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Breaking down Kansas’ amazing decade of Big 12 regular-season titles

03/01/2014 11:32 PM

03/01/2014 11:32 PM

Ten Big 12 regular-season championships in 10 years for Kansas, sealed with Monday’s home victory over Oklahoma. By any measure, it’s a remarkable achievement.

Making the streak even more impressive, the Jayhawks might not have been the best team in the conference every year. They didn’t always have the league’s best player or the one who went on to best professional career from that year’s draft class.

But that hasn’t mattered. When regular seasons end, and when the 2014 Big 12 schedule concludes in two weeks, Kansas has been on top alone or with another team.

Kansas’ worst Big 12 record in the past decade is 12-4. Every other league team, including former and new members, logged at least one losing Big 12 record in that span.

The Jayhawks have won three Big 12 championships, including 2014, with lineup makeovers. It also happened in 2006 and 2009.

Bill Self’s 10th title came in 11th year at Kansas. His predecessor, Roy Williams, won nine in 15 years.

Early in the streak, Kansas was helped by the unbalanced schedule. In most years, teams in the South were stronger, and the Jayhawks played them only once. Meanwhile, twice a year, they whipped up on the likes of Nebraska and Colorado, sweeping both in every year of the streak while they were members of the Big 12.

Winning the Big 12 hasn’t always translated into NCAA Tournament success. Three times in nine years, the Jayhawks didn’t escape the first weekend. But the Jayhawks are the only Big 12 team to reach the Final Four, winning in 2008 and finishing second in 2012, during their title run.

Here’s a breakdown of the championships, and my call on the top team and player for each season.

2004-05

1. Oklahoma (12-4)

(tie) Kansas (12-4)

3. Oklahoma State (11-5)

Oklahoma took a share of its first league title since 1989, and the Jayhawks won the game of the year, beating Oklahoma State 81-79 in a game that helped Wayne Simien to league player of the year honors over Joey Graham. The Cowboys returned the favor in the Big 12 Tournament, and made the deepest NCAA run. Oklahoma beat Kansas in their only regular-season meeting.

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Best team:

Oklahoma State

• 

League MVP:

Simien

• 

Best future pro:

Linas Kleiza, Missouri

• 

KU NCAA result:

Lost in round of 64

2005-06

1. Texas (13-3)

(tie) Kansas (13-3)

3. Oklahoma (11-5)

One of Bill Self’s best coaching jobs. Kansas, with three freshman starters, opened 3-4. But the Jayhawks rolled through their Big 12 schedule until taking a 25-point whipping at Texas. But the Longhorns lost their next game at Texas A, allowing Kansas to share the title. KU avenged its loss at Austin by beating Texas in the Big 12 title game at Dallas.

• 

Best team:

Texas

• 

League MVP:

P.J. Tucker, Texas

• 

Best future pro (in his last college season):

LaMarcus Aldridge, Texas

• 

KU NCAA result:

Lost in round of 64

2006-07

1. Kansas (14-2)

2. Texas A (13-3)

3. Texas (12-4)

Self’s Jayhawks win their first outright title, but it was close. Kansas and Texas A were tied when the Aggies won at KU (the Acie Law IV shot) and took the league lead with eight games remaining. But Kansas won them all, and the Aggies lost twice down the stretch, including a double-overtime setback at Texas, led by Kevin Durant.

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Best team:

Kansas

• 

League MVP:

Durant

• 

Best future pro:

Durant

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KU NCAA result:

Lost in Elite Eight

2007-08

1. Texas (13-3)

(tie) Kansas (13-3)

3. Kansas State (10-6)

It’s easy to forget but Kansas wasn’t the top seed in the Big 12 Tournament. Texas was because it beat the Jayhawks in their regular-season meeting. But Kansas beat the Longhorns for the third straight year in the conference tournament title game and went on to win it all.

• 

Best team:

Kansas

• 

League MVP:

Michael Beasley, Kansas State

• 

Best future pro:

Mario Chalmers, Kansas

• 

KU NCAA result:

Won NCAA title

2008-09

1. Kansas (14-2)

2. Oklahoma (13-3)

3. Missouri (12-4)

This season earned Self national coach of the year honors. With five new starters, although Sherron Collins had played starters minutes during the national title year, Kansas stunningly won its fifth straight Big 12 title. Oklahoma jumped to an 11-0 start, leading Kansas by one game. But Sooners’ star Blake Griffin suffered a concussion in the team’s first loss, to Texas. Next up was Kansas, and Griffin couldn’t play. Collins and Tyshawn Taylor had huge games as KU won in Norman. In their next game, Kansas took care of its other challenger, Missouri. A healthy Griffin could have ended the streak.

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Best team:

Oklahoma

• 

League MVP:

Griffin

• 

Best future pro:

Griffin

• 

KU NCAA result:

Lost in Sweet 16

2009-10

1. Kansas (15-1)

2. Kansas State (11-5)

(tie) Baylor (11-5)

(tie) Texas A (11-5)

KU dominated the regular season, losing at Tennessee and Oklahoma State before the NCAA Tournament. Against the three teams that finished tied for second, and including the Big 12 Tournament, the Jayhawks went 7-0.

• 

Best team:

Kansas

• 

League MVP:

James Anderson, Oklahoma State

• 

Best future pro:

Avery Bradley, Texas

• 

KU NCAA result:

Lost in round of 32

2010-11

1. Kansas (14-2)

2. Texas (13-3)

3. Texas A (10-6)

(tie) Kansas State (10-6)

For only the third time in the conference title streak, Kansas lost a Big 12 game in Allen Fieldhouse. This one to Texas, the day after Thomas Robinson’s mother died. But the Jayhawks never fell behind the Longhorns in the polls and once again defeated Texas for the Big 12 Tournament title.

• 

Best team:

Kansas

• 

League MVP:

Marcus Morris, Kansas

• 

Best future pro:

Tristan Thompson, Texas

• 

KU NCAA result:

Lost in Elite Eight

2011-12

1. Kansas (16-2)

2. Missouri (14-4)

3. Iowa State (12-6)

(tie) Baylor (12-6)

For the final scheduled Border War game, Missouri arrived at Allen Fieldhouse on Feb. 25 with three league losses and Kansas two. The Tigers had already beaten KU in Columbia, and a sweep would not only likely lead to at least a piece of the title but a final statement triumph. But the Jayhawks prevailed in overtime, an outcome that brought an arm’s raised triumph from Self.

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Best team:

Kansas

• 

League MVP:

Thomas Robinson, Kansas

• 

Best future pro:

Khris Middleton, Texas A

• 

KU NCAA result:

NCAA runner-up

2012-13

1. Kansas (14-4)

(tie) Kansas State (14-4)

3. Oklahoma State (13-5)

The Jayhawks swept the regular season from Kansas State, with no victory bigger than the one logged as Kansas was coming off a three-game losing streak that included a home loss to Oklahoma State.

• 

Best team:

Kansas

• 

League MVP:

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State

• 

Best future pro:

Ben McLemore, Kansas

• 

KU NCAA result:

Lost in Sweet 16

2013-14

Season concludes March 8.

With a three-game lead with three to play, the Jayhawks have clinched their 10th straight championship.

Conference records

Overall

: 138-25

Home

: 77-5

Road

: 61-20

Records by team

Kansas State:

16-4

Iowa State:

18-2

Missouri:

12-4

Nebraska:

14-0

Colorado:

14-0

Texas:

9-4

Oklahoma:

11-2

Oklahoma State:

9-3 (1 game remaining)

Baylor:

12-1

Texas Tech:

9-3 (1 game remaining)

Texas A

8-1

TCU:

3-1

West Virginia: 3-0 (1 game remaining)

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