Kansas State defeated Iowa State and Oklahoma downed Red River Rival Tezas to set up a four-way tie for second place with just one week and two games remaining in the Big 12 men’s basketball regular season. It is entirely conceivable that by this time next week, as many as eight of the 10 Big 12 will finish the regular season with .500 or better league records, a solid testament to why the Big 12 is the best conference in college basketball this season.
All five home teams took care of business on their home floors on Saturday, including a huge 71-65 triumph by Oklahoma State over league-leading Kansas, which more than likely punched the Cowboys’ ticket to the NCAA Tournament. Just a week ago, OSU was mired in a seven-game losing streak and in serious jeopardy of playing itself out of the NCAA Tourney.
Kansas (22-7, 13-3) went to the locker room at the half with a one-point advantage, 26-25, in a very sloppily played opening half, and held on to the lead until just under three minutes remained, when Marcus Smart hit a three-point shot to put Oklahoma State up by two and give the Cowboys a lead they would never relinguish. Despite the loss, the Jayhawks clinched their unprecedented 10th straight Big 12 championship because of the losses by both Iowa State and Texas on Saturday. What the KU-Oklahoma State game came down to was the simple fact that OSU (19-10, 7-9) needed the game much more than Kansas did, and that was reflected in the way the two teams played down the stretch.
Oklahoma (21-8, 10-6) got a career=high 24 points from sophomore guard Isaiah Cousins and 17 more from the Sooners’ leading scorer, Buddy Hield. Texas (21-8, 10-6) trailed by seven points at the half, and OU stretched that out 16 points on two occasions with under 10 minutes to go in the game. Oklahoma turned 16 Texas turnovers into 23 points. The Sooners’ bigger guards put the clamps on the Longhorns top scorer, Javan Felix, who scored just two points on Saturday after pouring in seven three-point baskets in Texas’ victory Wednesday over Texas Tech.
Iowa State got 30 points from senior forward Melvin Ejim, but it wasn’t enough to spoil Kansas State’s home-court advantage, as the Wildcat led for much of the game, except for a very brief couple of minutes in each half. K-State defense clamped down on Iowa State’s three-point shooters, hold the Cyclones to seven made three-point shots on 27 attempts, an average of 26 percent for the team that shoots the most three-pointers in the Big 12.
In the other two games on Saturday, West Virginia evened its conference record to 8-8 with a solid 81-59 victory over TCU, which remained winless in Big 12 play at 0-16. The Mountaineers widened a three-point halftime advange, outscoring the Horned Frogs by 21 points in the second 20 minutes behind 18 and 17 points, respectively, by West Virginia’s two top scorers, Juwan Staten and Eron Harris.
Baylor (19-10, 7-9) won its fifth game in the last six after having a league record of 2-8 a little less than a month ago. The Bears got a 16-point performance from Royce O’Neale and senior guard Brady Heslip added 14, including four three-point baskets. Baylor shot only 30 percent for the game to TCU’s 47 percent, but the Bears had a major advantage on the boards 40-32.
Other Notable Highlights From Saturday’s Big 12 men’s Basketball Games
- Kansas State’s 80-73 win over Iowa State was the Cats’ 15th consecutive win at home, a record for Bramlage Coliseum. It also is the first time since 1981-82 that K-State has won as many as 15 consecutive home games. The Wildcats won 20 in a row at their former venue, Ahearn Fieldhouse.
- Iowa State’s reserves were outscored 38-2 by the Kansas State bench, led by senior Shane Southwell with 13 points.
- Oklahoma outscored Texas 30-9 in three-point shots in the Sooners’ 77-65 victory over the Longhorns on Saturday. It was the Sooners’ third win in the last four meetings with their longtime rival from south of the Red River after losing 14 of the previous 18 games against Texas.
- Texas’ leading scorer, Javan Felix, was held to just two points, but his backcourt teammate, Isaiah Taylor, scored 10 points to reach double figures for the 23rd time in 29 games this season.
- Oklahoma State has now won 25 games all-time vs. top-five ranked opponents. The Cowboys all-time record against teams ranked in the top five is 25-53.
- Marcus Smart, last season’s Big 12 Player of the Year, scored 20 of his team-high 21 points against Kansas in the second half.
- Kansas is 22-7 against the strongest schedule in the country this season and 13-3 in the best basketball conference in 2013-14.
- Almost 60 percent of Baylor’s field-goal attenpts against Texas Tech on Saturday were three-point shots (31 of 53).
- Baylor shot just 30 percent from the field and still won by 10 points over Texas Tech, 59-49.
- Thirty-four of Texas Tech’s 49 total points against Baylor were scored in close to the basket.
- West Virginia had given up an average of 83 points a game and 54 percent shooting in each of its last three losses, to Texas, Baylor and Iowa State. Against TCU on Saturday, however, the Mountaineers held TCU to 59 points and 39.2 percent shooting from the field.
- West Virginia played for the third straight game without Terry Henderson, a 6-4 sophomore guard who averages 12 point a game, who is out with an undisclosed illness.