Bob Lutz: KU’s Big 12 dominance still stunning

The Wichita Eagle

Being a fan of the Kansas basketball team is like being a fan of the sun coming up. You’re probably not going to be disappointed.

The Jayhawks are as consistently good as any team in the country. When they lose a game at Allen Fieldhouse, people pinch themselves. They don’t lose much, period.

I’m telling you what you already know, but it’s worthy of repetition. Kansas won another home game Wednesday night, holding off Iowa State. Since the 1994-95 season — that’s 20 seasons — the Jayhawks have lost 15 home games.

During that span, KU has had home winning streaks of 62, 33, 25 and 20 games.

I was at Allen Fieldhouse when the Jayhawks lost to Oklahoma State last season and I’m still kicking myself for not taking a picture of the scoreboard when it showed the final score. A KU loss at home is that rare.

KU has been just as dominant in its conference since the Big 12 formed in 1996.

Of course, the Big 12 came along because of football. Kansas has done little to increase the fortunes of the conference in the sport that matters most.

Remember just a couple of years when all of the realignment of conferences was happening? Kansas was rarely mentioned because, well, the Jayhawks just don’t play good football as a rule.

Kansas is a basketball powerhouse. KU might be a fish out of water in the football-oriented Big 12, but the Jayhawks are doing to this conference in hoops what Wall Street did to the economy in 2008.

The numbers are unbelievable. The consistency is remarkable. The dominance is supreme.

The Big 12 is in its 18th season and Kansas has finished lower than second once. That was a fifth-place finish in 1999-2000, the same season KU lost three home games. That qualifies as an unmitigated disaster.

As you know, Kansas is working on capturing its 10th straight Big 12 championship. That’s the Big 12, not the Horizon or the MEAC.

Most Big 12 schools put the better part of their resources into football, yes, but they are doing what they can, too, to win in basketball. But Kansas is perpetually in the way.

The Jayhawks have 13 Big 12 championships in 17 years. Oklahoma State, Texas and Iowa State (twice) have the other outright titles. Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma have been co-champions with KU.

Kansas, 7-0 this season in the Big 12, has a two-game lead in the loss column over Texas and Oklahoma. Oklahoma State was the preseason favorite, but the Cowboys are in the midst of a slump.

Remember when Kansas was in a slump? Yeah, neither do I.

The Jayhawks have lost four non-conference games this season, including one at home to San Diego State. I suppose that’s a slump. But considering KU has the nation’s No. 1 RPI because of a terrific non-conference schedule, and has jumped to No. 6 in the rankings, it appears the ship has been righted.

Kansas is playing outstanding basketball. Freshman Andrew Wiggins is becoming a star. A little later than we thought, but it’s still happening. Fellow freshmen Joel Embiid and Wayne Selden aren’t that far behind. And with sophomore Perry Ellis and junior point guard Naadir Tharpe playing at high levels, the Jayhawks are loaded.

Kansas is to the Big 12 what Queen Elizabeth is to Great Britain — firmly entrenched on the throne.

The Jayhawks are 238-45 in Big 12 play. That’s an .841 winning percentage.

For comparison, right-hander Al Spalding has the best winning percentage of any pitcher in major-league history. From 1871 through 1877, while pitching for the Boston Red Stockings and Chicago Cubs, Spalding was 252-65 (.795). This guy was 54-5 for Boston in 1875 after going 52-16 the previous season and he still wasn’t as dominant as Kansas has been in the Big 12.

Only nine of those 45 conference losses have come at Allen Fieldhouse. Bill Self, in his 11th season, has dropped five conference home games.

The Big 12 sets them up, the Jayhawks knock them down.

Take a look at KU’s records against Big 12 opponents since 1996-97. A hint: They’re ridiculous.

Baylor, 18-2; Colorado, 29-1; Iowa State, 28-8; Kansas State, 32-3; Missouri, 23-9; Nebraska, 27-3; Oklahoma, 17-3; Oklahoma State, 15-5; Texas, 14-5; TCU, 2-1; Texas A&M, 16-1; Texas Tech, 15-4; West Virginia, 2-0.

While Kansas has amassed 238 Big 12 wins, Texas comes in next with 183. Then it’s OU (164), Oklahoma State (158), Missouri (137), Kansas State (125) and Iowa State (123).

Remarkable. And always good to be reminded of just how remarkable.