The Kansas Jayhawks clinched their tenth consecutive Big 12 Conference regular season title Monday night in their 83-75 win over the Oklahoma Sooners. While Kansas’ streak has been impressive, it is only the second-longest active streak in college basketball. Sunday the Stanford Cardinal women’s basketball team secured their 14th consecutive Pac 12 Conference regular season crown. Kansas has gone on to win six of the last eight conference tournaments, and will be the heavy favorites this season.
Monday’s victory against the Sooners marked the first single digit home win for the Jayhawks since their narrow 80-78 victory over Oklahoma State on January 18. Kansas has won eight consecutive home games and they are one game away from going unbeaten in conference on their home court. Their home court dominance has been the biggest factor to Kansas securing the regular season crown.
Freshman guard Andrew Wiggins struggled mightily Monday night despite posting 15 points. Wiggins was 5-14 from the floor and could not finish at the rim the majority of the second half. Oklahoma had the lead late but could not hang on. The reason that Oklahoma squandered away a potentially big-time win was junior guard Naadir Tharpe. Tharpe had 12 of Kansas’ last 18 points in the final six minutes to put Oklahoma away. He was nearly perfect on the afternoon. His 19 points came on 6-7 shooting from the floor and 6-6 from the free throw line.
Tharpe has been the X factor for the Jayhawks this season. His sudden emergence in conference play has given Wiggins, Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid open looks. Tharpe has filled the seemingly vacant point guard position that plagued the Jayhawks in non-conference play. His 5.2 assists per game and 2.6 assist to turnover ratio has made the talent-laden Jayhawks lethally efficient. While his teammates get the majority of the ink, Tharpe is one of the biggest reasons that Kansas are yet again Big 12 Conference champions.