Kansas, Kentucky square off in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge
A look at the upcoming week around the Big 12 Conference.
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Kansas at Kentucky: The ninth-ranked Jayhawks travel to face the eighth-ranked Wildcats in the highlight of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge. Kentucky has hit its stride after some early struggles, beating Mississippi State 76-55 on Tuesday for its fifth straight win. The Jayhawks are tied for the lead in the Big 12 at 5-2, but they’re also just 1-3 on the road. Kansas opened last season by beating Kentucky 65-61 in the Champions Classic.
LOOKING AHEAD: No. 24 Iowa State travels to face 20th-ranked Mississippi on Saturday. The Cyclones are averaging 78.2 points per game, while Ole Miss was just 107th nationally in points allowed per game (68.4) through Tuesday. … TCU hosts Florida, while Texas travels to Georgia in a rematch of sorts for those two schools. The Longhorns upset the Bulldogs 28-21 in the Sugar Bowl three weeks ago. … Surging Kansas State plays at Texas A&M while West Virginia heads down to Knoxville to face top-ranked Tennessee. The Mountaineers’ struggles have taken some luster off of what appeared to be an interesting regional showdown, but they did beat the Jayhawks last weekend. … No. 14 Texas Tech will look to snap its three-game losing skid when it hosts Arkansas. The Red Raiders scored a season-low 45 points in a 13-point loss at K-State on Tuesday.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Makai Mason, Baylor. The graduate transfer from Yale had his best game yet on Monday night, scoring 29 points in an 85-73 win at West Virginia. The Bears have been on an unexpected tear after losing star freshman Tristan Clark to a knee injury, and Mason has been a big reason why. Mason is averaging 18.2 points a game in conference play.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Iowa State senior Marial Shayok leads the league at 19.9 points per game. He had 26 in Monday night’s 80-76 loss at Kansas. Dedric Lawson, who is second with 19.5 points a game, scored 29 points with 15 rebounds against the Cyclones. … Jaxson Hayes of Texas led the league in field goal percentage (76) and blocks per game (2.6) ahead of Wednesday’s game at TCU. Horned Frogs star Alex Robinson was averaging nearly 8 assists a game and had an assist-to-turnover ratio of over 2-to-1.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Baylor remained at No. 2 in Monday’s poll, while Texas dropped one spot to No. 12 after being upset by Kansas State. Iowa State, which played in Waco on Wednesday night, fell to No. 20 after losing to West Virginia last week. … K-State guard Christianna Carr was named the National Freshman of the Week by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Carr had 19 points, including four 3s, in that win over Longhorns.