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)
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.