Playing Kansas is completely different from any other game on the UT schedule. Oklahoma we hate because they suck. Oklahoma State kind of hates us because they think we get some joy from pushing pregnant women. A&M seems to hate us (we love the Horns down from the players because it's such a sign of their inferiority complex...when was the last time you saw an American burning an Iranian flag?), and we like to beat them because there's some history there, but we still know that the road to any championship rarely runs through College Station.
Kansas, however, is different. Texas is a football school, Kansas is a basketball school. For the most part KU sticks to being very good in the North, and Texas does the same down South. So when the two teams meet, all that's left is typically a very important, well-played basketball game.
In Austin, the fans are far more excited about the idea of beating a top tier opponent than some overarching notion of beating Kansas, and the same more or less holds true in Lawrence (all 'Texan by birth, Jayhawk by choice of the Texas admissions staff' or 'KU basketball holds a slight edge over UT basketball, historically' comments aside).
They beat us by 25 in Lawrence, we beat them by 25 in Austin. They beat us despite Kevin Durant's heroicism, we beat them despite DJ Augustin's lack thereof. They made the world's largest pizza, so we burned down their City Hall.
There are a number of apparent reasons why this game is always so good:
- The teams are usually pretty darned good. Since 2001-2002, Texas and Kansas have played five games that could be considered "classics," with Texas only taking one, and two Big XII title games.
- The fans are amongst the best in the conference. KU fans have nothing to prove, and their reputation speaks for itself. We gripe as much as anybody about the lack of support the basketball team gets from Texas fans, but UT fans are pretty good once they're at the games. Listen to the crowd at an OU or OSU game, then listen to a Texas game. Bad fans boo more than they cheer, Texas fans cheer far more than they boo.
- Both schools run clean, respectible programs. Far more of a rarity than it should be in college basketball, but it contributes heavily to the reason that the rivalry is so hate-less.
Take this quote by hopefully soon to be NBA pro Brandon Rush: "I don't see much difference. They were a great team with (Durant), and they're a great team without him."
How the hell do you hate that? That jerk didn't say how good a job Barnes has done building the program...the nerve! Without the hate we are simply left with what has become the Big XII's best once or twice a year rivarly.
Next up, Baylor.
Now there's an interesting rivalry.