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Big 12 race emerges as talking point entering Big Monday clash: KU Jayhawks at TCU

Bill Self hadn’t spent any time discussing Big 12 Conference standings with members of the Kansas basketball team heading into Saturday afternoon’s home game against Baylor.

Now…in the aftermath of an 87-71 win over the Bears that pushed the Jayhawks’ league record to 10-4, Self, KU’s 20th-year basketball coach, may soon be bringing up details regarding the KU’s position in the home straight.

“We didn’t talk about the championship race at all. Now you can really talk about the championship race because we’re down to four games and everything is so magnified,” Self said Saturday after a win that kept KU (22-5 overall) tied with Texas (21-6, 10-4) for first place with two weeks left in the regular season.

Baylor is third at 9-5 followed by Kansas State and Iowa State at 8-6. TCU and Oklahoma State are 7-7, Texas Tech and West Virginia 4-10 and Oklahoma 3-11.

Here’s this week’s schedule for the two teams tied for the first and only team currently playing in the Big 12.

KU heads to TCU Monday for a rematch of the Horned Frogs’ 83-60 victory over KU on Jan. 21 at Allen Fieldhouse. Tipoff is at 8pm at Schollmaier Arena with a live telecast available on ESPN, which has included the game in its Big Monday package.

The Jayhawks then return home to face West Virginia at 3:00 PM on Saturday.

Texas, which hosts KU on March 4 in the regular season finale for both teams, will host Iowa State on Tuesday and travel to Baylor on Saturday.

Baylor travels to Kansas State on Tuesday to go with the Texas game on Saturday.

“TCU killed us the first time (in) every way,” Self said. “They were as good for 40 minutes the first time as Baylor was for 20 minutes tonight.”

KU was outscored by BU 45-32 in the first half on Saturday, then beat the Bears 55-26 in the final 20 minutes.

On January 21, TCU outscored KU 48-38 in the first half and 35-22 in the second for KU’s second-worst home loss in the Self era. Texas defeated KU by 25 points on January 2, 2021.

“The most important thing about TCU is the transition defense. They are so good at transitioning,” Self said. “When Miles isn’t playing, it’s a completely different team. Now he’s back.”

Mike Miles, a 6-foot-2 junior, scored 15 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished four assists in the Horned Frogs’ win at KU. After missing five games (four losses) with a right knee injury, Miles returned to action on Saturday. Lui scored 15 points in the Frogs (18-9, 7-7 Big 12) home loss to Oklahoma State, 100-75.

“I don’t know what he did today (against OSU). I assume he led everything,” Self Saturday said of Miles. “We know we’re going to be playing against a good TCU team on Monday. I wish we had another day to catch our breath for a bit.

On Saturday, junior guard Damion Baugh recorded his third double-double with 16 points and 11 assists. Junior forward Emanuel Miller had 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting with five assists. Junior guard Shahada Wells had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Second year guard Micah Peavy added 10 points. He was 2 of 3 from three point range.

The Horned Frogs hit 68.4% of their shots against OSU. That number was 0.2 shy of the record for a Big 12 Conference game, set by Oklahoma State in 1998.

At Lawrence, TCU hit 54.4% of his shots in stomping KU. Wells scored 17 and Baugh 11 to go with Miles’ 15.

“I think that gives us a lot of momentum going into Monday,” KU junior forward Jalen Wilson said Saturday after scoring 21 points and grabbing 13 rebounds against Baylor. Wilson had 30 points and seven boards in game one against TCU.

“We play against a team that came here and beat us by 20, 30 points. It offers us another opportunity to take revenge on a team that took us to the past,” added Wilson.

Baylor had won their first game against KU this season by six points in Waco.

“It’s important to play it the same way we played today. They have a lot of good guards. They are really athletic, quick in transitions. It’s good to carry on that second half (55-26 vs. BU),” Wilson said.

KU point guard Dajuan Harris — he had 14 points and nine assists against Baylor on Saturday and zero points and eight assists in the first game against TCU — said Saturday “we were playing against the three best guards in the country (on a team in Adam Flagler, LJ Cryer and Keyonte George). We can learn from that game against TCU on Monday. They also have good guards. We can carry it forward.

TCU on Monday will look to become the third team in the conference to sweep KU in a home series in the Self Era. Texas in 2021 and OSU in 2018 are the only teams thus far to take two from KU.

So KU on Monday could be playing for pride and, of course, his status in the championship race.

“It’s huge,” freshman KU Gradey Dick said of beating Baylor on Saturday. “We knew that it would be the three (BU, Texas, KU) who would enter to race for the only place. Getting a win here was very important to us. It kind of pushes us to prepare for TCU.

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