Conference leaders dwindling down

With a loss to Baylor Saturday, OSU proved it is immortal. If they drop to Oklahoma Wednesday night, however, the Cowboys could be too far down the ladder to climb back up.

Big 12 quartet could become three soon

The Kansas City Star

Three weeks left in the season and the Big 12 race is down to four. It may be three after Wednesday.

That's when Oklahoma State travels to Oklahoma. Another loss by the Cowboys, who fell from No. 13 to No. 16 in the Associated Press poll after Saturday's stunning home defeat to Baylor, and Oklahoma State will be fighting to maintain a top-four position -- important because it means a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

Kansas' 9-1 record put the Jayhawks one game ahead of Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State heading into Monday night's game between the Longhorns and Texas Tech.

The sixth-ranked Jayhawks, 19-5 overall, are bidding for their second straight league championship and fourth in seven years. They have games remaining at home against Colorado, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, and travel to Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Missouri.

The fifth-ranked Sooners, 17-4 overall, fell at Oklahoma State 48-46 earlier this season in a game that produced a controversial final few seconds. Replays showed the winning basket, scored by Victor Williams with about 5 seconds remaining, came after the shot clock had expired.

"But you know what?" Oklahoma coach Kelvin Sampson said during Monday's coaches' teleconference. "Our three best foul shooters (Hollis Price, Ebi Ere and Quannas White) went six for 12 in that game. That was something we could have controlled."

Oklahoma State, 19-4, has wobbled over the last two weeks. The Cowboys have lost three of five. Baylor, which entered the game tied for last in the Big 12, nailed 14 three-pointers in its victory. The Bears' 74 points were by far the most an opponent had scored in Gallagher-Iba Arena this season.

"They would have beaten a lot of teams the way they played," Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton said.

Baylor had lost 22 straight road games and had lost by 49 at Oklahoma less than two weeks earlier. Bears coach Dave Bliss said he thought the Cowboys may have overlooked his team.

"We have no pretense about who we are," Bliss said. "We had a terrific game against a wonderful basketball team. I'm sure they were looking ahead and we may have caught them on an off night."

Missouri, 6-4 in the Big 12, battles to join the first-round bye crowd but will need help from the teams above. The Tigers have games remaining against two of them -- Oklahoma and Kansas -- in Columbia.

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