Big 12 Notebook: Kansas back on top of Big 12

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After beating the Longhorns in Austin on Saturday, Kansas returned to its spot atop the Big 12 standings.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

For the past 10 years, No. 9 Kansas has sat at the top of Big 12 basketball. However, after a non-conference 72–40 blowout loss at the hands of No. 1 Kentucky, many thought the Jayhawks looked vulnerable.

But two months later, Kansas looks like its usual self.

The Jayhawks traveled to Austin this weekend and defeated Texas, 75-62. Kansas Freshman forward Cliff Alexander had a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds to help put the Jayhawks back atop the Big
12 standings.

“We just wanted it more than them,” Alexander said.

With a one-game lead over in-state rival Kansas State, the Jayhawks will return to action to take on unranked TCU on Wednesday.

Wildcats bounce back

 Before Kansas reclaimed the Big 12 throne, Kansas State was on top of the
conference. However, a 77–71 loss to Iowa State last week dethroned the Wildcats.

Kansas State struggled to keep up with the Cyclones early but rallied to get within 1 point of Iowa State at halftime. But, in the second half, the Wildcats couldn’t overcome the deficit and received their second Big 12 loss of the season.

After the loss to the Cyclones, Kansas State stayed within striking distance of the conference’s top spot with a 63-53 bounce-back win over Oklahoma State. Senior forward Nino Williams led the Wildcats with 20 points and seven rebounds.

“It’s a good team win,” said Williams, who was 10-of-13 from the field. “Like Coach [Weber] said, everybody played well, everybody did something.”

Mess in the middle of the pack

Nearing the midpoint of the season, the Big 12 is making an argument for the toughest conference in college basketball. While Kansas currently leads the league, second- through seventh-place teams all have a shot, if any of them have a late season run.

The middle of the pack contains seven teams jockeying for position, including Kansas State, West Virginia, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Cyclones and Longhorns faced off Monday, and Kansas State could separate itself from the pack with a win over No. 17 West Virginia on Tuesday.  

Baylor and Oklahoma State will meet Tuesday for a game that will help the winner’s NCAA tournament chances. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has the easiest upcoming game, taking on Texas Tech, which sits at the bottom of the Big 12.

With the NCAA tournament looming around the corner, the teams in the middle of the Big 12 will be looking for every opportunity to make a statement and improve records.

 Polls kind to Big 12

The Big 12 had six ranked teams — Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma — in this week’s AP poll. The conference also had five teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll — Oklahoma was excluded from the top 25.

The Big 12 was tied for the most teams in the AP poll with the ACC.