Big 12 M5: 01.07.13 Edition
Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 7th, 2013
- Amidst the hoopla of the NFL wildcard playoffs, Sunday afternoon gave us a sneaky good game with Kansas taking on Temple in Lawrence. At halftime, KU held on to a six-point lead while in the locker room, Bill Self laid into his senior Travis Releford, who had committed two turnovers and two fouls in 12 first half minutes. “He [Self] got into me. I can’t relay the message over an interview. He let me know I need to change it because I didn’t come ready to play early on,” Johnson said in a post-game interview. Whatever Self said must have worked. He finished a perfect 5-of-5 from the field including a key three-pointer with 35 seconds left to finish off the victory. It’s scary how good of a coach Self is. Score 2,945,967 for Self. (WARNING: scoring may be unofficial but probably isn’t.)
- Moving back one day to the first Saturday of the conference slate, we got a showcase of two nationally-ranked teams and a couple of the best players in the Big 12. For Oklahoma State, it could have gone better. The Cowboys went into the locker room with a narrow 32-30 lead but later lost it as Kansas State erupted for 43 points in the second half to run away with a 73-67 victory. Maybe this mini-slide from OSU was to be expected. We know that they’ve longed for the tougher part of their schedule to arrive but since they have now lost to Gonzaga and K-State in back-to-back games, maybe they aren’t who we thought they were either. It’s not time to panic just yet, as OSU has TCU, rival Oklahoma and Texas Tech in their next three (all winnable) games. Hopefully winning those three games is what they need to get back on track.
- On the other side, it’s time we officially welcome back Rodney McGruder as a premier player in this league. He had a 22-point effort against USC Upstate on December 2 but then went a combined 7-of-27 in the two games afterward. Now it seems that he’s learning to flourish in Bruce Weber’s motion offense. In the last five games, McGruder is averaging 19.8 PPG which includes making nearly half of his field goal attempts (49%). Kansas State is now 2-2 against ranked opponents and should now see their national ranking improve. I know the Wildcats can’t afford to overlook opponents but I can. January 22 vs the Jayhawks in the Octagon? Can’t wait.
- I guess West Virginia has become an unexpected punching bag in the Big 12. A program that made the Sweet Sixteen in 2008 and then a Final Four two years later lost to Oklahoma for the second time — 67-57, this time — in its conference home opener. I didn’t expect the Mountaineers to contend for an NCAA Tournament bid this year but I thought Bob Huggins would at least be able to get this team to overachieve and make things interesting down the stretch of the season. A 7-6 record just one game into January? If I’m Huggins, I believe it’s time to see what you have to develop this season and start looking towards 2013-14.
- A day before the Longhorns fell to Baylor in overtime Saturday, Texas received its first verbal commitment for the Class of 2013. Isaiah Taylor, a 6’2″ point guard out of The Village School in Houston, was evidently the only point guard offered by UT. Barking Carnival describes the three-star prospect as a guard with “elite quickness” who “excels at breaking guys down off the dribble and dishing for easy shots.” That sounds like just about every starting point guard at Texas since T.J. Ford. According to ESPN, Taylor chose Texas over Alabama, SMU, Fresno State, and Creighton, among other schools. Texas still has one scholarship available for next season.