Checking In On… the Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 27th, 2011

Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Kansas Gets Exposed: For the second time in the last four years, Kansas suffered a surprising defeat to an overmatched team in Kansas City. This year’s victor was Davidson, who led nearly all game en route to an 80-74 upset over the Jayhawks. It was the third game this season where Kansas was held under a point per possession. This team might be the worst offensive team Bill Self has fielded at Kansas: there’s no real go-to guy like Marcus Morris, and the Jayhawks don’t have the three-point shooters to keep defenses from collapsing on Thomas Robinson in the middle. The turnovers are also an even bigger problem than last season, without the ability to score nearly at will to compensate.
  • Undefeated Squads Hold Serve: Both of the undefeated teams in the league narrowly retained that status, with Missouri trying valiantly to give Illinois the Braggin Rights game and Baylor doing the same with West Virginia. Frank Haith’s team won a rare close game, eking out a 78-74 win, and Baylor narrowly defeated West Virginia 83-81 in overtime, after which Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins had a rare instance of losing his cool.
  • Kansas State scored a tournament win over the weekend, downing Long Beach State on Christmas night to win the Diamond Head Classic. Angel Rodriguez was the star of the tournament, scoring 17 and 16 in the first two games. Rodney McGruder more than picked up his slack in the championship against Long Beach, scoring 28 on 10-11 shooting.  Kansas State now has a pair of good wins in the non-conference season and look like they will be in the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid.

The Wildcats Have Plenty of Souvenirs To Bring Home After Winning The Diamond Head Classic. (AP)

Power Rankings

Because the marquee non conference games are virtually over, this week, I thought I’d grade the teams. I’m grading on a curve, so an A for Missouri isn’t the same as one for Kansas State.

  1. Missouri (12-0) – Grade: A. Missouri is 12-0 and while I am still not sure about Frank Haith for the long haul, he has to get credit for coming to Missouri and not changing anything. He recognized what he had in Marcus Denmon, Kim English, and Phil Pressey and let them be who they are. Haith’s Miami teams regularly played games where the pace lingered in the low-to-mid-60s , but this year Missouri is at 70.5 trips per game, basically right in line with where it has been the past three seasons.
  2. Kansas (8-3) – Grade: A-. Kansas sits only at 8-3, but actually are the highest-rated Big 12 team in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings at 8, one spot ahead of Missouri and two ahead of Baylor. Some of that is due to beating a Jared Sullinger-less Ohio State, but a bigger factor has been Kansas’s stifling defense, which has held opponents to just 39.6% shooting from inside the arc. A year after losing two lottery picks and the very solid Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed, not to mention second-round pick Josh Selby, Bill Self is in the midst of maybe his best coaching job yet. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In on… the Big 12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 19th, 2011

Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Denmon Scorching: The Big 12 Player of the Year race will come down to who does what in conference play, but at the midseason point I would be hard-pressed to pick anyone other than Missouri’s Marcus Denmon. The senior is averaging 19.6 points per game, and is doing it extremely efficiently, with a 52.8% eFG. He’s also getting to the line a decent amount, and shooting 91.7% once he gets there. Despite taking more shots than anyone on the team, and using his fair share of possessions, Denmon has been great at taking care of the ball as well: his 4.2% turnover rate is best in the entire country. Not only is he the best player in the league at this point, he might be the best in the country entering conference play.
  • Coaches Jockeying: Coach of the Year, on the other hand, is a much more muddled situation. At Kansas, Bill Self has taken a Kansas team savaged by graduations and early departures and led them to a 7-2 record, including a big win over Ohio State. There were some snickers when Missouri hired Frank Haith, but the Tigers are 11-0 and will likely be favored in their next month’s worth of games. Frank Martin has taken a Kansas State team without much offensive talent but has ridden defense to a 7-1 record, including a win over a good Alabama team. Their lone loss came in double overtime to future conference foe West Virginia.
  • Tolbert Under The Radar: While Quincy Miller, Deuce Bello, and LeBryan Nash have received more publicity and probably have brighter NBA futures, how about some love for Texas Tech’s Jordan Tolbert? He’s taking 34.1% of the team’s shots while on the floor, but has not wilted in the face of having to carry an offense as a freshman. Quite the opposite in fact as he’s shooting 63% and drawing an impressive five fouls per 40 minutes. Once at the line, he’s shooting 83.3%. He also leads the Red Raiders in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage. Texas Tech probably will finish last in the league this year, but it won’t be because of Tolbert.

Marcus Denmon Is Setting Nets Ablaze With His Shooting, But Will It Continue Into League Play?

Power Rankings

  1. Missouri (10-0): The Tigers start 10-0 for the first time since joining the conference. They haven’t played the toughest of non-conference schedules, however, and will be trying to avoid a repeat of last year’s second half swoon when they lost eight of their final 14 games. I mentioned how great Marcus Denmon has been already, but don’t sleep on Kim English either: the senior is shooting 52.5% from three and has the tenth-best eFG in the country.
  2. Kansas (7-2): Kansas didn’t play last week due to pesky finals week, but while they will be hoping for good news off the court in the form of good grades, it looks like they will get a piece of good news on the court as senior guard Tyshawn Taylor, who had surgery on a torn meniscus and was expected to be out a minimum of two weeks, is now expected to play in Kansas’s game Monday against Davidson. Thomas Robinson had a similar procedure as Jayhawk with a comparable recovery time, for what it’s worth. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 Weekend Primer

Posted by dnspewak on December 17th, 2011

GAME OF THE WEEK

  • Texas A&M (8-1) at Florida (7-2), Orange Bowl Classic, Saturday 1:30 p.m. CT
Starting next season, these two programs will battle each other annually in the SEC. Until then, Texas A&M and Florida will settle for playing each other in the Orange Bowl Classic, a neutral-site game set in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday afternoon. The Aggies are a wild card in the Big 12 right now, as they’ve built their 8-1 record against mostly inferior competition– and, more importantly, they have played all but two games without All-Big 12 wing Khris Middleton. The 6’7” junior has missed the majority of the season recovering from knee surgery, returning in time for A&M’s most recent victory over Louisiana-Monroe. Although Middleton hadn’t played since the season opener, he seemed perfectly healthy in torching the Warhawks for 24 points. His return gives Texas A&M an entirely different look on both ends of the floor, so much that it would be worthless to judge the seven games it played without Middleton. For instance, A&M fell flat against the best team on its schedule without him, falling behind by more than 20 points in the first half at Madison Square Garden. That’s why Florida will let Billy Kennedy truly gauge his team for the first time in 2011-12. Though forward Kourtney Roberson is still questionable for the contest, A&M could solidify itself as a Big 12 contender by knocking off the Gators in a quasi-road environment.

Texas A&M Will Play A "Neutral" Game in The State of Florida Against the Gators

The key individual match-up is… Dash Harris vs. Erving Walker. Although Texas A&M’s schedule has not been demanding, this team could have really slipped had Dash Harris not played so steadily. The senior point guard is known for his defense, but offensively, Harris has kept the Aggies afloat without Middleton by making good decisions and taking care of the basketball. He won’t score much, but he’s irreplaceable as a distributor in this offense. And as a defensive stopper, he has the skills to slow down Erving Walker. Harris has a few inches on Walker, and he’s as quick as any guard in the nation. No matter the defender, though, it’s up to Walker to rise to the challenge. He looks to score much more than Harris, and at times, he has looked terrific with the ball in his hands. When he has struggled, it has been his own fault: against Arizona, for example, he settled for quick threes and forced up 16 shots. If he doesn’t settle down against Harris, Walker could be in for a tough night.

Texas A&M will win if… it continues to dominate on the defensive end. This program’s attitude from former coaches Billy Gillispie and Mark Turgeon has carried over to Kennedy’s team. The Aggies are all about defense, rebounding and physicality, but they will have their hands full with the explosive Gator guards. Though Middleton’s blend of size and athleticism is a tough match-up for every team, Florida has excellent backcourt speed in Kenny Boynton, Brad Beal, Mike Rosario, and Walker. A&M has to find a way to lock down those guards and force them into tough shots. In that Arizona victory, Billy Donovan was not happy with the shot selection of his guards. Against a team like A&M, Florida will have to settle down and run its stuff efficiently to have a chance.
Florida will win if… it can control the paint. Texas A&M likes to think it’s tougher than you– David Loubeau and Ray Turner are intimidating physical specimens, and this team rebounds with authority around the basket. UF is no slouch in that category this year. Patric Young might be the best forward on the floor on Saturday, and sophomore Will Yeguete has done a nice job since entering the starting lineup in late November. Neither team is especially deep up front, but A&M could get a big lift if Kourtney Roberson is healthy.
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Set Your TiVo: 12.16.11 to 12.18.11

Posted by Brian Otskey on December 16th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him @botskey on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

With Dead Week mercifully over, we finally have some good games to enjoy this Saturday despite Sunday being a very slow day in the hoops world.

#6 Baylor @ BYU – 2:00 PM EST Saturday on BYU TV (****)

Perry Jones Leads Baylor into Provo Saturday (AP)

  • The Bears have had difficulty on the road in past seasons but they already passed one important test, demolishing Northwestern in Chicago a couple weeks ago. This game, however, will be an even better measure to see where the highly-rated Bears are really at. The Marriott Center is a notoriously difficult place to play but Baylor has a clear talent edge in this game. BU welcomes Gary Franklin, now eligible after the first semester, to an already highly skilled roster. Franklin didn’t play all that well at California last season but he was a four star recruit out of high school. He should help the Bears out at the point guard position, a place where turnovers are still an issue. Baylor averages 16 turnovers a game and that will be dangerous playing on the road against a team like BYU that likes to push the pace. 5.8 of those 16 turnovers come from the point guard position so Scott Drew is hoping that Franklin can help handle the ball. How Franklin will fit in alongside Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton remains a question mark.
  • BYU’s top six scorers are all 6’5” or taller, an important factor against the length and athleticism of Baylor’s front line. Noah Hartsock, Brandon Davies and Charles Abouo do the bulk of the damage for Dave Rose, as those three are his top scorers and rebounders. Hartsock in particular has been outstanding, scoring in double figures in every game thus far. All three will have to play well in order for BYU to pull the upset because Baylor’s front court is strong, deep and talented. With Quincy Acy blocking 3.3 shots a game, BYU’s big men should find it more difficult to score inside on Saturday. The Cougars have to get their outside game going as well. Baylor’s defense is very average against the three and BYU has three big deep threats, Abouo, Stephen Rogers and Brock Zylstra. Going up against the top-ranked interior defense in the nation, BYU needs its outside shots to fall in order to win. However, the Cougars can’t afford to settle for threes if they aren’t falling. They must get something going in the paint, even against such a strong defense, in order to balance out their offense.
  • This is an important game for both clubs. Baylor has played only two teams of note so far while BYU’s best win is over a mediocre Oregon team. Baylor shoots well (49.1% FG) but the biggest difference this season has been its defense. The Bears allow only 33.3% shooting inside the arc and their defensive efficiency has been terrific. Both teams get most of their offense from their respective front courts but Baylor may have the ultimate edge with Cory Jefferson off the bench. He adds some scoring punch and, more importantly, rebounding and depth for the Bears. For the Cougars to win, they’ll have to force turnovers to get points in transition because it’ll be awfully tough to score inside in the half court. In addition to making its threes, BYU must rebound well and get to the line while putting the Baylor big men in foul trouble. However, BYU ranks #295 in free throw rate and Baylor doesn’t foul too often. Although BYU rarely loses at home, this is a game Baylor can win. There are some who still doubt the Bears but a win here would put them on their way towards legitimate national recognition.

Texas A&M vs. #10 Florida (at Sunrise, FL) – 2:30 PM EST Saturday on FSN (***)

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Checking In On… the Big 12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on December 12th, 2011

Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Kansas scored a huge win over Ohio State on Saturday. One big difference was accuracy behind the arc as the Jayhawks shot 53% from three while the Buckeyes shot just over 29%. The other key was the great defense Travis Releford displayed while guarding William Buford, limiting him to a paltry 8-23 from the field. Thomas Robinson scored 21 points on 77.8% shooting despite rumors that he was battling the flu, and Tyshawn Taylor had a career high 13 assists – against one of the best defenders in the country – all while playing with a torn meniscus.

Tyshawn Taylor Went Under The Knife Sunday, But With Finals Week And A Package Of Cupcakes On The Docket, Kansas Should Be Just Fine With Him On The Mend (Danny Medley, US Presswire)

  • Missouri keeps rolling, beating Villanova in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday and Navy on Saturday. They are currently favored by Ken Pomeroy in every game but two remaining on their schedule, and while I don’t think it will happen, there is at least a chance that they will be 22-0 on February 4 for perhaps the last border showdown ever with Kansas in Columbia. Entering this week, they are currently ranked in the top 15 nationally in the following offensive categories: adjusted efficiency, effective FG%, turnover rate, three-point percentage, two-point percentage and free throw percentage. There were a lot of questions aboutFrank Haith when he was hired, but for now, he seems to have passed the test.
  • Khris Middleton made his return to the Texas A&M lineup this weekend, scoring 24 points on 8-14 shooting (2-5 from three) and grabbing six rebounds. With Texas A&M struggling offensively despite starting the season 8-1, Middleton is just the medicine they need. And with the team being extremely effective defensively so far, perhaps the Aggies will prove to be Big 12 title contenders yet.

Power Rankings

  1. Missouri (9-0) – The Tigers are fantastic offensively as I noted above, but they have struggled a bit lately on the defensive end. They allowed Villanova to score over a point per trip and they are down to 41st nationally in forcing turnovers (though if the season ended today, it would be right in line with their rate last year, when they finished ninth nationally). They’ll have two cupcakes to practice against before a big rivalry matchup with Illinois on December 22. Read the rest of this entry »
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ATB: Weekend Edition — Indiana’s Statement Win, a Crosstown Blowup, & Dunkdafied…

Posted by rtmsf on December 12th, 2011

This Weekend’s Lede. Saturday was one of the wildest afternoons of college basketball in recent memory. Within a five-hour window from around 2:30 PM to 7:30 PM EST, we experienced one of the ugliest incidents in the modern history of college basketball, followed by both the nation’s #1 and #2 teams losing their first games of the season on the road. The afternoon’s action had the feeling of March in the intensity and drama of the games played, but the added bonus of insane home crowds hungry for key December victories over a bitter rival or, just because. Let’s jump into a busy weekend of storylines…

Your Watercooler Moment. Malice in the Cintas.

We will have much more to say on this in our sister ATB focusing exclusively on the events that occurred with 9.4 seconds remaining in the Crosstown Shootout on Saturday (the post will go live at 6:45 AM EST). Look, we all know that fights sometimes happen in sports, and they’re more likely to happen in volatile situations involving bitter rivals who don’t like each other. The fight was bad enough — in our view, Cincinnati’s Cheikh Mbodj should face criminal battery charges for his stomp to Kenny Frease’s head while the player was already lying on the floor — but the real shame in all of this was the aftermath. Not only did Xavier completely embarrass itself as a school and program in allowing Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons to get on the dais and act like they were representing XU straight outta Compton, but both schools failed to step up Sunday and properly punish the players involved — the most any player was suspended was six games (UC’s Yancy Gates, Octavius Ellis and Mbodj). We hate to say it, but the image-conscious NBA would have been much harsher in its punishments of these players, and given that all of the adults at both schools went to great pains afterward to suggest that such an out-of-control incident was unconscionable, this appears to be yet another example of actions speaking louder than words.

Grab a Coffee While You’re At It. #1 Kentucky Loses at the Buzzer.

Rules for rushing the court are mostly general guidelines that come down to whether it feels right given the specifics of the situation. There are few scenarios that will feel better than Indiana’s buzzer-beating win over #1 Kentucky on Saturday evening. All of the following boxes were checked: 1) IU beat the #1 team in America; 2) on a buzzer-beating shot; 3) after it appeared the Hoosiers had blown the game; 4) versus a bitter rival; 5) in a statement win for the program that announced its status as a national player again. You simply won’t find many more perfect situations for an RTC, and Hoosier fans responded appropriately, filling the court from all corners of the arena with exalted jubilation. It was an outstanding game, and an even more outstanding RTC. For some great reactions recorded around the interwebs, check out some of these: a real-time call by IU’s play-by-play radio guy, Don Fischeran IU dad goes crazy in his house; a Bloomington bar called Nick’s explodes when Watford’s shot goes down; the scene at floor level for the final play and the ensuing RTC.

Perhaps the best thing we’ve seen from this weekend is this mash-up put together by an IU student (@dbaba12) which shows clips from the camp-out, the game itself (including his halftime prediction of an RTC), the final play, and the aftermath. It’s stuff like this that reminds us why we love college basketball.

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Morning Five: 12.09.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 9th, 2011

  1.  We were very afraid of this when we saw it happen live on Tuesday night, and sure enough, the results came back yesterday. Marquette center Chris Otule has torn his left ACL and may miss the rest of the season depending on the severity of the tear and the treatment decision between he and his doctors. As we mentioned in that night’s After the Buzzer, we really hate this for the 6’11″ junior. Not only is he playing with the severe disadvantage of only having vision in one eye, but he’s suffered broken bones in both his left and right foot during his time in Milwaukee. Despite his best efforts, the guy has seemingly never been able to stay healthy. No matter his decision on a treatment plan, he’s only been able to play in 57 games in four seasons, so we’re crossing our fingers that he’ll get at least one more injury-free season of basketball at Marquette.
  2. How about some better injury news? Texas A&M’s Khris Middleton is expected to officially return to his team for Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Monroe after spending the better part of the last month rehabilitating a hamstring injury suffered in the first game of the season. His loss hasn’t impacted A&M’s fortunes terribly against a light schedule, as the Aggies have only one loss against Mississippi State so far, but he will be needed on the floor for an upcoming game against Florida and of course the 18-game Big 12 schedule. In other good news, Ohio State sounds like it expects to have its NPOY candidate, Jared Sullinger, back in action for Saturday’s monster game versus Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. Although Thad Matta played coy with his answers in the article, if Sullinger is “dancing around” his dorm room, he’ll be ready to play this weekend.
  3. In a somewhat odd turn of events, St. John’s sophomore point guard Nurideen Lindsey has decided to transfer out of the program. What makes it peculiar is that the starter has averaged nearly 30 minutes per game and is putting up good numbers in the first month of the season — 12.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG. His statements about leaving are even more confounding: “I came to St. John’s for a couple of reasons. One was to be close to my mom, whose health has been up and down due to some past experiences. The second was to play for Coach Lav. In both instances, it has not worked out how I envisioned.” He surely isn’t holding Lavin’s own health issues against him, so there has to be something else going on here. More on this later today on RTC’s Big East microsite.
  4. The number of D-I schools is apparently set to grow again, as Northern Kentucky will join the Atlantic Sun Conference and start playing a full conference slate as soon as next season. Even though the school will not be eligible for league championships and revenue sharing for a few years while going through a probationary period, NKU preferred to join the much-farther geographic footprint of the A-Sun rather than the closer-to-home OVC because it was willing to let them play games next season. The A-Sun is generally located in the deep South — Georgia, South Carolina, Florida — although it does have two schools in Tennessee and as we’ve learned in conference realignment theater, geography rarely matters anymore. The article reports that the average road trip within the league will be around 580 miles, though, which can seriously add up for mid-major school budgets.
  5. You’ve been waiting patiently for it, well here it is: Luke Winn‘s weekly power rankings. Per usual, there’s more graphs, still frame images, and thoughtful analysis than you can shake Seth Davis’ stick at, but if you look carefully, you’ll find his All-Americans after one month, his analysis as to why Louisville fails to impress us, and an rundown of why Saturday’s delightful stack of games without the annoyance of football is something worth carving your day around.  Enjoy.
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Big 12 Morning Five: 12.08.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 8th, 2011

  1. Tonight is it: Bob Huggins returns to the state of Kansas to face Kansas State, which he spurned for West Virginia after the 2006-07 season. Despite the fan outrage– Huggins spent just one year at KSU, after all– there’s no denying he helped build the successful program Frank Martin currently oversees. True, Huggins did not even make the NCAA Tournament in his lone season as the Wildcats’ head coach, but he overachieved with a blue-collar roster and made the NIT. From there, he left his stamp on the program by luring Michael Beasley and Bill Walker to Manhattan, Kansas. As the article points out, he could have easily taken his entire coaching staff and those two star recruits with him to West Virginia. He didn’t, however, and it set up a solid foundation for Martin.
  2. Kansas’s Jeff Withey was once a heralded recruit when he originally committed to Arizona. After leaving for Kansas, Withey toiled in anonymity for awhile, but he’s back in action this season as a key contributor. The junior center nearly tallied a triple-double on Tuesday, and he has started every game so far this season. With Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor the only players on the roster with major experience at the Big 12 level, Withey’s continued production is a must for Bill Self.
  3. We all know the difficult story of Billy Kennedy, who had to take a break as Texas A&M‘s coach this fall due to a diagnosis of Parkinson’s. Luckily, he’s starting to regain his strength and normal level of energy. That’s great news for the Aggies, who should also get star wing Khris Middleton back from an injury very soon. A&M has lost just one game thus far, and it has handled the inferior opponents on its schedule. From here, the season should only trend uphill.
  4. Iowa State is Newcomer U with so many transfers this season, but freshman Percy Gibson is starting to make a name for himself as well. Gibson started his first game of young career on Tuesday in a win over Prairie View A&M, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Although he may not stay in the starting lineup, he’s poised to earn major playing time with his performance so far this year.
  5. If Missouri keeps winning, you will probably see quite a few more articles that are basically mea culpas for criticizing the hiring of Frank Haith, which at the time was widely criticized and had little support from fans or analysts. If they did so privately, they certainly wouldn’t have gone public with that opinion. Haith had very little success at Miami, and there was almost nothing to suggest he could succeed in Columbia. That, folks, is why they play the games. Haith’s team hasn’t lost yet, and it looks like the top team in the Big 12 right now with blowout wins over Notre Dame, Cal, and Villanova. 
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Checking In On… The Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 28th, 2011

Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9.

Reader’s Take

The Week That Was 

  • J’Covan Carrying Longhorns: In what could quickly turn into a weekly J’Covan Brown watch, the Texas guard had 17 in a loss to NC State and was dreadful in a closer-than-it-looked 56-40 win over Sam Houston State. Brown had exploded onto the scene early but some questions over his efficiency have cropped up again: Brown went just 3-12 from two-point range against Sam Houston State. With Texas currently ranked as the 34th best offense by Ken Pomeroy, the Longhorns need Brown, their best offensive player, to be a lot better if they want to be one of the top teams in the league this year.
  • Tigers Get ‘Em Talking: More ridiculous offense from Missouri. The Tigers played two 70-possession games this week and scored 87 and 92 points in them. That’s good against anyone. They currently have the fourth-best three point shooting team in the country and turn it over at a rate higher than just four teams. The same question – What will they do when having to play a team with some size? – will probably linger until conference play, but it’s clear over the first month of the year that their guards are as good as any backcourt in the country.
  • The Big Picture: For all the talk that the Big 12 might be down this year, it sure doesn’t seem that way, as they are 38-10 so far this year and two of those losses were Kansas’s defeats at the hands of Kentucky and Duke, both on neutral courts. The league’s two worst losses no doubt belong to Texas Tech, who has dropped games to both DePaul and Indiana State.

Marcus Denmon And The Tigers Can't Help But Give A Smirk, Considering The Buzz They've Generated So Far. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

Power Rankings

  1. Missouri (6-0): The Missouri stat that surprised me the most this week is their rebounding numbers: The Tigers snatch just 28.4% of the available offensive rebounds, which is 270th nationally. It’s very strange that a team that thrives on pressuring opponents and forcing them to speed up would be so focused on getting back defensively rather than crashing the boards. Of course, it could be more that the team wants to set up its press, but it is something to watch for sure.
  2. Kansas (3-2): After senior Tyshawn Taylor had 11 turnovers in a hard fought Maui Invitational championship game, several Kansas fans took shots at the guard and he responded on Twitter. Thomas Robinson was named to the Maui all-tournament team after putting up double-doubles in each game, but his struggles facing double teams highlight a potential concern for the Jayhawks. If he’s not scoring efficiently, Kansas could find it extremely difficult to repeat as Big 12 champs. One possible answer is the emergence of junior Jeff Withey. Withey had 14 points and 10 rebounds against Duke and might find himself matched up with Jared Sullinger in a little over a week when the Buckeyes pay a visit to Allen Fieldhouse. Read the rest of this entry »
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Checking In On… the Big 12

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 21st, 2011

­­­­Steve Fetch is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12. You can also find his musings online at Rock Chalk Talk or on Twitter @fetch9.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

  • Texas A&M Plays Well Without Middleton: With star forward Khris Middleton out nursing a knee injury Texas A&M handled themselves well in New York, narrowly losing to Mississippi State and beating St. John’s. With Middleton out, defense has been the name of the game for the Aggies, who have not allowed an opponent to score a point per possession yet. Unfortunately for the Aggies, they only have scored more than a point per possession in two of their four games. Offensively the Aggies have rebounded reasonably well without Middleton, but have  been unable to score consistently. They had just a 46.7% eFG vs. St. John’s and a 46.3% against Mississippi State.
  • Top-Flight Tigers: Missouri has scored 83, 81, and 83 points in their first three games. Granted they have played Southeast Missouri State, Mercer, and Niagara, but with each of the games being around 70 possessions, the Tiger offense has been clicking in midseason form. They are still playing about as quickly as they did under Mike Anderson, and still are taking care of the ball extremely well (their 14.6% turnover rate is 15th-best nationally). They are only shooting 45.7% from two, however, so it will be interesting to see how well they can score when their 48.3% three point percentage regresses a bit.
  • Heavyweight Match-ups Approaching?: As I mentioned in the poll question, a number of Big 12 teams will be participating in holiday tournaments. Kansas faces Georgetown in the Maui Invitational, and with either UCLA or Chaminade waiting in the second round, a championship match-up with Duke (or perhaps a 2008 national title game rematch with Memphis) is a real possibility. Texas lost to Oregon State in the Legends Classic semifinals, but should be very encouraged by the play of J’Covan Brown, who is averaging almost 30 points per game on over 50% shooting so far this year.

Tyshawn Taylor Was KU's Top Performer In Its Loss To Kentucky Last Week.

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (1-1): Despite having Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson, two enigmatic guards, as their primary ball handlers, the Jayhawks have turned it over fewer than all but four teams in the country. Oddly enough, though, they are getting their shots blocked more often than all but 15 teams in the country. Playing Kentucky will do that, but with Thomas Robinson and seven- footer Jeff Withey in the middle it should not be happening this much. The Jayhawks have been good defensively despite opponents shooting nearly 42% from three so once that regresses a bit the Jayhawks should be one of the stingiest defensive teams in America.
  2. Baylor (3-0): The Bears struggled to put San Diego State away, but with Perry Jones III suspended that is not that unexpected. Though Baylor is probably the most talented team in the conference, its ceiling is limited because of their lack of consistent guard play. Baylor is turning it over on 23.3% of their possessions so far, which is above the 20% teams generally strive to maintain. Baylor does have a lot of size and length inside though, which contributes to them allowing opponents to shoot only 34.2% from two. Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 Morning Five: 11.18.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 18th, 2011

  1.  In case you missed the marquee Big 12 contest of the night on Thursday, ESPN posted a quick review of Texas A&M‘s loss to Mississippi State in the 2k Sports Classic. For those of us who turned the game off after MSU took a 20-plus point lead in the first half, it’s hard to believe the Aggies eventually lost by only nine points. They were outclassed in almost every way without star Khris Middleton, but they at least deserve credit for battling all 40 minutes. After such an atrocious start, Billy Kennedy has to be pleased at his team’s effort to cut the lead to eight points late in the second half.
  2. If you’re an ESPN insider, here’s another look at the 2012 recruiting classes in the Big 12. Once again, it’s worth mentioning the Texas schools are completely dominating the recruiting trail lately within the conference. John Stovall ranks Texas first overall in these rankings, and interestingly, he points out that UT only has one player taller than 6’8” right now. That’s why Barnes hauled in a talented group of forwards, all of which should form the nucleus of his program in the near future.
  3. Speaking of Texas, the play of J’Covan Brown has been ridiculous this season. It’s early, of course, but Brown has played like the star Rick Barnes needs him to be. If he keeps up the pace, he’s easily a Big 12 Player of the Year candidate; but again, it’s only been two games. So what do we make of the hot start? There’s one thing we can all agree on: Brown can play. The former sixth man was productive last season and looks like a budding star, and he’s the key to this team’s success this year.
  4. Oklahoma may not be the most notable team in the league, but the Sooners have a decent core of players in Cameron Clark, Andrew Fitzgerald and others that get their names in the paper a lot. Calvin Newell almost never gets his name in the paper– until now. He’s starting to get a little more attention for his scoring ability, and he looks like leading-scorer material down the road. For now, he’ll have to settle for being a spark off the bench, and we’re guessing coach Lon Kruger won’t complain about that.
  5. The folks over at Big 12 Hoops have published their first “Conference Call” of the year, and they hit on a variety of topics. One of the more interesting discussions centers around Kansas and its decision to play Kentucky during the first month of the season. They wondered out loud whether or not it was worth it to lose a game so early, but we don’t see any sort of problem here. If you’re a program like KU, why not play more games like that at Madison Square Garden? Any exposure is good exposure, even in a loss.
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Set Your TiVo: 11.17.11

Posted by bmulvihill on November 17th, 2011

Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC contributor. You can find him @themulv on Twitter.  See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Now that you have fully recovered from ESPN’s 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon, it’s time to jump into the first of the exotic preseason tournaments.  The Puerto Rico Tip-Off gets going today, along with the big boys’ rounds of the 2K Sports Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.  Let’s take a look at the action.

Maryland vs. #16 Alabama – 5:00 PM EST on ESPN2 HD (**)

JaMychal Green and Anthony Grant Lead Alabama into the Puerto Rico Tip-Off

  • Rarely do you see a team hit zero three-point shots and still win a game.  However, that is exactly what Maryland did in its first game of the season against UNC-Wilmington.  The Terps finished 0-9 from downtown, but managed to drain 58% of its twos.  Mark Turgeon’s squad is going to have a tough time hitting such a high percentage of shots inside the arc against Alabama’s vaunted defense.  While Terp forwards James Padgett and Ashton Pankey both scored in double figures in the opener, neither consistently demands enough attention to take scoring pressure off the guards.  Sophomore guard Terrell Stoglin needs to have another big game in order for the Terrapins to have a chance.  If the Alabama defense can lock him up, there is not enough fire power elsewhere on Turgeon’s team to beat the Crimson Tide.
  • Alabama is all about defense.  They picked up right where they left off last year giving up only 0.8 points per possession through their first two games of the season.  However, senior forward JaMychal Green should not be overlooked as a big time offensive threat.  Green is averaging 18 points per game in only 25 minutes of action per night.  Coach Anthony Grant’s team needs to improve its shooting, though.  Alabama shot under 50% eFG in 20 of it’s 37 games last season and that trend is continuing again this season.  While they finished a remarkable 10-10 in those games because of a stellar defense, it’s very difficult for a team to have major success shooting under 50% eFG.  If the Tide is hitting more than half of its shots against Maryland, the game will not be close.
  • This game hinges on Maryland’s ability to create baskets in transition.  Maryland plays at a much faster pace than Alabama.  If they get locked down in a halfcourt match-up with the Crimson Tide defense, the Terps’ offense will bog down because they do not have enough weapons in the low post.  The team that dictates the pace and style of this game will ultimately win.

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