Red Raiders shadowing Big 12’s elite

Tuesday, February 8, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:11 a.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

For the past four years there has been little disparity among the top teams in the Big 12 Conference.

Since the 2001-02 season, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma have all jockeyed for the top spot, with the Cowboys winning the regular season title last season and Kansas the two seasons before.

The Longhorns finished second each of the past two seasons and the Sooners finished second in 2001-02.

Not since Iowa State won back-to-back titles in 1999-00 and 2000-01, has another team crept into the Big 12’s top three spots at the end of the regular season.

Texas Tech has put itself in a position to break that trend.

“I’m not sure if they’re not playing as well as anyone in the conference right now, maybe other than Kansas,” Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton said Monday in the Big 12 conference call. “They’ve really just been playing great basketball. I’m glad we got them on the road earlier in the year.”

The Red Raiders (14-5, 6-2 Big 12) made a particularly big statement Saturday, beating Oklahoma 88-81 in Norman, Okla.

It was Texas Tech’s sixth win in seven games and it tied the Red Raiders with the Sooners for third place.

First-place Kansas (18-1, 8-0) and second-place Oklahoma State (17-3, 7-2) are not out of reach.

On Feb. 14 the Jayhawks will travel to Lubbock, Texas, and five days later the Red Raiders will journey to Stillwater, Okla., to face the Cowboys.

“I think that’s a team that once we get to the Big 12 tournament and when they get to the NCAA tournament, I don’t think you want to play,” Colorado assistant coach Paul Graham said. “Right now I think they’re playing the best basketball in the league.”

Jarrius Jackson, who was named the Big 12 player of the week Monday, is one of the main reasons the Red Raiders have been so successful.

The sophomore guard is averaging 28.5 points in Texas Tech’s past two games.

He had 25 against Colorado and 32 against Oklahoma, shooting a combined 57 percent.

Jackson is averaging 15.4 points, second on the team behind Ronald Ross’ 16.2.

“I think in college basketball especially, your guard play is important and with Ross and Jackson that’s as good as it gets there,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said.

Another guard, Colorado’s Richard Roby, was also honored Monday.

Roby, who posted 25.5 points in the Buffaloes’ past two games, was named the Big 12 rookie of the week.

He had a career-high 29, including seven 3-pointers against the Red Raiders on Feb. 2.

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