10. That run and South Carolina's upset of Kentucky on Jan. 26 helped the Jayhawks (20-1, 6-0) return to the No. 1 spot this week."We'd rather be two games up in the Big 12 than be No. 1 right now," senior guard Sherron Collins said. "No. 1 doesn't mean anything because at the end of the year there's only going to be one No. 1."Aiding that resurgence is junior center Cole Aldrich, who struggled with bronchitis and his grandmother's death earlier this season. The preseason All-American averaged 10.6 points through the first 16 games this season -- 4.3 lower than his 2008-09 average.In the past five contests, he has averaged 14.6 points and posted three consecutive double-doubles."It was a slow start for him at the beginning of the year. Now he's Cole again," Collins said. "He was just in a slump and he was going through some hard time. ... I'm glad he came around now and not later in the year."Sophomore forward Marcus Morris has also helped by scoring in double figures in all six conference wins, averaging 17.8 points on 62.1 percent shooting. It was Collins, the team's top scorer (15.5 ppg), who lifted the Jayhawks to their latest victory, 81-79 in overtime at Kansas State on Saturday night.Shaking off back spasms, Collins scored with nine seconds remaining in the extra period and finished with 16 points. Aldrich led the way with 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Morris had his third double-double this season with 13 points and 10 boards.The win helped Kansas push its conference lead to two games over Texas, but the Longhorns, who host Kansas on Feb. 8, cut into that deficit with Monday night's victory at Oklahoma State.Texas, though, is idle Wednesday as the Jayhawks try for their 14th straight win over the Buffaloes (11-10, 2-5) and seventh in a row in Boulder. Kansas has also won 52 of 55 meetings since 1984-85 and 26 of 27 since Big 12 play began in 1996-97.Colorado, trying to avoid a fourth straight last-place finish in the Big 12, didn't help its cause by shooting a season-low 34.4 percent in Saturday's 64-63 loss at Iowa State.The Buffaloes also lost their second-leading scorer, Alec Burks, early in the defeat to a sprained left knee. The freshman guard, averaging 16.3 points, won't play Wednesday.Junior guard Cory Higgins, who leads Colorado with 18.3 points per game, scored 21 for his 15th straight game in double figures. Junior forward Marcus Relphorde added 11 points but missed a layup in the final seconds.The defeat was the Buffaloes' seventh straight on the road, but they are 10-1 at home this season and upset then-No. 22 Baylor there on Jan. 12.