Norman, OK (SportsNetwork.com) - A Top-25 matchup is on tap on the last day of Big 12 play, as the ninth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks take on the 15th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners at the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday.
Kansas picked up its 11th straight Big 12 title with yet another stellar season. In all, it marks Kansas' 15th Big 12 crown and NCAA-best 58th conference title overall. Bill Self's Jayhawks are 24-6 overall and 13-4 in league play and have won two straight games and three of their last four, including last weekend's 76-69 overtime victory against West Virginia.
Lon Kruger's Sooners have been among the nationally ranked for much of the season, but there is still some jockeying of position left to do in the Big 12 standings. Oklahoma currently tied for second in the league at 11-6 with Iowa State, which the Sooners lost to inexplicably on Monday in Ames, 77-70.
This series dates back to 1920, with Kansas holding a sizable 142-65 lead all- time. The Jayhawks have won 13 of the last 14 meetings with the Sooners and are seeking the regular-season sweep after posting an 85-78 victory in Lawrence back on Jan. 19.
KU won its 32nd straight home finale with a come-from-behind win over West Virginia and in the process, picked up the Big 12 outright crown. The Mountaineers took the steam out of the crowd at Allen Fieldhouse early on by taking a 40-26 lead into intermission, but Kansas came roaring back in the second half to force overtime and then delivered in the extra session to earn the win. Frank Mason III led the way with 19 points. Jamari Traylor added 14 points, while Svi Mykhailiuk and Devonte' Graham chipped in with 12 and 10 points, respectively. The win came at a cost however, as leading scorer Perry Ellis suffered a knee injury.
Ellis is currently sidelined with the right knee injury and will not suit up in the season finale, but the hope is that he will return for the postseason. The team will surely miss the veteran's 14.2 points and 7.0 rebounds per game on Saturday, but Self hopes others will step up and fill the void. The likely candidates are Mason (12.4 ppg), Wayne Selden Jr. (9.4 ppg) and Kelly Oubre Jr. (8.9 ppg).
Oklahoma had Iowa State on the ropes in the second half, but relinquished a massive 21-point second-half lead, getting outscored 49-22 over the final 14:55 in a seven-point loss. Buddy Hield continued his impressive season, pouring in 26 points in the setback. Isaiah Cousins finished with 12 points, Jordan Woodard added 10 and Ryan Spangler just missed a double-double with nine points and 11 rebounds.
Hield, a 6-4 junior, is certainly in the discussion for Big 12 Player of the Year, as he leads the conference in scoring at 17.3 ppg. At 12.0 ppg, Cousins provides another perimeter threat. Hield and Cousins have combined for 130 of the team's 198 3-pointers to date. OU's scoring pool goes even deeper with its frontcourt balance. Both TaShawn Thomas (11.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and Spangler (10.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg) contribute at both ends of the floor.