Is the Big 12 Field Still the Favorite over Kansas After Jayhawks Down Texas?

C.J. Moore@@CJMooreHoopsCollege Basketball National Lead WriterJanuary 24, 2015

AP Images

Apologies to Kansas and head coach Bill Self.

Two weeks ago, I wrote that I'd take the field over Kansas for this Big 12 title race. About that...

There are some things you should doubt. Government. Buffets. Anyone who says rain is good luck on your wedding day. Bill Belichick passing a lie detector.

But never ever ever ever doubt Bill Self.

The Jayhawks went into Austin on Saturday and outsmarted, out-toughed and outshot the Texas Longhorns on their way to a dominating 75-62 win.

Meanwhile in Lubbock, Iowa State got down 19 points to the Big 12's worst team and went on to lose, 78-73.

Meanwhile in the rest of the Big 12, deep sighs. 

Just over a month ago, a mediocre Temple team blasted Kansas by 25. Just over two months ago, Kentucky made the Jayhawks look like munchkins trying to hoop with giants.

Jan 24, 2015; Austin, TX, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self reacts from the sidelines against the Texas Longhorns during the second half at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center. The Jayhawks won 75-62. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY
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If there was ever going to be a year to pick against Kansas in the Big 12, it sure felt like this would be the one.

But, Bill Self.

The man has won 10 straight league titles. He has more Big 12 rings than losses at Allen Fieldhouse. And Self's teams always get better over Christmas break.

Go ahead and add this one as further evidence.

This one just has more of a redemption flavor than most of the others.

Before the season started, there was uncertainty about who would be KU's starting point guard. Sophomore Frank Mason, who won the job, went 1-of-10 and had zero assists against Kentucky. He kept stubbornly driving into the trees in that game.

On Saturday against another long and lanky opponent with shot-blockers at every turn, Mason was brilliant. He carved up UT's zone with timely drives and smart passes. He had 12 points, four assists, zero turnovers and several missed layups that turned into easy putbacks.

He also orchestrated an offense that had only three turnovers. That tied a school record which was set back in 1966.

Last Saturday, Self benched Kansas freshman Cliff Alexander because he wasn't playing hard. In the two games since, he's averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Alexander outclassed fellow hyped freshman big man Myles Turner. Alexander had 15 points and nine boards, compared to Turner's eight points and eight rebounds, and Alexander also won the postgame with this comment, courtesy of Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star:

Rustin Dodd @rustindodd

Cliff Alexander was asked if he was surprised that Myles Turner doesn't play inside more. Alexander: "I mean, he's kind of thin."

Alexander is not the typical Bill Self big man who can dominate with his back to the basket, and because he isn't that, this isn't the typical Bill Self team. 

The Jayhawks had to figure out another way to play, and it's really beginning to look like they've done so.

They rely on the penetration of Mason. They're starting to shoot more threes and for good reasonthey knock them down at a 39.4 percent clip. 

Self has figured out ways to get his best scorer, Perry Ellis, the ball in spots where he can score. Ellis usually struggles scoring over length. A few weeks ago, he lacked confidence, was second-guessing himself and spinning into double-teams. 

On Saturday, Ellis scored 14 points and looked as comfortable as he ever has in a Kansas uniform. 

Even when the Jayhawks trailed 11-2 early on against the 'Horns, there wasn't any panic. Self just put zone-buster Brannen Greene on the floor, and he quickly drained two threes. He finished with four treys and 14 points. 

Jan 24, 2015; Austin, TX, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Brannen Greene (14) shoot the ball as Texas Longhorns forward Myles Turner (52) and guard Demarcus Holland (2) defend during the second half at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center. The Jayhawks won 75

Self is pushing all the right buttons. He has multiple weapons who can beat you. He has Allen Fieldhouse, where the Jayhawks haven't lost all season. 

Last Saturday after Kansas lost at Iowa State, kenpom.com's updated predictions had Iowa State and Oklahoma as the favorites to win the Big 12 by a game over Kansas. One week later, Kansas sits alone at the top of those projections

Iowa State is still a worthy contender. Maybe Texas will make a run. Oklahoma and West Virginia have had their moments where they look dangerous. 

But same as it ever was, it's Kansas...and the field. 

Betting against the guy with a ring on every finger?

You'll regret that. 

C.J. Moore covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @CJMooreBR.

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