Rushed Reactions: #16 Iowa State 74, Baylor 65

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 15th, 2014

rushedreactions

Brian Goodman is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday night’s Big 12 Tournament final between Iowa State and Baylor.

Three Key Takeaways.

The Mayor Brings a Championship Home to Ames (AP)

The Mayor Brings a Championship Home to Ames (AP)

  1. Iowa State perseveres before finally getting over the hump. After Iowa State’s dominant shooting performance against Kansas, the Cyclones found scoring to be much more of a struggle in the first half against Baylor’s zone defense. Things couldn’t have started much worse for Fred Hoiberg’s squad, as they fell behind 11-1 to start the game and didn’t hit its first shot from the floor until more than seven minutes had passed in the first half. Iowa State’s Big Three of Melvin Ejim, DeAndre Kane and Georges Niang were stifled into a miserable 3-of-17 performance before intermission, and the team as a whole shot just 32 percent from the field in the first half. Baylor’s zone moved very nicely, doing an excellent job of denying the lane and closing out on the perimeter at the same time to keep the Cyclones at bay, even though the Bears weren’t doing so hot on offense themselves. Baylor extended its five-point halftime lead to eight midway through the second half, but the Cyclones slowly chipped away. Although Baylor quieted an Iowa State-dominant crowd for most of the second half by answering with buckets of their own, the Cyclones finally broke through with consecutive three-pointers by Naz Long and Ejim and sealed the win from there.
  2. Big second half propels Iowa State to the Big 12 Tournament crown. All told, the Cyclones were fortunate to only be down by five points at halftime. They shot poorly and had a hard time cleaning up their misses, but fortunately for them, Baylor didn’t fare much better, shooting just 34.5 percent from the floor in the first half themselves. The Cyclones simplified their attack in the second half, mostly relying on close looks and mid-range jump shots to keep the game close before going over the top with the aforementioned pair of three-pointers. A 69.6 percent shooting clip in the second half powered Iowa State past Baylor in the home stretch. Read the rest of this entry »
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Three Thoughts on Baylor’s Blowout Win Over Texas

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 14th, 2014

The match-up for the Big 12 Tournament final was set in Friday’s nightcap, which saw Baylor dismantle Texas 86-69 in Kansas City. The Bears continued their strong play of late after their midseason struggles, and as a result, they’ll attempt to become the first team to take the Big 12 Tournament crown by winning four straight games. Oddly enough, Baylor was the last team to attempt to pull off that feat in 2009, but the Bears fell to Missouri.

Baylor Outraced Texas on This Night

Baylor Outraced Texas on This Night

  1. Baylor continues to add strength to its resume. In early February, Baylor’s resume was falling apart. Wins over Kentucky and Colorado were neutralized by losses to Texas Tech and West Virginia, and a cloud of panic and disappointment started to settle above Waco when the Bears lost eight of their first 10 conference games. Now, though, Baylor has reeled off 10 wins in its last 11 games to silence the skeptics (of which there are certainly many). Not only is Baylor firmly off the bubble, but the team’s stock is rising rather quick. It isn’t difficult to picture enough things breaking for them to enter NCAA Tournament play as a #5 seed, provided they take care of business against Iowa State in the final. So what’s been the difference?
  2. The Bears’ offense is clicking. On Friday night, the Bears’ offense registered 1.37 points per possession, its highest mark since a 1.42 PPP showing at West Virginia on February 22. All told, Baylor’s offense has tallied at least 1.04 points per possession in each of its last 12 outings, while their defense has been steady if unspectacular. Cory Jefferson has come on especially strong and was fantastic tonight, notching a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds against Texas’ strong interior defense. Combine Jefferson with Isaiah Austin, one of the country’s top three-point shooters in Brady Heslip, and a highly capable supporting cast, and the result is a combination that is good enough to beat any team in the country. Read the rest of this entry »
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The RTC Podblast: Big 12 Tournament Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 10th, 2014

The regular season is over, Championship Week is here, and it’s now or never for all of the teams that have talked a rather big game but haven’t necessarily backed it up with their play on the court. To that end, we’re going to be rolling out nine RTC Podblasts this week, one to preview each of the seven power conference tournaments as well as the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West (to scroll through all that have been released, click here). In this, our Big 12 Tournament edition, RTC microwriter Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman) joins us to discuss one of the deepest tourney fields in college basketball heading into Kansas City. The Big East, AAC and SEC Tournament pods have already released, and the remainder will come out a bit later this week.

Make sure to add the RTC Podcast to your iTunes lineup so that you’ll automatically upload it on your listening device after we record.

  • 0:00-7:53 – Death, Taxes and Kansas Winning the Big 12 Regular Season Title
  • 7:53-11:22 – Biggest Surprise in the Big 12
  • 11:22-14:34 – Reactions to the Conference Awards
  • 14:34-17:01 – Kansas a Less Than Prohibitive Favorite in Kansas City
  • 17:01-19:04 – Non-Kansas Picks to Win the Tournament
  • 19:04-23:10 – What The Big 12 Tournament Means for NCAA Tournament
  • 23:10-25:25 – Anything Can Happen at the Sprint Center
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Kansas Wins Because It Guards, Plain and Simple

Posted by dnspewak on March 16th, 2013

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is a Big 12 microsite writer. He filed this from the Big 12 Championship game in Kansas City.

Clank, clank, clank. In an arena jam-packed to the rafters and charged with as much emotion as any game in college basketball this season, the most prominent sound during the first half of the Big 12 Tournament title game at the Sprint Center was the sound of those clanks that Kansas State heaved repeatedly at the basket. After taking an 11-8 lead against Kansas with 11:55 to play in the half, the Wildcats did not make another field goal during the next 17 possessions. They were 0-of-11 from the field during that stretch. Five turnovers. Heroically, they trailed by just eight points at the break, but they were already buried. Once the Jayhawks found their groove offensively in the second half, Kansas State never kept pace and eventually fell, 70-54.

Kansas Added More Hardwood To Its Collection

Kansas Added More Hardwood To Its Collection

You don’t want to see the final statistics for Bruce Weber’s team. “The best thing we did was shoot free throws,” Angel Rodriguez said, “and we shot 50 percent. That says a lot.” Rodney McGruder had a simple diagnosis for the anemic offense. “It wasn’t really their defense,” McGruder said. “We missed easy baskets at the rim.” The second part of that statement is correct. Kansas State missed more open shots than an overweight, middle-aged man trying to play a game of H-O-R-S-E, especially during the drought in the first half. But McGruder is wrong about the first part — there’s another reason his team couldn’t score, and it wasn’t self-inflicted. “Our first shot defense was about as good as it’s been all year long,” coach Bill Self said. As always, it was a collective effort for Kansas. Jeff Withey, the Big 12’s leading shot blocker, finished with only one block, but he teamed with Kevin Young and Perry Ellis to bother the Wildcats’ on the interior with their length.

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Kansas State Advances, Sets Up Epic KC Showdown With KU

Posted by dnspewak on March 16th, 2013

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is a Big 12 Microsite writer. He’s in Kansas City covering the Big 12 Tournament this weekend.

Kansas and Kansas State tied for the Big 12 regular season championship. Technically. “We’re conference co‑champs,” coach Bruce Weber said. Fair enough. Both teams finished 14-4 in league play. Identical record means co-champs. Awards all around, everybody gets a trophy, let’s all go get some pizza after the game. Still, co-champ label or not, any person with even the slightest bit of logical reasoning can figure out who really won this league. Kansas won the regular season title. It played Kansas State at home and won. It played Kansas State on the road and won. That’s two games, both at two different sites, and two victories for the Jayhawks. If ever there were a tiebreaker to crown a true champion, that’d be it. Of course, it allowed Kansas to seize the top seed in the Big 12 Tournament, so it’s not as though those two victories were meaningless.

It's Part Three of Jayhawks and Wildcats in KC Tomorrow Night

It’s Part Three of Jayhawks and Wildcats in KC Tomorrow Night

So it’s settled. The Kansas Jayhawks are the Big 12 champions. For now, at least. That could change on Saturday afternoon, when the two teams face each other in the Big 12 Tournament title game at the Sprint Center on national television. This is an unprecedented event for Kansas City. If you’re not from the area or not familiar with the makeup of the sports culture here, allow us to break it down for you. There’s Missouri, Kansas and Kansas State, all within two hours of driving distance from Kansas City. They all bitterly compete for media coverage, and it’s a rite of passage as a fan to complain about the lack of attention from the newspapers. Kansas fans call the Kansas City Star the “MU Star”. Missouri fans call it the “KU Star.” Those two teams don’t play each other anymore, but there’s been talk among fans that the programs should set up a series at the Sprint Center on an annual basis. Good luck with that, folks.

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Rushed Reactions: Kansas 88, Iowa State 73

Posted by dnspewak on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is a Big 12 microsite writer. He’s in Kansas City this weekend for the Big 12 Tournament.

Iowa State Looked Dead and Buried Late In the Game

Iowa State Looked Dead and Buried Late In the Game

  1. Budding Rivalry: Kansas needed a rival when Missouri bolted to the SEC. Most figured it’d be Kansas State — and it is. A potential showdown with the Wildcats tomorrow night would make for an electric atmosphere in Kansas City. But there’s room for more than one rivalry, and if we’re in the business of anointing new conference feuds, we’ve got to think that Iowa State and Kansas will carry some bad blood into next year. For starters, there’s the sheer point differential of the two regular season games. The two teams needed overtime in both contests this season. First, in Lawrence, a miracle bank shot by Ben McLemore at the end of regulation helped the Jayhawks escape. In the rematch in Ames, an officiating controversy marred KU’s narrow win. That all led up to Round Three on Friday, and for much of the game, the intensity lived up to the hype. Kansas eventually ran away with the victory, but in the first half, you could tell this was more than just your run-of-the-mill semifinal between the top seed and five seed. Ben McLemore picked up a technical foul for jawing at Georges Niang on the bench after he knocked down a three-pointer, which then skyrocketed the tension in the arena. An irate Bill Self pranced up and down the sidelines, and minutes later, the officials then whistled his bench for a technical foul after they argued a no-call. Self seemed as fired up as ever. It seemed to spark his team after a competitive and highly entertaining first half.
  2. Defense and Rebounding: Iowa State’s inability to get a stop in the second half doomed the Cyclones. That’s not a new trend this season for Fred Hoiberg’s team. However, their poor effort on the boards was surprising. Kansas outrebounded ISU by 12, and at one point it grabbed five offensive rebounds on a single possession. Talk about demoralizing. In every way, the Jayhawks pulled away for the win by being the tougher team. It didn’t help that Iowa State’s shots weren’t falling from the perimeter, but Self had his team ready to punish the Cyclones in the second half. Read the rest of this entry »
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Rushed Reactions: Oklahoma State 74, Baylor 72

Posted by dnspewak on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is a Big 12 microsite writer. He filed this report after Oklahoma State’s 74-72 victory over Baylor in the Big 12 quarterfinals.

Three Key Takeaways:

Tough, Tough Loss For the Bears; What Now?

Tough, Tough Loss For the Bears; What Now?

  1. So Close: It was a worst-case scenario for Oklahoma State. Pierre Jackson was wide open, and he was about to let it fly. For the win. “I wasn’t real excited about watching him run down the court wide open,” OSU coach Travis Ford said afterward. It seemed like fate. The shot would save Baylor’s NCAA Tournament at-large hopes. Jackson had already scored 31 points, most of which came during a frantic comeback from a 20-point deficit, and he was about to prove to the world how much of a travesty it was to leave the Big 12′s leading scorer and assists man off the all-Big 12 First Team. Except he missed. Pierre Jackson’s game-winning attempt, which he took on the move after splitting a few Oklahoma State defenders, did not fall, as fate would have it. “I feel like I let them down a little bit,” Jackson said. He didn’t. His performance was nothing short of legendary late in the second half, as he made tough shot after tough shot in crunch time. But the Cowboys survived, and the loss probably relegates the Bears to the NIT. Marcus Smart said he had one thought as he watched Jackson’s shot: “Oh crap.” Baylor was in that position after Phil Forte drained two controversial free throws, thanks to a foul call on Deuce Bello that may or may not have been legitimate. If you listen to Twitter, the whistle was an abomination. Regardless, Baylor got bounced from Kansas City, and it’s hard to imagine this team grabbing a bid on Sunday.
  2. Any Chance On Selection Sunday? Travis Ford said after the game that Baylor passed the “eye test.” It’s easy for an opposing coach to say that after a victory, though. Take a look at this team’s overall resume, and there’s just not enough there. Winning at Rupp, at least this year, won’t do it alone. Beating Kansas and Oklahoma State (in Waco) won’t do it alone, either. The Bears needed this, and they didn’t get it. “Of course it’s going to be very disappointing [if we don't get in],” Jackson said. “We can’t do anything about it.” After the game, Drew made his plea to the selection committee by pointing to an example from two years ago. “I think the perfect example is VCU. People were like, ‘why did they get in?’ Well, the committee knew they were a Final Four-type team,” Drew said. “I think we can beat anybody in the country. That means we can play in the Final Four.”
  3. Too Little, Too Late: Baylor nearly completed a thrilling comeback. That’s great and all, but the Bears could not have looked any worse in the first half. They trailed by double digits right out of the gate, got beaten to every loose ball and looked like they wanted to be anywhere but at the Sprint Center. It’s commendable that they fought back, yes, but this was a microcosm of Baylor’s season. It beat Kansas on the final day of the regular season, but it’s about an overall body of work. In a basketball game, it’s about how you play for 40 minutes, and the Bears just dug themselves in too deep of a hole.

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Rushed Reactions: Kansas State 66, Texas 49

Posted by dnspewak on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is a Big 12 microsite writer. He filed this report after the Kansas State-Texas game in Kansas City this evening.

Three Key Takeaways:

Kansas State Inched Closer to a Big 12 Title

Kansas State Inched Closer to a Big 12 Title

  1. Rodney McGruder, aka The Zone Buster: Against Texas’ active 2-3 zone, McGruder was unstoppable. The Wildcats weren’t flawless, and they weren’t always able to get the ball inside, but they knocked down enough three-pointers to pull away from the Longhorns. Credit McGruder for that, as he made four threes and finished with 20 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Much like Kansas’ Ben McLemore in the earlier quarterfinal, McGruder had to make up for a relative lack of scoring production by his teammates. Angel Rodriguez helped, scoring 13 points and finding holes in the zone to finish with five assists, but this was McGruder’s game.
  2. Kansas City, Here We Come (Back): Following the Big 12 Tournament this weekend, the Sprint Center will host an NCAA Tournament pod next weekend. There’s no doubt Kansas State wants to make a trip back to Kansas City to play in these friendly confines in the second and third rounds, but it needed a strong showing this weekend to convince the selection committee it deserves the advantage. This quarterfinal victory was a start. Two more victories should all but lock up a return to Kansas City, but nothing’s guaranteed with the committee. Still, it’s hard to envision it sending KSU anywhere but KC if it wins the Big 12 title this weekend.
  3. Myck Kabongo Needs Help: Kabongo scored two points this evening. He missed all five shots he took from the field, turned the ball over five times and could not pull Texas out of a severe scoring drought late in the second half. In perhaps his final collegiate game, that’s something Kabongo will have to live with. In his defense, though, he’s simply under too much pressure to perform, considering the youth of his teammates and complete lack of scoring options around him. This team runs through him. He has the ball in his hands at all time, and even when he’s penetrating and creating, nobody can knock a shot down. He had seven assists, but he could have had 15. That has to take a toll on the sophomore point guard. This team has played drastically better with him in the lineup, so it’s hard to blame him for any of Texas’ woes tonight.

Star of the Game: Rodney McGruder led all scorers with 24. Rodriguez was the only other Wildcat in double figures. He shot the ball well, rebounded the ball well and scored from everywhere on the floor. Easy choice here for Star of the Game.

Sights and Sounds: Kabongo’s leadership is noticeable this season. His coaches praised his attitude during the suspension this year, and it’s obviously carried over to the court. On Thursday, all he did was talk. And we mean that in the best way possible. He talked on defense, got in his teammates faces and always had his mouth moving. He’s grown up, and he’s the clear leader of this team. The Longhorns don’t have the experience or personnel for it to matter, but credit Kabongo for growing as a person over the last year or so.

Wild Card: KSU’s D.J. Johnson played big tonight– in every sense of the word. He made all four of his field goals, scored eight points in 15 minutes and threw down a thunderous putback in the second half. On a night where Thomas Gipson struggled and even badly airballed a jumper, Johnson was a nice surprise for Bruce Weber.

What’s Next: Kansas State advances to play either Baylor or Oklahoma State in the semifinals on Friday.

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After a Wild Opening Night, the Meat of the Big 12 Tournament Set to Begin

Posted by dnspewak on March 14th, 2013

Bob Huggins’ teams have always blocked out. Except for when there’s a game-winning shot attempt in the air, apparently. In a sequence that epitomized West Virginia’s season so much it seemed as though it had to have been some sort of sick joke, Texas Tech ended the Mountaineers’ brutal campaign with a tip-in by Dejan Kravic in the final milliseconds of regulation to win, 71-69. He was standing untouched in the paint after Josh Gray’s three-point attempt rimmed out. No body on him. No effort by the Mountaineers to hit the boards, as they were simply standing around as though time would expire before any potential rebound attempt. They guessed wrong, and the Red Raiders now advance to play top-seeded Kansas. There wasn’t as much drama in the nightcap, as Texas dispatched of TCU in an ugly 70-57 win. They’ll now play Kansas State this evening.

Bob Huggins Probably Had To Cry A Lot This Season

Bob Huggins Probably Had To Cry A Lot This Season

That’s where we stand after two play-in games in the Big 12 Tournament. No disrespect to the victors on Wednesday night, but now the real games begin. Remember to stay with the Big 12 microsite all weekend long, as microsite writer Danny Spewak (@dspewak) will arrive in Kansas City this morning to cover the tournament through the championship game on Saturday. But today, there’s two games you really need to keep an eye on: Oklahoma vs. Iowa State early and Baylor vs. Oklahoma State this evening. There will be drama in this tournament across the board, especially if Kansas and Kansas State play each other in a conference tournament final, but these are by far the two most important games of the Big 12 Tournament. The top three teams in the league are playing for seeding. Oklahoma, Iowa State and Baylor are playing for their lives. Let’s take a look at the resumes for each three bubble teams and explain what they’ll need to do in this tournament to feel OK on Selection Sunday:

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The RTC Podblast: Big 12 Tournament Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 13th, 2013

There’s no Missouri or Texas A&M this year, but the RTC Podcast guys persevered regardless and invited Big 12 microsite writer Danny Spewak (@dspewak) along for the discussion. In this Big 12 Tournament podblast, the trio questions whether Kansas is destined for another championship or if some other team is poised to establish their postseason chops. Feel free to hop around to your areas of concern using the handy outline below, and make sure to check back frequently this week as we’ll be rolling out a new podblast for each of the six major conference tourneys.

  • 0:00-2:56 – Kansas Continues Their Big 12 Dominance
  • 2:56-5:38 – Big 12 1st Team and Award Talk
  • 5:38-8:43 – Can Kansas Carry Their Regular Season Crown Over to the Tournament?
  • 8:43-14:05 Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma Try to Win Their Way Off the Bubble
  • 14:05-16:30 – Which Team Actually Wins the Big 12 Tournament?
  • 16:30-19:06 - Bottom Four Seed With Potential For a Run?
  • 19:06-21:10 - Big 12 Tournament Breakout star
  • 21:10-22:50 - Players Waving Goodbye to the Big 12
  • 22:50-24:57 – Match-up We Want To See Again in KC
  • 24:57-28:00 Big 12 NCAA Tournament Predictions/Wrap
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Vegas Odds: Conference Tourneys – Big East, Mountain West, Big 12, Pac-12

Posted by rtmsf on March 12th, 2013

The six power conferences along with the elite mids begin their league tournaments this week, with the Big East and Mountain West tipping off tonight. On Wednesday, the Big 12, Pac-12 and the SEC will get under way, while Thursday will bring us the Atlantic 10, the ACC and the Big Ten. All of us have our own opinions about the favorites to win each conference tournament, but Las Vegas makes its business out of it. Today, we’ll examine the current odds for the leagues that begin Tuesday and Wednesday (excluding the SEC) — tomorrow, we’ll look at the remainder. There are some interesting disparities between general perception and the odds, and we’ll make note of those below (all odds reported from 5dimes.com on Monday night).

BE Tourney 13 odds

The Big East Tournament is especially interesting in how it views top-seeded Georgetown. Not only does it give #2 seed Louisville nearly a three times greater chance of winning this tournament, but #4 seed Pittsburgh and #5 seed Syracuse are both considered better choices. Marquette, the #3 seed that tied for first place at 14-4 with the Hoyas and Cardinals, is not considered a significant threat to win this tournament with a less than 10 percent chance.

MW Tourney Odds 13

Home court advantage dominates here, as #3 seed UNLV is far and away the favorite to win the Mountain West championship this week. The rest of the odds pretty much fall in line with the seeds, as New Mexico, Colorado State, San Diego State and Boise State have a progressively worse chance to win this competitive league before the drop-off hits at #6 seed Air Force.

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The RTC Podblasts: Conference Tournaments (Big East, Big 12, Pac-12)

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2012

It’s an extremely busy week of basketball, with the Big East Tournament already beginning and the other power conference leagues all tipping off in the next two days. Instead of doing the standard early-week RTC Podcast this time around, we decided to break things up a little bit. First, we’ve got the shorter nationally-focused RTC Podblast, but we also brought in some of our microsite correspondents from each of the major leagues to riff a little about their upcoming tournaments. Today we’ll release the Big East Tournament Podblast (with Brian Otskey), the Big 12 Tournament Podblast (with Danny Spewak), and the Pac-12 Tournament Podblast (with Andrew Murawa). Tomorrow we’ll have the other three.

  • NATIONAL PODBLAST
    • BIG EAST TOURNAMENT PODBLAST

      BIG 12 TOURNAMENT PODBLAST

      PAC-12 TOURNAMENT PODBLAST

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