Right now, it feels like two decades ago. It made a cute headline for a couple days, but it only took a few big Jayhawk wins, a couple fortuitous results and-poof!-KU is right back where it always is, in the driver’s seat for another conference crown.
Kansas certainly still could not win the Big 12 for the first time since 2005, which is so far back that Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and Deron Williams were still collegians yet. It’s a lot harder to imagine, though, after the Jayhawks vanquished Oklahoma for the second time this year, this time a 76-72 win in Norman in another game between these two with a tissue-thin margin between winning and losing.
Kansas built an early 14-point lead in the first 10 minutes, but the Sooners soon rallied and by the end this one had 13 lead chances and four more ties. OU actually had a chance to tie with 25 seconds left, but Buddy Hield, so flawless all season on contested shots from 20 feet, 9 inches and further, missed an uncontested 15-footer, just the 13th free throw miss all season for a 90% foul shooter. The Jayhawks made three more free throws and also withstood a tying three-point try by Isaiah Cousins, leaving KU and West Virginia at the top of the Big 12 at 9-3, Oklahoma one game back and everyone else at least two games arears.
- Hoopville’s Phil Kasiecki has his Saturday notes here. Also, another edition of Phil’s podcasts with Ted Sarandis is available to listen to right here.
- Top individual performances from the day: Cat Barber could have a standing spot on this list. The N.C. State guard scored a career-best 38 points-his fifth time scoring 30+ in seven games-in the Wolpack’s 99-88 win over Wake Forest. In the Big Sky, Eastern Washington’s Austin McBroom and Northern Arizona’s Anthony Johnson both scored 37 points in the EWU’s 97-80 win. UC Irvine point guard Alex Young put up 36 points in the Anteaters’ 93-84 win over Cal State Northridge, Nebraska guard Andrew White scored a career-high 35-half of the Cornhuskers’ point in their 70-54 win over Penn State. Towson’s Mike Morsell also hit a career best with 34 in the Tigers’ 99-82 win over William & Mary, and hard-working Missouri State forward Camyn Boone scored 30 points and added 12 boards in the Bears’ 89-85 overtime win over Indiana State.
- The biggest news item from the day, besides the results themselves, was Kentucky coach John Calipari getting ejected less than two-and-one-half minutes into the Wildcats’ game at South Carolina. Calipari picked up two quick technicals and had to be restrained by his own players after the second one. The ‘T’ didn’t seem to hurt UK one bit, as the Wildcats went on to an 89-62 win on the road that may be the team’s most impressive this year yet.
- James Madison dealt with yet another injury as star guard Ron Curry missed the Dukes’ 78-68 loss to CAA leader UNC Wilmington. Curry-who averages 16.8 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and is a candidate for CAA player of the year honors-injured his knee in JMU’s win over College of Charleston on Thursday. He is expected to return at some point this season but the timetable is uncertain.
- Fresh off a home win over Iowa, Indiana now goes on the road to face Michigan State (1 p.m. EST, CBS).
- Pittsburgh gets yet another shot to add a marquee win, though a trip to North Carolina is hardly an easy one. Another ACC team with a big chance is Florida State, this one at home against Miami (6:30 p.m., ESPNU).
- A battle of top 25 teams at the McKale Center as USC is at Arizona (8 p.m., FS1). This also is a rematch of one of the most memorable games of the season so far, a three-overtime thriller in Los Angeles won by the Trojans.
- Stony Brook goes for its 18th straight win when it hosts New Hampshire. Also in the America East, Maine is at Albany, with the Great Danes looking to avenge a surprising loss to the Black Bears a month ago.
- Finally, we certainly won’t be the first or last to say it, but it’s Happy Balentine’s Day in Chicago as D.J. Balentine and Evansville travel to face improving Loyola of Chicago (4 p.m., ESPNU).
Happy Valentine’s Day.