Kansas basketball: Jayhawks raise ceiling as they bring home trophy No. 2

Kansas Jayhawks celebrate Big 12 Championship - (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kansas Jayhawks celebrate Big 12 Championship - (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

After the Jayhawks earned their first postseason trophy and second of the year with a win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji joined head coach Bill Self at the press table. It was there that they finally heard their coach say something he hadn’t all year.

Self called this a “toughness win.” For anyone who knows Self’s philosophy, they know that’s one of the biggest compliments he can give, and it was deserved after this weekend.

After dominating wins over WVU and TCU, Kansas faced TTU for the third time this season it what was back and forth until a push from KU in the closing minutes.

The Jayhawks’ level of play in this tournament seemed to take a pretty big leap. While every player looked significantly better, there was one guy in white that stood out in particular – especially in the championship game.

Is Remy Martin back?

We all know Martin hasn’t had the season he had hoped for thanks to a nagging knee injury. He was in and out of the lineup and eventually needed a clean break from the action to get enough rest and heal up.

Self has eased him into the rotation and last night Martin didn’t hold anything back . He was a man on a mission in his biggest game yet, putting up 15 points in 26 minutes.

KU looks like a whole different team when Martin is on the floor thanks to his undeniably contagious energy. When he’s playing hard and defending, he makes KU look better everywhere – something Self made sure to acknowledge.

“I don’t think we would’ve won the game without Remy,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “I thought he was great.”

If Martin can continue to play like this and ride his performance into the tournament, he may just be the missing piece Kansas needs to truly raise it’s ceiling to national championship contender.

A successful weekend

While Martin clearly shined, it wasn’t just about him. Every single player elevated their game on the court in different ways.

Agbaji was his normal great self and the owner of a vicious one-handed dunk against TCU that was certainly the highlight of the tournament for which he won MVP honors.

There was David McCormack, who got himself a big double-double against Texas Tech with 18 points and 11 rebounds after limited minutes in KU’s first two games in Kansas City.

After going scoreless in the first half in the first, Jalen Wilson finished with 12 points against the Red Raiders and always seemed to be there for a crucial layup or rebound when the Jayhawks needed it.

This tournament went as well as they could have hoped for a variety of reasons.

They got McCormack some rest for a nagging foot injury. Martin was able to get comfortable as he enters the biggest stage of his career. And supporting Jayhawks took the pressure off Agbaji and showed their ability to be real weapons for KU.

As the NCAA tournament brackets are unveiled today, the Jayhawks should be riding high after their performance and all but locking up a No. 1 seed. If the matchups are right and KU can play with the same toughness and energy they did this weekend, there could very well be another trophy to be earned in the near future.