Big 12 M5: 01.03.13 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on January 3rd, 2013

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  1. West Virginia has not exactly lit up the world during non-conference play. That may not bode well for the Mountaineers’ inaugural season in the Big 12, but this league seems entirely up for grabs at this point outside of the top spot. So despite some of their horrendous moments during this 7-5 start, there is no reason Bob Huggins should not feel at least a little optimistic heading into the league opener against Oklahoma this weekend. Funny thing is, West Virginia already faced the Sooners back in the Old Spice Classic during Thanksgiving weekend, which set its field before the Mountaineers departed from the Big East, but lost. Good thing it did not count toward the Big 12 standings.
  2. Ben McLemore has had a heck of a season. Is it the best by any freshman in college basketball? Debatable, but there is an argument to be made. These guys seem high on Shabazz Muhammad and Glenn Robinson III, but you could also throw Duke’s Rasheed Sulaimon, Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, or a host of other players in the conversation as well. McLemore’s as good as any of those diaper dandies, though, especially because he has exploded as the leading scorer for a team that desperately needed to replace the production of departed stars Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor.
  3. Kansas’ end of the bench might be the most interesting in college basketball. You have Tyler Self, son of head coach Bill Self, and you also have Evan Manning, the son of former assistant/legend and current Tulsa head coach Danny Manning. Manning made the first three of his career earlier this week. He has a long way to go to catch his father — the all-time leading scorer at Kansas — but it is a start, we suppose.
  4. It’s never, ever a bad thing to see your name listed alongside Kevin Durant. That’s where Isaiah Austin finds himself in an article that describes him as a “poor man’s” Durant. Heck, to even be considered a “broke, homeless man’s Durant” would be quite the compliment. We understand where this guy is coming from, since Austin is a skilled big who can score from all over the floor and extend defenses with his three-point shot. He has played well so far, too, even though the doubters thought Scott Drew would misuse him. That has not happened. Still, as the years have gone by, it is easy to forget just how dominant Kevin Durant was at Texas. Austin has not approached that level yet and there is no telling how he will eventually fare in the NBA.
  5. The Longhorns could use Durant right about now, but you knew that already. Regardless, take a detailed look at where Texas stands heading in to Big 12 play. It’s not that pretty. The comparison between the suspended Myck Kabongo and freshman Javan Felix is especially important. As the numbers point out, it is actually the loss of Kabongo’s scoring ability that has significantly impacted Texas. Felix is creating for his teammates, evidenced by terrific performances against North Carolina (eight assists) and Michigan State (11 assists), but he is shooting a horrendous 13 percent from three. Kabongo would have likely taken on a greater scoring role in the absence of J’Covan Brown — instead, both are gone, and that has had a huge effect on this Longhorns team.
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