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Jayhawks look to live up to March Madness expectations

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JAY GELVEZON  AGGIE FILE

Kansas opens up its NCAA tournament play as one of the last teams to get going tonight when it takes on UC Davis, who has the distinction of being the worst team in the field according to KenPom.

UC Davis (23-12) held its opponents to fewer than 70 points per game this season, and it was another stellar defensive effort on Wednesday that helped the Aggies overcome 18 turnovers to earn the program's first NCAA Tournament victory.

Vang in the NCAAs - "Surreal" is how Wichita native Tucker Vang described the experience of being on a No. 1-seed KU team as it prepares for its tournament opener against UC Davis.

The Wildcats wrapped up their second NCAA Division II West Region Championship over the past four seasons with three-straight wins over higher seeds this week, culminating with a win over UC San Diego - the league's regular season and postseason tournament champions. The Aggies are playing in the tournament for the first time as a Division I school.

KU has been a No. 1 seed in seven of Bill Self's 14 seasons in Lawrence, including this year's NCAA Tournament journey which will begin in Tulsa.

Jim Les, coach of 16th-seeded UC-Davis offered attempted to offer perspective Tuesday.

Providence outshot Southern Cal 49 percent to 42 percent, but the Friars outscored them in the second half 46-27.

"I have no comment on (any of the) information that's still coming out", Jackson said Thursday. "We all can play at this level". They have really good habits.

"Last night, for example, we walk in our coaches' meeting room and we're trying to work on our game plan, " Les said.

"He was definitely very big-time in helping me get here", he said.

"Unfortunately, it will take away a little bit from the experience of the game and how great of an experience this was for us, " coach Mark Slessinger said.

The Kansas Jayhawks (28-4) are ranked No. 3 in the nation, but they are no lower than No.1 in their minds. He led Bradley to the Sweet 16 in 2006. "He gave me that offer, and I took the offer because it was the only offer I had".

Rather than dwell on the opportunity to play Kansas, Les is content to stay in the moment.

"He told me that he liked what he saw, and he was surprised that a lot of people weren't helping me out to come to America", Moneke said. But it's when things aren't going as well that they turn to you and look for answers, and we want to make sure we are able to provide them and navigate them through those tough times. "And he found out that it's something that I always wanted to do". To me that's my value to them because they all go through those journeys along the way during a college career.

Jackson did explain that he feels like he "made a couple mistakes that could have been avoided, small mistakes" but said there's nothing he can do about it now.

"But I feel we've got a good grasp on it and we've got a lot of things figured out", Jackson added.

"We got a lot of rest".

UC Davis turnovers, however, helped the Eagles hang around.

"Pressure is walking outside of your home every single day having to make a life and death decision to go back in and pressure is your mother struggling to keep the lights on and having a hot meal on the table".

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