Oklahoma State's basketball players and coaches will never forget the 10 individuals who died in a plane crash Jan. 27 outside of Denver.
Still, life and the 2000-2001 season must go on for the Cowboys, who are 1-1 in games played since the tragedy that has shaken the sports world.
"I think they would like closure, maybe more than people are allowing them to have," KU coach Roy Williams said.
His Jayhawks (18-3, 7-2 Big 12) play host to the Cowboys (14-5, 5-3) at 3:05 p.m. today at Allen Fieldhouse.
After a moment of silence for the visitors, the Jayhawks promise a hard-fought intercollegiate sports battle.
"I want our players to have a great deal of concern and care for the people involved with Oklahoma State's basketball family," Williams said. "It may sound harsh or cruel, but when the game starts you have to think about the game. If not, we shouldn't play them (games)."
KU's players will have a lot of incentive today. Okie State has won two straight in the series, including last year's 86-53 rout in Stillwater.
"We have had some great battles over the years," said Williams, who has a 17-8 record versus OSU. Counterpart Eddie Sutton is 9-16 versus KU.
"For the most part, Eddie and I believe in the same kinds of things guarding people straight up man-to-man, getting the best shot you can on offense. These games are very competitive, physical and hard-fought. They kicked us pretty hard twice last year. We remember that."
Oklahoma State lost seven seniors remember Desmond Mason, Joe Adkins, Doug Gottlieb and Glendon Alexander? off last year's 27-7 club. Just two current players, Fredrik Jonzen and Andre Williams, returned with extensive playing experience from that team.
Still, the Cowboys are in the Big 12 title chase with an NCAA bid quite likely at this point.
"Eddie has always done a real good job. I believe this is as good of a job as he has ever done," Williams said. "Jonzen and Andre Williams are the only players with serious minutes last year. They still guard you as well as they ever have."
Jonzen, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound junior from Uppsala, Sweden, averages 15.9 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. He played one year of high school ball at Shawnee Mission East.
"He's really been a workmanlike player for them, very fundamentally sound," Williams said. "We did watch him (in high school) and did like him."
OSU's Williams, a 6-7, 210-pound sophomore out of Kansas City Schlagle, averages 7.8 points and 7.8 boards.
"I saw Andre play in the summertime (in high school). I thought he had a chance to be a very good shot blocker on the college level. He's proven he can do that," Williams said.
Williams has 41 blocks in 19 games for the Cowboys.
"We already made the decision we wanted Nick (Collison) and Drew (Gooden) by the time we saw him. I thought he was a heck of a prospect," KU's Williams noted.
Victor Williams, a 5-10 sophomore out of KC Wyandotte who averages 11.3 points per game, played a year at Illinois State then transferred after former KU assistant Kevin Stallings left ISU for Vanderbilt.
"Kevin had called me about him. He felt very good about him," Williams said of Victor Williams. "Kevin thought he was a big-time player. He had a great freshman year then decided to leave. He ended up at Oklahoma State and has had a heck of a year, too."
The Cowboys' leading scorer is Maurice Baker, a 6-1 junior out of Dixie College in Utah. Baker has hit 51 percent of his shots, including 45 of 110 three-pointers.
"He's been a fantastic new player for them. Eddie really has them playing," Williams said.
The Jayhawks will meet Baylor at 8:05 p.m. Monday in Waco, Texas.