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No. 3 Kansas asserts Big 12 dominance by besting No. 2 Baylor

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Here we are again.

Kansas is atop the Big 12 standings after turning away one of its chief Big 12 rivals at Allen Fieldhouse.

The third-ranked Jayhawks dispatched No. 2 Baylor, 73-68, on Wednesday night in the surest evidence there is yet that this season will likely end like the 12 that came before it: With the Jayhawks as conference champions.

Of course, there’s still a lot of season to play. Yes, the Jayhawks still have rematches with contenders Baylor and West Virginia on the schedule.

But having vanquished Baylor, who, coming into the night, was tied with Kansas for the Big 12 lead, makes what has seemingly always been feel destined once more.

Beyond defending homecourt Wednesday and taking sole position of first, the Jayhawks are so fantastically positioned because they look as though they’re just now hitting their stride. That’s a significant thing for a team that’s always been viewed as a national championship contender.

Kansas won at Rupp Arena last week despite shooting 26.3 percent from 3-point range by converting at a 60-percent clip from inside the arc and consistently turning Kentucky over. Four days after seeing their 18-game winning streak snapped, the Jayhawks left Lexington with a W and the country’s second-ranked team waiting for them.

It doesn’t get much more grueling than that.

Against the Bears, whose lone loss on the season came to West Virginia, Kansas’ defense put the clamps down. Baylor scored less than 1.00 point per possession, shooting 41.8 percent from the floor. After big man Johnathan Motley throttled Kansas for 14 points in the first half, the Jayhawks held him to a single field goal attempt and two points after halftime.

Baylor led with less than seven minutes to play, but in Allen Fieldhouse, one of the sport’s fiercest venues, time elapses with a slow march toward defeat.

As seconds tick away, the pressure, stakes and pitfalls all become harder to avoid. It’s like in The Temple of Doom, when Indiana Jones finds himself trapped in a room in which the ceiling lowers and spikes rise from the floor and descend from the roof. It all bears down, methodically, lethally and inevitably, crushing all who enter.

Unlike Indy in that cave, few find the release lever in Allen Fieldhouse. Death comes for nearly all there.

The last time Kansas lost at home was Jan. 5, 2014, to San Diego State. Its last Big 12 home last came almost exactly four years ago today, Feb. 2, 2013, to Oklahoma. That year also happened to be the last time Kansas had to share its Big 12 title. The Jayhawks have won 50-straight there. Bill Self, in his 14th season, has lost nine games in the building. Scott Drew, who if you weren’t paying attention coaches for Baylor, has lost there 10 times.

While Allen Fieldhouse is the weapon that will help ensure a 13th-straight Big 12 title, Josh Jackson is the piece of the arsenal that will help the Jayhawks achieve much more.

The freshman phenom has been superb in recent weeks. Since a six-point outing at Iowa State, the potential No. 1 NBA Draft pick has averaged 20 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 53.6 percent overall and 55.6 percent from 3-point range.

Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham are the foundation on which this Kansas squad is built. They’re tough and fearless. Productive and possessing guile in reserve.

Jackson, though, as he takes his game to another level, elevates Kansas.

With all those things coming together, it almost feels trite to discuss the Jayhawks’ Big 12 prospects. Of course they’re going to win the conference. How could they not? What more can they achieve becomes the intriguing question.

A whole hell of a lot looks to be the answer right now.


VIDEO: Jay-Z’s nephew posterizes nation’s No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III

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Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.

He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.