Big 12 recap: Kansas gets by OK St., remains alive for No. 1 seed
Villanova's stunning loss to Seton Hall in the Big East tournament opened the door for another team to claim the final No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Andrew Wiggins and the Jayhawks came pounding on that door just a few hours later.
In Kansas' first game since learning Joel Embiid would likely be out until the Sweet 16 -- assuming Kansas gets there -- Wiggins scored 30 points on 9-of-17 from the floor to lead the Jayhawks to a 77-70 overtime win over Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. At the same time, the Jayhawks kept alive their hopes to be on one of the four top lines when the committee reveals the bracket Sunday.
Kansas nursed a comfortable lead for the middle-20 minutes of the game, but the Cowboys used a seven-point spurt in 11 seconds to cut the Jayhawks' lead to one with seven minutes left. The teams played within one possession for the rest of regulation, and a Wiggins jumper with 1:04 left tied the game and ultimately forced overtime. The Jayhawks scored first in overtime and ended up coasting, outscoring the Cowboys 10-3 in the extra stanza.
Oklahoma State had likely already locked up a spot in the tourney, but nearly upsetting top-seeded Kansas is a plus, even if it missed Embiid. Look for the Cowboys to end up as a No. 8 or 9 seed in the dance. As for the Jayhawks, they remain a No. 2 seed for now, but are firmly in contention for the top seed in the East Region. Much will depend on how the Big Ten and ACC tournaments unfold, but Kansas is certainly one of the final teams in the picture for that last No. 1 seed.
Baylor 78, Oklahoma 73: Even if Baylor doesn't end up winning the Big 12 tournament, few teams will feel better than the Bears heading into the big dance. They ripped off their ninth win in 10 games, controlling throughout against No. 17 Oklahoma and fighting off a late charge by the Sooners to win 78-73 and advance to the Big 12 semis, where they'll meet Texas on Friday.
All five of Baylor's starters scored in double-figures, and the Bears shot an even 50 percent from both the floor and three-point range. Isaiah Austin led Baylor with 18 points, Cory Jefferson had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Royce O'Neale put up 12 and 10 and Kenny Chery scored 12 of his own while dishing out seven assists.
It has been a tale of three seasons for Baylor, which went 12-2 in the non-conference portion of the season, then lost six of its first seven games in conference play. Since then, the Bears are 10-3 with wins over Oklahoma State (twice), Kansas State (twice), Iowa State and Oklahoma. The Bears could climb into the No. 5-7-seed range if they continue to advance through the Big 12 tourney.
Oklahoma, meanwhile, shouldn't be penalized too much for its loss. The Sooners still own eight top-50 wins, three of which came on the road. Behind Buddy Hield and Cameron Clark, they will be a very dangerous No. 4 or 5 seed.
Iowa State 91, Kansas State 85: In one of the best games of the day, Melvin Ejim scored 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Dustin Rogue scored 19 and pulled down 10 boards of his own to help Iowa State pull away from Kansas State and set up a date with Kansas in the Big 12 semifinals.
The teams played within a six-point window for most of the final 15 minutes of the game, and the Wildcats had a chance to tie the game with less than 30 seconds left, but a steal by Hogue led to two Naz Long free throws to give the Cyclones a two-possession lead and essentially put the game away.
Like both games above, this one pitted two teams that are comfortably in the tournament against one another. This one doesn't have quite as much intrigue, as neither the Cyclones nor Wildcats should have their seeding affected much, if at all, by this game. Kansas State slots in as a No. 9 seed in the up-to-date bracket, while Iowa State remains on the 4-line. However, the Cyclones likely welcome this bounce-back run in the conference tournament after losing at Kansas State and Baylor in the last week of the regular season. They could still move up a seed-line if they get past Kansas on Friday.
Texas 66, West Virginia 49: The Mountaineers entered the Big 12 tournament in need of a deep run to even entertain the idea of an at-large bid. Instead, they went out with a whimper, shooting barely better than 30 percent in a 17-point loss to Texas.
Texas scored the first 12 points of the game, with Jonathan Holmes scoring a quick seven and Javan Felix scoring five before the first media timeout. Its first-half lead would eventually grow to 21, and the Longhorns led by as much as 30 in what was an absolute rout. Holmes ended the game with 20 points, and Felix had 16. Beating a team with an RPI of 82 and 14 losses before the game won't improve the Longhorns' seeding. They'll meet Baylor on Friday.