Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 13

Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 4th, 2013

It was another wild week in the Big 12, starting last Monday with West Virginia’s near-upset of Kansas in Morgantown and ending with the ever-inconsistent Oklahoma State Cowboys dropping 85 points in a rare win in Allen Fieldhouse. It helped push the Cowboys back up the standings while Baylor, who dropped both of its games last week, fell three spots to #5. We still have six projected teams in the NCAA Tournament as of now — Kansas, Kansas State,  Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Baylor, and Iowa State — and the big wins by OSU and ISU look to have pushed them off the bubble for now. Here’s where we stand this week:

Markel Brown led the Cowboys in a rare win in Allen Fieldhouse (AP)

Markel Brown led the Cowboys to a rare win in Allen Fieldhouse (AP)

1) Kansas (19-2, 7-1 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 1
Projected NCAA Seed: #1

Last Week: W 61-56 at West Virginia, L 85-80 vs Oklahoma State

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

  • Rundown: The Jayhawks were due for a loss after winning 18 straight games and walking a tightrope most of January. It finally came on Saturday against Oklahoma State. It also ended the Jayhawks’ 33-game home winning streak and 16-game home winning streak against Oklahoma State, dating back to 1989. Turnovers — especially at the point guard position — have been a problem for KU of late, and Saturday was no different. Elijah Johnson committed four turnovers, including a last-second mishap that prevented Ben McLemore from doing his best Mario Chalmers impersonation.
  • Player Stepping Up: Freshman G Ben McLemore: He has scored in double figures every game in 2013 and had 23 in Saturday’s loss. He is shooting an impressive 50% from the field and 45.5% from three-point range.

2)Kansas State (17-4, 6-2)
Previous Ranking: 2
Projected NCAA Seed: #6

Last Week: W 83-57 vs Texas, W 52-50 at Oklahoma

This Week: Tuesday at Texas Tech, 7:00 PM, Saturday vs Iowa State, 5:00 PM

  • Rundown: It hasn’t always been the case, but Saturday’s win over Oklahoma in Norman was big for the Wildcats. They have won 10 out of 12 and sit just one game behind Kansas in the Big 12 standings, thanks to Angel Rodriguez’s two free throws with 5.6 seconds left to give them the 52-50 win. It was a rare win in a game where leading scorer Rodney McGruder, who finished with seven points, was quiet offensively.
  • Player Stepping Up: Junior G Will Spradling: Spradling averages 8.5 PPG, but has scored in double figures in three of his last five games. He had 15 in the first meeting with Oklahoma and had 12 points in Saturday’s win while shooting 62.5%.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 12

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 28th, 2013

Right when we thought a team might overtake Kansas in the Big 12 standings (or our power rankings, at least), Kansas State went out and lost two in a row last week, first to Kansas at home and then at Iowa State on Saturday. Both were close games with the Wildcats losing by a combined 10 points, but they lost two games on the Jayhawks in the Big 12 race and fell into a third place tie with Iowa State and Oklahoma. Baylor has quietly started 5-1 in conference play, but the easier part of their schedule is now behind them. The Bears have already swept TCU and have another win over Texas Tech in Lubbock (but hey, that’s more than Iowa State can say). And about those Jayhawks — they are due for a loss, aren’t they? They have been winning close games for the last month it seems. We’ve spiced up the rankings this week with a team’s projected NCAA Tournament seed from Bracket Matrix. Instead of picking a random bracketologist’s numbers, how about averaging out a bunch of mock brackets? The guys at Bracket Matrix do that so we don’t have to, and as many people have been saying lately, there looks to be six NCAA Tournament teams from the Big 12 this year.

The Kansas Offense Hasn't Been Pretty In January, But The Defense Has Helped Keep Their Winning Streak Alive.

The Kansas Offense Hasn’t Been Pretty In January, But The Defense Has Helped Keep Its Winning Streak Alive.

1) Kansas (18-1, 6-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 1
Projected NCAA Seed: #1

Last Week: W 59-55 at Kansas State, W 67-54 vs Oklahoma

This Week: Tonight at West Virginia, 8:00 PM CST, Saturday vs Oklahoma State, 3:00 PM

  • Rundown: The Jayhawks have won 17 straight since losing to Michigan State in November but the offense has disappeared in January. They are averaging 62.2 PPG in their last five games, leading to a KenPom Adjusted Offensive Efficiency of #18. And as we pointed out here, teams that finish outside the top #25 in that category rarely make the Final Four.
  • Cause For Concern: The offense, of course. Last season, point guard Tyshawn Taylor was always there to clean up an ugly offensive possession with a drive to the basket. This team has had point guard issues most of the year. Starter Elijah Johnson has been more of an off-guard during his career and backup Naadir Tharpe is trigger-happy. Freshman Ben McLemore averages 16.2 PPG, but with a shooting percentage of 51%, he needs to take over more games than he does. He’s the best player on the team and one of the five best in the country, so an average of 10 shots a game isn’t enough.

2) Baylor (14-5, 5-1)
Previous Ranking: 3
Projected NCAA Seed: #9

Last Week: W 64-54 vs Oklahoma State, W 82-56 at TCU

This Week: Wednesday vs Oklahoma, 6:00 PM, Saturday at Iowa State 7:00 PM

  • Rundown: The days of losing to teams like Charleston and Northwestern look to be behind them, but the schedule certainly picks up the rest of the way. Eight of their last 12 games are against teams projected to make the NCAA Tournament. The emergence of freshman center Isaiah Austin will help, though. Austin has scored double figures in each of his last 10 games going back to December 12.
  • Cause For Concern: We all know what the Bears are by now, a talented, underachieving squad that could fall on its face in the first round of the Tournament or make the Elite Eight. From where they stand now, the worst thing that could happen to Baylor — or any team for that matter — is to land in the #8/#9 game and play a #1 seed in the second round.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Night Line: Jayhawks Escape Octagon of Doom Victorious — Is Perfect Big 12 Season Possible?

Posted by BHayes on January 22nd, 2013

nightline2

Bennet Hayes is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @HoopsTraveler on Twitter. Night Line runs on weeknights during the season, highlighting a major storyline development from that day’s games.

At some point during the nine-year Bill Self era, we stopped being surprised by another year of Kansas dominance. Offseason after offseason of KU stars leaving Lawrence for the NBA seem to never be remembered by the time the next January rolls around, and this first month of 2013 has been no exception. Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor posted brilliant individual campaigns a year ago, as both earned All-America honors in leading Kansas all the way to the national championship game. Neither has taken the floor at Allen Fieldhouse in almost a full year, but looky, looky – Kansas is 17-1 and a perfect 5-0 in Big-12 play. A ninth consecutive Big 12 regular season title is beginning to look like a mere formality, as the Jayhawks dispatched rival Kansas State tonight in Manhattan en route to their 16th straight victory. Self has accomplished almost everything there is to accomplish in his near-decade at KU, but this group of Jayhawks still has a chance to do something that none of the previous nine could do – run the table for a perfect Big 12 season.

Travis Releford Locked Down Rodney McGruder In What Was Another Stifling Jayhawk Defensive Effort

Travis Releford Locked Down Rodney McGruder In What Was Another Stifling Jayhawk Defensive Effort

Robinson and Taylor may be gone, but these Jayhawks have their own pair of potential All-Americans. We all became well-acquainted with Jeff Withey and his menacing defense a year ago, but meet freshman Ben McLemore, who, in the estimation of many, has been both the best newcomer in the country and the top player in the conference. Less is more for the silky-smooth wing, as he has needed just 11 field goal attempts to score his 16 points per game. He has played well within the Kansas system to this point, but do not doubt that McLemore will be ready to shoulder more of a load if and when the situation demands it.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 11

Posted by KoryCarpenter on January 21st, 2013

It was a slow week in the Big 12 last week, as all 10 favorites won and only three games were competitive late in the second half. There should be more excitement this week, however, as Bruce Weber has his Wildcats climbing in the national polls to #11 as Tuesday’s big match-up with #3 Kansas draws near. The winner will have sole possession of first place. As the double-round robin schedule starts to take effect, we should see more separation in the middle of the conference this week as teams are make their rounds. As of now, five teams are within a game of first place. Here’s where we stand heading into Week 11:

Rodney McGruder Has Helped Push The Wildcats To #11 In This Week's AP Poll.

Rodney McGruder Has Helped Push The Wildcats To #11 In This Week’s AP Poll.

1) Kansas (16-1, 4-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 1

Last Week: W 61-44 vs Baylor, W 64-59 at Texas

This Week: Tuesday at Kansas State, 7:00 PM CST, Saturday vs Oklahoma, 3:00 PM

  • Rundown: Kansas had one of the most dominant defensive performances in its win against Baylor last Monday, holding the Bears to 23.2% shooting. But the offense has struggled lately. The Jayhawks shot 37.7% against Baylor (3-of-14 from three-point range) and 39.2% against Texas (3-of-11 from deep).
  • Noteworthy Stat: Jeff Withey’s 78 blocks more than double the 36 of Baylor’s Cory Jefferson, who sits in second place. Withey also leads the country with 3.3 blocks per foul.

2) Kansas State (15-2, 4-0 Big 12)
Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week: W 67-54 at TCU, W 69-60 vs Oklahoma

This Week: Tuesday vs Kansas, 7:00 PM, Saturday at Iowa State, 12:45 PM

  • Rundown: We will know a lot more about Kansas State in a week. With a home game against Kansas on Tuesday and a tough road trip to Iowa State on Saturday, they have the chance to claim first place in the conference and silence any critics. They could also fall back into the middle of the pack with the cluster of teams behind the Jayhawks.
  • Noteworthy Stat: Junior guard Will Spradling leads the Big 12 with a 3:1 Assist to Turnover ratio. He has committed only three turnovers in the last five games.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 01.08.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 8th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The Big 12 offices have announced the player and freshman of the week awards for the first weekend of conference play. POTW went to Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder, who locked up the award by scoring 26 of his 28 points in the second half of Saturday’s win against Oklahoma State. It is hard to believe, but this is McGruder’s third such honor in the last six weeks. FrOTW honors went to another repeat winner: Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart. All he did was average 24 points, 4.5 rebounds, four assists. and two steals per game in losing efforts to Gonzaga and the aforementioned Wildcats last week. It’s not a crazy prediction to say Smart and McGruder will win these awards again before the season ends.
  2. Last season, Anthony Davis dominated both ends of the court to take home National Player of the Year honors. But as Eamonn Brennan points out, Kansas’ Jeff Withey is hosting a bigger, more impressive “block party“ so far this season than Davis did in 2011-12. Through the first 13 games of last year, Davis had 58 blocked shots while committing 29 personal fouls. Currently, Withey has 68 blocked shots and has committed only 16 personal fouls. To be a consistent shot blocker while avoiding contact and foul calls is pretty incredible. Davis finished last year with 186 blocked shots and 78 fouls, so we will definitely keep our eyes on Withey’s numbers going forward.
  3. Kansas State received a verbal commitment from 2013 forward Neville Fincher this week. The Teaneck, New Jersey, native describes his game to the Kansas City Star as a defensive-minded player who blocks shots and rebounds with “a few [offensive] moves on the block.” According to ESPN, the three-star Fincher joins an already solid class with four-star point guard Marcus Foster and three-star shooting guard Wesley Iwundu coming to Manhattan as well. Fincher decided on the Wildcats over Marshall, Duquesne, Seton Hall, Houston, and Western Kentucky.
  4. Iowa State has been able to regroup and recover over the past three weeks as they have only played one game, but at what cost? They will have to travel to Lawrence, Kansas, tomorrow for their conference opener against a Kansas team that is again the overwhelming favorite in the conference. As Cyclone Fanatic writes, if the Cyclones can weather the storm on Wednesday, they have the opportunity to start 5-1 in the Big 12 with subsequent games against Texas, West Virginia, Texas Tech, TCU, and a home date with Kansas State, which even he admits is “optimistic.”
  5. Are you ready for some NIT bracketology? Yes, there is such a thing. Big Apple Buckets released its NIT S-Curve this week and two Big 12 schools made the cut. Iowa State is considered a #1 seed while Texas is slated as a #7 at this point. To put this in perspective, Iowa State is probably seen as a team that just missed the NCAA Tournament, and with its name recognition Texas was able to slide into an NIT bid despite a shaky record. What’s even scarier is that West Virginia of all programs isn’t even considered to be NIT material. I thought NIT bracketology would be kinda fun but now it’s just depressing.
Share this story

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 01.07.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 7th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Amidst the hoopla of the NFL wildcard playoffs, Sunday afternoon gave us a sneaky good game with Kansas taking on Temple in Lawrence. At halftime, KU held on to a six-point lead while in the locker room, Bill Self laid into his senior Travis Releford, who had committed two turnovers and two fouls in 12 first half minutes. “He [Self] got into me. I can’t relay the message over an interview. He let me know I need to change it because I didn’t come ready to play early on,” Johnson said in a post-game interview. Whatever Self said must have worked. He finished a perfect 5-of-5 from the field including a key three-pointer with 35 seconds left to finish off the victory. It’s scary how good of a coach Self is. Score 2,945,967 for Self. (WARNING: scoring may be unofficial but probably isn’t.)
  2. Moving back one day to the first Saturday of the conference slate, we got a showcase of two nationally-ranked teams and a couple of the best players in the Big 12. For Oklahoma State, it could have gone better. The Cowboys went into the locker room with a narrow 32-30 lead but later lost it as Kansas State erupted for 43 points in the second half to run away with a 73-67 victory. Maybe this mini-slide from OSU was to be expected. We know that they’ve longed for the tougher part of their schedule to arrive but since they have now lost to Gonzaga and K-State in back-to-back games, maybe they aren’t who we thought they were either. It’s not time to panic just yet, as OSU has TCU, rival Oklahoma and Texas Tech in their next three (all winnable) games. Hopefully winning those three games is what they need to get back on track.
  3. On the other side, it’s time we officially welcome back Rodney McGruder as a premier player in this league. He had a 22-point effort against USC Upstate on December 2 but then went a combined 7-of-27 in the two games afterward. Now it seems that he’s learning to flourish in Bruce Weber’s motion offense. In the last five games, McGruder is averaging 19.8 PPG which includes making nearly half of his field goal attempts (49%). Kansas State is now 2-2 against ranked opponents and should now see their national ranking improve. I know the Wildcats can’t afford to overlook opponents but I can. January 22 vs the Jayhawks in the Octagon? Can’t wait. 
  4. I guess West Virginia has become an unexpected punching bag in the Big 12. A program that made the Sweet Sixteen in 2008 and then a Final Four two years later lost to Oklahoma for the second time — 67-57, this time — in its conference home opener. I didn’t expect the Mountaineers to contend for an NCAA Tournament bid this year but I thought Bob Huggins would at least be able to get this team to overachieve and make things interesting down the stretch of the season. A 7-6 record just one game into January? If I’m Huggins, I believe it’s time to see what you have to develop this season and start looking towards 2013-14.
  5. A day before the Longhorns fell to Baylor in overtime Saturday, Texas received its first verbal commitment for the Class of 2013. Isaiah Taylor, a 6’2″ point guard out of The Village School in Houston, was evidently the only point guard offered by UT. Barking Carnival describes the three-star prospect as a guard with “elite quickness” who “excels at breaking guys down off the dribble and dishing for easy shots.” That sounds like just about every starting point guard at Texas since T.J. Ford. According to ESPN, Taylor chose Texas over Alabama, SMU, Fresno State, and Creighton, among other schools. Texas still has one scholarship available for next season.
Share this story

Big 12 M5: 12.19.12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on December 19th, 2012

morning5_big12

  1. Yesterday I talked about the success Oklahoma had in Saturday’s win over Texas A&M when the Sooners went on a important 8-0 second half run using a four-guard lineup. Well, they probably could have used some of that last night. The Sooners fell to Stephen F. Austin by a score of 56-55, making this OU’s first non-conference loss in Norman since 2007 (coincidentally enough to these same Lumberjacks). OU led 30-26 at halftime but SFA came out on a 19-4 run to start the second half and led by as many as 11 points. The Sooners then countered with an 18-6 spurt to take a brief 52-51 lead, but OU’s Buddy Hield had a chance to possibly force overtime with four seconds left but obviously he didn’t. I don’t think we’ll see a whole lot of OU-SFA games again in the future.
  2. The struggles of Rodney McGruder in Bruce Weber’s brand-new motion offense are well documented, which makes last night’s performance against Texas Southern all the more encouraging. K-State won the game but McGruder lit up the Tigers for 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting. If the Cats want to do anything in March, much less Big 12 play, the senior McGruder needs to be at the top of his game this season. One fun note from this game: Former Oklahoma State and current Texas Southern guard Ray Penn made the most of his return to a Big 12 arena, pouring in 24 points and dishing out five assists in the defeat.
  3. If you’re a fan of Big 12 basketball as a whole, there hasn’t been much to stick your chest out about this year. But I found something to be proud of: all the über-talented freshmen. CBSSports.com ranked the top five freshmen in college basketball and two of them hail from the Big 12. Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart has arguably become the most versatile freshman point guard in the country, or maybe just point guard, period, in America by putting together averages of 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals per contest. The newbie on this week’s list at number three is Ben McLemore from Kansas. The St. Louis native has had an impressive three game stretch against Oregon State, Colorado and Belmont by averaging 20.7 points per game which includes 9-of-15 shooting from behind the arc. Freshmen — this is our silver lining.
  4. “I don’t know about my teammates but I play at the level of the competition.” That quote is the last thing you want to hear if you’re a coach or fan but it comes from Oklahoma State’s LeBryan Nash. If I may play Devil’s Advocate, can you blame him? The Cowboys are 8-1, with quality wins, a Top 25 ranking, and talent everywhere. But if there’s a time to not slack off, it’s now. They have UT-Arlington and Tennessee Tech on the schedule before playing Gonzaga on New Year’s Eve prior to Big 12 play. Nash said that he wants to change his attitude of playing down to teams, though. The first step in dealing with a problem is acknowledging that there is one to begin with. Now prove it.
  5. Here’s a weekly favorite of mine — and it should be yours too. Gary Parrish’s Poll Attacks spotlights the horrible mistakes writers and coaches make on their Top 25 ballots. This week, there’s some confusion as to why a certain Big 12 team received two votes from coaches that didn’t even deserve one. If there’s just one vote, it probably looks like a mistake. But a second vote makes you think otherwise.
Share this story

Set Your DVR: Weekend Edition

Posted by bmulvihill on December 14th, 2012

setDVR

Brendon Mulvihill is the head curator for @SportsGawker and an RTC contributor. You can find him @TheMulv on Twitter. See bottom of the post for the Official RTC Star System.

It’s been a slow week in college basketball with students hitting the books and getting through finals week. However, things pick up quite a bit this weekend with some great non-conference action led by a marquee match-up in the desert. Let’s get to the breakdowns.

Game of the Weekend 

#5 Florida at #9 Arizona  10:00 PM EST, Saturday on ESPN (*****)

Patric Young's Offensive Rebounds Are One Way To Get Additional Touches (Getty)

Will Patric Young Dominate the Wildcats Again This Season? (Getty)

  • Florida won the match-up last season with Arizona in a tough overtime battle. The Gators’ Patric Young dominated the game with a career-high 25 points and 10 rebounds on 12-of-15 shooting. Coach Billy Donovan was disappointed the Gator guards did not get Young the ball more often. It will be interesting to see how Arizona responds this season to defending Young. The addition of 7’0″ freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski to the Wildcats line-up should make a significant difference for coach Sean Miller. His size will at least create problems at the basket for the 6’10″ Young. Keep a close eye on Florida’s ability to create turnovers as well. It helped them win last season in Gainesville and will be a big factor again. Finally, three-point shooting will play a key role in the outcome of the game. Approximately 40% of Florida’s field goal attempts are from downtown and U of A gives up more treys than two-thirds of the teams in college hoops. You will want to keep an eye on Gator forward Erik Murphy from beyond the arc. He presents a tough match-up with his 6’10″ frame and his ability to stroke the three. If Murphy is hitting from downtown, the Wildcats are in deep trouble.
  • Arizona and Florida are both in the top 10 in offensive rebounding percentage. We mentioned Tarczewski’s defense before, but his biggest contribution to this game may be on the offensive boards. He needs to clean up the glass on missed shots to give Arizona as many looks as possible. Miller’s squad got excellent production last year from it’s backcourt against the Gators and need the same from guards Nick Johnson and Mark Lyons this season. Lyon’s needs to be careful of turnovers as he has a sub-one assist-to-turnover ratio. If he isn’t protecting the ball, Arizona will have trouble again this year.
  • Arizona’s size will allow them to compete all game long with a very talented and good shooting Florida squad. Their ability to go big at guard with Kevin Parrom could be the difference in the game. While the jury is still out on the Wildcats, a home game against Florida will be a great barometer for what we can expect in the future. The team that wins the offensive rebounding battle will take this one.

More Great Hoops

#6 Louisville at Memphis  2:30 PM EST, Saturday on Fox College Sports (****)

  • Louisville won this match-up last season in a close eight-point ballgame. This season however they are without star center Gorgui Dieng due to his wrist injury. Dieng went for 14/14 last year and always makes a major impact on defense. Without Dieng manning the middle, Louisville actually lacks size. Duke took advantage of this size deficiency and was able to beat the Cardinals a few weeks ago as a result. Look for Memphis to try to do the same thing at home this Saturday. Memphis is tall on the inside and a good offensive rebounding team. They are not as good at getting to the free throw line, however, which is also how the Blue Devils beat the Cardinals. Memphis ranks #307 nationally in free throw rate. Guard play from the Tigers will be a key factor in this contest. They need to get to the line and not turn the ball over. In their blowout win against an Ohio team known for turning teams over, the Tigers only committed miscues on over 16% of their possessions. A lot has to go right for the Tigers to pull an upset here, but with Dieng out, this is their best opportunity.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 12.11.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on December 11th, 2012

  1. The first step to recovery is admitting there’s a problem. The Big 12 has a problem: It’s not playing very well right now. It’s bad enough that the league only has two ranked teams — the worst showing in the polls since 2008-09 — but the Kansas City Star breaks down some even more appalling numbers from November and early December. Right now, the league is 2-8 against the Top 25 and has dropped below the Atlantic 10 and Mountain West in terms of conference RPI ratings. Perhaps things will change if/when Myck Kabongo returns for Texas, if Kansas State can earn a headline win against either Gonzaga or Florida later this month, or if Baylor remembers how to play basketball. Frankly, only Oklahoma State has really overachieved and surprised anybody at this point. Everybody else, besides Kansas of course, has flopped for the most part so far.
  2. Speaking of the Longhorns, it’s a disaster in Texas right now. For perhaps the first time in college basketball history, the UCLA/Texas game on Saturday actually made headlines for being a terrible, horrendously executed game on both ends. At this point, the Longhorns are lost, and even Sheldon McClellan admits there’s an issue. “Guys don’t think we can win,” he said after the 65-63 loss to the Bruins over the weekend. Understandably, a team without its star point guard and a roster consisting exclusively of freshmen and sophomores will have growing pains. It’s just that nobody thought they’d be this severe.
  3. Kevin Young is the forgotten man for Kansas, so let’s go ahead and not forget that he scored 16 points, missed just one field goal and had eight rebounds in the Jayhawks’ romping of Colorado this weekend. That’s drawing some high praise from Bill Self, who called him the “best we have.” Now, Steve Fisher and San Diego State are really jealous he didn’t go there.
  4. Congratulations to Rodney McGruder, your newest Big 12 Player of the Week. This won’t be the last time he wins this award, so get used to it. He went off for a double-double against George Washington, but the competition will stiffen when the Wildcats head to Seattle soon for a showdown with Gonzaga. Coach Bruce Weber’s old team, Illinois, just knocked off the Zags, and Kansas State could really use a big-time victory this weekend after falling short against Michigan in November.
  5. Finally, a little tidbit out of Oklahoma: Lon Kruger’s nephew, Jarrod Kruger, has left the program to focus on his schoolwork. Interestingly, Oklahoma is actually the third Big 12 school the walk-on has played for. He started at Kansas State and then transferred to Kansas before landing at his uncle’s school. Although there are no signs that he plans on suiting up elsewhere, perhaps he should go for Oklahoma State or one of the Texas schools next, just to fill in some of the remaining blanks.
Share this story

Is Kansas State the Best Offensive Rebounding Team in the Country?

Posted by IRenko on December 10th, 2012

I. Renko is a DC-based correspondent for Rush the Court. You can follow him on twitter @IRenkoHoops. He filed this report after Saturday’s game between Kansas State and George Washington.

Kansas State improved to 7-1 on the season on Saturday, in a thrilling 65-62 win over George Washington that was not decided until Dwayne Smith missed a potential game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer. The Wildcats overcame a poor shooting performance, in which they shot 35.7% from the field and 56.3% from the free throw line.  So how did they win? The way they’ve been doing it for the past six years: by dominating the offensive glass. “If you told me we were going to hold them to 35% shooting, I thought we could win the game, but the killer was offensive rebounds,” GW head coach Mike Lonergan explained afterwards. “We just gave them too many second chance opportunities.”

Kansas State Has Been The Most Consistently Outstanding Offensive Rebounding Team in the Country For The Past Six Years (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Wildcats set the tone early, scoring their first six points on second chance put-backs by forward Nino Williams.  They would go on to rebound almost as many of their misses as George Washington did, posting a remarkable 49% offensive rebounding percentage.  In fact, the Wildcats actually had more offensive than defensive rebounds in the game — 24 to 22.  As a result, they had 17 more field goal attempts than George Washington, an edge that mitigated their poor shooting.  If you keep throwing the ball up, sooner or later it’s gonna go in.  And the Wildcats’ rebounding performance was not the result of a weak opponent.  In the eight games they played before Saturday, the Colonials had not allowed an opponent to rebound more than a third of their misses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week Four

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 3rd, 2012

Monday’s AP Poll confirmed what most Big 12 fans already knew: The conference isn’t very good right now. Kansas entered the top 10 and Oklahoma State sits at No. 23, and that’s it. Baylor’s win at Kentucky on Saturday should inch the Bears closer to the Top 25, but their overall resume isn’t there yet. As for Oklahoma State, its 81-71 loss last week to Virginia Tech drops them to No. 2 in our weekly power rankings, with Kansas taking its familiar spot atop the Big 12.

1) Kansas (6-1, 0-0)

Ben McLemore Has Helped Kansas Regain the Top Spot This Week (Lawrence Journal-World)

Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week: W 70-57 vs. San Jose State, W 84-78 vs. Oregon State

This Week: Saturday vs. Colorado, 1:00 PM CST

  • Rundown: The Jayhawks have won five in a row since losing to Michigan State in Atlanta and look to be getting better, albeit slowly. Freshman guard Ben McLemore is making his case to be the third one-and-done player Bill Self has had at Kansas, and senior center Jeff Withey is playing the best defense in the country with 5.7 BPG. Saturday’s game at home against Colorado (who beat Baylor last month) should give fans a good gauge on the team’s improvement before winter break.
  • Danger Zone: Point guard play. Bill Self isn’t happy at all with his perimeter defense, and he shouldn’t be. Opposing guards have been lighting up the Kansas D all season. On offense, senior guard Elijah Johnson is playing the point for the first time in his career. He played off the ball for most of last season, deferring to Tyshawn Taylor. Now it’s Johnson’s job to lead the offense and get the ball inside when Kansas needs it, and come March, Johnson’s play could be the difference between consecutive Final Fours or another Tournament flameout.

2) Oklahoma State (5-1, 0-0)
Previous Ranking: 1

Last Week: L 81-71 at Virginia Tech

This Week: Wednesday vs. South Florida, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs. Missouri State, 3:00 PM

  • Rundown: Freshman point guard Marcus Smart continued to impress against Virginia Tech last week (18 points, 11 rebounds, six assists), but it wasn’t enough to make up for the team’s putrid night from deep. The Cowboys went 4-23 from three-point range and the Hokies eventually won, 81-71. The schedule softens now, though, and the wins should pile up this month until a New Year’s Eve meeting with Gonzaga in Stillwater.
  • Danger Zone: It’s never a good thing when your freshman point guard leads the team in rebounding. Smart is averaging 7.7 RPG and while it complements the rest of his game nicely, the Cowboys need to find more consistent post play. Smart and sophomore guard Le’Bryan Nash are great, but being 135th in the country in RPG (36.5) won’t lead to sustained success this season.
Share this story