Checking In On… the Big 12Posted by Brian Goodman on November 21st, 2011
The Week That Was
- Texas A&M Plays Well Without Middleton: With star forward Khris Middleton out nursing a knee injury Texas A&M handled themselves well in New York, narrowly losing to Mississippi State and beating St. John’s. With Middleton out, defense has been the name of the game for the Aggies, who have not allowed an opponent to score a point per possession yet. Unfortunately for the Aggies, they only have scored more than a point per possession in two of their four games. Offensively the Aggies have rebounded reasonably well without Middleton, but have been unable to score consistently. They had just a 46.7% eFG vs. St. John’s and a 46.3% against Mississippi State.
- Top-Flight Tigers: Missouri has scored 83, 81, and 83 points in their first three games. Granted they have played Southeast Missouri State, Mercer, and Niagara, but with each of the games being around 70 possessions, the Tiger offense has been clicking in midseason form. They are still playing about as quickly as they did under Mike Anderson, and still are taking care of the ball extremely well (their 14.6% turnover rate is 15th-best nationally). They are only shooting 45.7% from two, however, so it will be interesting to see how well they can score when their 48.3% three point percentage regresses a bit.
- Heavyweight Match-ups Approaching?: As I mentioned in the poll question, a number of Big 12 teams will be participating in holiday tournaments. Kansas faces Georgetown in the Maui Invitational, and with either UCLA or Chaminade waiting in the second round, a championship match-up with Duke (or perhaps a 2008 national title game rematch with Memphis) is a real possibility. Texas lost to Oregon State in the Legends Classic semifinals, but should be very encouraged by the play of J’Covan Brown, who is averaging almost 30 points per game on over 50% shooting so far this year.
- Kansas (1-1): Despite having Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson, two enigmatic guards, as their primary ball handlers, the Jayhawks have turned it over fewer than all but four teams in the country. Oddly enough, though, they are getting their shots blocked more often than all but 15 teams in the country. Playing Kentucky will do that, but with Thomas Robinson and seven- footer Jeff Withey in the middle it should not be happening this much. The Jayhawks have been good defensively despite opponents shooting nearly 42% from three so once that regresses a bit the Jayhawks should be one of the stingiest defensive teams in America.
- Baylor (3-0): The Bears struggled to put San Diego State away, but with Perry Jones III suspended that is not that unexpected. Though Baylor is probably the most talented team in the conference, its ceiling is limited because of their lack of consistent guard play. Baylor is turning it over on 23.3% of their possessions so far, which is above the 20% teams generally strive to maintain. Baylor does have a lot of size and length inside though, which contributes to them allowing opponents to shoot only 34.2% from two.
- Missouri (3-0): The Tigers have not been forcing turnovers at their normal rate, but they still are taking care of the ball incredibly well, which is impressive because they are still playing at the same blistering pace they did under Mike Anderson. Frank Haith’s Miami teams frequently were ranked in the bottom rung in terms of pace, but this year, he has the Tigers averaging over 71 possessions per game, which calls back to Mike Anderson’s up-tempo squads. Missouri is forcing turnovers over 24.3% of the time, but it is virtually equal to last year’s rate, which was among the top ten in the country.
- Texas (2-1): J’Covan Brown has been awesome over the first three games, scoring 28, 35, and 25 points. He also has a 62.7% eFG, which is incredible for a guard and one scoring as many points as he is. The Horns have rebounded reasonably well on the offensive end, snagging 38.3% of the available offensive rebounds, but have been abysmal defensively with just a 42.2% rate. They should be better-situated than most teams in close games however, as they shoot 76.7% from the line as a team.
- Texas A&M (3-1): The Aggies have been better than you would think without Khris Middleton, their best player. Their 57.1% from two is among the best in the country, and they have gotten just 3% of their shots blocked, which ranks 12th. They have also rebounded reasonably well despite Middleton being out, or perhaps because he is out given that he only had a 13% defensive rebounding rate next year. A&M gets the week off before playing five cupcakes and then comes a marquee date with Florida at the Orange Bowl Classic.
- Oklahoma State (3-0): As of now, the Cowboys are much more advanced defensively than offensively. They are allowing just a 39.5% eFG but are also shooting under 50% from two. They also are allowing opponents to grab just 23.4% of their own misses. I was probably a bit too quick to anoint LeBryan Nash as the next big thing as the freshman as he is shooting just 12-36 on the season, and 1-9 from three. Nash’s play is a microcosm of the Cowboy offense in general, which has been a touch sluggish out of the gate.
- Kansas State (2-0): The Wildcats are playing some out of control basketball right now, turning it over 24.1% of the time, which ranks them low nationally, and they force opponents to turn it over on 27.5% of their possessions, which is among basketball’s best. Their games also feature a ton of offensive rebounds, as the Wildcats rank 36th in offensive rebounding but just 298th defensively. And stop me if you’ve heard this before, but they aren’t a great free throw shooting team, making just 63.1% of their free throws.
- Oklahoma (2-0): The Sooners are a pretty terrible shooting team, converting at just a 43.2% clip inside the arc, but they’re still over a point per possession due to an absurd 52.3% offensive rebound rate. Given that they’ve played Idaho State and Coppin State, I imagine that rate will go down a bunch, and when it does, their offensive numbers will not look pretty in the slightest.
- Texas Tech (3-0): The Billy Gillispie era is off to a good start, as the Red Raiders have a sublime 59.2% eFG. Like Oklahoma, they’re going to regress a bit in that category, and with them turning it over on 27% of their possessions against some subpar competition, their offensive numbers probably won’t look so great come midseason. They’re also struggling a bit defensively, only forcing opponents to turn it over on 16.9% of their possessions and allowing them to shoot 50% from two.
- Iowa State (2-1): The Cyclones are terrible defensively. They are 243rd in eFG allowed, 280th in turnovers forced, 307th in two-point defense and, not that they can help it, 321st in free throw percentage allowed. Their defense should be in front of their offense given how they need time for some new blood to gel so the fact that the defense has been so bad so far has to be a major concern for Cyclone fans.
Spotlight on… Freshmen
Baylor Freshman Quincy Miller is off to a fast start, leading the team scoring 18 points per game. He’s done it efficiently as well with a 60% eFG, which includes him shooting 6-9 from three. Miller has shown flashes of brilliance both inside and outside and can run the floor and handle the ball well as well. His rebounding needs some work, but other than that he appears to be the complete package.
On the flip side, Oklahoma State’s LeBryan Nash has had a rough start to his college career. It has only been three games, and he has a lot less talent around him than Miller does at Baylor, but he has just a 34.7% eFG, and has only a 9% offensive rebounding percentage and 14.4% defensive rebounding rate.
Caught on Film
There was no shortage in great plays by Big 12 teams this past week, but the best was probably this Quincy Acy dunk against San Diego State during the 24-Hour Tip-Off Marathon, which got a mention on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays.