Two weeks ago, Kansas seemed to have the Big 12 Conference regular-season race under control.
At 9-0 in conference play, the Jayhawks held a two-game lead over second-place Oklahoma State. The picture has gotten dicier since.
By losing at Oklahoma on Monday, Kansas put itself in a tough position, looking up at the Cowboys.
The loss was Kansas’ third straight, dropping it to 10-3 in the Big 12. Oklahoma State is 10-2 and plays at Nebraska at 7 p.m. today.
A week before Monday’s game, Kansas lost in double overtime at Texas Tech and followed that with a 63-61 overtime loss to Iowa State in Lawrence on Saturday.
The Jayhawks remaining games aren’t easy either. They host Oklahoma State on Saturday and Kansas State on March 2 before ending the season March 6 in Columbia.
“Now you put yourself in a situation where you probably have the toughest finish of just about any of the schools in the league,” said Kansas coach Bill Self in the league’s weekly teleconference call Monday. “So we’re going to have to play our best when it matters most right now.”
Oklahoma State, meanwhile, is riding a six game winning streak and is in position to repeat as regular season conference champion.
After road games at Nebraska and Kansas, the Cowboys finish the season with Texas A&M and Texas at home.
“Oklahoma State is playing as well as anybody in the country right now,” Nebraska coach Billy Collier said. “They’re getting excellent play from across the board.”
STRONG STINT: Like other coaches across the Big 12, Texas A&M’s Billy Gillispie is stumped when trying find a way to stop Iowa State guard Curtis Stinson.
“I don’t know if you can,” Gillispie said. “Nobody’s had much luck doing it thus far.
“He’s a very difficult match-up for anybody because of his strength and quickness and just his ability to know how to play.”
That proved true for Kansas State and Kansas this past week as Stinson averaged 22.5 points, eight rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.5 steals. Big 12 Player of the Week honors on Monday, the second time this season he has earned that honor.
With Stinson’s strong performances, the Cyclones extended their winning streak to seven.
“It’s unbelievable what they’ve done,” said Gillispie, whose team hosts Iowa State Tuesday. “I don’t know if anybody in any major conference has done anything like it.”
Then again, not many are able to do what Stinson did against No. 2 Kansas on Saturday. He had a game-high 29 points, seven rebounds and four steals. He scored all seven of Iowa State’s points in overtime, including the game-winner with six seconds left. It was Stinson’s eighth 20-point outing of the season.
Oklahoma’s Terrell Everett was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week, averaging 17 points and six assists in the Sooners’ two wins last week.