Big 12 M5: 04.02.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on April 2nd, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. The worst kept secret in college basketball these past few days came to light Monday as Texas Tech has formally agreed to hire Tubby Smith to be its new basketball coach. Smith won’t coach a game for the Red Raiders until November but he will enter the Big 12 as arguably the most decorated coach in a league with the likes of Bill Self and Bob Huggins. While it was unfortunate that interim coach Chris Walker did not get the job, hopefully this hire will give the basketball program some much needed stability.
  2. The Associated Press released its list of first, second and third team All-Americans on Monday. For the fourth consecutive season, the Big 12 has a representative on the second team with Ben McLemore of Kansas there. The league had two others on the third team in McLemore’s teammate Jeff Withey and Oklahoma State superfrosh Marcus Smart. Kansas State’s Rodney McGruder was named an Honorable Mention recipient and yet nowhere to be found was Pierre Jackson (19.7 PPG, 6.9 APG) of Baylor. It’s not clear what more he could have done to please the AP.
  3. Iowa State senior Will Clyburn has been invited to participate in Sunday’s College All-Star Game. The game, sponsored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, features 20 of the top seniors in all of college basketball. Clyburn of course came over from Utah to lead the Cyclones in scoring and was second on the team in rebounding. It also doesn’t hurt that Clyburn will play for ISU head coach Fred Hoiberg in this game.
  4. Class of 2013 forward Julius Randle spurned Texas to join what may become the greatest recruiting class of all time at Kentucky. Instead, Dallas area prospect Kendal Yancy-Harris committed to the Longhorns on Saturday. The 6’4″ point guard is the third member of Rick Barnes’ recruiting class, joining Demarcus Croaker from Orlando and Isaiah Taylor of Houston. Yancy-Harris is the only ESPN Top 100 prospect, which is weird for Texas’ standards but was probably the best it could do at this point. With Sheldon McClellan and Jaylen Bond announcing their plans to transfer, how happy could the UT administration be with Rick Barnes right now?
  5. Some sad news to pass along from the Kansas State family. Former K-State athletic director H.B. Lee passed away at his home in North Carolina. Lee became the youngest AD in the then-Big Seven when he took over in Manhattan at age 39. Before then he was a pretty good basketball coach at Colorado, taking the school to its one and only Final Four in 1955. He also played a role in establishing land for Bill Snyder Family Stadium and Bramlage Coliseum. While we are sad at has passing, he was 96 years old after all. He lived a full life.
Share this story

Assessing the Season: Iowa State Cyclones

Posted by dnspewak on March 27th, 2013

As the season winds down and Big 12 teams continue to find themselves eliminated from the postseason, we’re taking a team-by-team look at the 2012-13 season. Up next: Iowa State.

Final Record: 23-12, 11-7

The Expectations: This team was difficult to gauge in the preseason. The Cyclones had been so heavily reliant on Royce White last year, and Fred Hoiberg had a lot of new faces in Ames to consider. White had dominated the ball so much for in 2011-12 that with he, Scott Christopherson, and Chris Allen no longer available, Hoiberg had to gel a new class of big-name transfers into a winning team. It appeared that Michigan State transfer Korie Lucious would bring a new element to the roster as a true point guard, but White’s loss to the NBA was big. And even Will Clyburn, eligible after transferring over from Utah, probably was not going to be enough to replace the NBA Draft pick. You knew that Clyburn and Lucious could really play, though, and with the return of veterans Chris Babb, Tyrus McGee and Melvin Ejim, there seemed like enough talent still around to keep this team in reasonable postseason contention.

Fred Hoiberg Has To Hurt After Losing To Ohio State

Fred Hoiberg Has To Hurt After Losing To Ohio State

The Actual Results: The Cyclones never crashed and burned at any point, but it took them a long time to find their identity. Non-conference play did not fare all that well, as Iowa State lost just about every important game before the Big 12 schedule. It lost to Cincinnati and UNLV in a Las Vegas tournament and later also lost at Iowa. When it blew a sure victory to Kansas in the Big 12 opener — you know, the one where Ben McLemore banked in a three-pointer to send the game to overtime — nobody knew where this season was going. But thanks to a high-powered offense, Clyburn’s production and improved seasons out of sharpshooter Tyrus McGee and elite rebounder Melvin Ejim, the Cyclones eventually learned their identity. They were shooters. They’d light up the scoreboard, rebound the basketball and fire up every shot imaginable, and even though their defense wasn’t stellar, they could shoot their way to wins from the perimeter. So that’s what Iowa State did, earning home wins against Kansas State and Oklahoma State to build a resume strong enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. It ended abruptly in the Third Round Sunday afternoon thanks to Aaron Craft, but all things considered, Hoiberg’s “rebuilding” year didn’t seem like one at all.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 M5: 03.22.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on March 22nd, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. It isn’t official but it does feel like it’s really over. Perhaps yesterday’s loss to the Oregon Ducks was the final game of Marcus Smart’s brief and eventful career at Oklahoma State. He arrived on campus with a lot of hype and he was worth every bit of it. But where does that leave Travis Ford and his program? For such a successful regular season to end suddenly in the round of 64, he’ll hop back on the hot seat. What if Le’Bryan Nash or Markel Brown decides to leave for the pros too? They have a solid recruiting class coming in but it seems unlikely for those freshman to plug in those huge gaps. Uneasy times in Stillwater.
  2. Friday is essentially “Big 12 day” at the NCAA Tournament as the league’s four remaining teams will be in action. Two of those teams will do very little traveling (maybe none?). Kansas and Kansas State played at the Sprint Center for the Big 12 Tournament and now have the tough task of playing there again for the Friday/Sunday sessions. KU stands as the top seed in the South Region and there is extra intrigue here as a win today could set up another Roy Williams v. Jayhawks match-up in the round of 32. Due to recent developments (hi New Mexico), the Wildcats would have an easier road to the Final Four if they can get by Gonzaga in the Sweet 16. Or if Wichita State upsets Gonzaga tomorrow, it’d be an all-Kansas regional semifinal in Los Angeles. It is March, it could happen.
  3. I guess we should get used to saying this: Iowa State is once again in the tournament. While it wasn’t a given they’d make it here even a month ago, one player who has helped their way in is forward Will Clyburn. As you may now, Clyburn is a transfer from Utah but he didn’t start his college career like most recruits did. He had a growth spurt during his senior year of high school but his height-strength ratio scared off most recruiters. Clyburn chose to enroll at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa. He became a gym rat, fine tuning his game and eventually transferred to Utah after successful freshman and sophomore campaigns. Now he’s the leading scorer (15.0) and rebounder (7.1) for Iowa State. How did you let him get away, coaches?
  4. As Oklahoma preps for its second round game against San Diego State, we finally got into the mind (a bit) of their nomadic head coach Lon Kruger. Any coach will tell you how difficult it is to build chemistry on a team so imagine how much harder it’d be if the coach that recruited you leaves for another job before you graduate. “But then every place we’ve been we’ve never looked for another job or asked for another job. It’s just worked out OK with different moves for different reasons. We’ve been pretty fortunate,” Kruger told the Norman Transcript. I tend to believe that that’s a bunch of hooey. One of his former players, Steve Henson, mentioned how Kruger interviewed for the head coaching job at Texas right after his sophomore season. (Kruger ended up leaving for Florida after Henson’s senior year.) That’s not to take anything away from what he’s done in his second year in Norman but you or I shouldn’t be surprised if he up and leaves OU all of a sudden.
  5. In case you didn’t know that there was basketball being played outside of the NCAA and NIT tournaments, the Texas Longhorns participated in the CBI on Wednesday night. They took on their old rivals from the Southwest Conference, the University of Houston Cougars and ended up losing to UH 73-72. To add insult, top recruit Julius Randle, who considered Texas in his recruiting process, announced for Kentucky earlier in the week. Hopefully this is the last straw of a season where everything went wrong for Texas. And somewhere in the Northeast, current commissioner of the “old” Big East Mike Aresco is cracking open some champagne for all the wrong reasons.
Share this story

Rushed Reactions: Kansas 88, Iowa State 73

Posted by dnspewak on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is a Big 12 microsite writer. He’s in Kansas City this weekend for the Big 12 Tournament.

Iowa State Looked Dead and Buried Late In the Game

Iowa State Looked Dead and Buried Late In the Game

  1. Budding Rivalry: Kansas needed a rival when Missouri bolted to the SEC. Most figured it’d be Kansas State — and it is. A potential showdown with the Wildcats tomorrow night would make for an electric atmosphere in Kansas City. But there’s room for more than one rivalry, and if we’re in the business of anointing new conference feuds, we’ve got to think that Iowa State and Kansas will carry some bad blood into next year. For starters, there’s the sheer point differential of the two regular season games. The two teams needed overtime in both contests this season. First, in Lawrence, a miracle bank shot by Ben McLemore at the end of regulation helped the Jayhawks escape. In the rematch in Ames, an officiating controversy marred KU’s narrow win. That all led up to Round Three on Friday, and for much of the game, the intensity lived up to the hype. Kansas eventually ran away with the victory, but in the first half, you could tell this was more than just your run-of-the-mill semifinal between the top seed and five seed. Ben McLemore picked up a technical foul for jawing at Georges Niang on the bench after he knocked down a three-pointer, which then skyrocketed the tension in the arena. An irate Bill Self pranced up and down the sidelines, and minutes later, the officials then whistled his bench for a technical foul after they argued a no-call. Self seemed as fired up as ever. It seemed to spark his team after a competitive and highly entertaining first half.
  2. Defense and Rebounding: Iowa State’s inability to get a stop in the second half doomed the Cyclones. That’s not a new trend this season for Fred Hoiberg’s team. However, their poor effort on the boards was surprising. Kansas outrebounded ISU by 12, and at one point it grabbed five offensive rebounds on a single possession. Talk about demoralizing. In every way, the Jayhawks pulled away for the win by being the tougher team. It didn’t help that Iowa State’s shots weren’t falling from the perimeter, but Self had his team ready to punish the Cyclones in the second half. Read the rest of this entry »
Share this story

Rushed Reactions: Iowa State 73, Oklahoma 66

Posted by dnspewak on March 14th, 2013

rushedreactions

Danny Spewak (@dspewak) is a Big 12 microsite writer. He’s covering the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City this weekend.

Three Thoughts:

isu oklahoma

Did Iowa State Pop Oklahoma’s Bubble Thursday?

  1. Complete Implosion: For more than 30 minutes, Iowa State looked like it had just rolled out of bed and stumbled into the arena, still waiting for the Five Hour Energy to kick in. The Cyclones could not have played more poorly in the first half, and they didn’t make a three-pointer until the very end of the first half. Shots were clanking off the rim left and right, the Sooners were bullying them in the paint and on the boards, and and it appeared Fred Hoiberg’s team was about to make NIT travel plans. Midway through the second half, Oklahoma led 60-48. And then disaster struck for Lon Kruger. The Sooners did not make a field goal over  the final 8:10 of the game, and Iowa State’s vaunted perimeter shooting finally awoke. With Korie Lucious on the bench after shooting 0-of-8 from the field, Will Clyburn began to run the offense, and he knocked down a few key shots late. Chris Babb did too, and Tyrus McGee shook off a tough morning to finally make a tie-breaking three-pointer late in the second half. All in all, the Cyclones finished the game on a 25-6 run, and they’re right in the thick of the NCAA Tournament at-large hunt. This was more than a comeback — it was a life-saving performance. 
  2. Bubble Burst: We wrote yesterday that Iowa State probably had a little more of a sense of desperation in this game, but the Sooners really could have used this victory as well. They’re still in good shape with victories over Oklahoma State and Kansas — not to mention strong computer numbers — but this will not be an easy weekend for Kruger and his players. Either way, it’s been a heck of a turnaround for this program. Before the year, even an NIT berth seemed like somewhat of a reach. As for the Cyclones, they could probably seal a bid by knocking off Kansas in tomorrow’s semifinal. They’ll still be desperate, though, and that should make for an electric atmosphere at the Sprint Center. Speaking of that possible showdown…
  3. Rematch: Iowa State blew a late lead against Kansas in Lawrence and lost in overtime, thanks in part to a buzzer-beating, banked-in three by Ben McLemore at the end of regulation. In the second match-up in Ames, a controversial no-call on a, well, obvious charge by Elijah Johnson late in the game made national headlines. Dare we say there’s a budding rivalry? ”I can’t wait for the opportunity if they win today,” Clyburn said. “I want some payback.” Careful, though. Kansas still needs to beat Texas Tech this afternoon.

Star of the Game: Melvin Ejim. He was huge. The league’s leading rebounder, Ejim’s pride must have taken a hit when Oklahoma came out punching in the first half and dominated the rebounding margin. At one point, the Sooners were +9 on the boards, and that’s just not acceptable for a team that normally rebounds as well as ISU. As the game progressed, though, Ejim started to do his thing. Georges Niang had a few important offensive rebounds, too, and by the end of the game, Iowa State had out-rebounded Oklahoma by 10. Ejim scored 23 points to lead all scorers, too, and finished with 12 rebounds individually. Another day, another double-double for Ejim.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 16

Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 25th, 2013

We are four days away from March, the Big 12 is close to solidifying its representation in the NCAA Tournament, and there are only two weeks left in the regular season. Obviously all games are important (Just ask Kansas about TCU), but for the top three teams in the standings, there isn’t much room for error in the home stretch, giving us great games like Wednesday’s double-overtime thriller between Kansas and Oklahoma State and tonight’s game in Ames between the Jayhawks and Iowa State. And that doesn’t even mention Kansas State’s trip to Waco on Saturday, where a win could potentially give the Wildcats sole possession of first place in the conference. But we’ll start with Kansas in the Power Rankings this week, who moves back to #1 after beating Oklahoma State on the road.

A Big 12 Championship Could Be On The Line Tonight For Kansas (AP)

A Big 12 Championship Could Be On The Line Tonight For Kansas (AP)

1) Kansas (23-4, 11-3)
Previous Ranking: 2

Last Week: W 68-67 (2OT) at Oklahoma State, W 74-48 vs TCU

This Week: Tonight at Iowa State, 8:00 PM, Saturday vs West Virginia, 1:00 PM

  • Rundown: Kansas is now 8-3 in the last five seasons when underdogs of four points or fewer after Wednesday’s double-overtime win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Tonight’s game in Ames is nearly as important and should be close as well (Kansas is favored by a single point). How about Jeff Withey against the Cowboys — 17 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in 29 minutes. He saved Kansas’ conference title hopes, and a win tonight could begin the conversation for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament assuming there are no more TCU-like roadblocks.
  • Outlook in March: A #1 seed is possible, but I think they will drop one more game through the Big 12 Tournament and snag a #2 seed. If they don’t end up in Indiana’s bracket, there’s enough talent and coaching ability for another trip to the Final Four. But they showed us in Fort Worth that they could just as easily lose to a Stony Brook or Montana in the first round.

2) Oklahoma State (20-6, 10-4)
Previous Ranking: 1

Last Week: L 68-67 (2OT) vs Kansas, W 73-57 at West Virginia

This Week: Wednesday at TCU, 6:00 PM Saturday vs Texas, 3:00 PM

  • Rundown: I know the Cowboys have fewer wins than K-State (in conference and overall) and lost to the Wildcats back on January 5, but I can’t say Oklahoma State isn’t the second-best team in the conference right now. Not with a straight face, anyway. Marcus Smart might be the best freshman in the country and a First-Team All-American choice while Markel Brown is playing even better than Smart lately, averaging 18 PPG, 3.5 APG, and 5.0 RPG last week.
  • Outlook in March: Wednesday’s game against Kansas was one of those games where a close loss wouldn’t have killed them in mock brackets and a win would have helped tremendously. They are still a #5 seed in most mock brackets and will probably end up as a #4 seed without any hiccups. They’re a definite Sweet Sixteen-level team that would give its region’s #1 seed a great game in the regional semifinals.

3) Kansas State (22-5, 11-3)
Previous Ranking: 3

Last Week: W 71-61 vs West Virginia, W 81-69 at Texas

This Week: Tonight vs Texas Tech, 6:00 PM, Saturday at Baylor, 6:00 PM

  • Rundown: K-State’s three conference losses were very forgivable. They were swept by Kansas and lost by six at Iowa State, one of the toughest places to play in the Big 12. Their other two losses were to Michigan and Gonzaga, a pair of projected #2 seeds. They’re also winners of seven of their last eight games and have a relatively easy next three: Texas Tech, at Baylor, and TCU. The season finale against Oklahoma State in Stillwater will likely determine the Big 12 championship and whether the crown will be shared this season.
  • Outlook in March: A conference championship would probably get the Wildcats a #3 seed, a perch above their consensus #4 seed right now. As noted, they don’t have any bad losses and have a pair of good wins over Florida and Oklahoma State.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 15

Posted by KoryCarpenter on February 18th, 2013

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

Tier I:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Team Resumes: Iowa State Cyclones

Posted by dnspewak on February 5th, 2013

Over the next two weeks, we’ll break down where each Big 12 bubble team stands in terms of its current NCAA Tournament resume. We begin with a snapshot of Iowa State, a program seeking its second straight trip to the Big Dance under coach Fred Hoiberg.

Iowa State's Past Two Weeks Have Been Helpful  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa State’s Past Two Weeks Have Been Helpful (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Current Record: 15-6, 5-3 Big 12

RPI: 40

SOS: 70

This is the team you’ve forgotten about in the Big 12. Oklahoma State’s roller-coaster of a season caught your attention early. Oklahoma’s rapid improvement did too. But the Iowa State Cyclones have quietly built a case for another NCAA Tournament at-large selection, and it’d look a heck of a lot more impressive if the basketball gods hadn’t guided that Ben McLemore three-pointer off the glass and into the hoop on January 9. Blown chance against Kansas aside, Fred Hoiberg’s team has worked its way back into the at-large conversation by knocking off Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma in a two-week span. Nothing is guaranteed, but Monday night’s flawless victory at home over the Sooners is proof that Hoiberg might have the most dangerous bubble team in the league.

Case For An At-Large

The Cyclones did not fare all that well in non-conference play. They own a solid home victory over BYU, but they lost every other significant game outside of the Big 12. That’s why their 6-3 start in the conference — good for third place so far — has been so important. As stated earlier, the past two weeks have been critical. Iowa State has picked up three victories over the RPI Top 50 in Ames, which means Hoiberg’s squad is now an even 4-4 in that category. Not terrible. Plus, six games remain against the Top 50 in league play, so it’s not as though Iowa State’s opportunities are finished.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

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 M5: 01.29.13 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 29th, 2013

morning5_big12

  1. Going into last night, I thought Kansas was getting set to do terrible things to West Virginia. We instead saw a Jayhawks team playing with fire against an inferior opponent for the second time in their last three road games. They were able to scrape by Texas in Austin after trailing by 11 early in the second half, and KU was also supposed to drive a nail through the Mountaineers when they jumped out to a 22-7 lead yesterday. Should KU fans be concerned about these good-but-not-great performances outside of Lawrence? Look, if Kansas wins every game from now until the national championship by one point (it won’t happen, of course), then there’s no reason to be worried until a game or series of games are lost. Still…
  2. The Big 12 conference gathered its 10 athletic directors in Irving, Texas, to discuss measures that would be taken in the case of more conference expansion among the power six conferences. Here’s where it gets interesting: Big 12 sources revealed that if the Big Ten expands again, then that league would likely pursue a list of Association of American Universities in the ACC such as Duke, UNC, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and Virginia. They also said that if the SEC were to get bigger, then they would pursue schools who aren’t currently in their footprint like the Virginia and North Carolina schools in the — you guessed it — ACC. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby reaffirmed that the league’s 10 current members are happy with this configuration but they want contingency plans  just in case. I’d really hate it if I read this article and my name was John Swofford, although Bowlsby also noted that the Big 12 is seeking a “friends with benefits” alliance with the ACC as well.
  3. It was announced yesterday that Baylor guard Pierre Jackson had won Big 12 Player of the Week honors for the first time this season. Doesn’t it seem a little odd that this is the preseason conference player of the year’s first honor? It’s not like Jackson is having a bad year. He leads the Big 12 in scoring per game (18.7 PPG), is tied at the top in assists per game (5.9 APG) and is in the top 10 for free throw percentage and steals. Jackson averaged 19 points, four assists and two rebounds while connecting on 8-of-16 on three pointers last week. With four-time POTW winner Rodney McGruder coming on strong as of late, it looks to be a photo finish among those two for Big 12 Player of the Year.
  4. Big 12 Rookie of the Week went to Will Clyburn of Iowa State who has been everything and then some for the Cyclones. Usually these weekly honors go to players who played well for a team that went undefeated last week. The Cyclones fell on the road to Texas Tech but Clyburn was still able to make a mark on this game by recording 12 points and 10 rebounds. It’s clear he won the award with his 24/10 effort in Iowa State’s win over K-State that finally gave them a win over a ranked opponent. This is Clyburn’s second ROTW of the 2012-13 season.
  5. Here is a quote from Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy’s AAU coach about the freshman in 2011: “When he goes to Stillwater, he’ll be a freshman eligibility-wise, but a sophomore mentally.” So what prompted Murphy to say this via Twitter and then promptly delete it? Is he feeling disgruntled because he isn’t getting consistent playing time, or did he truly believe his tweet had no meaning to it? You decide. It’s just more bad press for a team that should be contending for second place in the Big 12 but instead finds itself living on the fringe in sixth place.
Share this story

Big 12 Conference Call: January 12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 12th, 2013

Welcome to the first Conference Call of conference play! We are one full week into the Big 12 season and you can already put each team into one of four boxes: the you’ll-know-how-they-finish box (Kansas, TCU and Texas Tech), the disappointment box (Texas, West Virginia), the surprise box (Kansas State) and the don’t-know-where-to-put-them box (Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Oklahoma). Today, we discuss the futures for some of these teams, some of the disappointing players and much more. 

Things have been a-ok for Bruce Weber and Kansas State (Associated Press)

Things have been a-ok for Bruce Weber and Kansas State (Associated Press)

  1. Two of the league’s biggest disappointments, West Virginia and Texas, played an ugly basketball game Wednesday with the Mountaineers prevailing in OT. Which team will hear its name called on Selection Sunday?
  2. Iowa State was a bank shot three away from picking up a huge win vs Kansas in Lawrence. What do we make of the Cyclones this season?
  3. If you were to stop the season right now, which Big 12 coach would be the first to get fired?
  4. Which player has been the biggest disappointment this season?
  5. Divisional round of the NFL playoffs are Saturday and Sunday. Who ya got?

*****

1. Two of the league’s biggest disappointments, West Virginia and Texas, played an ugly basketball game Wednesday with the Mountaineers prevailing in OT. Which team will hear its name called on Selection Sunday?

  • KC: Both teams will hear their names called on Selection Sunday when the NIT picks the scraps off the table. Even if you assume Myck Kabongo will return to his old self immediately next month, the Longhorns will be lucky to be above .500 at that time and Kabongo isn’t good enough to change that ship’s course. And again, that’s assuming he will be great from the get-go, and I don’t think that will be the case. With no marquee wins on the schedule, West Virginia probably needs 12 more wins this season — giving them 20 — to make the dance. You have to jump through a few mathematical hoops to find 12 more wins on their schedule at this point.
  • DS:  I’d be surprised if either West Virginia or Texas even make the NIT. The first half of the season has been a disaster for both squads. It’s been so bad, in fact, that both teams are ranked outside of the top 100 in the RPI. I mentioned earlier this week that it’d be silly to even attempt to determine what Texas must do from this point forward to make the NCAA Tournament. That’s how far off the bubble the Longhorns are right now, and the same goes for West Virginia. Look at the Mountaineers’ “resume,” if you even want to call it that. There’s that one-point win against a Virginia Tech team that has lost four straight games by a combined 96 points. Oh, and Bob Huggins‘ team also beat a better-than-you-might-think Eastern Kentucky team at home. So there’s that, too. Texas, meanwhile, is hanging its hat on a home win over a North Carolina team that’s crumbling by the day, and Myck Kabongo won’t return from suspension until mid-February. There are Great West teams with more compelling CBI resumes than Texas and West Virginia right now. Well, almost.
  • NK: Regardless of how this season was going to turn out for the Mountaineers, they weren’t going to be anything like last year’s team. That squad had Tournament-tested guys like Darryl “Truck” Bryant and Kevin Jones. Now with those players gone, Deniz Kilicli, Aaron Brown and Jabarie Hinds were supposed to assume bigger roles this season, but in turn, they are having worse seasons this year than last. For some reason, I can’t close the door completely on Texas. Javan Felix has proven he is more than just a back-up point guard in Kabongo’s absence. Though he needs to make shots at a higher percentage, Sheldon McClellan is a better number one option than anyone West Virginia has. I don’t think either team will make the Tournament now but I’d say Texas has better odds of making it than WVU.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Power Rankings: Week Six

Posted by KoryCarpenter on December 18th, 2012

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

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

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

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

Last Week: W 89-60 vs. Belmont

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

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

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

Last Week: W 91-63 vs. Central Arkansas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story