On a night where the Syracuse Orange narrowly escaped their third loss in a row and Carmelo Anthony was once again defeated by a close margin on his home court, we feel like we’ve given those two subjects quite a bit of coverage lately. So instead of talking about them, we’re going to shift our attention out of the Big Apple and towards Allen Fieldhouse. On Monday night, Kansas was able to beat Oklahoma for a share of the Big 12 Title with an 83-75 win.
For Kansas, it was their 57th conference title, a record that is better than any other school in the nation. It was also their 10th consecutive Big 12 title, a mark that only UCLA (13) and Gonzaga (11) have bested the Jayhawks by in their own respective conferences. Unfortunately for Oklahoma, they too had a streak continue, as they have yet to win on the road at Kansas since 1993. It’s also detrimental to Oklahoma, considering they had just crept their way into the Top 25 with Monday’s polls being released. We’ll have to wait to see how they do later this week against #24 Texas, where they’ll certainly need a win in if they hope to stay put.
As for Monday, this was an impressive team effort from the entire Kansas squad. Every starter scored in double digits, including a team high 19 from Naadir Tharpe, 15 apiece from Wayne Shelden and Andrew Wiggins, and freshman Joel Embiid had 12 points and led the team with 13 rebounds.
While both teams shot 44% from the field and had similar numbers behind the arc, 42.9% for Oklahoma and 43.8% for Kansas, where the Jayhawks really made a difference was at the charity stripe. Kansas had 30 attempts on which they scored 26 of them, while the Sooners only hit 15 of their 20 free throws. In a game separated by only eight points, a few more trips to the line could’ve been the difference.
Kansas jumped from #8 in the AP polls last week to #5 this week, thanks in part to Duke, San Diego State and Cincinnati all falling due of losses last week. And while the Big 12 Championship is big for Jayhawks and Kansas history, the win, and jump to #5 in the polls, means that they are that much closer to a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. There is no guarantee that, despite being undefeated, Wichita State will get a top seed. It’s still uncertain whether or not the selection committee will hold the Shockers SOS against them, or if they’ll grant them the spot if they can run the table. Kansas is looking for any bit of budge they can possible find, in order to get a better draw themselves.
Kansas finishes the rest of their season with games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Cowboys have spiraled out of control as of late and the Red Raiders are at the bottom of the Big 12. However, with a game on the road against West Virginia as the last game of the season, that could be a trap game to watch out for. It will be senior night in West Virginia and there would be nothing more memorable than an upset over a Jayhawks team that is ranked among the top in the nation and has already been crowned the Big 12 champs.
Along with being #5 in the nation, the Jayhawks have the second best odds to win the National Championship at 7/1. The only team they are behind is Florida, who is on a 19-game winning streak and were announced as the new #1 team in the nation on Monday.