LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Your turn, Oklahoma.
Should Oklahoma win Saturday, the Jayhawks and Sooners could potentially stand 1-2 in the polls, marking the first matchup between Nos. 1 and 2 since Kentucky and Michigan State squared off in the 2013 Champions Classic. But it will be the first time two in-conference rivals faced one another as the top two vote-getters since 2007. Back then it was Wisconsin and Ohio State.
So how did Kansas get here? Against Baylor, at least, with ridiculous ease. Baylor led once in the entire game ... at 1-0.
Offense and then more offense: You’d be hard-pressed to put together a prettier box score (although beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and Baylor probably has a different opinion) than what Kansas put together against the Bears.
The Jayhawks shot the ball well -- 53.7 percent from the floor, 57.9 from behind the arc. They scored in transition (15 points), in the paint (40), from the bench (28) and pretty much however and wherever they wanted. Maybe most impressive of all, they shared the ball selflessly. Kansas had 20 assists on 36 made baskets. That’s a critical number for a team with as much talent as Kansas has. It would be easy, understandable even, for any one of the Jayhawks to try to get his, so to speak. Instead, they are in constant search of the extra pass.
But that’s really who the Jayhawks are. They rank seventh in the nation in scoring, averaging 87.2 points per game. Four guys rank within five points of each other in scoring, and they average 18.5 assists per game.
Mix in Wayne Selden Jr., playing arguably the best basketball of his career (he had 24 against Baylor, on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor, 5-of-6 from 3-point range), and the chronically underrated Perry Ellis (17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists) and you’ve got the makings of a team that is very difficult to beat.
If you want to find fault ... And no doubt Bill Self will need to find something, the Jayhawks twice let Baylor at least enjoy a glimmer of hope. In both the first and second halves, Kansas allowed the Bears to see daylight, cutting a one-time 20-point lead in each to 13.
Thirteen is still pretty significant, and the Jayhawks are going to win games with their offense, but their defense has to be at least consistent enough to bury teams.
Baylor isn’t Oklahoma or Iowa State, two teams that can match Kansas bucket for bucket, so keeping the pressure on is going to matter here in a hurry.
What if it’s a 1 versus 1? It’s possible that, with an Oklahoma win, we could see the even more rare No. 1 versus No. 1 matchup. Kansas is the second vote-getter to Michigan State in the Associated Press poll, but in the coaches’ poll, Oklahoma stood behind the Spartans. If the two voting groups follow their voting patterns, it will be 1 versus 1.
Comprehensive stats on the coaches’ poll are hard to come by, so it’s unclear how many times No. 1 has faced No. 1, but our crackerjack folks at ESPN Stats & Information said that it has happened before. In that 2007 game between Wisconsin and Ohio State, the Badgers were tops in the AP poll, while the Buckeyes held the top spot in the coaches’ ranking.