Big 12 back to beating each other after beating up the SEC
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Baylor coach Scott Drew and the rest of his Big 12 counterparts probably felt a bit of a reprieve last Saturday, when the league took a break from beating up on itself by taking seven of 10 games from the Southeastern Conference.
The No. 11 Bears edged Arkansas in a taut thriller, then Drew became the biggest cheerleader for his regular rivals.
“I know the Big 12’s off to a great start,” he said afterward, “and I’ll be cheering for the Big 12 the rest of the day.”
Well, Kansas State ran roughshod over Florida. Kansas topped Kentucky at Rupp Arena. West Virginia, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State won, and Oklahoma trounced then-No. 2 Alabama by 24 in a game that was never very close.
Now they’re back to hammering each other.
The Bears got about 48 hours to celebrate their win over the Razorbacks before No. 10 Texas welcomed them to the Moody Center on Monday night. The Longhorns fell to second-ranked Tennessee in a hard-fought game Saturday.
On Tuesday, seventh-ranked Kansas State tries for a regular-season sweep of eighth-ranked Kansas, which lost to the Wildcats in overtime in Manhattan. And that’s just the start of a tough week for first-year coach Jerome Tang’s bunch, who get the Longhorns back at Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday for a second straight top-10 showdown.
“We’ve got some great venues in this league. It’s no longer just one place that’s got a great homecourt advantage,” Tang said of their trip to Allen Fieldhouse. “The fact we get to play in front of one all the time, we’re used to a good crowd.
“We’re going to work there,” Tang added. “We have to compete. We compete, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
That’s about all you can ask for in the Big 12 these days.
The league has six teams among the top 15 in the AP poll released Monday. None has made it through eight league games with fewer than two losses, and Kansas was riding a three-game skid when it beat Kentucky on Saturday.
“It was three games against three really good opponents,” countered Jayhawks forward Jalen Wilson, astutely pointing out that each came against a Top 25 foe. “It was important to get the train going again.”
It took leaving the Big 12 to do it.
Florida Atlantic rides the nation’s longest winning streak at 20 straight into this week, when the Owls hit the road for a couple of tough Conference USA games. UAB, which lost by two to FAU when the teams met earlier this month, comes first on Thursday night before a trip to Charlotte, which fell by four in their first meeting, on Saturday.
Three other schools began the week with winning streaks of at least 10 games, though only the Gaels are ranked.
Eastern Washington has the second-longest streak with 12 consecutive wins, including a perfect start through 10 games in the Big Sky. Colgate also has a 10-game winning streak and sits firmly atop the Patriot League.
Then there’s Saint Mary’s, which has struggled — with some success for years to escape the shadow of West Coast rival Gonzaga. The Gaels lost three straight earlier in the season but have not lost again since falling to Colorado State in mid-December. Now they get the Bulldogs on Saturday with the conference lead at stake.
RANKED VS RANKED
There’s a big game in the Big East on Wednesday night when No. 17 Providence, after climbing six spots in this week’s poll, heads to No. 16 Xavier. Both are 9-2 in league play, leaving them tied atop the Big East with No. 14 Marquette.
On Saturday, the second-ranked Volunteers play No. 25 Auburn; top-ranked Purdue, the first unanimous No. 1 this season, visits No. 12 Indiana; No. 12 Gonzaga visits No. 14 Saint Mary’s; and No. 23 Miami visits No. 20 Clemson.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll