LAWRENCE — While we wait for No. 8 Kansas and No. 19 Texas to tip off at 6:30 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse, here are five things to know about the matchup:
By RUSTIN DODD
The Kansas City Star
1. You’re getting old, Andrew Wiggins. Only one more year of being a teenager. Wiggins turns 19 years old on Sunday, and this is interesting for a couple of reasons. Kansas coach Bill Self has grown fond of pointing out that Wiggins could be a senior in high school this year — using the point to push back against any talk that Wiggins hasn’t been a disappointment.
Well, Wiggins hasn’t been a disappointment, but Self’s point is a little misleading. Wiggins COULD be a senior in high school right now, but that’s only because he re-classified a grade back after enrolling in Huntington Prep before what would have been his junior year of high school. In late 2012, Wiggins reclassified back to his original class. He’s young, of course. But he’s also nearly a month older than Duke freshman Jabari Parker (birthdate: March 15, 1995) and he’s only three months younger than Kentucky freshman Julius Randle. So, yes, Wiggins could technically be a senior in high school right now, but he’s in the right class.
2. Can Kansas slow down Isaiah Taylor? A under-recruited freshman point guard, Taylor wrecked Kansas’ defense with his speed in Austin, finishing with 23 points. KU junior Naadir Tharpe should be motivated to slow him down.
Why? Watch the highlight at 1:30 of this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-Y_viRB13c.
3. The Big 12 race. So it’s down to the wire now, and we’ll go ahead and map out Kansas’ path to a 10th straight Big 12 title.
Kansas, 11-2 in the Big 12, has a two-game lead over Texas with five remaining. Everybody else in the conference has at least five losses. If the Jayhawks hold serve against Texas, they can clinch a share of their 10th straight Big 12 title with a home victory over Oklahoma on Big Monday.
If Kansas loses on Saturday, they can still clinch a share of the title by going 3-1 in their final four games. (And really, if Texas loses a couple more, it could take less than a 3-1 finish.)
Here’s how it finishes up: After playing Oklahoma on Monday, KU travels to Oklahoma State on March 1, plays host to Texas Tech on March 5 and travels to West Virginia on March. 8.
4. Three home games left. For the last couple years, Kansas fans have grown fond of the following stat: Bill Self had more Big 12 titles than home losses. The factoid was momentarily lost last season, after KU lost at home to Oklahoma State in Self’s eighth home loss. But the Jayhawks won their ninth straight title, and it was back on. But earlier this year, when KU lost to San Diego State, the stat was gone again.
Self has suffered nine home losses and won nine Big 12 titles. To regain the honor of having “more league titles than home losses”, Self needs his team to win its final three home games — Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
5. Another streak. If Kansas beats Texas, it will be the 14th straight year that Kansas has won a dozen Big 12 games, thought to be the longest such streak in the country. The Jayhawks would also improve to 7-3 against ranked teams this season.