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No. 1 Kansas claims outright Big 12 title with win over Texas Tech

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LUBBOCK, Texas — No. 1 Kansas had the outright Big 12 title wrapped up before going back on the court after halftime. The Jayhawks then finished off something that hadn’t been done in the conference in a decade.

Devon Dotson scored 17 points while Udoka Azubuike had 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Jayhawks beat Texas Tech 66-62 on Saturday. They became the Big 12’s first champion with only one loss in league play since they were 15-1 in 2009-10, two seasons before the conference expanded to an 18-game round-robin schedule.

“Everyone in the locker room, that was our goal, to win it outright and don’t share anything,” Dotson said. “For us to go 17-1 is big. Hopefully we can build off of it. We’re not satisfied. We have bigger goals and aspirations, but we can build off of this for sure.”

Kansas (28-3, 17-1 Big 12) had already clinched at least a share of its 19th Big 12 title, the 15th in 16 seasons, with a win Wednesday night over TCU. The Jayhawks were outright champions by halftime Saturday, when second-place and No. 4 Baylor (26-4, 15-3) lost 76-64 at West Virginia.

“I just want to say it’s a good conference,” Azubuike said. “In the Big 12 there are all these teams that are competing all the time. A lot of people really don’t know how hard it is with defense and everything. It’s tough.”

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Texas Tech (18-13, 9-9), last year’s national runner-up after sharing the Big 12 title with Kansas State, had a chance to tie the game with 2.8 seconds left. But Davide Moretti, who made a 3-pointer only seconds earlier, missed another one from long range. The Red Raiders guard fell to floor after contact with Marcus Garrett, but was no foul called.

“That’s the best Kansas team I’ve seen,” Tech coach Chris Beard said. “Dotson, the best guard in college basketball. Dok’s the best big in college basketball and Garrett is the best defender in college basketball, and their role players just don’t make mistakes.”

Ochai Agbaji added 12 points for the Jayhawks. Garrett had nine points and eight rebounds, including a driving layup in the final half-minute of the game.

Moretti had 18 points, while TJ Holyfield had 11 points for Texas Tech, which lost its fourth game in a row when trying to get back into the NCAA Tournament.

“I thought the guys played really hard,” Beard said. “We didn’t have any lapses of effort. … We have seven turnovers, 40-minute game against Kansas. That’s good. I thought the guys competed. They were dialed in. We didn’t get too high or too low. We were right there. We gave ourselves a chance.”

Azubuike put Kansas ahead to stay with his put-back dunk with 1:41 left that made it 59-57.

Holyfield’s 3-pointer tied the game with 2:11 left and came during a stretch of just more than two minutes when he and Azubuike were trading points. Both had a free throw, then both had layups before Holyfield’s 3 and Azubuike’s go-ahead putback.

HE SAID IT

“It’s just been a long grind and it’s been pretty well-documented kinda the not the ups and downs of our season because our season has been primarily all ups, but guys dealing with a lot of stuff. Coaches dealing with some stuff,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “Keep focused. Stay disciplined. Stay responsible and to learn to grind. … Guys deserve all the credit.”

STREAKY SLUMPS

Kansas had a 32-24 lead after a 12-2 run over the final seven minutes of the first half, despite missing nine shots in a row. Tech missed nine of its last 10 shots. The Jayhawks then missed seven shots in a row early in the second half, allowing Texas Tech to tie the game at 37-all on Holyfield’s 3 with 14 minutes left.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: The Jayhawks had never won 17 conference games in the same season. They had won 16 games three times (2002, 2012, 2017). Kansas finished 9-0 in Big 12 road games. They are a certain No. 1 seed, likely the top overall seed, in the NCAA Tournament regardless of what happens in the Big 12 Tournament.

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders, who won a school-record 31 games last season, lost to unranked teams Oklahoma and Texas last week before falling in overtime at No. 4 Baylor and then at home to Kansas. Jahmi’us Ramsey has been their leading scorer as a freshman, though he had only six points in the regular-season finale. Tech has struggled to have an inside presence this season.

UP NEXT

The Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. The Jayhawks and Red Raiders both got first-round byes and will play Thursday against opponents to be determined.

Wednesday’s Things to Know: Texas Tech’s huge win; Markus Howard exits Marquette’s win; Baylor, San Diego State roll

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Wednesday night in college basketball didn’t have major top-25 showdowns or a lot of noteworthy upsets.

But national runner-up Texas Tech earned its biggest win in weeks to help its postseason profile while Marquette had to figure out a way to win without All-American guard Markus Howard.

1. Texas Tech beats No. 12 West Virginia for important profile win

Entering Wednesday night, defending national runner-up Texas Tech had a very unusual NCAA tournament profile. The Red Raiders were ranked in the AP top 25 just last week. An overtime home loss to Kentucky on Saturday continued a troubling trend of Texas Tech losing Q1 games.

The Red Raiders found themselves only 1-7 against Q1 teams entering this week. They only had three Q2/Q3 wins as well.

Things changed dramatically for the Red Raiders’ on Wednesday. Texas Tech tore apart the nation’s No. 1 defense in a convincing 89-81 Big 12 win over No. 12 West Virginia.

The Red Raiders still have some work to do to feel completely safe when it comes to their tournament stature. Beating West Virginia is a huge step in the right direction before Texas Tech plays at No. 3 Kansas this weekend.

2. Markus Howard leaves with injury as Marquette outlasts Xavier in double OT

Marquette gutted out an impressive double overtime win at Xavier in the Big East on Wednesday night. The road win gives the Golden Eagles a very solid 4-5 mark in Q1 games while keeping them in the middle of a crowded Big East race.

And the win is even more impressive when you consider Marquette basically won without Markus Howard.

While the nation’s leading scorer still had an impact by finishing with 18 points, Howard exited the win with 12 minutes left in the second half and didn’t return. Taking an inadvertent elbow trying to secure a defensive rebound, Howard watched two of his teammates step up.

Sacar Anim (28 points) and Koby McEwen (18 points) both came through with monster efforts to push Marquette to victory. Anim now has 20-plus points in three straight games. He’s becoming a legitimately difficult second option for opposing teams to defend. And if McEwen can maintain that type of aggressiveness as a third scorer it makes the Golden Eagles that much more dangerous.

Howard’s status for Marquette’s next game at home against DePaul will be something to monitor. But Marquette deserves credit for pulling out this win and showing that they are more than a one-man operation.

3. Potential No. 1 seeds Baylor and San Diego State roll to road wins

Baylor and San Diego State are trying to break the narrative that college basketball lacks elite teams this season.

The No. 1 Bears and No. 4 Aztecs both did their part by securing double-digit road wins on Wednesday night.

Baylor continued its Big 12 dominance with a 67-53 takedown of Iowa State. Defense and a balanced offense paced the Bears — winners of 17 consecutive games.

San Diego State, meanwhile, jumped out to an absurd 17-0 start and coasted from there. The Aztecs destroyed New Mexico in the Pit with an 85-57 Mountain West win. Still undefeated, San Diego State gets a much stronger test when they face Utah State this weekend.

Texas Tech secures massive win over No. 12 West Virginia

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Texas Tech secured a massive win for its NCAA tournament profile on Wednesday night.

The Red Raiders helped their postseason situation immensely with an impressive 89-81 Big 12 home win over No. 12 West Virginia.

Facing the No. 1 defense in the country, Texas Tech’s offense had no issues shredding the Mountaineer defense. Shooting 54 percent from the floor and 64 percent from three-point range, the Red Raiders used a balanced offensive effort to counter the waves of bodies West Virginia throws at you on defense.

Davide Moretti (25 points), Terrence Shannon Jr. (23 points) and Jahmius Ramsey (21 points) all scored at least 20 points for Texas Tech. Although Texas Tech’s offense struggled with 22 turnovers — a common issue when facing West Virginia — they also had 17 assists and did a great job of spreading the ball around.

But for as good as this win was from a confidence-building perspective, this win is most important for Texas Tech’s NCAA tournament resume.

The national runner-ups from last season weren’t exactly in danger of missing the NCAA tournament given their current stature. The lack of Q1 wins, however, was starting to become a concern for Texas Tech.

The Red Raiders were 1-7 against Q1 opponents entering Wednesday night. And with only three total Q2/Q3 wins, the next two tiers weren’t looking promising either. That was part of the reason Texas Tech’s overtime home loss to Kentucky on Saturday was so crushing. It was a chance to gain a credible win that slipped away.

Now that Texas Tech knocked off West Virginia, they get a lot more breathing room. The Red Raiders are still lacking an ideal number of elite victories. They’ve also done a good job of avoiding landmine losses that might derail them. All seven of Texas Tech’s losses have come against Q1 teams.

With Texas Tech finally gaining a second Q1 win, with another shot at one against Kansas coming later this week, things are looking a lot more stable in Lubbock.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Kansas and K-State Brawl, TCU’s signature win, Villanova beats Butler

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College basketball had plenty of action on Tuesday night.

But instead of a bevy of upsets and huge top-25 games, the action came in the form of a Kansas/Kansas State brawl and a new bubble team picking up a signature win.

There was also a top-25 matchup in the Big East as Villanova squared off against Butler. 

Kansas/Kansas State brawl erupts at end of rivalry game

The big story of Tuesday night involves Kansas and Kansas State.

This inner-state rivalry lost some steam with the Wildcats in rebuilding mode this season. But as we found out Tuesday, there is still plenty of intensity when these Big 12 rivals take the floor.

At the end of a Jayhawk blowout home win, a brawl started under a basket. Video came from all over the place as Kansas and Kansas State players took swings and even picked up a chair.

It overshadowed a rivalry win for the No. 3 Jayhawks. Suspensions will likely be handed out. These teams also have a return matchup at Kansas State to look forward to on Feb. 29. We’ll hear more about this fight throughout the week.

TCU picks up signature win against No. 18 Texas Tech

During a major season of turmoil where upsets are normal and road wins are nearly impossible, TCU has stayed in the mix for an NCAA tournament bid with a positive 11-5 start.

The Horned Frogs lacked a signature win though.

That changed on Tuesday night with TCU claiming a 65-54 win over No. 18 Texas Tech. Now with a Q1 win on the profile, TCU should make a move up the NET to get in respectable bubble territory.

TCU still has work to do if they want to secure a bid. Only one Q1 win, one Q2 win and a combined 2-5 record in those two quadrants isn’t going to cut it.

But with a 4-2 record in the Big 12, TCU is a team to keep tabs of the next several weeks. After getting absolutely destroyed by an average of 26 points per game the last two losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma, this is a quality bounceback win for the Horned Frogs. And the type of win that can jumpstart a postseason push.

No. 9 Villanova cruises past No. 16 Butler for Big East home win

Tuesday night’s only top-25 clash was in the Big East. Villanova ran past Butler for a 76-61 home win to keep pace with Seton Hall in the Big East standings.

Jermaine Samuels paced five double-figure scorers for Villanova with 20 points.

Big East brutality continued for Butler meanwhile.

The Bulldogs have lost three straight games in conference play. All three losses have come by at least eight points. It’s not only that Butler is losing but they’re playing poorly.

It feels like the Wildcats will once again remain in the Big East title picture this season. If Butler wants to say the same, they’ll need to figure things out quickly to fix its January swoon.

TCU upends No. 18 Texas Tech

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Desmond Bane scored 27 points, Kevin Samuel had 11 points and 11 rebounds and TCU returned home after a miserable week on the road to upset No. 18 Texas Tech 65-54 on Tuesday night.

The Horned Frogs (13-5, 4-2 Big 12) pushed ahead to stay with a 13-2 run to start the second half. Bane had a 3-pointer and layup in the first 74 seconds after halftime, and his one-handed floater off the glass capped that spurt to put them up 40-33 with just over 16 minutes left.

Samuel, the 6-foot-11 sophomore center later had three consecutive baskets for the Frogs, with his dunk starting that stretch for the first double-digit lead. Then came two layups, the latter when after a near turnover he was able to get the putback when the ball rolled on the rim when the shot clock went off before falling through for a 51-38 lead.

Jahmi’us Ramsey had 15 points for Texas Tech (12-6, 3-3), which lost for the first time in its seven meetings as a ranked team against TCU. Terrence Shannon and TJ Holyfield each had 10.

TCU, a 2 1/2-point underdog, has won 14 of its last 19 conference home games, but was coming off losses of 32 points at No. 14 West Virginia and 20 at Oklahoma last week.

The Frogs scored the game’s first five points, but Texas Tech pushed to a 23-15 lead on a 3-pointer by Davide Moretti. After a jumper by Bane, the teams then traded turnovers before a dunk by Kyler Edwards, and the Red Raiders still led 31-27 at the break.

BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders never really were able to recover after TCU’s opening spurt in the second half despite an always loud and large group of fans encouraging them with chants of “Raider Power” that at times were louder than the home fans. They were 0-for-7 on 3-pointers after halftime.

TCU: Bane was 10-of-15 shooting, including 6 of 8 on 3-pointers. When he wasn’t making deep shots, he was able to penetrate for layups and short floaters.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech hosts No. 15 Kentucky on Saturday in the only game of the Big 12/SEC Challenge matching two ranked teams. The Red Raiders are 0-4 against the Wildcats, but haven’t played them since 1994.

TCU is on the road to play Arkansas on Saturday in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

No. 23 Texas Tech rallies to beat Kansas State

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MANHATTAN, Kan.  — Texas Tech blew a huge lead, but not the game.

Kyler Edwards scored a career-high 24 points, Davide Moretti had 14 and No. 23 Texas Tech used a late push to beat Kansas State 77-63 Tuesday night.

The Red Raiders (11-5, 2-2 Big 12) led by 17 at one point, but the Wildcats rallied and led 46-45 with 13 minutes remaining. Kevin McCuller scored nine of his 10 points in the final 11:30 to help steady Texas Tech. Jahmi’us Ramsey also had 10 points.

Cartier Diarra scored 19 points, Xavier Sneed had 14 and Montavious Murphy added 11 for Kansas State (7-9, 0-4).

This is only the second time Texas Tech has won at Kansas State since 2007.

The Wildcats shot 47.2% but only had 36 attempts due to 20 turnovers. Texas Tech also shot 47.2% from the field.

The Red Raiders scored 30 points off those turnovers and made seven 3-pointers.

Kansas State shot almost as many free throws as field goals, making 25 of 34 attempts from the line.

Texas Tech outrebounded Kansas State 31-23 as the Wildcats posted their lowest number of rebounds in a game this season.

STARTERS INJURED

Kansas State guard Mike McGuirl did not play due to a concussion and Texas Tech guard Terrance Shannon Jr. missed the game due to a back injury.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State: The Wildcats got down early but fought back in the second half. The big hole proved costly.

Texas Tech: Despite having 16 turnovers and battling foul trouble, the Red Raiders were able to hold off a pesky Wildcat team.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts West Virginia on Saturday.

Texas Tech goes home to take on Iowa State on Saturday.