OKLAHOMA CITY (Ticker) -- Second-seeded Kansas seeks to win its 20th straight first-round game in the NCAA Tournament on Thursday when it faces No. 15 seed Utah State in a West Region matchup.
Kansas (25-7) captured the Big 12 regular-season title with a 14-2 record and was expected to receive a No. 1 seed. But the Jayhawks were ousted from the Big 12 tournament by Missouri in the semifinals and were placed in the West instead.
The Jayhawks will have to make this NCAA Tournament run without starting forward Wayne Simien, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Jeff Graves has replaced Simien in the lineup, although he hasn't been able to replace Simien's 14.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
All-American forward Nick Collison leads Kansas with his 18.4 scoring average and 9.3 rebounds per game. Collison needs six points to become the Big 12's all-time scoring leader and pass Texas A&M's Bernard King.
Kirk Hinrich is also making his last go-around in the NCAA Tournament. The senior guard is shooting nearly 52 percent and averaging 18.4 points.
Utah State (24-8) earned its third Big West title in four seasons. The Aggies are led by All-Big West selection Desmond Penigar, who is averaging 17.2 points per game.
The Aggies own a 3-1 record against teams in the field and have pulled off an upset in the NCAA Tournament on past occasions. They ousted Ohio State from the tournament two seasons ago.
Kansas has won three straight meetings with Utah State and leads the series, 4-2. The Jayhawks posted a 67-61 victory in the last meeting on December 20, 1968.
The winner will face Memphis or Arizona State in the second round.