NEW ORLEANS (KSNT) – The bond between KU men’s basketball players is obvious on the court, but it’s just as strong off the court.

“This is the closest group I’ve been a part of,” sixth-year senior Mitch Lightfoot said.

On college basketball’s biggest stage, the Jayhawks are finding success. That success comes hand-in-hand with their tight-knit relationships.

“I think that you can kind of see that when we play,” guard Remy Martin said. “We care for each other and we want to win, and we just want the best for each other.”

As simple as it sounds, these guys are just friends, Bill Self said.

“These guys legitimately like each other,” Self said. “I mean, they’re brothers. They want to do everything together. They spend all their time together. They’re involved in their lives off the court.”

In an era of one-and-done’s in college basketball, KU is the exception.

“We always hangout with each other,” Martin said. “We’re in the same building all the time. We always eat together, have meals together. We just consistently are around each other.”

The special bond didn’t come through sunshine and rainbows. The group grew closer through the trials along its journey.

“This group’s been together when we lost in the second weekend,” Lightfoot said. “We’ve done that twice. We lost to Auburn together. We lost to USC together. Both of those, I think, have brought us closer together. We understand how that stung and we understand we didn’t want to let that happen again.”

When the guys by your side are your brothers, rather than just teammates, the success is that much sweeter, Lightfoot said.

“It’s pretty special to be a part of a group like this,” he said. “It makes everything just that much more special. That goes everywhere from managers to coaches. This group really is a tight-knit group, and I wish I could explain that more, but it’s something you have to see to believe and be a part of it to believe it.”

KU will face North Carolina tonight.