Baylor Bears

The Wrap Up: Big 12 Basketball Game 8 recap and analysis

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Oklahoma

With eighteen games on the Big 12 men’s basketball slate we’ll break down each set of games upon completion. Today it’s a review of the eighth set of games in the Big 12 Conference, played on Jan. 22-23 (rankings in parenthesis in standings are AP).

BIG 12 STANDINGSConf.All
Kansas (5)6-216-4
Texas Tech (14)5-316-4
West Virginia (7)5-316-4
Oklahoma (12)5-315-4
Kansas State5-315-5
Texas4-413-7
TCU3-515-5
Oklahoma State3-513-7
Baylor2-612-8
Iowa State2-611-8

 

Results

Monday, Jan. 22
TCU 82, West Virginia 73
Texas 73, Iowa State 57
Kansas State 90, Baylor 83

Tuesday, Jan. 23
Oklahoma 85, Kansas 80
Texas Tech 75, Oklahoma State 70

NEXT GAMES (all times CST unless noted)

Saturday, Jan. 27
Baylor at Florida, noon EST
Texas Tech at South Carolina, noon EST
Georgia at Kansas State, 1 p.m.
Ole Miss at Texas, 1 p.m.
Oklahoma at Alabama, 1:15 p.m.
Tennessee at Iowa State, 3 p.m.
TCU at Vanderbilt, 3 p.m.
Texas A&M at Kansas, 3:30 p.m.
Oklahoma State at Arkansas, 5 p.m.
Kentucky at West Virginia, 7 p.m. EST

Superlatives

20-point games: 34 — Barry Brown Jr. (Kansas State); 26 — Trae Young (Oklahoma), Keenan Evans (Texas Tech); 25 — Jarrett Culver (TTU); 24 — Svi Mykhailiuk (Kansas), Dean Wade (K-State), Mo Bamba (Texas); 20 — Malik Newman (KU).
10-rebound games: 14 — Kenrich Williams (TCU); 12 — Cameron Lard (Iowa State), Mo Bamba (Texas); 10 — Vladimir Brodziansky (TCU).
5-assist games: 9 — Devonte’ Graham (KU), Trae Young (OU), Alex Robinson (TCU); 7 — Jake Lindsey (Baylor), Jevon Carter (West Virginia); Kenrich Williams (TCU); 6 — Manu Lecomte (Baylor), Cartier Diarra (K-State); 5 — Barry Brown Jr. (K-State); Matt Coleman (Texas), Keenan Evans (TTU).
4-block games: 5 — Vladimir Brodziansky (TCU); 4 — Sagaba Konate (WV).
4-steal games: 5 — Jevon Carter (WV).
Double-doubles: Cameron Lard (ISU), 12 points, 12 rebounds; Mo Bamba (Texas), 24 points, 12 rebounds; Vladimir Brodziansky (TCU), 14 points, 10 rebounds;

 

The Starting Five

Mo Bamba, Texas: Bamba shot a high percentage, scored a season-high 24 points and guarded the rim with 3 blocks and 12 rebounds.
Vladimir Brodziansky, TCU: The Horned Frogs had plenty of players that contributed to their win over West Virginia, but Brodziansky gave the Horned Frogs what they needed in the paint all night.
Barry Brown Jr., Kansas State: Another enormous game from Brown, who was perfect from the free-throw line in pushing the Wildcats past Baylor.
Trae Young, Oklahoma: Young promised to ratchet down his game for the good of the team. He did, and it worked (26 points, 9 assists and an OU win over Kansas).
Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech: Culver dumped 25 points on Oklahoma State and kept the Red Raiders in the game with his play in the first half.

The Sixth Man

Kouat Noi, TCU: Noi played just 15 minutes but scored 13 points, including some critical early 3-pointers, before his ejection.

Taking Tournament Stock

Every Monday I post where ESPN’s Joe Lunardi and CBSSports’ Jerry Palm have the Big 12 in their Bracketology. So, check it out every Monday at @PostinsPostcard.


Plus, there’s the BPI, or Basketball Power Index, which I tweeted out on Wednesday:


By that logic, with 68 NCAA Tournament berths and 32 NIT berths, there’s a solid chance every Big 12 team could enjoy some sort of postseason play.

 

The Games

TCU 82, West Virginia 73: TCU won this game with about four minutes left in the first half. West Virginia was up seven points, 31-24, with 4:14 left in the first quarter the Mountaineers were really starting to assert themselves in the contest. But after the TV timeout something happened. TCU came out on fire. Point guard Alex Robinson (17 points, 9 assists) tossed in a 3-pointer and the Horned Frogs, for the next nine minutes of game clock, were darned near unstoppable. Desmond Bane gave the Horned Frogs the lead for good with a dunk with 1:01 left, coming off one of Kenrich Williams’ 6 assists (he also scored nine points and had 14 rebounds). TCU went into the break up two points, but in the second half the Horned Frogs didn’t let up. Robinson scored a layup in the first minute, followed by a Williams dunk and then an outburst by Bane (two 3-pointers and a layup). By the time West Virginia’s Daxter Miles Jr. made a layup with 14:34 left in the second half, the Mountaineers had gone more than nine minutes without a field goal and TCU was up 47-36. The game really never got any closer.

The Horned Frogs were a desperate team going into this one. They didn’t want to absorb another close Big 12 loss. The Horned Frogs hadn’t won against a ranked opponent in the history of Schollmaier Arena (0-10). TCU was still down their starting point guard, Jaylen Fisher, who is out with an injury. There were plenty of reasons why TCU beat West Virginia on Monday night, but from my perspective it boiled down to the tweet below.


It’s hard to outhustle the Mountaineers. Damn hard. But the Horned Frogs did it. It seemed that every time it really mattered the Horned Frogs got to the basketball.

TCU outshot West Virginia, too. The Horned Frogs shot 42 percent from the floor to West Virginia’s 33 percent. Worse for West Virginia, it shot just under 26 percent from the 3-point line. The Mountaineers just couldn’t get on track offensively in the second half. For long stretches the Mountaineers got away from feeding Sagaba Konate in the paint, despite the fact that no one on TCU’s roster could really handle him. Konate had 14 points and 8 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. And if you needed more proof of Konate’s growing impact on defense …


I wondered why Konate didn’t get more opportunities in 34 minutes. My guess is the Mountaineers saw the game slipping away and tried to get back in it from the 3-point line, where the Mountaineers just didn’t shoot well. Jevon Carter was 0-fer from the arc and Lamont West had the best night, going 3-of-5. It was a strange game where all five Mountaineer starters were in double figures, but no one proved dominant enough for long enough to make a difference.

Speaking of West, he and TCU’s Kouat Noi ended up in some extracurricular activity in the second half. Noi was about to start on a breakaway and West held him. But that’s not what was called. Noi turned around and shoved West, earning a flagrant two and an ejection. The refs missed the West foul, but Noi needed to keep his head there, especially since at the time he had scored 13 points in 15 minutes off the bench. I thought that would end up being a big loss for TCU, as Noi had scored three 3-pointers. But with Robinson, Vladimir Brodziansky (14 points, 10 rebounds) and Bane (15 points), the Horned Frogs made up for it.

The Mountaineers have now lost three of their last four games and shooting has been the most significant culprit. The Mountaineers have shot 40 percent or less in those losses. This could just be a valley in a long season, but the Mountaineers missed some key opportunities, easy shots throughout the TCU game, that would have made it closer. Teddy Allen is a non-factor off the bench now. The Mountaineers, even with Esa Ahmad back (who didn’t score against TCU), don’t seem like a deep team right now. Plus, I think Big 12 teams are starting to find more efficient ways to break “Press Virginia” in the full court.

Oh, and TCU was quite happy with their effort on Monday and the students, well, I’m not sure if stormed the court is the right phrase for it …


In TCU’s defense, it’s not easy for the students to get to the floor. The boosters and high-rollers have the floor seats at TCU now and the students have to climb over the rail and jump down. But if you’re gonna storm, well, storm.


But it was a big win for TCU. One the Horned Frogs absolutely needed.

Texas 73, Iowa State 57: When Andrew Jones was diagnosed with leukemia, the most pressing basketball question was where the Longhorns’ perimeter offense would come from? There weren’t many options, but one I forgot about was Kerwin Roach II, who at the time of Jones’ diagnosis was wrapping up his own recovery from a hand injury. Well, Roach returned on Jan. 17 and dropped 20 points on Texas Tech in an upset of the Red Raiders. After scoring just nine points against West Virginia, he followed that with a 22-point effort against Iowa State on Monday, which included a barrage of early 3-pointers that set the tone for the contest.


Iowa State tried to influence the pace of the game with a 1-2-1-1 press at times, but it didn’t have much impact on Texas. Neither did Iowa State’s man-to-man defense, which only forced 8 Longhorn turnovers. Nor could they keep a lid on Texas freshman center Mo Bamba, who dropped in 24 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked three shots (and, yes, his total points were wrong in the tweet. Hey, Twitter, how about an edit function for those of us who care about accuracy and grammar?)


Iowa State had a great young core of players, but in order to win games right now all four of them have to be on, and they weren’t against Texas. Forward Solomon Young failed to score a single point and only had four rebounds. Lindell Wigginton had 15 points, but was slow to get things going until the second half. Cameron Lard had 12 points and 12 rebounds, but was never able to get to the free-throw line. And guard Nick Weiler-Babb had 15 points, but dished out 3 assists, well below his average. The Cyclones’ one senior starter, Donovan Jackson, had just 6 points, well below his 15-point per game average. The Cyclones just didn’t play well, which is a shame, considering they were coming off their huge home win over Texas Tech last weekend.

Kansas State 90, Baylor 83: According to ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi, the Wildcats were part of their “First Four Out” in Monday’s Bracketology piece. So, the Wildcats are right there when you think about getting to the NCAA Tournament. But this next stretch is pretty critical. After playing Georgia on Saturday, the Wildcats host Kansas and then travel to West Virginia. But before the Wildcats get to that stretch, they needed to beat Baylor on the road.

This was a sneaky-good matchup featuring two of the top six scorers in the Big 12 entering the contest — Kansas State’s Barry Brown Jr. and Baylor’s Manu Lecomte. Individually, Brown won out big-time. Brown dumped 34 points on the Bears, including a perfect 12-for-12 game at the free throw line. It was the third time in five Big 12 games that Brown scored at least 24 points. Lecomte finished with 18 points and, oddly enough, he was perfect at the free-throw line, too (9-of-9).

While Brown occupied the Bears’ attention overall, K-State’s Dean Wade scored 11 of his 24 points in the first eight minutes of the game. The Wildcats overcame Baylor’s Big 12-leading rebound differential, even though the Bears outrebounded them by 16 in the game. K-State did it with shooting — 57.1 percent from the floor, 47.1 percent from the 3-point line and 78.8 percent from the foul line. The Wildcats also only gave up 10 turnovers, forced Baylor into 15 miscues and scored 20 points off those mistakes. It’s a big reason why the Bears were never quite able to get back into the game in the second half.

This isn’t the Baylor team we’re used to seeing. They’re ranked in the middle or better in the Big 12 in just about every team statistical category except for one — turnover margin. The Bears are dead last in that category and it showed up in this one. Considering six different Bears finished in double figures against Kansas State, that turnover margin is getting the better of Baylor in Big 12 action. Not even Bears coach Scott Drew can work the officials on that one.


Oklahoma 85, Kansas 80: The big question coming into this game was “What would Trae Young do?” He was coming off the Sooners’ loss to Oklahoma State in which he shot a ridiculous 39 times, scored 48 points and the Sooners still lost to the Cowboys in overtime. A week ago, I wrote that Young’s play needed to be addressed in some way. It was getting quicker and more reckless and it was having an impact on the entire team (I wrote that after Young committed 12 turnovers in a loss to Kansas State). It’s not that the Sooners needed to change Young’s game. It just needed to be recalibrated, and that’s what we witnessed against Kansas.

Look at the start of the game. Young wasn’t in a hurry to get from Point A to Point B, as I felt he was against Kansas State. There was a calmness to his game early on and I think that made a difference throughout. He told reporters later that one of his goals was to not take a 3-pointer in the first half. That’s a little drastic, as that’s a big part of his game. But he made a conscious effort to control his pace, avoid turnovers and involve his teammates. By the end of the first half he had taken fewer field goal attempts than any first half he played this season.

But the recalibration paid off. Young ended up with a fine game — 26 points, 9 assists and just 5 turnovers. Plus, he set up Brady Manek (14 points, 7 rebounds) and Christian James (15 points) well throughout the game. Manek was especially impressive in the first half, so much so that ESPN’s Tom Crean proclaimed the following:


In other words, Manek has a really fast release. The funny thing is if Trae Young didn’t exist we’d be talking and writing a lot more about Manek, who is having a fine freshman season, but is thoroughly overshadowed by Young.

Kansas came in hot, having won five straight Big 12 games and, as one might expect, back at the top of the Big 12. But this isn’t your normal Kansas team, and Bill Self will readily admit it. He’s never had a team that scores this much (84 points per game) or attempts this many 3-pointers (about 40 percent of the Jayhawks’ shots). But it’s a necessity. The Jayhawks play seven and their “Big 3” is turning into a “Big 4” with Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Lagerald Vick and now Malik Newman, who is emerging as a real, consistent offensive option. Mykhailik finished with 24 points, Newman with 20 points and Graham with 11 points and 9 assists. Vick is in a funk right now. He scored 4 points against OU and since Big 12 play began he’s only hit double-figures twice.

The Jayhawks need him to come to life because Udoka Azubuike is a limited player. He can score close to the basket and he’s a solid rebounder but he’s not the best rim protector. In fact, as the Sooners tried to stay in this game late, they sacrificed Matt Freeman to the altar of “Hack-a-Shaq.” Freeman played two minutes, committed five fouls, most of them on Azubuike and the Kansas center didn’t hit a single free throw. It was a critical moment of the game. Self later took the blame for leaving Azubuike on the court in that situation, knowing that his center was a sub-50 percent free-throw shooter.

This Kansas team is a perimeter-based team that takes what it can get out of its inside play. With the departure of Billy Preston, who chose not to wait on NCAA reinstatement and instead headed for Bosnia to play pro ball, the Jayhawks are who they are now — a seven-man rotation that can score a lot of points but doesn’t have much margin for error. That margin slipped away late against the Sooners.
Young fueled the rally. He scored 11 points in the final 12 minutes of this game as the Sooners chipped away at the Jayhawks’ double-digit lead. And, ultimately, Young set up, but didn’t shoot, the go-ahead score.


Now, let’s see if the Young reset sticks.

Texas Tech 75, Oklahoma State 70: The Red Raiders needed to stop the bleeding. Going into the Oklahoma State game the Red Raiders had lost three of their last four, and the downturn coincided with losing one of their seniors, Zach Smith, to injury. The Iowa State loss last weekend, by 18 points, was the nadir. Something had to change or the Red Raiders risked slipping out of this conference title race.

The first half? Things did not look good for Texas Tech. The Red Raiders started the game shooting 4-of-6 from the floor and finished the half shooting 3-of-17 and down 12 points. Senior Keenan Evans was not playing well. The lone bright spot for the Red Raiders was freshman Jarrett Culver, who would eventually score 25 points and grab 8 rebounds. His offense basically kept Tech in the game.


Oklahoma State, meanwhile, was taking advantage of second-chance points (14 in the first half) and scoring from unlikely sources (a pair of 3-pointers from Thomas Dziagwa) to build that big lead. Remember — Oklahoma State was riding a wave of momentum after their win over OU and I think that showed in the first half.

The second half? Tech completely flipped the script. Evans started cooking from the field and ended up with a game-high 26 points. Brandone Francis also started getting it going from the floor and finished with 9 points. Tech’s defense made sure that Oklahoma State’s Tavarius Shine didn’t become a factor and held him to 4 points. Tech threw a little full-court press in just to change the pace. All of it worked. And the Red Raiders remained undefeated at home this season.

This was an interior-neutral game, meaning that neither team’s interior players had an impact. But the Cowboys really need some help inside moving forward. Mitchell Solomon and Yankuba Sima combined for 7 points and 6 rebounds in 48 minutes. That has to change for the Cowboys. Those two players are too good to not have more of an impact for OSU. Plus, Solomon is doing the Cowboys no good by fouling out, which he’s done twice in the last five games (and he’s reached four fouls in two other games).

Tech was happy, but head coach Chris Beard was not all that happy with the crowd Tuesday night. Here’s a good illustration of why.


So, Beard let the folks in Lubbock know that if you’re short on cash, he’s got some tickets for you.


Note to the students in Lubbock — you’ve got a special team here. Get to the arena. It’s early in the semester. You can’t possibly have a test.

Leftovers

Texas shot 45 percent from the 3-point line in two meetings against Iowa State, but 29 percent against the rest of the Big 12. … TCU’s win over West Virginia was its first win over a ranked team at Schollmaier Arena (the Horned Frogs are now 1-10). The arena, formerly known as Daniel-Meyer Arena, underwent a $72 million renovation before the 2015-16 season and was renamed for the project’s lead donors, Ed and Rae Schollmaier. … With wins over Oklahoma and TCU, Kansas State has beaten two ranked teams in the same season for the first time in three years. … Baylor has eight losses this season, six of which are against ranked teams. … Kansas’ loss to Oklahoma ended a 10-game road winning streak for the Jayhawks. … OU’s win over Kansas was its sixth this season against a Top 25 team. Additionally, OU now has four wins over Top 10 teams, tied for most in a single season in school history.

Looking ahead to Big 12-SEC Challenge weekend: A great slate of Big 12-SEC games, with the biggest being Texas A&M at Kansas and Kentucky at West Virginia.

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