Baylor-West Virginia, KU-Texas Tech headline Big 12 weekend
A look at the upcoming week around the Big 12 Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
There are two crucial games on Saturday and for about an hour they will be running concurrently. The first involves No. 4 Baylor heading to West Virginia in a game that tips off at noon CT, and the second involves top-ranked Kansas heading to Texas Tech in a game that tips an hour later. The Bears (26-3, 15-2) have lost two of their last four games — including the rematch with the Jayhawks in Waco — to fall a game back in the Big 12 standings. They must win and hope Kansas (27-3, 16-1), a team that hasn’t lost since Baylor visited Allen Fieldhouse in January, stumbles against the Red Raiders to earn a share of the conference title. West Virginia (20-10, 8-9) is probably safe for the NCAA Tournament, but a .500 record in the league would certainly seal a bid. Texas Tech (18-12, 9-8) is in a similar situation in that coach Chris Beard’s club is likely dancing but would take all the drama out of Selection Sunday with a win.
There are three teams with much more tenuous NCAA Tournament aspirations looking for wins Saturday. Oklahoma (18-12, 8-9) and TCU (16-14, 7-10) both believe they have a shot, but at least in the case of the Horned Frogs, the regular-season finale is likely a must win. Texas (19-11, 9-8) has been on a rise the past few weeks and could likewise all-but clinch an NCAA bit by beating Oklahoma State (16-14, 6-11). There is also seeding at stake for next week’s Big 12 Tournament.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kansas center Udoka Azubuike was only 50-50 to play Wednesday night against TCU after tweaking his ankle last weekend at Kansas State. But the 7-foot, 270-pound beast merely threw up a career-high 31 points with 14 rebounds and five blocks in his final game at Allen Fieldhouse. Azubuike became the first Kansas player in the Big 12 era to have a 30-10-5 stat line in any game. And it could have been even better had Azubuike not gone 5 of 14 from the foul line.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The Big 12 hasn’t had a one-loss champion since expanding to 18 games for the 2011-12 season. The last team to win the Big 12 with one defeat was Kansas (15-1) during the 2009-10 season. … The Jayhawks’ regular-season title is their 19th in the Big 12 and 62nd conference title overall. The Bears are hoping for a share of their first. … Baylor has won 15 league games to set a school record heading into its finale. The Bears also have swept a school-record six opponents. … Oklahoma State has won five straight at home. … Texas has won five straight Big 12 games. The Longhorns also finished 5-4 on the road in league play, joining only Baylor and Kansas with winning records. … The Big 12 and Big East are the only leagues in which every member has beaten at least one Top 25 team.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
No. 2 Baylor (28-1, 17-0) stretched its record Big 12 regular-season win streak to 58 with a win over Texas this week. … Zakiyah Franklin scored 23 points to help Kansas beat Oklahoma State last weekend. … Kansas State has won nine of its past 12 league road games. … Oklahoma’s Taylor Robertson set the Big 12 single-season record with her 123rd 3-point last weekend against Texas. … Vivan Gray hit the 500-point mark for the second straight season, joining Andrea Riley and Kaylee Jensen as the only Cowgirls to accomplish the feat. … Texas freshman Celeste Taylor scored a career-high 27 points in the Longhorns’ win over Oklahoma. … Texas Tech beat a Top 25 opponent for the first time in three years when the Lady Raiders beat No. 25 TCU last Sunday.