KANSAS CITY — Even without the newly crowned Miss America sitting courtside in her tiara, Oklahoma’s upset of No. 4 Texas would have been a thing of beauty.
Thanks to the Sooners’ 82-72 victory, suspense has returned to the Big 12 Conference race. The Longhorns (17-3, 5-1) will not run the table. The 2002 Kansas Jayhawks will still be the only team to cut a 16-0 swath through a Big 12 schedule.
Oklahoma (13-4, 4-2) and Kansas (13-6, 4-2), at least for the moment, seem to have a fighting chance at defending their co-championship.
And don’t forget Colorado (15-3, 5-2). The senior-laden Buffaloes have played their one regular-season game against the Longhorns, and were dumped 89-64. But Saturday night, the Buffaloes survived an off night by Richard Roby and walked away with a 79-75 victory over Kansas State, their fifth win in a row.
A trip to the NCAA tournament certainly seems within Colorado’s reach. And with a month left in the Big 12 regular season, why not dream of a title?
“It’s up for grabs,” said Roby, who’s been the leading scorer in 11 of Colorado’s games. “We just have to be the one to take it. ”
If Texas had managed to keep its conference winning streak intact and beat No. 24 Oklahoma on Saturday, there might have seemed little chance for anyone to overtake the Longhorns.
But with Miss America Jennifer Berry, a former Oklahoma student, sitting a couple of seats away from the Oklahoma governor, the Sooners got into the victory circle and created a conference title race.
It’s not that anyone connected with the Texas program had predicted a 16-0 conference run.
“That’s stupidity,” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “We’re six games in. That’s just something for people to write about. ”
Kansas stayed in contention with a 95-85 victory at Iowa State, the Jayhawks’ third in a row since an overtime loss at Missouri. Nebraska, getting 28 points from Jamel White, beat Missouri 65-52 and kept the Tigers in a free fall with their fourth loss in five games.
Texas Tech slipped past Oklahoma State in overtime 92-90 and Baylor finally played a close game before losing 72-70 to Texas A&M behind 29 points and 10 rebounds from Joseph Jones. The Bears remain winless in six games this season.
White’s output tied for the second-most ever by a Nebraska freshman.
It was also the third straight double-digit loss by the Tigers.
“This is the same predicament we were in last year,” Thomas Gardner, the Big 12’s top scorer, who had 22 points against the Huskers, said. “We can’t lose this many games in a row in league and expect to finish in the top half.”