Azubuike leads Kansas past Bamba-less Texas, 80-70

The sixth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks clinched the Big 12 basketball title outright Monday night, downing the short-handed Texas Longhorns, 80-70, at Allen Fieldhouse.

Two days ago, Kansas won on the road at Texas Tech to secure at least a tie for the crown.

By beating Texas, the Jayhawks (24-6, 13-4) won their fifth game in a row and ensured that they would finish in first place all alone for their Division I record 14th straight championship.

Kansas center Udoka Azubuike scored 20 points to lead Kansas. Guard Svi Mykhailiuk added 17.

Not to be outdone, Jayhawks point guard Devonte Graham added 10 points, 11 assists and four rebounds, fueling speculation that he could challenge Oklahoma’s Trae Young for Big 12 Player of the Year honors.

“I knew I was going to cry,” said Graham, a senior playing his last game at home. “I wasn’t trying to play it off like a tough guy. We got to bring all the trophies out, watch the videos and really soak it all in. It’s special.”

For the Longhorns (17-13, 7-10), the loss left them in uncertainty as to how their record will stand up to scrutiny by the NCAA tournament committee.

Texas might need to win in its regular-season finale against West Virginia, and then win at least a couple of games in the Big 12 tournament, to get an NCAA invitation on March 11.

In their favor, the Longhorns battled hard against the Jayhawks, even without injured freshman center Mo Bamba.

Trailing by 13 at the half, the Longhorns put on a surge to cut the lead to six with 15 minutes remaining.

In response, Marcus Garrett hit a layup and Malik Newman buried a three for Kansas, expanding the lead to 56-45.

Later, Texas charged again, with guard Jacob Young making a steal and a layup to pull the Longhorns within 77-70.

But Kansas, aided by a Texas turnover, scored the final three points in the last 80 seconds to put the game away.

Kerwin Roach produced 18 points, eight assists and four rebounds for the Longhorns.

Graham leads No. 8 Kansas past slumping Oklahoma, 104-74

Eighth-ranked Kansas played at a championship level Monday night, following the lead of senior point guard Devonte’ Graham to a 104-74 victory over the slumping Oklahoma Sooners.

Shooting for a 14th straight Big 12 regular-season title, Kansas won its third in a row to move into first place by a half game over Texas Tech.

Graham produced 23 points and seven assists, while guiding an offense that hit the 100-point barrier for the first time in conference play and the fourth time overall this season.

OU freshman sensation Trae Young, the nation’s leader in scoring (29.0) and assists (9.2), struggled again with his shot.

Though the 6-foot-2 point guard passed for nine assists, Young made only 3 of 13 from the field to score a season-low 11 — 18 below his average.

Young simply doesn’t appear to have the same explosive burst that he did in November and December.

He has hit only 14 of 50 shots from the floor in his last three games.

Records

Kansas 22-6, 11-4
Oklahoma 16-11, 6-9

Big picture

Kansas — The up and down Jayhawks are getting hot at the right time. They hit 60.9 percent from the field and 55.2 percent (16 of 29) from three.

Oklahoma — Once regarded as a premier team nationally, the Sooners have dropped nine of their last 11. They need to start winning just to make the 68-team NCAA tournament field.

Quotable

“We’re a better basketball team than we were three weeks ago. I do believe that,” Kansas coach Bill Self said in comments posted on KU social media.

Graham, a senior from Raleigh, N.C., said it felt great to see the Jayhawks play so well. “We haven’t won like this in a while,” he said.

Coming up

Kansas at Texas Tech, Saturday
Kansas State at Oklahoma, Saturday

Baylor beats No. 10 Kansas, keeps NCAA hopes alive

Guard Manu Lecomte scored 11 points in a late surge Saturday as the Baylor Bears pulled away for an 80-64 victory over the 10th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.

Playing at home, Baylor (15-10, 5-7) won its third game in a row to keep alive hopes for a fifth straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

Kansas (19-6, 8-4) whittled a 13-point deficit to two in the second half but couldn’t sustain the momentum in falling out of first place in the Big 12 conference.

The Jayhawks have won 13 straight Big 12 titles.

Seven-foot center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. led Baylor with 19 points. Lecomte heated up late and finished with 18. Nuni Omot came off the bench for 17.

Devonte’ Graham paced Kansas with 23 points. But backcourt mate Svi Mykhailiuk was held to only 2 points on 1 of 8 shooting.

Mykhailiuk entered the game averaging 16.4 points.

Big 12 standings

Texas Tech 20-4, 8-3
Kansas 19-6, 8-4
West Virginia 18-7, 7-5
Kansas State 17-7, 6-5
Oklahoma 16-8, 6-6
TCU 17-8, 5-7
Baylor 15-10, 5-7
Texas 15-10, 5-7
Okla. State 15-10, 5-7
Iowa State 13-11, 4-8

Saturday’s scores

Baylor 80, Kansas 64, at Waco
Iowa State 88, Oklahoma 80, at Ames, Iowa
Oklahoma State 88, West Virginia 85, at Morgantown, W.Va.
TCU 87, Texas 71, at Fort Worth
Texas Tech at Kansas State, 7 p.m.

Texas Tech gains tie for first with Kansas in the Big 12

The Texas Tech Red Raiders have moved into a tie for first in the Big 12 with perennial champion Kansas.

The race was deadlocked at the top after 10th-ranked Tech defeated TCU in Fort Worth, 83-71, and Oklahoma State beat No. 7 Kansas in Lawrence, 84-79.

It was the fourth straight win for the Red Raiders.

Big 12 leaders after Saturday night:

Texas Tech 7-3, 19-4
Kansas 7-3, 18-5
W. Virginia 6-4, 17-6
Oklahoma 6-4, 16-6
Kansas State 5-5, 16-7
Texas 5-5, 15-8

Other scores from around the conference:
Texas 79, Oklahoma 74
West Virginia 89, Kansas State 51
Baylor 81, Iowa State 67

Kansas registers 70-56 road victory at K-State

The seventh-ranked Kansas Jayhawks limited Kansas State to 32.3 percent shooting Monday night and held on to sole possession of the lead in the Big 12 men’s basketball race with a 70-56 road victory.

Guard Svi Mykhailiuk hit five 3-pointers and scored 22 to lead the Jayhawks, who improved to 18-4 and 7-2 in conference.

Coming into their home arena with a chance to tie for the conference lead, the Wildcats lost to the rival Jayhawks for the second time this season and fell to 16-6 and 5-4.

Kansas coach Bill Self pointed out a few statistical oddities in his team’s 40-27 burst to the first-half lead.

“If you’re going to be up 13 on the road, have 12 turnovers and go 6 for 13 from the foul line, you wouldn’t think that would be the case,” Self told the Associated Press. “Somehow we were able to keep the lead and win both halves.”

Wildcats forward Dean Wade had 20 points and eight rebounds but guard Barry Brown, the team’s leading scorer, struggled with 4 for 16 shooting.

Averaging 17.3 points coming in, Brown finished with nine as K-State’s four-game winning streak came to an end.

Kansas beat Kansas State 73-72 in Lawrence on Jan. 3.

“I told the guys we had to play better than we did in Lawrence, because they’re a great road team,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “They have good poise. They understand each other, their roles. I expected them to come at us and they did.”

Kansas guards Devonte’ Graham and Malik Newman both posted double doubles to aid the Jayhawks.

Graham had 16 points and 11 assists. Newman came alive offensively in the second half and finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Big 12 race

Kansas leads at 7-2. Texas Tech, Oklahoma and West Virginia trail at 5-3. Kansas State is 5-4 and Texas 4-4.

Kansas leads Big 12 basketball race by two games

The first-place Kansas Jayhawks might be hard to catch in the Big 12 basketball race if they can win at Oklahoma Tuesday night.

Kansas will take a two-game lead in the loss column on four different ball clubs leading into a game against OU at the Lloyd Noble Center.

West Virginia trailed Kansas by a game until Monday night, when it got beat 82-73 at TCU.

Now, Kansas (16-3, 6-1) leads by a game and a half and two in the loss column over both West Virginia (16-4, 5-3) and surging Kansas State.

Kansas State (15-5, 5-3) won on the road Monday night, knocking off Baylor, 90-83.

OU (14-4, 4-3) and Texas Tech (15-4, 4-3) both are two full games back with a little more than a third of the conference schedule in the books.

In Fort Worth, TCU started its day getting dropped from the AP Top 25 rankings.

But it finished with authority, recording a victory at home over a Top 10 team for the first time in nearly five years.

Guard Alex Robinson produced 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to lead the Frogs, who are playing without injured standout Jaylen Fisher.

Fisher was lost for the season last week after right knee surgery.

West Virginia came into Fort Worth on a roll, having blown out Texas 86-51 at home on Saturday, only to follow it up with a 33 percent shooting performance at TCU.

Jevon Carter had 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Mountaineers.