It was a bad day to be a visiting team in the Big 12, unless you were wearing green and yellow, as in Baylor. And no team needed a victory, and in the worst sort of way, than the Baylor Bears, who surprised everyone again on Saturday, pulling out an unexpected win at, of all places, Gallagher-Iba Arena at Oklahoma State.
The biggest news of the weekend, however, was undefeated and seemingly unstoppable Kansas getting manhandled at Texas. The Jayhawks (16-5, 7-1) were outrebounded, outshot and thoroughly outplayed, dropping their first conference game of the season. The final score was 81-69, but the game was never really that close. The Texas frontline recorded an impressive 12 blocks in thwarting repeated Kansas drives to the rim.
No. 25-ranked Texas (17-4, 6-2) won its sixth consecutive game in the Big 12. The Longhorns were led by freshman Isaiah Taylor, who shredded the Kansasa defense for a team-high 23 points. The talented freshman guard scored a career-high 27 points a week ago in a win at Baylor. The Longhorns built up a 20-point lead in the second half against the Jayhawks, the largest deficit faced by No. 6-ranked Kansas this season.
A stifling Texas defensive effort held the Big 12’s best-shooting team under 40 percent for the game. The Jayhawks had been averaging better than 50 percent shooting per game. Kansas opened the game by hitting its first four shots from the field, but made only four more field goals the rest of the half to end the first 20 minutes with eight field goals on 31 attempts. The Jayhawks’ 26’percent shooting performance in the opening half was their worst shooting half of the season. Their previous low was 44 percent in the second half at Oklahoma.
Kansas has outrebounded most every opponent this season, but Texas turned the tables, dominating the boards by a seven rebound margin (44 to 37). The Jayhawks got only 15 points combined from uber-talented freshmen Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, greatly handicapping KU’s effort to keep pace with the hot-shooting Longhorns.
“The law of averages will prevail eventually,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said afterward. “The way you win on the road is to make sure your opponent plays bad. I don’t think you can say that every game a team is going to come out and play a certain way.”
Despite the loss, Kansas remained in first place in the conference with just one loss. The Longhorns moved into second with the victory, trading places with Oklahoma (17-4, 6-3), which had its four-game winning streak in conference play ended in a six-point loss at Iowa State (16-4, 4-4).
As the Associated Press wrote on Saturday, “Baylor finally got one.” The Bears shot 52 percent for the game and outrebounded the home-favored Cowboys 32-26 to win their first road game in the league after three away losses. What made Baylor’s improbable win evern more impressive was the fact that Oklahoma State (16-5, 4-4) had not lost a game at home all season, mowing down 10 opponents before Saturday.
Nothing demonstrates the incredible competitiveness that exists in Big 12 men’s basketball this season any better than this: Going into Saturday’s game with previously ranked Baylor, Oklahoma State was ranked No. 8 in the country. The Cowboys lost twice last week – to Oklahoma and again on Saturday to Baylor – dropping their conference record to 4-4, tied for sixth in the Big 12 standings with No. 16 Iowa State.
Need more evidence? How about Iowa State, which just a month ago stood at 14-0 and No. 9 in the country, ending a four-game losing streak with its victory over Oklahoma, which owns one of the two conference losses handed to Texas this season, and at Texas.
Remember when Kansas State stood 4-1 and just behind Kansas in the conference standings? The Wildcats lost their third game in their last four, falling victim at resurging West Virginia, which just a couple of weeks ago lost by 22 points at Kansas State.
It’s been this way every week this season in the Big 12, and its’ only going to get better – or worse, depending on your fan loyalties – as the “Journey to the Tourney” gets shorter and narrower.
Some other notable story lines from Saturday’s action to feed your appetite for Big 12 basketball:
- Four Big 12 teams won at home on Saturday. Baylor recorded the only road victory, upsetting Oklahoma State in Stillwater.
- Texas’ home win over No. 6-ranked Kansas ended the Jayhawks five-game winning streak at UT’s Frank Irwin Center. It also was the first double-digit loss this season by the Jayhawks.
- The Longhorns have won six straight conference games, the last four of which have been over ranked teams.
- Oklahoma outrebounded Iowa State eight to four on the offensive glass on Saturday, but scored only four second-chance points. In the Sooners win over Iowa State in Norman a couple of weeks ago, they scored 22 second-chance points, which was the major factor in the OU win at home over the Cyclones..
- Only two free throws were attempted in the first half of the OU-Iowa State game on Saturday, both by Iowa State.
- The 81 points scored by West Virginia in its 81-71 win over Kansas State were the third most scored against K-State this season. The Wildcats came into Saturday’s contest ranked 19th in the country in scoring defense, yielding an average of 61.1 points a game to its opponents this season.
- Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown scored a game-high 24 points in a losing effort against Baylor on Saturday. Eighteen of his 24 points were on six of eight from the three-point line.
- Baylor has only won five of 30 games played at Oklahoma State.
- Texas Tech’s 60-54 victory over TCU this weekend was the Red Raiders’ third conference win, equaling their total wins all of last season in Big 12 action. Te ch scored 38 of its 60 points in the paint, led by a seaon-high 18 points from seven-foot senior Dejan Kravic.
- Oklahoma held Iowa State’s DeAndre Kane, the Big 12’s leading scorer in conference games, to a season low five points. The Cyclones’ George Niang, however, recorded a season-best 27 points. The Cyclones also had a season-high seven blocked shots in their win over the Sooners.
- TCU was 7-1 this season when leading at the half, which it did Saturday at Texas Tech (28-27). The Horned Frogs opened up a seven-point lead in the second half, but gave it way in suffering a 60-54 defeat.
- Speaking about halftime leads, it apparently is not healthy to trail Baylor at the half. The Bears are 53-3 when leading at the half.