Oklahoma State & Baylor Shored Up NCAA Bids Wednesday in KC

Posted by Greg Mitchell on March 13th, 2014

Call it redemption, call it taking care of business. Whatever you call it, Oklahoma State flew by its first round test last night at the Sprint Center by beating Texas Tech 80-62. Back in October, having to suit up on the tournament’s first night would’ve seemed ridiculous for a team picked to share the regular season Big 12 title. But here the Cowboys were, needing to beat Texas Tech to set up a Thursday afternoon rubber match with Kansas. Even more, the Cowboys didn’t want to test the committee and pick up loss number twelve to a team with a RPI north of 100. Recent wins over Kansas and Kansas State cured a lot of ills, but beating the Red Raiders was the surest path to a stress-free Selection Sunday.

Oklahoma State forced Texas Tech into 17 turnovers, including six steals by Marcus Smart (okstate.com).

Marcus Smart’s six steals helped Oklahoma State dispatch Texas Tech in the first round of the Big 12 tournament (okstate.com).

The Cowboys were able to do just that by attacking the basket early in the game and building a lead Texas Tech would never threaten. The Red Raiders got off to an 8-0 start, but the Cowboys punched back with a 26-5 run keyed by multiple and one’s. Attacking the basket would be a theme for the entire night, as Oklahoma State got to the free throw line 26 times in the first half, and 37 times for the game. This ability to grind out offensive possessions and create easy looks should allow the Cowboys to weather poor shooting spells in any tournament-setting, and makes them a dangerous team going forward. Marcus Smart, LeBryan Nash and Markel Brown are all in the top ten in the Big 12 in free throw makes too.

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Big 12 M5: 02.04.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on February 4th, 2014

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  1. That was some game, eh? Naz Long’s three with 1.4 seconds left in the second overtime helped Iowa State force a third overtime with Oklahoma State last night. There the Cyclones got another clutch trey from Monte Morris and were able to walk out with a 98-97 victory, the program’s first win at Gallagher-Iba Arena in 19 opportunities. Lately it feels like there’s a different Big 12 team every week that needs to start worrying about its NCAA at-large chances. A few weeks ago it was the Cyclones; last week it was Baylor; and this week it looks like it is Oklahoma State’s turn because…
  2. Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford announced Monday that freshman point guard Stevie Clark has been kicked off the team in the wake of his second arrest since the New Year. Ford released a statement through the university which said: “We care about Stevie and wish nothing but the best for him. We want him to find success in his future, wherever that may be.” Not counting last night’s game, the Cowboys were without Clark’s services during five games this season. The important thing for him now is to find a school where he can focus on his studies, basketball and perhaps most importantly, himself. I hope Clark can do all those things and more when he finds his new home.
  3. Like Clark, Aaric Murray was kicked off of a Big 12 team. But the ex-Mountaineer appears to now have his life in order after transferring to Texas Southern in Houston. Murray told KTRK-TV that he “wanted to quit basketball” after his dismissal, but ex-Indiana and current head coach Mike Davis was willing to take on the senior center to help him get back on track. This season, Murray is averaging 23.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game for the Tigers and some consider the embattled big man as a possible NBA Draft pick. How does Murray deal with the distractions today? “I just stay out of trouble now,” Murray said. “Yeah this is my last go around, I can’t mess this one up.” This could be Stevie Clark’s story someday.
  4. West Virginia’s 5-4 record halfway through conference play has finally grabbed the attention of the Big 12 offices. Juwan Staten (25.0 PPG, 7.0 APG, 4.0 RPG, 1.5 TOPG) took home Big 12 Player of the Week honors by spearheading the Mountaineers’ recent wins over Baylor and Kansas State. Texas frosh Isaiah Taylor earned the Newcomer of the Week award for his outstanding effort against Kansas. Since the Horns didn’t play a game midway through last week, I thought it’d be fair to include averages from the Baylor and KU games (25.0 PPG, 2.0 SPG, 17-of-32 shooting). Who woulda thunk that the Big 12 had good players besides Marcus Smart in November? I’d hate to have to pick between these two.
  5. Did you think we forgot about youTexas Tech? The Red Raiders logged another conference win on Saturday with a 60-54 win over TCU. Dejan Kravic had his best offensive game of the season, going 7-of-10 for 18 points along with six rebounds and two blocks. The win helped the Red Raiders reach the .500 mark for the year (11-11) and also tied last year’s mark for Big 12 wins (three). It’s a slow build to the top but seeing what Tubby Smith has done with other programs, there’s (finally) reason for some optimism in Lubbock. And no, we’d never forget you, Tech. You still matter to us.
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Big 12 Team Preview: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by Brian Goodman on October 30th, 2013

Over the next two weeks, the Big 12 microsite will preview each of the league’s 10 teams. Today: Texas Tech.

Where We Left Off: The 2012-13 season was a rough one for Texas Tech. Billy Gillispie resigned as head coach just before the start of the season, citing health concerns, but a mountain of allegations of player mistreatment that surfaced over the previous summer made one wonder just how much of the move was his call. The Red Raiders went on to win just two conference games under interim head coach Chris Walker, and finished the season 11-20, although it’s worth pointing out that one of those wins came against Iowa State. One of the more startling moves on the coaching carousel saw Texas Tech tab former Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith as its next leader, as many thought the Red Raiders would go with a younger coach eager to take on the unenviable task of resurrecting the program.

Tubby Smith brings a wealth of coaching experience to Lubbock, but don't expect a quick turnaround. (AP)

Tubby Smith brings a wealth of coaching experience to Lubbock, but don’t expect a quick turnaround. (AP)

PositivesDespite the coaching change, six of Texas Tech’s top seven rotation players (by minutes played) return from last season. For a team that lost 20 games, the immediate reaction isn’t to necessarily view that as a major advantage, but at the very least, the core of junior Jordan Tolbert and Jaye Crockett should provide some stability during the first phase of the program’s transition. The former averaged 9.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore, while the latter led the team in scoring and two-point field goal percentage. Freshman forward Aaron Ross will also provide a boost to the frontcourt after he was forced to take a redshirt year due to a torn ACL. Sophomore Dusty Hannahs finished among the league leaders in three-point percentage with a 37.4 percent clip last season and should see his role increase. While Smith picked up a pair of guards off the scrap heap in Stan Mays and Randy Onwuasor, the Red Raiders’ frontcourt is clearly their biggest strength.

Negatives: The Red Raiders lost Josh Gray, who consumed the most possessions of anyone on the team, to transfer after just one season, and Trency Jackson left the program after two. As a result, Texas Tech will be very thin in the backcourt, leaving Hannahs and senior Jamal Williams, Jr. at the controls without much talent behind them. In the post, while Crockett performed admirably, considering his size (just 6’7″ and 200 pounds), he’ll need to be a much bigger threat down low if Texas Tech is to stay competitive. The Red Raiders have nowhere to go but up offensively after they finished 9th or 10th in the Big 12 in nearly every offensive category, but they’ll need several players to make big leaps to get there. Simply put, there isn’t one facet of the game where Texas Tech couldn’t use significant improvement.

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Rushed Reactions: Kansas 91, Texas Tech 63

Posted by dnspewak on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

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

Three Thoughts:

  1. Big Day For Ben McLemore: The show began early for McLemore. The redshirt freshman threw down two of the nastier dunks you’ll ever get to see in person, all within the first five minutes of the game. He finished with 24 points — and didn’t even play during garbage time in the second half. It was another vintage performance for one of the best players in this league, and it came on a day where his teammates struggled offensively. The first half was ugly at times, as the Red Raiders recovered from an early 13-2 hole to at least make the game somewhat competitive. Thanks in large part to McLemore, though, the competition didn’t last long. By the first media timeout in the second half, the game was all but over.

    Ben McLemore threw down two incredible dunks against Texas Tech Thursday afternoon. (AP)

    Ben McLemore threw down two incredible dunks against Texas Tech Thursday afternoon. (AP)

  2. Good Job, Good Effort: You never want to belittle a team for “playing hard” when it loses in a blowout, but Texas Tech has a nice collection of young players. They appear motivated yet simply inexperienced, and freshman point guard Josh Gray might be the best example of that. He did not play particularly well on Thursday, but throughout the season, he’s exemplified that “flashes-of-brilliance” cliché in college basketball. As for his teammates, Dejan Kravic followed up his game-winning tip-in to beat West Virginia by leading his team in scoring against the Jayhawks with 20 points. The 6’11’’ center was the team’s most assertive offensive player. He’s a little lanky, sure, but he has a great blend of size and offensive skills. He finished the season scoring in double figures in three straight games, and he’s got that buzzer-beater to build off for next year, too. With the bulk of this team returning, including leading scorer Jaye Crockett and Jordan Tolbert (the 2011-12 leading scorer), it’s a start for Texas Tech to have at least reached the quarterfinals in Kansas City.
  3. Chris Walker’s Future: That’s been the talk all week surrounding Texas Tech — will it retain Walker? He’s been tagged with that interim position after the departure of Billy Gillispie last summer. He’ll have a lot of continuity in his roster next year if he is indeed the head coach, and he’s earned praise from his peers for the difficult job he inherited this year. The Red Raiders won three Big 12 games and finished nine games below .500. That’s bad. But the effort has been a little better than last year, and it may be unfair to judge him based on this year’s results alone, considering the Gillispie disaster. It’s up the Red Raiders to figure out how they want to proceed.

Star of the Game: Ben McLemore takes this award, and it’s not even close. The thing that’s so impressive about him is how efficiently he works as an offensive player. He rarely takes bad shots, and he fits well within the framework of Bill Self’s offense. Kansas is lucky he was on his game today. Otherwise, with the lack of offensive support from other scorers, maybe things would have shaken out differently here at the Sprint Center. Or not. It was a 28-point win, after all. Either way, kudos to McLemore.

Wildcard: Kansas got to empty the bench in the second half, which apparently started a three-point barrage. Freshmen Andrew White and Rio Adams combined to knock down four three-pointers. You’d have thought they were McLemore. Tyler Self also got to play, but he turned the ball over twice. His father was not very pleased on the bench, reacting only by putting his hands in his face.

Quotable: ”There’s a lot of controversy. It’ll be a fun game.” — Kansas’ Jeff Withey, regarding the semifinal matchup against Iowa State.

What’s Next: Part Three of the Iowa State vs. Kansas showdown in Friday’s semifinal round. No word on whom the officials will be.

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Big 12 M5: 03.14.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on March 14th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The first set of fireworks at the Big 12 tournament were set off last night as Texas Tech beat West Virginia 71-69. After losing a 14 point lead earlier in the game, junior Dejan Kravic’s putback with 0.4 seconds left was enough for the Red Raiders to live to play another day. For Tech, third time’s the charm seeing how they lost both of their regular season meetings with the Mountaineers. A dramatic win like this can only help the chances for interim head coach Chris Walker to get the full-time gig. The job would be essentially his if Texas Tech would somehow upset Kansas later on today.
  2. Staying with the Red Raiders and this story is a real head scratcher. Remember Trency Jackson? He was a junior college transfer who started 11 games for them this season. Upon his transfer, Jackson obtained a special waiver because he “didn’t have enough transferable hours Texas Tech was willing to accept in advance of enrolling.” Usually in a case like this, the academic adviser at the transfer’s new school would be notified of this and would hatch a plan with the transfer to get those hours squared away. But that never for happened for Jackson. He was suspended for being academically ineligible but the problem was Texas Tech never told him he was until after the spring semester begun. It seems that Tech REALLY dropped the ball here and now will be interesting to see how this lack of oversight will affect Chris Walker’s prospects of getting the head coaching job. Jackson has since transferred to Western Kentucky and will hopefully be eligible to play by December.
  3. Texas closed up the night with a 70-57 win over TCU. The game was further proof that, even against a team like the Horned Frogs, Myck Kabongo makes a world of difference for the Longhorns. Kabongo made the most impact for his team, totaling 16 points, four rebounds and six assists. UT also got major contributions off the bench from sophomores Julien Lewis (19 points) and Sheldon McClellan (12 points). I feel like had Texas had the luxury of Kabongo all season long, they’d be in contention for an at-large bid (they’ve gone 6-3 since his return). Texas has to deal with Kansas State coming up tonight.
  4. On Wednesday afternoon, Jeff Goodman sized up each Big 12 coach’s hot seat on a scale of one (meaning they’re safe) and ten (meaning they best be looking for a new job). According to Goodman, every coach is essentially safe and much of that has to do with the unique situations going on in the league: Texas missing the tourney for the first time since the late 90s, Travis Ford finally cashing in on his talented basketball team, Trent Johnson’s first year at TCU etc. The only man truly coaching for a job is Chris Walker of Texas Tech as they look for a permanent leader going forward. Hopefully, we’ll see all 10 coaches return next season.
  5. Congratulations to Baylor’s Pierre Jackson who was named the District VII player of the year by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. Those not familiar with the “District VII” distinction (as I wasn’t), District VII is in reference to all Division I basketball programs housed in the states of Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana which means Jackson was voted the best player in those states. He is not the first Bear with All-District VII honors in consecutive season (Curtis Jerrells, Lawrence Roberts and Darryl Middleton were the others) but he is the first player from the school to be named District VII Player of the Year. Freshman Isaiah Austin also joined Jackson as a first team All-District VII honoree.
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Big 12 M5: 11.28.12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on November 28th, 2012

  1. Some degree of normalcy has returned to Austin. For a night anyway. As most Texas games have gone this season, last night’s win over Sam Houston State was uh-guh-ly. They defeated the Bearkats by 28 but it was far from a typical blowout. The Horns shot 40% from the floor, though I guess it looks better than SHSU’s 21% shooting. They came into last night’s game averaging a Big 12-high 19 turnovers a game and, wouldn’t you know it, UT turned it over 19 times. A win is a win but in this case, is it? The Longhorns have struggled to put the ball in the basket lately and haven’t held on to the basketball. Simply put, for the thousandth time, they need Myck Kabongo back.
  2. Bill Self was none too pleased with his Jayhawks’ performance on Monday night against San Jose State. When asked about his team’s play during the Spartans’ 16-0 second-half run, Self said, “I’ve seen bad offense before — third-and-fourth grade YMCA basketball with no good ball reversal and bad ball-handling. Our offense surpassed that tonight the last 12 minutes of the game.” Considering how they looked against Michigan State, in stretches against SJSU and Chattanooga, and Oklahoma State’s quick ascent to the top, you start to wonder if KU can really win this league again. But wondering is all I will do because I don’t want to be the guy dismissing the Jayhawks so soon when history has told us not to. Better safe than sorry.
  3. Marcus Smart sure is making a name for himself early. CBSSports.com released its freshman of the year and player of the year power rankings for this week and Smart is one of two freshmen (the other is Kentucky’s Archie Goodwin) to be on both lists. Smart is a player Clark Kellogg would call a “stat-sheet stuffer.” With an ouput of 13.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.8 dimes, 2.4 steals, and 1.4 blocks per game? I’d say he’s deserving.
  4. One of the big surprises in the league: West Virginia has started the season 1-3. But are they 1-3 because they’re not very good or are they a product of their own scheduling? I tend to give Bob Huggins-coached teams the benefit of the doubt when he has over 700 wins to speak for his talent. At least he’s not afraid of scheduling tough opponents, though, unlike some coaches. Playing at Gonzaga is pretty close to a death sentence. Davidson and Oklahoma on a neutral floor could have been Ws. My brain is telling me that the Mountaineers will come back around when conference play starts up in a little more than a month, because the last and only time he had a team finish under .500 was in 1984-85 with Akron, his first year as a head coach.
  5. If ya haven’t heard, Texas Tech is a perfect 4-0 on the young season. A big part of the Red Raiders’ quick start, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal says, is junior Dejan Kravic. The article mentions one play the 6’11″ Kravic had against Jackson State. He stood at the top of the key, ball in hand, then made a move with a crossover dribble before hittin a bank shot under duress from a Tiger defender. If the idea of a big guy pulling off a crossover dribble isn’t intriguing enough, then what in the world is? Head coach Chris Walker says being physical on the floor “is not in his nature” and believes “he is only going to get better.” We’ll see how he fares against a long and athletic interior from Arizona on Saturday.
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