Rushed Reaction: #3 Baylor 68, #14 South Dakota State 60

Posted by AMurawa on March 15th, 2012

Three Key Takeaways.

  1. Great start… In the early minutes of the game, South Dakota State was all energy while Baylor was flat as a pancake. The Jackrabbits made their first four baskets and scored 19 points on their first 12 possessions. Meanwhile, the Bears were just standing around on offense, blowing layups and turning the ball over (four turnovers on their first eight possessions) and it looked like we would be in for a surprise as South Dakota State built up a 12-point lead. Even the crowd support was a blowout with the upstart Jackrabbit fans loud and proud while Bear fans were still wandering in from the parking lot.
  2. But…  The athletic mismatch in this game was apparent from the start. When the teams first walked on the court, the size disparity was obvious and astounding. While some of the more high profile Bears struggled through the game, they had enough talent to find players to make plays. Junior point guard Pierre Jackson was the first Bear to take charge, getting to the rim and playing with fire, while senior Anthony Jones came off the bench and chipped in 11 points in a perfect (4-4 FG, 1-1 from 3-point range, 2-2 FT) first half. Throw in Brady Heslip who dialed in the range from deep on his way to 17 points and Baylor has a lot of weapons.
  3. Hibernating Bears. They are the all-airport team. They are amazing in the pregame layup line. And NBA scouts drool over their potential. And then they get out on the court and there’s no energy, unfocused offense, sloppy defense and unforced turnovers. They are your Baylor Bears, folks. They have the potential to be as good as anybody in the country, but for all the good things they do, often seemingly effortlessly, there are far too many minutes where they seem literally without effort. Perry Jones III, for all the talent in his 6’11” frame, scored just two points and did little to distinguish himself, while Quincy Acy was a mess, struggling to handle the ball and getting beat on the glass by less athletic South Dakota State players.

Star of the GameNate Wolters, South Dakota State. Even in a losing effort, Wolters wowed. All of the Jackrabbit offense ran through him, he spent time dogging Heslip in the first half and Jackson in the second (the halves during which those players were quiet) and he scored 19 points, handed out four assists and grabbed four boards. Sure, he turned it over five times and too often got suckered into some bad three-point attempts, but he was primarily responsible for helping South Dakota State keep this game fairly interesting.

Sights & Sounds. My god. Those uniforms. My eyes! Andy Katz calls them “the highlighters,” the day-glo yellow unis that Baylor sported, replete with fluorescent socks and shoelaces, definitely took a while to get adjusted to. Maybe that’s an excuse the Bears can use for their slow start, but those things definitely took a few minutes (or more) to adjust to.

Wildcard. On the season, Heslip has shot roughly 79% of his field goal attempts from behind the three-point arc. Tonight, it was 100%, as he shot ten balls from deep and made five, all in catch-and-shoot situations. The interior talent for the Bears is apparent, but a gunner like Heslip could make a big difference in this potential Baylor run.

What’s Next? Baylor will face the winner of the nightcap in Albuquerque between UNLV and Colorado on Saturday. If it’s the Buffs, the Bears will be playing in front of a hostile crowd, while if it is the Rebels they will face a team that has at least a similar caliber of athlete.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 03.15.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on March 15th, 2012

  1. Need a rundown of all the Big 12 teams in the tournament? We have got you covered at RTC, of course, but here’s another perspective. This article neatly tells us why each team can either make a run or flame out, and it gives us a final prediction for all six Big 12 teams. The verdict? Missouri will make the Final Four, Baylor will lose in the Sweet 16 and Kansas won’t get past North Carolina in the regional finals. All fair predictions. Let the bracket discussion begin.
  2. Frank Haith used to be a joke. A guy implicated in the Nevin Shaprio scandal. A guy who did nothing at Miami and still got a better job in the Big 12. Remember those days? Probably not, because he’s completely changed himself during the past year. Once hated, he is now beloved. Once questioned, he is now listened to with ultimate authority. Call it a comeback of epic proportions.
  3. We like to talk about Perry Jones a lot, but point guard Pierre Jackson might be the most important player on this team. At least, that’s what Bill Self says. When this team has won, it’s been because of Jackson’s ability to make plays and open the floor with his penetration and passing skills. He’s not underrated per se, but it’s actually easy to forget about his impact because of Jones, Quincy Acy, Quincy Miller, and the rest of the NBA studs in this lineup.
  4. Iowa State has quite the interesting first-round matchup with Connecticut. For as much as the media has criticized the Huskies for falling short of expectations, we’ve all known for quite some time that this is a dangerous team if it reaches its potential. The Cyclones, on the other hand, surprised us by reaching the NCAA Tournament on the back of Fred Hoiberg. In a battle of Underachievers vs. Overachievers, it’ll be interesting to see who comes out on top.
  5. We apologize in advance for this. Yesterday, we posted one of those inane, “Is a loss a good thing?” articles, and we said we were sorry then. Once again, here’s another one of those snoozers. Hopefully, this is the kind of debate that really gets you going. If not, simply move on and proceed with life as planned.
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Missouri States Its Case For A #1 Seed With Big 12 Tournament Win

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 11th, 2012

Missouri 90, Baylor 75

An underwhelming non-conference schedule strength could keep the Tigers out of the hunt for a #1 seed, but Missouri may have changed the selection committee’s outlook with a 90-75 win over Baylor in its last game as members of the Big 12. After a hallmark performance by his team’s heralded guard-heavy rotation on both ends of the court, the Tigers started chanting “one seed, one seed” in the postgame celebration. Senior guard Kim English openly lobbied (albeit misguidedly) to ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi in the postgame presser, pleading: “If you’re watching, look out for us.” Missouri head coach Frank Haith took on a calmer demeanor. “We’re happy that we’ve had a great regular season and (won) a Big 12 Championship, but that stuff will work itself out.”

English & The Tigers Made Their Case For A #1 Seed

Their next stop is out of their hands, but the Tigers can take solace in the fact that they did everything in their power to get to the top of their region this weekend, beating Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor in three consecutive days. English went a masterful 29-40 from the floor in the conference tournament, including 8-12 from the three-point line to take home Most Outstanding Player honors. The Missouri rotation may be thin, but it was potent Saturday night, with all five starters scoring at least 15 points and Michael Dixon adding 17 from the bench. The Tigers closed out the final seconds with Missouri fans chanting “S-E-C! S-E-C!,” taking pride in the team’s departure from the Big 12, though not without some hardware.

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Big 12 Season Recap and Postseason Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 7th, 2012

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.

Conference Tournament Preview

The big attraction this year for many fans is the chance to see one more KansasMissouri battle before the Tigers leave for the SEC. If Kansas reaches the final, they will likely be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and there’s still a chance Missouri can nab one if they win the Big 12 Tournament as well. Given the general lack of depth on both teams it might behoove them to lose early and rest up for the NCAA Tournament, but their competitiveness and seed chasing will probably lead to one last matchup.

Let's Go For a Third, Shall We? (AP)

The Big 12 has likely locked up five bids in the tournament, with a sixth possibly going to Texas. The Longhorns will need to beat Iowa State Wednesday night to have a shot, and with how soft the bubble is this year, that will probably be enough.

Elsewhere, Baylor can potentially get a #3 seed if they make a run (though with their new uniforms I am wondering if there is a way we can keep them out of the postseason altogether) and Iowa State can probably get away from the dreaded #8/#9 game if they do so as well. Kansas State‘s seeding could range widely depending on its performance this week, but the Wildcats are soundly in the Dance.

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Big 12 Morning Five: 02.28.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on February 28th, 2012

  1. As if life weren’t complicated enough in Columbia with this weekend’s loss to rival Kansas, Missouri learned this week they will now need to hear about another NCAA probe involving head coach Frank Haith‘s days at Miami. This time, the NCAA has ruled Hurricanes’ center Reggie Johnson ineligible because his family received improper travel benefits from a member of Haith’s coaching staff. The incident is unrelated to the Nevin Shapiro accusations that surfaced last summer, so it’s another problem to keep an eye on for Haith. He said he will cooperate with the investigation.
  2. Once again, Kansas is your Big 12 champion. The Jayhawks wrapped up the regular season league title with a win Monday night over Oklahoma State, a victory not nearly as enthralling as Saturday’s comeback in Lawrence. Still, as Bill Self has done over and over again, his team took care of business and did not let the critics get into its head this winter. Way back in the fall, even Self said he had concerns about this year’s team. He wasn’t alone. But this is Kansas. This program wins Big 12 titles, and this year was no different.
  3. Senior Night is always special and important, especially when a player like Keiton Page is involved. Page, such an important piece to Oklahoma State for four years running, finished with 29 points in his final game at Gallagher-Iba in the loss to Kansas. Criticize him all you want — and there’s certainly parts of his game deserving of such criticism — but this guy never quits. He’s a senior in every sense of the word.
  4. Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy channeled his inner-Pat Knight by ripping his team and questioning their scholarship money, all in response to a loss this weekend to Oklahoma State. Much like Knight famously criticized his seniors at Lamar last week, Kennedy said his Aggies “were cheating on the job.” The loss dropped A&M to 4-12 in Big 12 play, a fairly amazing statistic considering yours truly predicted it to win the Big 12 in the preseason. Whoops.
  5. Baylor had no trouble with Texas Tech last night in Waco, rolling to a 77-48 victory. The Senior Day win was important for this graduating class, which has won the most games in school history. Made up of Quincy Acy, Fred Ellis, and Anthony Jones, the senior class has won 95 games since arriving on campus and is likely to crack 100 before they’re finished as Bears.
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Checking In On… the Big 12 Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on February 27th, 2012

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.

The Week That Was

  • Game Of The Year: Kansas was 16:42 away from being swept by Missouri and perhaps letting the Big 12 title slip away. Perhaps recognizing the importance of the last meeting as conference foes, Kansas overcame a 19-point deficit, took the game to overtime, and behind 28 points and 12 rebounds from Thomas Robinson, as well as 24 points and five assists from Tyshawn Taylor, the Jayhawks clinched no worse than a share of their eighth straight Big 12 title and perhaps have the inside track on a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Wildcats Looking Strong: Kansas State notched a huge win on the road at Missouri last Monday, and coupled with its victory over Baylor on Saturday, it was the first time Frank Martin’s team had beaten top ten teams back-to-back on the road. The Wildcats lost to Iowa State on Saturday, but the wins over Baylor and Missouri perhaps locked them into an NCAA Tournament berth.
  • A Coaches’ League: Frank Haith and Bill Self have gotten a lot of ink for national coach of the year, but the Big 12 Coach of the Year might be Fred Hoiberg. The Mayor has taken Iowa State from the conference basement to a probable NCAA tournament berth, as the Cyclones currently sit in a tie for third in the league. Royce White and Chris Allen have been great as transfers, but it’s Hoiberg who gave them the second chance and has gotten everyone to buy in. Impressive stuff up in Ames.

All Eyes Were On Allen Fieldhouse Saturday, And The Jayhawks And Tigers Delivered A Game For The Ages. (David Eulitt/The Kansas City Star)

Power Rankings

  1. Kansas (24-5, 14-2): The final regular season of the Border War was one of the best ever and with the win Kansas clinched a share of its eighth straight Big 12 title. A win in either of its last two games – at Oklahoma State or at home against Texas – can clinch it outright, continuing perhaps the most underrated streak in sports.
  2. Missouri (25-4, 12-4): In the span of a week, Missouri went from Big 12 favorites to having next to no shot at even winning a share of the Big 12 title. After being ahead by ten points or more for much of the second half, Missouri fans are no doubt questioning Frank Haith’s decision to stall on offense for much of the half (a strategy I tentatively agree with, by the way) as well as the final possession when Missouri did not even get a shot off. They didn’t have a timeout so Haith could not draw up a play, but not having a better option built into the offense there was a bad move. Read the rest of this entry »
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Night Line: Quincy Acy Keeps Baylor From Falling Apart

Posted by EJacoby on February 21st, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. Night Line will run on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

Since winning its first 17 games of the season, Baylor has struggled mightily against tougher competition and played mediocre .500 basketball in its past 10 games. Facing a 10-point halftime deficit on Monday night at Texas, it looked as if the Bears were going to drop another game and confirm beliefs that this team lacks the toughness to win big games. But forward Quincy Acy stopped the wheels from falling off, going for 14 of his 22 points in the second half and lifting his team to a 77-72 road win over the Longhorns. While Baylor has been unable to play to its potential in the Big 12, the senior Acy has displayed consistent 100% effort to ensure that his team cannot be counted out just yet. It remains to be seen if Baylor’s talented roster will ever produce elite results, but the leadership from Acy is there to prevent a complete meltdown from occurring.

Quincy Acy is the Heart and Soul of the Baylor Bears (US Presswire/B. Maloney)

From a pure talent perspective, Acy is not even one of the top two forwards on this Baylor team. Freshman Quincy Miller and sophomore Perry Jones III are both projected 2012 NBA Draft lottery picks, according to DraftExpress. While both players have tremendous upside as impact offensive players, both have also struggled to establish themselves as reliable players in difficult games. Miller was a complete non-factor on Monday and failed to score in 22 minutes, while Jones shot 3-14 for just 10 points and three rebounds in another disappointing effort. But team leader Acy was a man among boys in the paint, physically out-working and out-hustling everyone else on the floor for one of the best games of his career. He finished with 22 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to secure a big victory for the Bears that at least temporarily halts concerns that they could be in a major slide heading into the Big 12 Tournament.

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Set Your TiVo: 02.08.12 – Rivalry Week Headline Night

Posted by EJacoby on February 8th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor to RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

Here we go, folks. Get ready for one of the very best nights of the college basketball regular season, including two 5-star showdowns. The best rivalry in the sport highlights this slate. We absolutely guarantee some great basketball tonight. Let’s get into the breakdowns:

#7 Kansas at #6 Baylor – 7:00 PM ET on ESPN2 (*****)

Who's Going to Stop Thomas Robinson Tonight for Baylor? (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

  • Kansas has lost their last two road games at Iowa State and Missouri despite putting up a great fight in both efforts. Tonight is another opportunity to win a crucial conference road game against a team who they will be competing with for the Big 12 title. They will be looking for the season sweep of Baylor after already thrashing the Bears at home back on January 16. In order to do so, the play of Tyshawn Taylor might be the key. He’s been terrific recently at 18.5 points and 6.5 assists in those two road environments, but late-game turnovers continue to be his bugaboo. Eliminating a mistake or two at the end of the game can be the difference between a win and a loss, especially in this one with such physical front lines that may cancel each other out and leave the guards to decide this one. Along those lines, Thomas Robinson will be defended by any number of physical forwards, but that didn’t stop him from going for 27/14 in the first meeting. Nobody can shut him down when he is on. For Kansas to have an advantage, someone else needs to step up and make big shots, whether it is Conner Teahan, Travis Releford, or Elijah Johnson. They have lacked that unsung hero in road games thus far.
  • It doesn’t feel like Baylor is playing very well right now, yet their talent and depth has continued to carry them through the Big 12 slate with just two losses to top competition. Tonight is a must-win at home to avenge the earlier loss to Kansas and to keep themselves alive in the regular season title hunt. The Bears allow just 39.6% field-goal shooting on the season and will do everything in their power to contain Robinson from going off. Quincy Acy, a stellar defender (2.3 BPG), must have a great game in order to do that. Baylor has more overall scoring talent and will have the advantage if Quincy Miller and Perry Jones III just play to their abilities. At 1.12 points per possession during Big 12 play, Baylor leads the conference in offensive efficiency, but the Kansas defense is the best that they will face. Just like Kansas needs Taylor to step up late, pay attention to how Pierre Jackson performs in this game, the guard who has made nearly all of their big shots this season.
  • This game will be televised on the Deuce, but it’s just as spectacular of a matchup as the one being played simultaneously on ESPN. Baylor is just a two-point favorite at home, as we just don’t know exactly which Bears players will show up in big games. It seems like Kansas can be trusted to play well in this game, but do they have enough impact players to get the road win? I’m predicting a Baylor win by about four to six points as their pieces overwhelm Kansas by the end of the night.

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Big 12 Weekend Primer

Posted by dnspewak on January 21st, 2012

For the second time in less than a week, all eyes will be on the Big 12. Missouri and Baylor, both ranked in the top-five, will square off in Waco on Saturday afternoon in college basketball’s prime matchup. Elsewhere, Oklahoma will look to win its third straight game as it heads to College Station, while Kansas will renew its rivalry with Texas in Austin.


  • Missouri at Baylor, Saturday, 1:05 p.m. CT (ESPN)

Baylor Will Look to Celebrate Again When it Hosts Missouri(AP/C. Riedel)

The Ferrell Center will host two top five opponents for the first time on Saturday, and it’s not a stretch to say this may be the most important home game in Baylor history. Now in his ninth season, it’s amazing that Scott Drew has built a program prestigious enough to play a game with this kind of national attention. His Bears have not lost at home this season, and Missouri’s only loss came on the road at Kansas State. The Tigers quieted the critics a bit by winning at Iowa State, but they did not look comfortable in Manhattan and fell out of contention in that game immediately. Kansas State’s physical bigs held Ricardo Ratliffe to just one field goal attempt, forcing him into foul trouble and taking him out of the game entirely. And here’s the bad news for Missouri: The Bears’ big men are even more athletically intimidating. Ratliffe and Steve Moore are the only two scholarship forwards on this Missouri roster, but they’ll have to somehow deal with Perry Jones, Quincy Miller and Quincy Acy, not to mention players like Cory Jefferson and Anthony Jones off the bench. If you’re counting, that’s five players taller than 6’7”, and most of them can dunk like they’re playing with a Fisher Price basket. The Tigers simply cannot compete with that kind of size. Perhaps we’ll see a lot of 2-3 zone out of Frank Haith, something he’s not opposed to doing. In fact, Missouri has zoned opponents on many occasions this season, and it’s been effective at times. The problem is, Baylor has the guards this year to deal with any kind of defense. Brady Heslip can burn teams who pay too much attention to the paint, and Pierre Jackson has changed the entire dynamic of this team with his ballhandling, penetration and passing skills. If Heslip can knock down some shots and Baylor dominates the paint, this game could be over by halftime. However, the Bears have trouble holding on to the ball sometimes, and they also did not play very well defensively in a loss to Kansas on Monday. Also, while Missouri may not have played very well in Manhattan, Waco is hardly the same environment. Yes, it’s an enormous game this weekeend. The crowd will not be weak, not by any means. But they don’t make many places like Bramlage Coliseum, and MU has never played well there. It won in Ames, and it should not be taken lightly on the road at the Ferrell Center.

The key individual matchup is… Missouri’s guards against Baylor’s forwards. Missouri is mismatched with every single team it plays. That’s just what happens when you start four guards. Against Baylor, though, that mismatched is magnified. The Bears start Jones, Acy and Miller on the frontline, and they almost always have three bigs on the floor at the same time. Missouri rarely even has both Ratliffe and Moore in the game at the same time. In fact, it’s be physically impossible for the Tigers to play three forwards unless they inserted walk-on Andy Rosburg or former football player Andrew Jones, and that’s not going to happen. But Missouri has compensated all year for this lack of size. On Saturday, it’ll be especially important for Marcus Denmon to try to take advantage of his favorable matchup with his quickness. It’s also important for the Tigers to rebound well as a team and make up for their lack of size with extra effort and energy on the boards.

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Set Your TiVo: 01.20 – 01.22

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 21st, 2012

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.

Cincinnati and Vanderbilt will look to keep rolling but a Big 12 clash highlights Saturday’s slate.

#5 Missouri @ #3 Baylor – 2:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPN (*****)

This Clash Between Big 12 Powers Offers a Contrast in Strengths

  • This game could really come down to which team imposes its will. For Missouri, it would love nothing more than to speed the game up, force turnovers and not let Baylor get set in its half court defense. Missouri’s strength is its guard play. Frank Haith employs a four-guard lineup and it has worked wonders this season. The Tigers have shot the ball very well this season and that’s going to have to continue on the road in Waco. Missouri has struggled against teams with bigger front lines so its guards must shoot well if penetration is cut off and Ricardo Ratliffe is limited inside by Baylor’s trees. Kim English, Michael Dixon and Marcus Denmon can flat out shoot the basketball and Haith will need all three contributing in order to beat Baylor. It will be a bonus if Ratliffe can get anything going inside but Mizzou’s guards must continue to make shots in a tough environment.
  • Baylor is the stronger team inside and Scott Drew knows it. Getting Perry Jones III to assert himself in the paint along with Quincy Acy could be the key for the Bears in this game. Baylor will have the home crowd and energy behind itself and capitalizing on that is going to be very important against a team that loves to speed you up and force turnovers. In order for Jones and Acy to get the ball, Baylor’s guard play must be up to the task. Missouri will pressure Pierre Jackson and A.J. Walton all game because the Tigers need to run up the turnovers and transition points in order to offset what should be a significant Baylor edge on the glass. If Baylor can slow the game down a bit, limit turnovers and get the ball inside, it should be on its way to a win. If Jones III and Acy are hot in the paint, that will open up Brady Heslip and Jackson from deep. Jackson does so much for this team with penetration, passing and shooting ability but Heslip is great spotting up or coming off a screen. Baylor has multiple weapons of varying height, something Missouri may have a very hard time dealing with.
  • As we said, Missouri must speed the game up and create turnovers against the turnover-prone Bears. Ratliffe is a very good post player but we’re not sure if he’s going to be able to score consistently as the only Mizzou big man against Baylor’s immense height in the paint. If Missouri can’t get anything inside it must knock down deep shots and get to the free throw line. The Tigers shoot 77.6% from the charity stripe and that could end up being their most efficient way of scoring against Baylor aside from the three ball. Baylor didn’t defend well against Kansas but Missouri was exposed in a tough environment at Kansas State. If Baylor is physical and sticks to the game plan of good half court offense, the Bears should win. Missouri should play better in its second time on the road against a very good team but you have to favor Baylor at home given the size mismatch.

Cincinnati @ West Virginia – 3:00 PM EST Saturday on ESPNU (****)

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