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: 02.18.14 Edition

Posted by Kory Carpenter on February 18th, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. With a healthy Joel Embiid in the lineup, Kansas is a national title contender. Without their 7’0” freshman center from Cameroon, however, the Jayhawks would be fortunate to make the Elite Eight. Embiid has become the most important player on Bill Self’s team this season. So when a few nagging injuries finally caught up with him in last week’s loss to Kansas State, it was wise of Self to sit his big man against TCU on Saturday. He looks to be back in the lineup for tonight’s game versus Texas Tech, so it’s safe to say that his recent knee and back problems were nothing a little time off couldn’t fix. At least that’s what Jayhawks fans everywhere are hoping.
  2. As Ken Corbitt points out here, Bruce Weber doesn’t generally like to foul when down three points late in the game. And whether he was a proponent of that strategy or not, Corbitt correctly points out that Kansas State’s double-overtime loss Saturday to Baylor wasn’t a good time to foul anyway. Baylor was down three but shot the ball too soon for Kansas State to foul. The Bears kept grabbing offensive rebounds, though, and in the confusion, Brady Heslip ended up with the ball and drained a three-pointer to send the game to its first overtime. If you’re going to foul, its best to do so with under six seconds remaining. There is no game-planning strategy available for an early three-point attempt followed by multiple offensive rebounds and a kick-out three.
  3. If you watched last night’s Baylor vs. Oklahoma State game on ESPN, you might recall that they showed a Big 12 Tournament bracket if the season had ended today. Last night’s opponents would be the #8/#9 match-up while Texas Tech — yes, Texas Tech — would be the No. 7 seed. The Red Raiders are currently 5-7 in league play and KenPom has the team as just five-point underdogs tonight against Kansas. A lot of that has to do with two people: head coach Tubby Smith and senior forward Jaye Crockett. Smith admits that he felt the need to win Crockett over after he was hired last year. It seems to have worked, as Texas Tech sits at 13-12 overall and should manage to win enough games to play in some sort of postseason tournament next month.
  4. Speaking of Baylor and Oklahoma State, last night’s game prompted both teams to appear on CBSSports.com’s most recent “Poppin’ Bubbles” segment. As Jeff Borzello points out, Baylor now has five top-50 wins this season and is riding a three-game winning streak. The Bears are 17-9 and could realistically get to 20 wins if we include the Big 12 Tournament. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, has lost seven straight games with and without Marcus Smart in the lineup. They have two winnable games coming up against Texas Tech and TCU, but end the season against Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State. The Cowboys might be NIT-bound.
  5. Like every other Big 12 team has experienced at some point, Oklahoma is entering a brutal stretch of games, beginning this weekend. The Sooners will face Kansas State, travel to Kansas and play host to Texas in a span of eight days. At 19-7 overall, the Sooners look to be on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, but a late-season losing streak (no matter how much the committee claims recent performances don’t carry more weight) could hurt their chances next month. They end the season at TCU, but the aforementioned trio of games followed by West Virginia should keep Sooners fans on their toes for now.
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Big 12 Power Rankings: Texas Tech Relishing Spoiler Role Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on February 17th, 2014

We’re nine days removed from The Shove Heard ‘Round the World but if you look close enough, something good did come out of that. With help from Tech’s athletic department, Red Raider fans sold out United Spirit Arena that night and stormed the floor as their Red Raiders scored an upset win over the Cowboys but they didn’t stop there. Last Wednesday night saw Tech go stormin’ into Norman and shock Oklahoma on their home floor. On Saturday they made things close at Iowa State before the Cyclones pulled away late, winning by six. But what does it all mean? It means opponents can’t pencil in Tech as a win anymore. TTU’s five conference wins are already the most since the 2010-11 season, the last of Pat Knight’s tenure. With Tubby Smith’s hiring making him the fourth Texas Tech coach in as many seasons, it must be swell for Red Raider fans knowing their program is finally moving in the right direction. And now our rankings:

Tubby Smith has guided the Red Raiders to five conference wins, the most since 2010-11. (Justin Hayworth/Associated Press)

Tubby Smith has guided the Red Raiders to five conference wins, the most since the 2010-11 season. (Justin Hayworth/Associated Press)

1. Kansas — 4 points (previous: 1st; All voted KU first)

Comment: “Kansas better be careful this week. They’ll have Texas coming into Lawrence for the rematch on Saturday but the Jayhawks can’t overlook those pesky Red Raiders on the road tomorrow. Classic trap game.” – Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso)

2. Texas — 8 points (previous: 2nd; All voted UT second)

Comment: “The Longhorns outscored the Cowboys and Mountaineers by a staggering 0.26 points per possession. However, both games were at home. Texas now stares down a stretch of three roadies in four games, and the locations couldn’t be any less desirable for them: Allen Fieldhouse, Hilton Coliseum and the Lloyd Noble Center.” – Brian Goodman (@BSGoodman)

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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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Assessing the Season: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by Nate Kotisso on April 12th, 2013

As the season winds down and Big 12 teams continue to find themselves eliminated from the post-season, we’re taking a look back on a team-by-team basis at the 2012-13 season. Next up: the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Final Record: 11-20 (3-15)

The Expectations: Normally, the only time a college basketball team makes news in August is if it secures a top commitment from a recruit. What was being reported by CBS Sports last summer was far from normal. Head coach Billy Gillispie was in a heap of trouble, violating NCAA rules by exceeding the allowable amount of practice time (four hours/day; 20 hours/week) to as many as eight hours in a day. One player, later identified as Kader Tapsoba, was so worn down by the practices that he developed multiple stress fractures. And yet Gillispie still made him practice. It wasn’t just excessive practice that led to Gillispie’s downfall, though. He promised ex-Indiana player Tom Coverdale a job as an assistant but later changed his mind. Secretaries, trainers, graduate assistants and others also left in the early stages of Gillispie’s tenure. It was already well-documented that Texas Tech was going to have a vastly different roster compared to the year before with 15 players transferring out of Lubbock in the 18 months that he had been head coach there. Associate head coach Chris Walker was later tabbed as the interim coach for the 2012-13 season, but Texas Tech basketball was starting over. The only thing you could expect from this team was to play hard, game in and game out.

Interim head coach Chris Walker was left to pick up the pieces in Lubbock. (TexasTech.com)

Interim head coach Chris Walker was left to pick up the pieces in Lubbock (TexasTech.com)

The Actual Result: The Red Raiders pressed their way to a 4-0 start to the season, albeit against inferior opponents Prairie View A&M, Nebraska-Omaha, Jackson State and Grambling State. Then came some tougher opponents in Arizona, Alabama and Arizona State, all of which soundly beat Tech in Lubbock. (Aside: everyone is no doubt jealous at how Tech was able to get all of their non-conference games at home.) Conference play began and that went just as well as you would have expected. The Red Raiders lost 15 games in the Big 12 including nine in a row at one stretch. Their best home win came against Iowa State in which both teams combined to score 107 points. Jordan Tolbert, perhaps the best player on last year’s team, told ESPN.com he’d transfer if Gillispie wasn’t fired. Tolbert returned but the 11.5 PPG scorer from last season struggled to find his offensive game, probably because Tolbert’s father and biggest motivator, James Tolbert, passed away in October. That and the fact that the freshman starting point guard, Josh Gray, was going through a baptism-by-fire against the likes of Marcus Smart, Pierre Jackson and Angel Rodriguez. It shouldn’t go unmentioned that Jaye Crockett had been a former starter for the Red Raiders and still made an impact. Chris Walker made the decision to bring him off the bench this season, and Crockett quickly became one of the better sixth men in America (11.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG).

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Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 15

Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 18th, 2013

We don’t have many of these rankings left this season, but the Big 12 isn’t getting any easier to decipher as we inch closer to March (less than four weeks until Selection Sunday). The Big 12 still has a good chance to get six teams into the NCAA Tournament, but Baylor and Iowa State don’t have much margin for error the last three weeks of the regular season. The Cyclones are a consensus #10 seed and the Bears are an #11 seed on the latest Bracket Matrix mock bracket. The top of the conference is more of a mess, though. Oklahoma State, Kansas, and Kansas State are 9-3 but it doesn’t mean there isn’t distinctness with each record. For instance, Kansas State is 1-2 against the other first place teams while Kansas is 2-1. Oklahoma State, on the other hand, is 1-1 but plays host to the Kansas schools in the coming weeks. They are also fortunate in that two of their final three road games are against West Virginia and TCU. And that’s why the Cowboys are #1 this week.

Tier I:

Back On Top: Marcus Smart Is Playing As Well As Anyone In The Big 12. (AP)

Back On Top: Marcus Smart Is Playing As Well As Anyone In The Big 12. (AP)

1) Oklahoma State (19-5, 9-3)
Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week: W 91-67 at Texas Tech, W (OT) 84-79 vs Oklahoma

This Week: Wednesday vs Kansas, 8:00 PM, Saturday at West Virginia, 1:00 PM

  • Rundown: After struggling around the turn of the year and dropping three out of four, the Cowboys began playing like their talent suggests and are winners of eight of their last nine games. They have an opportunity on Wednesday to become the first Big 12 team to sweep Bill Self in a season as the Jayhawks come into Gallagher-IBA Arena, where the Cowboys have won two out of three against the Jayhawks dating back to 2007-08.
  • Player Stepping Up: Freshman G Marcus Smart: Smart had 25 points, nine rebounds, and five steals in the upset over Kansas on Feb. 2. He had 23 points, seven rebounds and five steals against Texas a week later, and on Saturday against Oklahoma, Smart finished with 28 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in the overtime victory.

2) Kansas (21-4. 9-3)
Previous Ranking: 3

Last Week: W 83-62 vs Kansas State, W 73-47 vs Texas

This Week: Wednesday at Oklahoma State, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs TCU, 3:00 PM

  • Rundown: It doesn’t really matter that top-10 teams have been consistently falling the last few weeks, but it can give Kansas fans a small sense of relief knowing that every perceived top team in the country has its flaws as well as the Jayhawks, who rebounded nicely last Monday with a 21-point win over Kansas State when they desperately needed a 21-point win. Wednesday’s game at Oklahoma State could decide the Big 12 championship.
  • Player Stepping Up: Freshman G Ben McLemore: McLemore had 30 points against Kansas State on 9-13 shooting, a cool 69.2%. In seven of his last ten games he shot over 50% from the floor. But he can still do more, attempting 10 or less shots in six of those games.  Shoot the ball, Ben.

3) Kansas State (20-5, 9-3)
Previous Ranking: 1

Last Week: L 83-62 at Kansas, W 81-61 vs Baylor

This Week: Tonight vs West Virginia, 8:00 PM, Saturday at Texas, 7:00 PM

  • Rundown: Monday’s loss at Kansas hurt, but it wasn’t all that unexpected. If they can take care of Baylor on the road on March 2, there’s still a chance the Wildcats could be 14-3 heading into the final regular season game at Oklahoma State on March 9. The remaining schedule sets up that well for K-State, with their next five games against the bottom five teams in the conference.
  • Player Stepping Up: Sophomore G Angel Rodriguez: He has a 2.5:1 Assist to Turnover Ratio on the season and is averaging an efficient 19.6 PPG his last three games. In that stretch, he is 46.3% from the floor and 41.6% from three-point range.

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Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 14

Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 11th, 2013

It’s not too early to call tonight’s game between Kansas and Kansas State the Game Of The Year in the Big 12. Not with first place on the line and a chance for K-State to put the Jayhawks two games back with only seven games remaining. As for our rankings, there was a big shakeup this week with teams #1-#6, as each squad in that group either moved up or down from last week’s list. Most notable was the ascent of the Wildcats, who take the top spot for the first time this season. I decided to hold off on the Bracket Matrix Projected NCAA Tournament Seeds this week because it hasn’t been updated since Saturday’s games.

Rodney McGruder Needs A Big Game Tonight Against Kansas In Allen Fieldhouse (AP)

Rodney McGruder Needs A Big Game Tonight Against Kansas In Allen Fieldhouse (AP)

1) Kansas State (19-4, 8-2 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week: W 68-59 at Texas Tech, W 79-70 vs. Iowa State

This Week: Tonight at Kansas, 8:00 PM CST, Saturday vs. Baylor, 6:00 PM

  • Rundown: They earned the split with Iowa State with a 79-70 win over the Cyclones on Saturday and have now won four in a row and 12 of their last 14. Rodney McGruder carried K-State with 22 points and five assists against Iowa State on Saturday and averaged 20 points per game this week. If he continues on that pace coupled with Kansas’ recent struggles, a road-team split with the Jayhawks isn’t out of the question.
  • Reason to be optimistic: They’re playing solid defense as of late, holding three of their last four opponents under 60 points, and any concerns with Frank Martin’s players not buying into Bruce Weber’s system are long gone at this point. Not only has McGruder stepped up offensively, but sophomore guard Angel Rodriguez averaged 16.5 PPG last week as well.

2) Oklahoma State (17-5, 7-3)
Previous Ranking: 3

Last Week: W 69-67 (OT) vs. Baylor, W 72-59 at Texas

This Week: Wednesday at Texas Tech, 6:00 PM, Saturday vs. Oklahoma, 12:30 PM

  • Rundown: The Cowboys have been a little unlucky in that their two biggest wins — vs. North Carolina State in November and at Kansas last week — were quickly watered down. North Carolina State, then #6 in the country, lost two games later to Michigan. Kansas dropped two more games in a row, including to dreadful TCU, after losing to OSU. Even so, the Cowboys have won six out of seven games thanks to junior guard Markel Brown, who has averaged 16.7 PPG in that stretch.
  • Reason to be optimistic: Oklahoma State has more NBA talent than any other team in the Big 12. Coupled with the confidence they undoubtedly have gained with their recent wins against Iowa State, Kansas, and Baylor, the Cowboys could be quite dangerous in March.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 01.22.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on January 22nd, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. There’s already enough drama in this showdown between Kansas and Kansas State tonight. Two top-15 teams. Playing for first place in the Big 12. Bitter in-state rivals. But look carefully, and there’s another aspect to all this: the Illinois rivalry. The last two coaches at Illinois before John Groce were Bruce Weber and Bill Self. Weber took over for Self and went to the national title game in his second season. He now coaches Kansas State after the Illini fired him seven years later. Bill Self left originally so he could take this job at Kansas. Got it? Good. You knew all that. But do you remember when Weber hosted a mock funeral during his first year at Illinois because he was sick of everybody talking about Bill Self all the time? They’re not best friends, but that makes for terrific entertainment tonight.
  2. Weber wasn’t necessarily the most popular choice when Kansas State hired him. Everybody knew he could coach at some level. He did, after all, have unbelievable success at Southern Illinois and propelled a Self-recruited team to the brink of a national title at Illinois, but things did not end well in Champaign. His final 2011-12 season was especially a disaster, so it’s not as though he was considered a home run hire by the Wildcats. Still, it appears to be working just fine at this point, and maybe it’s a sign that second chances and a change of scenery can really do wonders for a head coach.
  3. We’re not sure who stole West Virginia’s uniforms this season and started playing with them, but they certainly can’t be coached by Bob Huggins, can they? Not even Huggins believes it. In the midst of one of the worst seasons of his storied career, Huggins is profusely apologizing to anybody who will listen for his team’s uninspired effort in a 27-point loss at Purdue. “I want to apologize to our fans, apologize to the people in the state of West Virginia. This is totally unacceptable. This is not what we’re supposed to represent and hopefully they have enough faith in me that I will fix it.” If there’s anybody who can fix it, it’s probably Huggins, but whether it will happen this year is an open question for considerable debate.
  4. For as emotional as Huggins got with the media, it seems as though he took a different approach with his team. Strangely, the fiery head coach appeared to have said very little to his team in the locker room after Purdue embarrassed his team on national television. If the yelling and screaming is not working, why not try something else?
  5. Travis Ford said after his team’s victory against Texas Tech on Saturday that the Red Raiders were one of the most improved teams in the Big 12. Even if that’s true, their record isn’t quite showing it. Texas Tech has lost four of its first five league games by exactly 100 combined points, with the only win coming against dreadful TCU. At least the Red Raiders are playing well in spurts. After a last-place, 1-17 finish a year ago, even that’s significant improvement in many ways. Tech’s Jaye Crockett, who emerged as a scoring threat down the stretch in 2011-12 and appears to have a bright future with the Red Raiders, says he’s “tired of all these moral victories.” Texas Tech competed punch-for-punch with Kansas for one half and was within striking distance of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State at halftime, but it hasn’t resulted in any upsets. Yet. Maybe as the season goes on, Ford’s statement about Texas Tech’s supposed improvement will show up on paper, in the form of a marquee win.
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Big 12 Power Rankings: Week Nine

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 7th, 2013

After things slowed down around the holidays, the schedule picked up this week and we found out a lot about the teams in the Big 12. Kansas is beatable but resilient after rallying to take care of Temple in Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas State’s upset of Florida last month is starting to look less like a fluke. Oklahoma State’s upset of North Carolina State in November is, however, beginning to look like a fluke. Baylor showed it has the talent to compete for a top spot in the standings, while Texas still looks lost without Myck Kabongo. And oh yeah, TCU is as bad we thought.

Don't Look Now, But Bruce Weber Has Kansas State Challenging For Second Place in the Big 12 (AP Photo/M. Conroy)

Don’t Look Now, But Bruce Weber Has Kansas State Challenging For Second Place in the Big 12 (AP Photo/M. Conroy)

1) Kansas (12-1, 0-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 1

Last Week: W 69-62 vs. Temple

This Week: Wednesday vs Iowa State, 6:00 PM CST, Saturday at Texas Tech, 3:00 PM

  • Rundown: Every year, Kansas seems to have one close call at home in the non-conference season. Saturday was no different as Temple took the lead late in the second half before the Jayhawks rallied to win, 69-62.
  • Player Stepping Up: Senior G Travis Releford: Releford is the best perimeter defender on the roster and has been great offensively lately, shooting over 80% from the field and averaging 13.7 points per game in the last four games.

2) Kansas State (12-2, 1-0)
Previous Ranking: 3

Last Week: W 70-50 vs. South Dakota, W 73-67 vs. Oklahoma State

This Week: Saturday at West Virginia, 12:30 PM

  • Rundown: It is still to early to make any bold statements, but Saturday’s win over Oklahoma State brought the Wildcats into the discussion for second best team in the Big 12.
  • Player Stepping Up: Senior G Rodney McGruder: He leads the team in scoring with 14.7 points per game and had 28 points in the big win over OSU over the weekend.

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Big 12 M5: 01.02.13 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on January 2nd, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Burnt Orange Nation always does a terrific job breaking down the nitty-gritty and statistics of Texas hoops, but this week’s entry has some interesting numbers relevant to the Big 12 as a whole. Read toward the bottom of the article and look at some of the surprising statistics with regard to Oklahoma State‘s defense. As the article explains, the Cowboys have blocked 16 percent of their opponents’ shot attempts in the paint. That’s not a statistic you often hear about, so it is difficult to put that in perspective. Still, blocking almost one out of every six shots from up close seems impressive. And it is also odd to consider that Oklahoma State’s opponents are shooting a lower percentage from the field in transition than in a half-court setting.
  2. Speaking of Oklahoma State, the Cowboys blew a golden opportunity to really arrive on the national scene in a one-point loss to Gonzaga Monday night. No shame in a loss to the Zags, though, who have ripped through non-conference play with a 5-0 record against the Big 12. That’s quite bizarre in the aggregate, but not at all that surprising when you dig deeper to see how it happened. In order, Gonzaga has now defeated: West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor, and Oklahoma State. Maybe the basketball gods can arrange a showdown between the Bulldogs and Kansas in the NCAA Tournament to see Gonzaga really is King of the Big 12 this season.
  3. Bear with us as we analyze the Gonzaga/Oklahoma State match-up one more time. As disappointing as Travis Ford has to feel in letting one slip away at home, simply competing with the Zags in a down-to-the-wire, nationally televised game has to mean something. They will kick you out of the coaching profession for praising a team for a moral victory, but even Ford can admit he liked what he saw for the most part. “We did some good things,” he said. And he’s right. He learned that Marcus Smart is a gamer in big contests, and he learned that his team can really defend. If only the Cowboys didn’t have to play a front line like Gonzaga’s on this particular night.
  4. And your Big 12 Player of the Week hails from… Texas Tech, in a surprise selection. It’s Jaye Crockett, who emerged as a real playmaker in Big 12 action a year ago, and this year he is taking over as the primary scoring option. In fact, he is leading the team in scoring. Meanwhile, Jordan Tolbert has not been quite as effective after a stellar freshman season. As a sophomore, he is not getting to the free throw line as often as he did last year, so it helps that Crockett, Dejan Kravic, and freshman Josh Gray have all picked up a bit of the slack.
  5. We will leave you on a heartwarming note that has nothing to do with men’s basketball. Instead, here is a video of an Iowa State women’s basketball player being proposed to at center court. Our only complaint: Why pull this stunt after a non-conference game against Alabama State? If the dude was really bold, he would wait until Brittney Griner were in town and ask his girlfriend at halftime then in front of a packed house.
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Big 12 Power Rankings: Week Six

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 18th, 2012

The top of the Big 12 is unchanged this week, as Kansas and Oklahoma State extended their winning streaks to seven and three games, respectively. The rest of the conference is still a cluster, however, and two teams who were supposed to challenge for the conference title — West Virginia and Texas — did nothing this week to silence their critics. Kansas State and West Virginia were the only Big 12 schools to play anyone of note this past week, and both teams lost convincingly. The Big 12 isn’t getting any better. With only a few weeks left in the non-conference schedule, teams are running out of time to prove themselves as NCAA Tournament prospects.

1) Kansas (8-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 1

Ben McLemore and Kansas prepare for Saturday's matchup with Ohio State

Ben McLemore and Kansas prepare for Saturday’s matchup with Ohio State (Getty Images)

Last Week: W 89-60 vs. Belmont

This Week: Tuesday vs. Richmond, 6:00 PM CST, Saturday at Ohio State, 3:00 PM

  • Rundown: Kansas continues to win after losing its only game of the season over a month ago to Michigan State. They’ve won six of their last seven games by at least 13 points and have set up a great top 10 match-up on Saturday against Ohio State in Columbus, whom the Jayhawks beat twice last season (once in Lawrence and again in the Final Four).
  • Reason to be Optimistic: Freshman guard Ben McLemore is as good as people thought he could be, leading the team with 16.1 PPG. He is shooting up NBA Mock Drafts and it’s becoming clear that this will be his only season in Lawrence. His ability to take over a game offensively makes the Jayhawks legitimate Final Four contenders just a month after the team faced plenty of personnel questions.

2) Oklahoma State (8-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week: W 91-63 vs. Central Arkansas

This Week: Wednesday vs. Texas-Arlington, 7:00 PM, Saturday vs.Tennessee Tech, 12:00 PM

  • Rundown: Last week’s win over Central Arkansas didn’t help the Cowboys in the weekly polls or this week’s power rankings, but they continue to pile up wins leading up to the New Year’s Eve home game against Gonzaga. This week’s action should be another pair of scrimmages.
  • Reason to be Optimistic: Outside of the 10-point loss to Virginia Tech, the Cowboys have beaten the teams they were supposed to beat. That sounds simple enough, but too many teams lose focus some nights and drop head-scratching games this time of year. It will pay off come Selection Sunday.

3) Baylor (7-3, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 4

Last Week: W 85-68 vs. Lamar, W 73-57 vs. South Carolina-Upstate

This Week: Friday vs. BYU, 8:00 PM

  • Rundown: Baylor is back in the No. 3 spot this week, mostly by default. Senior point guard Pierre Jackson is still playing like a conference player of the year, averaging 19.3 PPG and 6.0 APG through 10 games. The offense is averaging 76.7 PPG but its been slowed down in each of the Bears’ three losses, when they scored just 62.3 PPG.
  • Reason to be Optimistic: Like Kansas, Baylor is getting significant contributions from one of its highly touted freshmen. 7″1′ center Isaiah Austin is averaging 13.9 PPG and 8.6 RPG this season.

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Big 12 Team Preview #9: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by Nate Kotisso on October 31st, 2012

Over the next two weeks, we’ll bring you the obligatory team preview here at the Big 12 microsite. Monday, Danny Spewak (@dspewak) took care of previewing the TCU Horned Frogs. Today, Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso) previews the cellar-dwellers from a year ago: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were not a unanimous choice among the Big 12 microsite writers to finish ninth in the conference but we’re guessing we still won’t find much argument with this selection either. 

The Skinny: 

  • 2011-12 Record: 8-23 record, 1-17 in the Big 12
  • Key Contributors Lost: G Javarez Willis, F Robert Lewandowski
  • Head Coach: Chris Walker, 1st season
  • Projected Finish: 9th

Walker now makes three different coaches in three seasons. (Associated Press/Zach Long)

Interim head coach Chris Walker undoubtedly has a tough act to follow but at the same time he doesn’t. Former head coach Billy Gillispie had as tumultuous of a season that a coach can have. He broke NCAA practice rules more than once, was reprimanded by his athletic director for those trangressions, and his team stunk it up on the basketball court. Since the bar isn’t set very high at this point, I’m sure Walker can win more than eight games and look somewhat competitive in Big 12 play. This is Walker’s first opportunity at a head coaching job but like many first-timers, he too was a well-traveled assistant coach. He started off at Loyola Marymount in 1992 (this was the post-Paul Westhead/Kimble/Gathers era), left for Vanderbilt in 1996, went to Pepperdine in 1999, back to his alma mater Villanova in 2000, then headed to UMass in 2001, before going to New Mexico in 2007, and then back to Villanova in 2009 before arriving last season in Lubbock. For a man thrust into as awkward a situation as any, Walker is saying all the right things and then some. On “wearing” the interim tag:

“It’s all about attitude. I was remarking to somebody the other day there are a lot of interim coaches out there, they just don’t know it. I look at this situation, and people look at it as if I’ve been diagnosed with cancer. It took me six months to live. I’ve really flipped it and said it’s six months to give. I’m head coach for the first time in the Big 12. I’m going to give everything I have to the University, to the players and the community of Lubbock.”

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