Big 12 Quarterfinal Takeaways: Kansas, Baylor Advance

Posted by Greg Mitchell on March 10th, 2016

“Shadows” could’ve been the theme of the Big 12’s first quarterfinal session, as two teams (Baylor and Kansas State) faced opponents (Texas and Kansas) that, at least in the opinion of many Longhorn and Jayhawk fans, cast a long shadow over their respective intrastate rivals. Here are the main takeaways from lopsided wins by the Bears and Jayhawks.

Kansas got past Kansas State to set up a semifinal match up with Baylor (

Kansas got past Kansas State to set up a semifinal match up with Baylor (

Baylor: The Bears convincing 75-61 win over Texas was paced by Taurean Prince (24 points, 13 rebounds), whose aggressiveness on the glass contributed to a massive Baylor rebounding advantage (46-27 in total rebounds). The main takeaway, however, was a potential resurgence of Baylor’s zone, which held the Longhorns to just 38.3 percent shooting from the field. Perhaps more importantly, it prevented Isaiah Taylor from getting into the lane and creating offense. No matter what happens against Kansas in the semifinals, this defense-fueled victory was a confidence boost for a team that finished the regular season by losing three of four. Rico Gathers also generated some late season momentum (13 points, 9 rebounds) with his best game in over a month.

Texas: In terms of effective field goal percentage (42.5 percent), this was the Longhorns’ fourth worst shooting performance of the season. Probably not the ideal way to enter the NCAA Tournament, but the figure is skewed by a number of point blank misses that usually fall for the Longhorns but didn’t today. Still, that type of “sluggish” start, as Taylor called it, won’t work well in the Tournament. “We’ll get another opportunity next week,” Shaka Smart said after the game. “But you know what, if we bring the same approach in that game, our first game, then we won’t stick around very long.” Cameron Ridley saw action for the first time since hurting his foot in December, but only played two minutes and looked rusty (2 points, 0-for-1 FG). Smart said Ridley felt pain afterwards and had only returned to live action at practice yesterday. Sadly, those facts would suggest that it’s unlikely the senior plays a significant role in the tournament.

Kansas: Yeah, the Jayhawks aren’t going to lose if they shoot 57.1 percent and Perry Ellis is playing above the rim. This was a dominant offensive and defensive effort from a Kansas team engaged from the opening tip. Ellis (21 points, 6 rebounds), Frank Mason (16 points, 7 assists) and Devonte’ Graham (11 points, 8 assists) kept the Jayhawks on the path to the #1 overall seed. But it was nine quality first half minutes for Carlton Bragg when the game was still close that might have the biggest rotation implications going forward. “He’s been kind of the odd man out unfortunately,” Bill Self said in the post-game press conference. “But he responded today, and you can see he’s a talented kid.”

Kansas State: Every team in the country would struggle against Kansas when it’s playing well, particularly when they had played another game just 18 hours beforehand. Justin Edwards had a magnificent end to his Big 12 career (23 points, 5-7 3PT, 10 rebounds) but was really the only player able to find quality looks. Despite a 5-13 conference record, the Wildcats could make the NIT field as a result of many hard-fought losses to elite teams, a list that includes North Carolina and Texas A&M from the non-conference. If they do get that bid, the win over Oklahoma State will look significant in keeping Kansas State’s overall record above .500.

Greg Mitchell (@gregpmitchell) (231 Posts)

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