Checking In On… The Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 30th, 2012

Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Jayhawks Tumble In Ames: Kansas lost its first conference game, losing 74-62 to Iowa State in Ames. Kansas didn’t make many shots and sent the Cyclones to the foul line, but what will undoubtedly make Bill Self the angriest is the general lack of effort. Kansas had the second-lowest offensive rebound rate of Self’s tenure, and there were multiple times when a lone Cyclone got a loose ball despite three Jayhawks being around it. It certainly won’t be a fun couple of practices for the Jayhawks this week as they get prepped for Missouri.
  • Nash Bash: Like Kansas, Missouri was bitten by the upset bug, losing 79-72 in Stillwater. LeBryan Nash had by far the best game of his college career, pouring in 27 points on 12-18 shooting (3-4 from three), and the Cowboys held Missouri to just 4-19 shooting from distance. Missouri probably has the best offense in the country, but it is so dependent on jump shots that when they have an off night in that department, they seem to be a bit more vulnerable to an upset than the best offense in the country should be.
  • White Shows His Stripes: ESPN had a very nice story on Iowa State forward Royce White, highlighting some of the issues he has had in his life with anxiety. White had numerous criminal and other behavior issues while at Minnesota and while his anxiety should not be used as a blanket excuse, it is yet another caution that we as fans should not make our minds up about a player’s character without knowing the full story.

After Spinning His Wheels For Most Of The Season, LeBryan Nash Raised The Roof In Stillwater. (AP)

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (17-4, 7-1): The Jayhawks remain in first in the rankings due to their loss being “better” than Missouri’s. They are just now hitting the meat of their conference schedule, with three of their next five games on the road at Missouri, Baylor, and Kansas State. Winning all three of them will all but lock up the conference title for Kansas, but if they play like they did in Ames they will be lucky to win one of them, and their streak of Big 12 titles could be over.
  2. Missouri (17-2, 4-1): The Tigers, as I mentioned above, rebounded nearly half of their misses at Baylor over the weekend and shot 68% from two, with Ricardo Ratliffe scoring 27 points on 11-14 shooting.  All season, they have struggled rebounding and at defending the two-point shot, so questions about how they will react when faced with size in the tournament are still valid, but they answered some of those questions on Saturday.
  3. Baylor (19-2, 6-2): Baylor struggled to put Texas away at home, but with the help of their neon t-shirt-clad crowd, they managed to hold off the Horns despite forcing Texas to turn it over on just 13.2% of their possessions. Pierre Jackson struggled in the game, going just 2-7 from the floor and turning it over five times. But it could be good news for Baylor that they won with Jackson playing so poorly, especially considering just how good he has been this year.
  4. Iowa State (15-6, 5-3): Royce White is the only major conference player to have or share his team’s lead in points, rebounds, assists, and steals per game, and he had another big game on Saturday in the upset over Kansas. He had 18 points, nine rebounds, and five assists, all of which were team-highs. As a team, the Cyclones made 25 of 34 free throws, a big part of their upset.
  5. Kansas State (15-5, 4-4): Jordan Henriquez was reinstated to the team and played Wednesday against Texas Tech and Saturday against Oklahoma, but he played in only three minutes on Wednesday. He got more playing time against the Sooners however, and rewarded Frank Martin by scoring nine points on 3-3 shooting and grabbing rebounds. Still, two losses to Oklahoma have to be troubling for the Wildcats’ resume.
  6. Texas (13-8, 3-5): Texas almost beat Baylor in Waco, but struggled a bit down the stretch, with J’Covan Brown committing an offensive foul, Myck Kabongo missing a pair of layups and a free throw, and Alexis Wangmene missing two free throws. The Longhorns have lost four of their last five with three of those coming on the road.
  7. Oklahoma State (10-11, 3-5): The Cowboys got the best game of LeBryan Nash’s college career to score a huge upset over Missouri, and get into a four-way tie for sixth in the league. Using the Cowboys’ percentages this year, they should have scored only just over 60 points in the game, but instead scored 79.
  8. Oklahoma (13-7, 3-5): Steven Pledger scored 30 points in 11-17 shooting (4-7 from three) to give the Sooners their biggest win of the year in Manhattan. Their reward? A trip to Kansas before hosting Iowa State and Missouri. A sweep could put the Sooners into the NCAA Tournament discussion, but it’s hardly a good bet.
  9. Texas A&M (12-8, 3-5): The Aggies put in a valiant effort in Allen Fieldhouse, losing only by ten, and backing that up with a win over Oklahoma State. They are holding opponents to just 27.2% from three in Big 12 play, but despite scoring 76 points in 65 possessions against the Cowboys, they still rank seventh in the conference in eFG, turnover rate, and offensive rebounding.
  10. Texas Tech (7-13,  0-8): After losing to Missouri on Saturday Tech, head coach Billy Gillispie expressed his frustration at losing so many games, but they host Oklahoma State this week in what could be their best chance for a Big 12 win.

Can Steven Pledger Carry The Sooners Into The Tournament Discussion? (SoonerSports.com)

Looking Ahead

  • Kansas at Missouri – Saturday, February 4 – ESPN College Gameday will be in the house as the conference’s top two teams go head-to-head. It will be a great match-up of strengths, pitting the conference’s best offense against its best defense. Whether Tyshawn Taylor and Travis Releford can contain Marcus Denmon, Phil Pressey, and Kim English should decide this game. Missouri will have five days to prepare following a Big Monday game against Texas, so expect the Tigers to be at their best.
  • Oklahoma at Iowa State – Saturday, February 4 – This will be a pivotal game for both schools as a loss will severely damage their respective NCAA Tournament hopes. It will also be a fun meeting of stars, with Royce White and Steven Pledger going head-to-head.
  • Missouri at Texas – Monday, January 30– Missouri has lost three of its last four in Austin and won just one Big 12 road game last year. With their big match-up with Kansas looming next weekend, they could be vulnerable if they overlook Texas.

Caught on Film

In what has to be the dunk of the year, Oklahoma State’s Markel Brown threw down an alley-oop on Matt Pressey. Brown then got one of the weakest ejections ever for staring him down, but really it was just an ill-intentioned look in his direction. Either way, the dunk was awesome, and the Cowboys managed to pull off the upset despite not having Brown’s services for the rest of the game.

Brian Goodman (756 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.


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