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The Big 12 race is wide open after No. 7 Kansas loses at home to Oklahoma State

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With No. 7 Kansas picking up another surprising home loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Big 12 regular-season race is wide open once again.

The Cowboys used impressive outside shooting and balanced scoring to race past the Jayhawks with an 84-79 Big 12 win — the second time in conference play the Jayhawks have lost at home. Using red-hot, first-half three-point shooting, and hitting timely shots in the second half, the Cowboys (14-9, 4-6) held a comfortable lead for nearly the entire game. Oklahoma State shot 44 percent (12-for-27) from distance while four players finished in double figures, led by big efforts from Kendall Smith (24 points) and Cameron McGriff (20 points).

This is a feel-good win for the Cowboys and first-year head coach Mike Boynton. It gives them an outside shot at the NCAA tournament and a huge boost of confidence following a three-game losing streak.

The real story, however, is Kansas losing another winnable game at home. The Big 12 race just got much harder for the Jayhawks. The loss also makes you question the validity of Kansas as an elite team this season.

Kansas (18-5, 7-3) is currently tied in the loss column with Texas Tech and Oklahoma in the Big 12 standings. A number of other schools are just a game or two outside of the conference’s top three teams. And with eight games remaining on the Big 12 schedule, there is still plenty of time for things to change.

Kansas losing to a team like Oklahoma State at home means that they’re capable of being defeated by anybody in the league on any given night. The Jayhawks still played a relatively good game on Saturday, but they were still soundly outplayed by one of the worst teams in the Big 12 at home. Outside of Lagerald Vick’s poor 2-for-10 shooting night, Kansas had four players in double figures and only 11 turnovers while shooting a respectable 36 percent from three-point range.

On most nights, Kansas can win with that.

The problem is, the Jayhawks didn’t have the depth and firepower to overtake a team that hit a flurry of three-pointers in the first half. This loss for Kansas was a bit reminiscent of when Wichita State lost at home to SMU a few weeks back. The Mustangs, just like the Cowboys, were knocking down tough and timely shots after building an early lead. Neither unranked home loss for Kansas or Wichita State felt like it was particularly bad. It didn’t feel like all the season was lost.

But both losses also made it feel as though Kansas and Wichita State might not be elite this season. Many had assumed both were elite since the preseason. It’s not that Kansas can’t still make the Final Four (or Wichita State, for that matter). It’s just that losses like this at home haven’t usually happened to these two programs the past few years. It gives an uneasy sense as Kansas tries to capture yet another Big 12 regular-season title.

Since that SMU loss, the Shockers have dropped two more games to unranked teams as they’re suddenly looking out of the American race while feeling like a good, but not great, team.

The Big 12 race is much tighter with a much tougher schedule. It would be silly to assume that Kansas will go on some sort of tailspin because of one home loss. But if the Jayhawks can lose to a team like Oklahoma State at the Phog, it does make you wonder about their future.

Elite Class of 2020 point guard to reclassify

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Nico Mannion, a five-star point guard from Arizona, announced on Friday that he will be reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Mannion was a top 20 player in 2020 but, according to 247 Sports, he will be ranked No. 11 in 2019. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Mannion was long-rumored to be considering a move up a class because of his age. He’ll turn 18 in March of next year, meaning that he’ll arrive on campus the same age as a typical college freshman.

Mannion cut his list to ten schools in June — Duke, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Utah — but Duke and Arizona appear to be the favorites at this point.

Mannion plays his high school ball for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and with West Coast Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit. He played for Team USA’s youth ranks, but his mother is Italian and, in June, he was called up to the Italian men’s senior national team, scoring nine points in 29 minutes of a FIBA World Cup Qualifier.

Nebraska to lose junior big man to transfer

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Nebraska’s frontcourt depth took a blow on Thursday as junior big man Jordy Tshimanga informed the program that he will be transferring.

“Jordy called me tonight and asked for his release,” head coach Tim Miles said in a statement that was given to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The University of Nebraska and our program wish Jordy and his family the best.”

Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points and 4.6 boards in 13 minutes this past season, and a source close to the program told NBC Sports he wasn’t expected to play much more than that this season.

Miles’ has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the hot seat, and this certainly doesn’t make his job easier, but with the talent the Cornhuskers have on their roster, they look like an NCAA tournament team already. They bring back their top four scorers, including former five-star prospect Isaac Copeland and potential first-team all-Big Ten wing James Palmer. With or without Tshimanga, Nebraska has a shot to finish top four in the Big Ten.

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State part of Las Vegas event

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Texas will play in an early season basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Invitational will include games at campus sites, then the final two rounds on Nov. 22-23 in Las Vegas. North Carolina takes on Texas in one semifinal, and Michigan State faces UCLA in the other.

UNC, UCLA and Michigan State are all top 20 teams in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

The championship is Nov. 23, and the semifinal losers also play each other that day.

NCAA to study possible effects of widespread legal wagering

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA plans to study how the expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and member schools.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will create a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess areas such as officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, and the use of integrity services. NCAA leadership has already called for federal regulation on sports betting. NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering by athletes and athletic department employees.

The Supreme Court opened the door for states to have legal wagering on sporting events when it struck down a federal ban in May. Schools in some states such as West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are already exploring the possibility of collecting integrity fees in anticipation of legal sports books opening in their states.

“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”

The NCAA Board of Governors has already suspended the association’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that only affected Nevada.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”

Arizona releases non-conference schedule

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A trip to Maui, a home date against Baylor and trips to UConn and Alabama highlight Arizona’s non-conference schedule, which the school released Thursday, this season.

Despite losing nearly the entirety of last year’s talented-but-troubled group, Sean Miller still scheduled aggressively. The first test will come the week of Thanksgiving in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. It’s an extremely competitive field with Duke, Auburn, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Illinois, San Diego State and Xavier. The bracket for the event has yet to be released.

The Wildcats travel to Storrs to face UConn in Dan Hurley’s first season on Dec. 2, and then a week later visit Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The marquee home game will be Saturday, Dec. 16, when Scott Drew and Baylor come to Tucson.

Here’s the full schedule:

Day Date Opponent Location

Sunday Nov. 11 Cal Poly Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Nov. 14 UTEP Tucson, Ariz.

Monday Nov. 19 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Tuesday Nov. 20 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 21 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 28 Texas Southern Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 2 at UConn Hartford, Conn.

Thursday Dec. 6 Utah Valley Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 9 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Saturday Dec. 15 Baylor Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Dec. 19 Montana Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday Dec. 22 UC Davis Tucson, Ariz.