The Big 12 won the first three editions of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, but it has won just one of the last six after struggling on Saturday as the SEC picked up its second straight victory in the annual event with a 6-4 edge. Home teams in the event tallied a 9-1 record, meaning that it was No. 12 Kentucky's 80-62 thrashing of No. 5 Kansas on the road which decided the outcome of the annual conference clash.
With UK's decisive victory at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, it marks the first time in the nine-year history of the Big 12/SEC Challenge that the SEC has won in back-to-back years. In the event's other big showdown, Alabama knocked off No. 4 Baylor 87-78. The Big 12 wasn't without some glory, though, as TCU knocked off No. 19 LSU 77-68 to add another impressive win to its resume.
In the showdown's finale, Texas outlasted No. 18 Tennessee 52-51 in a defensive affair that came down to the final possession as Rick Barnes made his return to Texas.
Here's the final tally for the 2022 Big 12/SEC Challenge and an updated look at the year-by-year results:
Arkansas 77, West Virginia 68 - Recap
No. 1 Auburn 86, Oklahoma 68 - Recap
Alabama 87, No. 4 Baylor 78 - Norlander: Bama is back
Florida 81, Oklahoma State 72 - Recap
Ole Miss 67, Kansas State 56 - Recap
No. 12 Kentucky 80, No. 5 Kansas 62 - Takeaways
BIG 12 (4)
TCU 77, No. 19 LSU 68 - Recap
No. 23 Iowa State 67, Missouri 50 - Recap
No. 13 Texas Tech 76, Mississippi State 50 - Recap
Texas 52, No. 18 Tennessee 51 - Recap
2013-14: Big 12 (7-3)
2014-15: Big 12 (6-4)
2015-16: Big 12 (7-3)
2016-17: Tie (5-5)
2017-18: SEC (6-4)
2018-19: Big 12 (6-4)
2019-20: Tie (5-5)
2020-21: SEC (5-4)
2021-22: SEC (6-4)
Total: Big 12 leads 48-41
Between the Big 12/SEC Challenge and the handful of other games involving ranked teams, Saturday was jam-packed with college basketball action. Let's take a look at the biggest winners and losers of the day.
Winner: Texas beats Barnes in his return
Seventh-year Tennessee coach Rick Barnes returned to Texas for the first time since his tenure there ended following the 2014-15 season. The Longhorns offered a warm welcome to the man who led them to 16 NCAA Tournament appearances in 17 seasons. But they cut off the pleasantries once the ball was tipped and survived a furious Tennessee rally for a 52-51 win.
Texas took a 51-35 lead with 5:32 remaining on a Courtney Ramey lay-up before the No. 18 Volunteers (14-6) scored the next 16 points to tie the game with 1:23 to play. From there, Texas forward Timmy Allen drew a foul with six seconds left and made the second free throw to snap his team's scoring drought of over five minutes. Tennessee got one last look -- and it was a good one -- but a 3-pointer from Josiah Jordan-James rattled off and allowed the Longhorns (16-5) to escape with a victory.
Loser: Kansas slips in Bracketology
Kentucky junior forward Keion Brooks Jr. led the way with a career-high 27 points as the Wildcats demolished Kansas on the road 80-62. The victory easily qualifies as the most-impressive of the season for the Wildcats (17-4). It knocked the Jayhawks (17-3) off the projected No. 1 seed-line in CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm's projected NCAA Tournament field. With the outcome, Wisconsin will get a bump to the projected No. 1 seed line joining Baylor, Gonzaga and Auburn.
Winner: Baylor stays on No. 1 seed line
Since a 15-0 start, Baylor is just 4-3 over its last seven games following Saturday's loss at Alabama. But the inconsistency has come amid injuries to key players, and it hasn't hurt the Bears too much in Bracketology. Baylor began the day as the No. 2 overall seed in Palm's projected NCAA Tournament bracket. With the loss to Alabama, Palm was prepared to move the Bears to the No. 4 overall seed. But then Kansas suffered an 18-point home loss.
After the Jayhawks lost to Kentucky, the Bears are expected to be the No. 3 overall seed in the next Bracketology update with Kansas dropping to a No. 2 seed. Leading scorer LJ Cryer was missing Saturday for Baylor with a foot injury, and second-leading scorer James Akinjo played through a tailbone injury that left him as a game-time decision.
Winner: Duke's Griffin gets hot
Duke's 6-foot-6 freshman wing AJ Griffin continues to impress and is now shooting 50% from 3-point range for the season after going 5-for-5 from deep in No. 9 Duke's 74-65 win at Louisville. Griffin led all scorers with 22 points and was instrumental in rebuffing a feisty Cardinals' squad that rallied repeatedly. It was the second time in the last three games that Griffin has knocked down five 3-pointers, and his emergence as an elite perimeter threat has made the absence of Trevor Keels over the last three games far more manageable. None of his makes were more impressive than this deep, contested look at the halftime buzzer.
Loser: Michigan goes cold
Michigan was colder than a January morning in the Upper Peninsula from the outside and it led to an 83-67 loss against in-state rival Michigan State. The Wolverines (10-8, 4-4 Big Ten) saw their three-game losing streak end, in large part, due to a 3 of 19 shooting performance from 3-point range. The No. 10 Spartans (16-4, 7-2) hit 9 of 18 from the outside and never led by less than 10 in the final 16 minutes. A.J. Hoggard finished with 11 points and 10 assists for the Spartans.
Winner: TCU is legitimate (again)
Wait, wasn't TCU listed as a winner under this exact same subhead in this? Yes, yes it was. But in case you forgot, the Horned Frogs are legit. In a Big 12 crawling with danger, they continue to croak under the radar. Their latest Saturday conquest was a 77-68 win over No. 19 LSU. TCU (14-4) is now 5-1 on Saturdays this season with its only Saturday loss coming against then-No. 1 Baylor on Jan. 8. Saturday victims of the Horned Frogs include Texas A&M, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Iowa State and now LSU.
The Tigers got point guard Xavier Pinson back on Saturday after he missed five straight games due to a knee injury, but that wasn't enough to keep LSU from losing for the fourth time in its last five games.
Winner: Miami is still king of ACC
The Hurricanes won 73-62 at Georgia Tech, despite committing an uncharacteristic 16 turnovers. Getting it done on the road keeps the Hurricanes (16-5, 8-2 ACC) atop the conference standings as they hit the midway point of their league slate. A pair of one-point losses to Florida State are the only thing keeping Miami from being 10-0 in league play. A home showdown with Notre Dame awaits Wednesday in what will be a game between two of the league's top surprise teams.
Loser: Creighton collapses vs. Xavier
Creighton led 36-19 at halftime over No. 21 Xavier after shooting 51.7% and holding the Musketeers to just 22.9% shooting. But it was a classic tail of two halves, and Xavier got the better end on its way to a 74-64 victory. Jack Nunge scored all 16 of his points after halftime for the Musketeers (15-5, 5-4 Big East), who shot 65.5% in the second half while beginning the half on a 26-2 run.
Only four players made shots from the field in the second half for the Musketeers, but those four -- Nunge, Paul Scruggs, Zach Freemantle and Nate Johnson -- combined for 50 points in the second half.
Winner: UNC's offense shines
A pessimist might look at the fact that NC State scored 49 points in the second half against North Carolina on 51.9% shooting and see doom and despair in the Tar Heels' future. But taking an optimistic view of UNC's 100-80 win over NC State on Saturday shouldn't be too difficult. Yes, the defense is a work in progress, but the Tar Heels (15-6, 7-3) could have beaten anyone in college basketball with their first half offensive performance.
North Carolina hit 10 of 15 tries from 3-point range in the first half while jumping out to a 56-31 lead. Ultimately, starters Caleb Love, Armando Bacot, RJ Davis and Brady Manek each scored between 17 and 21 points as UNC ticked off its third straight win. Barring a defensive turnaround of epic proportions, this team's ceiling is limited. But offensive showings like the one it put forth Saturday make you wonder how good the Heels could be with a little more defense.
Loser: West Virginia cratering
West Virginia dropped its fifth straight game on Saturday when it second half rally came up short in a 77-68 loss at Arkansas. WVU trailed by 19 early in the second half before rallying to within 68-62 on a Sean McNeil 3-pointer with 4:42 remaining. However, their next field goal did not come until 27 seconds remained as Arkansas (16-5) improved its winning streak to six games. The Mountaineers (13-7) entered the day as the last No. 8 seed in Jerry Palm's Bracketology but will need to stop the bleeding soon to salvage their resume. Up next? A game at No. 4 Baylor on Monday and a date with No. 13 Texas Tech next Saturday.
Winner: Auburn holds serve
After playing its worst game of the season and narrowly avoiding a catastrophic upset during a 55-54 win at Missouri on Tuesday, No. 1 Auburn rebounded nicely on Saturday. The Tigers crushed Oklahoma 86-68 behind yet another dominant outing from their elite front court. Freshman phenom Jabari Smith bounced back from his 2 for 15 night at Mizzou to finish with 23 points and 12 rebounds against the Sooners. Kessler contributed 21 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. The winning streak for Auburn (20-1) is now at 17 games.
Loser: Arizona's offense
What's going on with the Wildcats? Four days after setting a season-low in scoring by 14 points in a 73-59 loss at UCLA, the No. 3 Wildcats posted their second-lowest scoring output of the season in a 67-56 win over Arizona State. Give them credit for overcoming a 3 for 23 shooting performance from 3-point range to beat a rival by double-digits. But the Sun Devils are terrible, and the last last couple offensive performances from this Arizona team have been concerning.
It could be as simple as getting second-leading scorer Azuolas Tubelis back to 100% as he's played limited minutes the last two games while working back from an ankle injury. But it's the wrong time for a team-wide shooting slump. With the No. 7 Bruins coming up again on Thursday, Arizona (17-2, 7-1 Pac-12) is at risk of getting swept by its chief competition in the Pac-12 title race.
Winner: Davidson's McKillop coaches 1,000th game
Davidson's 33rd-year coach Bob McKillop got a victory during his 1,000th career game as coach as the No. 25 Wildcats knocked off La Salle 77-69. McKillop has taken the program a long way since taking over in 1989 after coaching at Long Island Lutheran High School in New York.
The Wildcats won seven games before the season he arrived and went 4-24 in his first season. But he's amassed a 624-376 career record and got the Wildcats into the AP Top 25 this week for the first time since the 2014-15 season. It may be a short-lived stay for the Wildcats, who dropped a 70-68 heartbreaker against VCU earlier in the week. But don't be surprised if the program McKillop inherited just after Ronald Reagan left office ends up advancing in this season's NCAA Tournament.
Winner: Seattle overcomes slow start
Seattle's season began in turmoil when head coach Jim Hayford resigned on Nov. 11 amid allegations he used a racial slur. It was under those circumstances that associate head coach Chris Victor got the interim job, and it's against that backdrop that the Redhawks are now 17-4. Saturday's win was one of the biggest yet for Seattle, which knocked off Sam Houston State 78-63 after trailing by 19 points in the first half.
Under Victor's direction, Seattle is now three wins away from matching its best season since rejoining the Division I ranks for the 2009-10 season. The program's eight league victories are the most conference wins the Redhawks have posted since joining the WAC for the 2012-13 season.
Loser: Florida State completes bad week
An 85-72 loss to Virginia Tech on Saturday completed a horrendous week for the Seminoles, who had won six straight until a 75-61 loss at Georgia Tech on Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets were 1-6 in league play before knocking off FSU, and Virginia Tech was just 2-7 in league play before Saturday. FSU was a projected No. 11 seeds in Jerry Palm's Bracketology entering the day and didn't help their case with a Quad 2 loss against the Hokies.
Loser: Brutal beat for Illinois bettors
When Illinois guard Alfonso Plummer knocked down two free throws with four seconds left to put Illinois ahead 59-53, most bettors who had Illinois probably breathed a sigh of relief. The Illini closed as 5.5-point favorites against the Wildcats, and the six-point cushion also insulated those who snagged them earlier at -4.5 or -3.5. But then Boo Buie wrecked those payouts with a meaningless last-second 3-pointer. It's too bad for those Illini bettors. But good for the Northwestern fans. Your team may have lost a home game, but Buie made sure to have your back.