NORMAN, Okla. — A Big 12 basketball champion or co-champions will be crowned on Saturday, and for the first time since 2004 the Kansas Jayhawks won’t claim the title. Bill Self’s program saw its 14-season reign of supremacy end on Tuesday night with a 81-68 loss at Oklahoma.
In 2004, Tony Allen and John Lucas led the Oklahoma State Cowboys to a 14-2 conference record and title, with Kansas finishing tied with Texas at 12-4. Ever since, the Jayhawks have owned the Big 12 with 10 outright regular season titles and four shared titles. It’s the best run in NCAA history, one more than UCLA’s 13 conference titles between 1967-1979.
Between the 2004-2005 season and 2017-2018 season, the Jayhawks posted a 196-36 conference record, good for an .844 winning percentage. Seven of KU’s titles came after the Big 12 moved to a round-robin conference schedule where they played each opponent home and away. The Big 12 has been the top-ranked conference by strength of schedule and simple rating system each of the last five seasons.
This season started out with lofty expectations in Lawrence, as Kansas was named the preseason #1 team in the AP Top 25 poll, and started 10-0. But a season-ending hand injury for big man Udoka Azubuike, and the NCAA eligibility saga that ended with Silvio De Sousa sidelined through next season left a young Jayhawks team thin in the front court and short on depth. Complicating challenges further, sharpshooter Lagerald Vick left the team for personal reasons at the beginning of February, his absence is indefinite.
But despite those key losses, and a dismal road record that’s now 3-8, Kansas still had a shot a sharing a title with two wins this week and a loss apiece for Kansas State and Texas Tech. Instead, the Red Raiders and Wildcats each play on Saturday looking for at least a share of the title with a win.
Kansas is now 22-8 (11-6) and ends the regular season hosting Baylor at Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon.