As we approach the midway point of Big 12 play, nothing seems to be too certain aside from the top spot. Aside from the fact KU holds a spotless 6-0 record and a 14.6 point margin of victory, half of KU's 10 remaining conference games are against the bottom four teams in the Big 12. First stop, Lawrence.
(Second six coming soon)
1. Kansas Jayhawks (20-1, 6-0) LW: 1
KU entered an intense rivalry week and escaped with their undefeated conference mark intact. After rolling over arch-rival Missouri a week ago 84-65 on national television, the Jayhawks walked into Fred Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan., and walked out with a thrilling 71-69 overtime victory.
After a pressure-packed week, Coach Bill Self must keep his team focused, as three of their next four games are against three out of the bottom four teams in the Big 12 with a matchup with No. 10 Texas in Austin wedged in between.
But the seasoned trio of Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, and Brady Morningstar should keep the 'Hawks mind right as they did Saturday. Against the Wildcats, these three combined for 48 points, 12 rebounds, six assists, and just four turnovers in 118 minutes.
2. Kansas State Wildcats (17-4, 4-3) LW: 3
Kansas State guards forced LaceDarrius Dunn into five turnovers and a 3-13 shooting mark while the Wildcat bigs held Ekpe Udoh to just eight points on two field goals. This combination helped K-State leave Waco with a 76-74 mark over Baylor. Guard Jacob Pullen shot 7-11, including 6-7 from three-point land, to energize the Cats.
In their matchup with Kansas four days later, the Wildcats let KU shoot their average of 50 percent from the field to hang close the whole game, despite a rowdy atmosphere that hosted ESPN's weekly "GameDay" studio. K-State can score, but they are going to have to hold opponents closer to their average of 42 percent shooting.
K-State should get a chance to get their defense back on track this week as they face Nebraska and Iowa State, last and seventh respectively in the conference in scoring.
3. Baylor Bears (16-4, 3-3) LW: 4
Baylor finds themselves ranked again this season at No. 24 after a week that saw them beat then No. 6 Texas in Austin, but drop a game at home to then-No. 13 Kansas State.
With its 80-77 overtime victory, Baylor beat Texas for the second time in a row and the first time in the regular season since 1998. Freshman guard A.J. Walton, a 47 percent free throw shooter, sank three of four free throws in the last 17 seconds of overtime to seal the game.
This week, Baylor hosts Iowa State before traveling across state to take on Texas A&M. Before they head into the final sprint of conference play, the Bears will need junior center Ekpe Udoh to rediscover his offensive game. The Michigan transfer has looked out of sorts and flat out uncomfortable the past two games, as he has scored just 15 points on 20 percent shooting.
4. Missouri Tigers (16-5, 4-2) LW: 6
As ugly as the Tigers looked last Monday in Lawrence, Kan., the game could've been worse. In a first half that saw MU shoot 25 percent, the Tigers went down at 20 at halftime.
Instead of folding in the second half, MU actually won the second half by one point as they held Sherron Collins to just 2-11 shooting and forced him into four turnovers.
Kim English (20 points) finally rediscovered his shooting stroke when Mizzou beat Oklahoma State. English and his fellow teammates avenged the Big Monday embarrassment with a 95-80 victory in-front of another sold-out Mizzou Arena crowd and a Saturday afternoon ESPN national audience.
Mizzou finally started to resemble their patented "Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball" by dishing out 21 assists and forcing the Cowboys into 24 turnovers.
5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (16-5, 4-3) LW: 2
Despite the score, Oklahoma State was in more control than the 76-69 final shows during their victory over Texas A&M. They used a season-high 57.9 percent shooting from the field to bury the Aggies.
Tonight they host the Texas Longhorns in a must-win situation for UT. Opponents have left Stillwater, Okla., 16 consecutive times in defeat. You better believe James Anderson will be looking to avenge a 95-80 loss to Missouri two days earlier, despite a 31-point outburst.
6. Texas Longhorns (18-3, 4-2) LW: 5
After losing back-to-back road games, the Longhorns must have been ready to hitchhike from Connecticut just to get back to Austin. However, that return hasn't proved exactly as smooth as possible.
Before the end of their 95-83 victory over Texas Tech, UT found themselves down three at halftime. Home couldn't fix all the jitters from their mini losing streak as they shot only 55 percent from the free throw line.