After both Wildcat and Jayhawk basketball teams were declared co-champions of the Big 12 regular season, the fan bases in Manhattan and Lawrence have been both staking their claim to the conference title. Both teams are tied at 14-4 in the conference and both have a chance to clinch it outright.
On Saturday, the tournament champions and the claim to bragging rights will be determined once and for all as the Wildcats and Jayhawks square off at the Sprint Center for the Big 12 Championship title game. Both teams will have the chance to win their final conference game of the season and head into the NCAA tournament with momentum on their side.
The Jayhawks were able to defeat the Iowa State Cyclones 88-73 in the first game of the semi-final round behind a career high 23 points by freshman forward Perry Ellis.
After a chippy beginning that saw freshman star Ben McLemore and head coach Bill Self each get a technical foul, the Jayhawks got things going on the offensive end.
In the second half, the Jayhawks got off to a 20-8 run to start things, and were able to hold the Cyclones at arm’s length the rest of the way in front of a record-crowd of 19,160, advancing to their 10th Big 12 championship game.
After falling to the Jayhawks 72-64 in the 2010 championship game, the Wildcats will look to avenge their loss in their second title appearance.
In their semi-final matchup against Oklahoma State, the Wildcats, led by the 25 points and nine rebounds from senior forward Rodney McGruder, defeated the Cowboys 68-57.
After a first half that saw both teams struggle to hit from the offensive end, the Wildcats were able to pull away in the second half, largely in part to the play of McGruder and sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez’s 17 points. The duo combined to score 29 of the Wildcats 40 second half points.
It has been going on all week between both fan-bases, and they have both been able to bring up valid points. “KU has beaten K-State both times”, or “K-State didn’t go and lose to TCU.”
While both of these arguments are valid, the time for the talk to end is nearing us. Come 5 p.m. Saturday evening at the Sprint Center, the debate will be settled once and for all where it should be: the basketball court.
As former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owns once said, “Get your popcorn ready,” because this, ladies and gentlemen, is going to be an absolute treat.
Mark Kern is a senior in print journalism. Please send comments to [email protected]