Big 12 faces another barrage of big games this week

(AP) — The Big 12 can make an argument as college basketball’s best conference the past few years, with two national champions in three years and multiple teams making the NCAA Tournament each season.

This season has been no different.

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Even with TCU dropping out, the Big 12 led the way in this week’s AP Top 25 with seven ranked teams, led by No. 4 Houston and No. 7 Kansas.

“This league is brutal,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said.

Kansas (15-3, 3-2) dropped four spots in this week’s poll after a road loss to West Virginia. The Jayhawks bounced back with a five-point win over Cincinnati on Monday night, improving to 102-16 following a loss under Bill Self (since 2003-04)

Next up for Kansas is No. 23 Iowa State on Saturday.

The Cyclones (14-4, 3-2) moved up a spot in this week’s AP Top 25 after losing to BYU and beating TCU last week. Iowa State plays at Big 12 co-leader Kansas State on Wednesday before heading to Allen Fieldhouse, where the Jayhawks needed a last-second shot to beat the Cyclones last season.

Houston (16-2, 3-2) bounced back from consecutive losses with lopsided wins over No. 20 Texas Tech and Central Florida last week.

The Cougars face a difficult week with games at No. 21 BYU on Tuesday and at home against Kansas State on Saturday. Houston leads the nation in scoring defense at 51.0 points per game and is sixth in steals at 10.6.

The Cougars’ D will certainly be tested in Provo.

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BYU (14-4, 2-3) has five players averaging double figures and the nation’s 10th scoring offense, putting up 85.3 points per game.

The biggest issue for the Cougars is staying healthy. They’ve been hit hard by injuries and had to play without senior forward Noah Waterman in a loss No. 25 Texas Tech last Saturday.

Get by BYU, Houston faces a Kansas State team that’s tied with No. 20 Texas Tech atop the Big 12 at 4-1.

The Wildcats (14-4) beat Oklahoma State by four on Saturday after outlasting No. 15 Baylor in overtime on Tuesday. Kansas State is 11-1 at home, its only loss to Nebraska last month.

The Red Raiders (15-3, 4-1) bounced back from a lopsided loss to Houston by beating BYU by seven on Saturday. Texas Tech has won 10 of 11 and have matched the 2018-19 Final Four team with a 15-3 record through 18 games.

“I’m so thrilled at the way we competed in the face of adversity because we’re showing that we’ve got a team that I think can win championships,” Texas Tech first-year coach Grant McCasland said.“I told them that yesterday: we’re in this league to win it.”

The Red Raiders have one game this week and it’s a tough one: at No. 11 Oklahoma on Saturday.

The Sooners (15-3, 3-2 Big 12) rallied from consecutive losses to beat West Virginia and Cincinnati last week. Oklahoma faces a big test of its own on Tuesday, when it hosts rival Texas. The Sooners are 11-0 at home.


The best game not including two ranked teams could be No. 8 Auburn at Alabama on Wednesday.

The rivalry game will undoubtedly be fast-paced, with two exceptionally athletic teams taking the court.

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The Tigers (16-2, 5-0) lead the SEC and have won 11 straight, including double-digit wins over Vanderbilt and Mississippi last week.

The Crimson Tide (12-6, 4-1) have played a difficult schedule that included losses to No. 2 Purdue, No. 8 Arizona and No. 17 Creighton. Alabama beat Missouri last week, but lost by 20 to No. 5 Tennessee.

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