Big 12 gets the best of the SEC in final edition of annual basketball series
Both in the micro of the 2022-23 college basketball season and the macro of an established college basketball showcase event, the Big 12 Conference had the last laugh on Saturday.
In the final edition of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, it was the Big 12 that claimed victory.
The Big 12 scored seven wins out of the 10 games played in this year’s challenge.
Because the SEC has more schools than the Big 12, four SEC teams — Georgia, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt — didn’t participate.
This was the 10th edition of the Challenge.
The Big 12 got wins Saturday from West Virginia, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Kansas.
The SEC had wins from Missouri, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
With the challenge now finished — an SEC/ACC Challenge for men’s and women’s college basketball will start next season — the Big 12 can claim bragging rights for the foreseeable future.
The Big 12 won five of the 10 Challenges. The SEC won three, and there have been two ties.
The overall record of Challenge games is 55 wins for the Big 12 and 44 for the SEC.
Kentucky ends the SEC/Big 12 Challenge with a 5-4 record after losing at home to Kansas on Saturday night.
Across the 10 years of the Challenge, UK has lost to Baylor, defeated Texas, lost to Kansas, lost to Kansas, defeated West Virginia, defeated Kansas, defeated Texas Tech, defeated Kansas, lost to Kansas and had one game canceled.
Here is how Saturday’s action played out:
Big 12 wins
West Virginia 80, No. 15 Auburn 77: The final edition of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge began with a sizable upset, as West Virginia fifth-year guard Erik Stevenson scored a career-high 31 points in the Mountaineers’ home victory over No. 15 Auburn.
Stevenson — a who previously played at Wichita State, Washington and South Carolina — already entered the game as West Virginia’s top scorer, averaging just more than 13 points per game before Saturday’s scoring outburst.
Auburn never led in Saturday’s game and the Tigers have lost two straight for the first time in two years.
Oklahoma 93, No. 2 Alabama 69: The most stunning result of Saturday came in Norman, Oklahoma, where the Sooners blasted Alabama and handed the Crimson Tide just its third loss of the season.
Senior guard Grant Sherfield scored a season-high 30 points for Oklahoma, and senior forward Jalen Hill also helped with a career-high 26 for the Sooners.
Star Alabama freshman forward Brandon Miller was also held in check by Hill. Miller entered the game averaging nearly 20 points per game, but finished with only 11 points on four made shots.
Texas Tech 76, LSU 68: Texas Tech, still winless in Big 12 play, snapped an eight-game losing streak with a road win against LSU.
Senior forward Kevin Obanor scored 22 points to lead Tech, and is now on the doorstep of becoming just the third active player with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Obanor, who previously played at Oral Roberts, is just two points away from reaching that milestone.
No. 17 Baylor 67, Arkansas 64: True freshman guard Keyonte George scored 24 points for Baylor to help the Bears along to a six-game winning streak.
The Bears added another win to their impressive résumé despite shooting a season-low 33.9% from the field.
How did Baylor do this? The Bears made 21 of 24 free throws, including four inside the final 10 seconds.
Arkansas freshman guard Joseph Pinion missed a difficult three-point shot as time expired.
No. 5 Kansas State 64, Florida 50: Former Florida player Keyontae Johnson — who collapsed on the sideline while at Florida during a game two years ago — recorded a double-double against his old team on Saturday with 13 points and 11 rebounds in a comfortable win for K-State.
The Wildcats are now 18-3 this season, which matches the 1972-73 K-State team for the best start through 21 games in school history.
Senior forward Colin Castleton led Florida — which only scored 16 points in the first half — with 13 points for the game.
Oklahoma State 82, Ole Miss 60: Oklahoma State got double-digit scoring performances from four players and outrebounded Ole Miss by 10 in a Saturday night win in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State shot 52.9% from the field and 88% from the foul line in the game.
No. 9 Kansas 77, Kentucky 68: Head coach Bill Self avoided the first four-game losing streak of his Kansas tenure with a gritty win in Lexington that was close for virtually the entire second half.
Four Jayhawks scored in double figures with junior forward Jalen Wilson’s 22 points leading the way.
Kentucky had its worst three-point shooting game of the season in defeat: The Wildcats went 2-for-13 (15.4%) from behind the arc, setting season lows for three-pointers made and three-point shooting percentage.
Missouri 78, No. 12 Iowa State 61: Missouri scored a major win at home over No. 12 Iowa State behind 20 points and 12 rebounds from senior guard Kobe Brown and 17 points from senior guard D’Moi Hodge.
Both teams were red hot from the perimeter, with Missouri shooting 47% and Iowa State shooting 40% on three-point shots.
Missouri trailed for just 44 seconds in the entire game and had a particularly impressive offensive performance against the Cyclones: The 78 points scored by Missouri were the most this season by an Iowa State opponent in regulation.
Mississippi State 81, No. 11 TCU 74: A monster performance by senior forward Tolu Smith (27 points on 11-of-13 shooting and 13 rebounds) powered Mississippi State to an overtime win at home over TCU.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Bulldogs, who also got a double-double from junior guard Cameron Matthews (10 points and 10 rebounds).
TCU might have long-lasting ramifications from the game, as leading scorer junior guard Mike Miles Jr. suffered a leg injury in the early stages of the game and did not return.
No. 4 Tennessee 82, No. 10 Texas 71: In the most anticipated matchup of the final edition of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, Tennessee held off Texas in Knoxville with 27 points from senior forward Olivier Nkamhoua and 22 points, along with 10 assists, from sophomore guard Zakai Zeigler.
Tennessee lived on the glass against the Longhorns, as the Volunteers held a 38-24 rebounding advantage.
It was a dominant win by the Volunteers and head coach Rick Barnes against his former team: Tennessee led by as many as 22 points during the second half.
SATURDAY’S SEC/BIG 12 CHALLENGE SCORES
Here are all the scores from Saturday’s SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
West Virginia 80, No. 15 Auburn 77
Mississippi State 81, No. 11 TCU 74
No. 4 Tennessee 82, No. 10 Texas 71
No. 5 Kansas State 64, Florida 50
Oklahoma State 82, Ole Miss 60