Big 12 M5: 12.11.13 Edition
Posted by Brian Goodman on December 11th, 2013
- It’s been a long two weeks for Kansas, and the Jayhawks took another lump on Tuesday night, dropping their second straight game and their third in the last 11 days, in a loss to Florida. Andrew Wiggins was fantastic, leading all scorers with 26 points, or put another way, roughly one point for every time a draft analyst has changed his mind about him. The freshman phenom just didn’t get the help he needed as the Kansas guards turned the ball over at an astronomical rate, giving the Gators enough extra possessions to reel off a 21-0 run over eight-plus minutes in the first half. The Jayhawks made a run and got as close as five points from tying the game, but couldn’t get over the hump. We’ll have more on Kansas’ struggles later today, but while we aren’t jumping ship on Bill Self’s team, it’s tough not to look ahead and wonder how KU’s non-conference losses will impact their NCAA Tournament seeding no matter what happens in Big 12 play.
- We’ve yet to hit winter break, but West Virginia has really painted itself into a corner after losing to Gonzaga last night. The Mountaineers have no quality wins on their resume to counteract losses to Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, Missouri, and now the Bulldogs. They’re essentially out of opportunities to make an impression in non-conference play, which makes their margin for error razor-thin. According to KenPom, WVU has a top-50 offense and top-100 defense but their at-large hopes will rest on their ability to do damage against the top half of the Big 12 while avoiding losses to the league’s bottom-dwellers.
- Oklahoma‘s improvement this season has been one of the more overlooked stories around the conference, but the Sooners were dealt a blow at practice Tuesday morning when guard Je’lon Hornbeak broke a bone in his left foot. The sophomore will miss four to six weeks, and if that timetable holds true to form, it pegs his return a few games into conference play. While Hornbeak is sidelined, the Sooners should be fine against Tulsa and Texas-Arlington, but their match-ups against Texas A&M, Louisiana Tech, Texas, Kansas, Iowa State and Kansas State just got a little more challenging. Hornbeak didn’t start for Oklahoma, but Lon Kruger’s team will need to find some extra depth on their bench to bide the time – either that or hope for a surprisingly early return a la Melvin Ejim.
- Five days after squeaking by Ole Miss, Kansas State pulled another escape job at home, toughing out a 65-62 win over South Dakota last night. Freshman guard Marcus Foster led the way with 18 points, but needed 20 shots from the floor to get there. The Wildcats just aren’t getting the balance they need offensively to show that they can compete with the better teams in the Big 12; Foster and Shane Southwell combined to take 34 of Kansas State’s 62 shots on Tuesday, and were actually outshot by the Coyotes to boot. While they’ll happily take the win, the Wildcats did very little to instill much confidence going forward.
- After all of those downers, let’s end today’s M5 on a happy note, shall we? With Finals Week lightening the slate, it’s a good time to evaluate how teams are doing, and perhaps no unit has been as impressive as Iowa State‘s offense. The Cyclones lead the nation in points per game and are second in assists per contest, and as we noted yesterday, three different players on Fred Hoiberg’s roster have taken home Big 12 Player Of The Week honors. They aren’t without their shortcomings — poor offensive rebounding and a defense that hasn’t shown much interest in turning other teams over — but for all the talk of Oklahoma State and Kansas being the alpha dogs this season, it is Iowa State that owns the league’s only undefeated record.