Baylor Bears

The Wrap Up: Big 12 Basketball Game 9 recap and analysis

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Texas Tech

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 ninth set of games in the Big 12 Conference, played on Jan. 29-31 (rankings in parenthesis in standings are AP).

BIG 12 STANDINGS Conf. All
Kansas (7) 7-2 18-4
Texas Tech (10) 6-3 18-4
Oklahoma (12) 6-3 16-5
West Virginia (15) 5-4 16-6
Kansas State 5-4 16-6
TCU 4-5 16-6
Texas 4-5 14-8
Oklahoma State 3-6 13-9
Iowa State 3-6 12-9
Baylor 2-7 12-10

Results

Monday, Jan. 29
Kansas 70, Kansas State 56

Tuesday, Jan. 30
TCU 79, Oklahoma State 66
Oklahoma 98, Baylor 96

Wednesday, Jan. 31
Iowa State 93, West Virginia 77
Texas Tech 73, Texas 71 (OT)

NEXT GAMES (all times CST unless noted)

Saturday, Feb. 3
Oklahoma State at Kansas, 11 a.m.
Texas Tech at TCU, 1 p.m.
Kansas State at West Virginia, 3 p.m.
Oklahoma at Texas, 5:15 p.m.
Iowa State at Baylor, 7 p.m.

Superlatives

20-point games: 44 — Trae Young (Oklahoma); 38 — Keenan Evans (Texas Tech); 29 — Manu Lecomte (Baylor); 25 — Donovan Jackson (Iowa State); 23 — Nuni Omot (BU); 22 — Svi Mykhailiuk (Kansas), Lindell Wigginton (ISU); 20 — Dean Wade (Kansas State), Kerwin Roach II (Texas).
10-rebound games: 13 — Cameron Lard (ISU); 12 — Khadeem Lattin (OU); 11 — Norense Odiase (TTU); 10 — Malik Newman (KU), Solomon Young (ISU), Mo Bamba (Texas).
5-assist games: 11 — Devonte’ Graham (KU); 9 — Trae Young (OU), Jevon Carter (West Virginia); 7 — Donovan Jackson (ISU); 5 — Manu Lecomte (BU), Barry Brown Jr. (KSU), Lindell Wigginton (ISU), Zoran Talley Jr. (ISU).
4-block games: 7 — Mo Bamba (Texas); 4 — Khadeem Lattin (OU).
4-steal games: 4 — Eric Davis Jr. (Texas)
Double-doubles: Malik Newman (KU), 13 points, 10 rebounds; Cameron Lard (ISU), 18 points, 13 rebounds; Solomon Young (ISU), 14 points, 10 rebounds; Khadeem Lattin (OU), 15 points, 12 rebounds; Mo Bamba (Texas), 12 points, 10 rebounds)

The Starting 5

Svi Mykhailiuk, Kansas: You want to know who’s driving these Jayhawks now? It’s the sweet-shooting Mykhailiuk, who scored 22 points, hit five 3-pointers, grabbed 8 rebounds and had one point-saving block.
Trae Young, Oklahoma: No big surprise. Followed up his tepid game against Alabama with a 44-point, 9-assist game, including more than 30 points in the second half.
Kenrich Williams, TCU: Another consistent line from the 6-7 small forward as he produced 13 points, 9 rebound and 6 assists.
Donovan Jackson, Iowa State: Tough call because there were plenty of Cyclones that had a great game. But those six 3-pointers were huge in keeping Iowa State out front.
Keenan Evans, Texas Tech: 38 points. Sent the game to overtime with four free throws and won the game in overtime with a jumper with a second left. That’s all.

The Sixth Man

Nuni Omot, Baylor: I don’t normally pick a player from a losing team, but Omot’s contribution to the Bears Tuesday night — 23 points and a perfect 6-fot-6 from 3-point land — was just too good to ignore.

On the radio

I had the pleasure of talking Big 12 hoops with Brandon Lowe on his show on WBES Radio in Charleston, West Virginia on Tuesday. We talked the Big 12-SEC challenge, Kansas’ chances of retaining the Big 12 title, whether Texas Tech is for real and what’s at the root of West Virginia’s recent troubles. Catch the appearance here.

Taking NCAA 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.

The Games

Kansas 70, Kansas State 56: I think Kansas is playing with a certain level of freedom they weren’t playing with just a couple of weeks ago and here’s why. When I covered the Jayhawks’ game with TCU in early January Kansas head coach Bill Self was lamenting the fact that he had no idea if Billy Preston or Silvio De Souza would be cleared to play. Self admitted after the game that it was hard to have these two players practice, think about how they would fit in the lineup and then see them fail to play. At one point I remember him saying, “Just tell me one way or the other.”

Well, last week Kansas got that clarity on Preston, as he chose to leave Kansas and head to Europe to turn pro and prepare for the NBA Draft. Shortly before that De Souza was deemed eligible. So, Self knows what his team is now — a guard-driven, 3-point shooting juggernaut that plays strong man-to-man defense but has some admitted deficiencies in the frontcourt. Center Udoka Azubuike is a solid offensive force in the middle but a deficient rebounder and horrible free throw shooter. In fact, Mitch Lightfoot has now become more of an interior enforcer off the bench.

These Jayhawks will go as far as Devonte’ Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick will take them. And Monday night those four players took the Jayhawks a long way.

In fact, if Kansas can shoot the way they shot in the first half all the time, the Jayhawks will be hard to beat. Kansas started the game on an 11-2 run. At one point late in the first half the Jayhawks were pushing 70 percent shooting from the floor (that dropped to 45.7 percent for the game after a tepid start to the second half). Their 3-point shooting was exceptional, especially from Mykhailiuk, who is going to draw eyes from NBA scouts after the season because he can flat out rip it from range — 47.8 this season behind the arc. He put up five 3-pointers on Monday to lead Kansas with 22 points. But Graham (16 points), Newman (13 points) and Vick (11 points) all hit double figures to give Kansas some balance. Vick’s game was key for Kansas. Graham, Mykhailiuk and Newman have been consistent this month. Vick has not. Monday’s game was his second straight in double figures after scoring 10 points against Texas A&M. The Jayhawks need more of that. They also need better ball control after turning the ball over 16 times.

Kansas State, coming off that big win over Georgia which vaulted them into the NCAA Tournament in both Bracketology conversations at ESPN.com and CBSSports.com, started sluggish offensively. The Jayhawks made a point of trying to take K-State guard Barry Brown Jr. out of the game and they accomplished that. Brown averaged 22 points in his previous six games. He had only nine points against Kansas, though he did have one electric moment in which he made the Kansas defense look like it was standing in concrete.

K-State rallied behind Dean Wade, who led with 20 points. In fact, Wade’s play in the first half forced Self to make the sort of concession he hates — playing a zone defense. Heck, when ESPN’s outstanding reporter Holly Rowe asked Self what led to the zone Self basically said the Jayhawks had no one that could guard him. And he was right. Yet, the K-State offense could not match Kansas, finishing the first half missing its final 12 field goal attempts to fall behind by 13.

K-State did manage to close the gap to 40-35 with 14:30 left in the second half, and this came while Xavier Sneed was on the bench try to get over leg cramps. By the time Sneed returned the Jayhawks had returned the lead to double digits and that was that. Kansas took another Sunflower State showdown, this one on the 157th anniversary of Kansas statehood.

The Wildcats did receive a bit of good news, though. On Monday Kamau Stokes told ESPN’s Holly Rowe that he was cleared to play. It looks like KSU will be cautious with when he returns because, at this point, it’s not about winning the Big 12 (the Wildcats are two games back, but the Jayhawks now have the season sweep in this matchup). It’s about getting into the NCAA Tournament and Stokes can help with that push. Plus, think about this. All five K-State starters on Monday, plus Stokes, are set to return in 2018-19. I mean, I think I just found my dark horse Big 12 winner for next season. But we’ll tackle that then.

TCU 79, Oklahoma State 66: TCU remains a desperate team. The Horned Frogs missed a golden opportunity to gain a non-conference win on Saturday, falling to Vanderbilt, the lone under-.500 team in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. So the trip to Stillwater became a critical game for the Horned Frogs, who have seen their standing in Bracketology drop in recent weeks. Offense isn’t their problem. It’s defense. So, holding Oklahoma State to 66 points was a welcome sight for head coach Jamie Dixon.

Granted, Oklahoma State wasn’t at full strength. Tavarius Shine was out with a wrist injury. But the Horned Frogs will take any momentum they can get.

While Oklahoma State shot 57.1 percent from the 3-point line, the Horned Frogs held them to 41.1 percent overall. Both teams proved turnover prone, as they combined for 13 in the first 10 minutes of the game (TCU had 20, OSU had 16). TCU threw some man defense at the Cowboys, but also some 1-3-1 zone coming out of timeouts and made baskets. TCU had a 5-point lead at the break and they kept building on that lead thanks to 55.6 percent shooting and a 9-rebound advantage on the glass, led by Kenrich Williams’ 9 rebounds (he also scored 13 points and dished out 6 assists). He may be the most complete small forward in the Big 12.


Five Horned Frogs hit double figures in scoring in one of their more efficient offensive games in recent memory.

The Cowboys just couldn’t sustain anything. Along with Shine being out, forward Mitchell Solomon found himself in foul trouble again. He played just 16 minutes, scoring 4 points and 5 rebounds. Frankly, the Cowboys had a more energetic offense when Cam McGriff was in the game. Coming off the bench he played 34 minutes, scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. He gives the Cowboys juice that Solomon and Yankuba Sima just aren’t right now. Don’t get me wrong — I like Solomon as a player. He’s one of the most fundamental big men in the Big 12. But his consistent foul trouble is making him ineffective. Perhaps it is time for the Cowboys to try McGriff in the starting lineup and see if he can continue to put up games like he did on Tuesday.

At this point, the Cowboys don’t have much to lose. They’ve slipped out of the Big 12 race, Solomon is a senior and McGriff has two years of eligibility. OSU’s best shot at postseason action at this point is to stay above .500 overall and slide into the NIT. There’s no harm in seeing if McGriff can be a starter now as opposed to next year.

Meanwhile, TCU got some fantastic recruiting news heading into the game. Yuat Alok, the top rated Juco prospect in country according to jucorecruiting.com, committed to TCU. The 6-foot-11 forward is from New Zealand.


Why is this a big deal for TCU? The Horned Frogs are losing plenty of height after this season. Alok can walk in with some maturity having played in the juco ranks and give the Horned Frogs a boost in an area where they’ll sorely need it. He was also considering Baylor and LSU.

Oklahoma 98, Baylor 96: Should this game have been as close as it was? Record-wise, probably not. But this is the Big 12 after all, so we were treated to a high-octane nail-biter between a Top-12 team in OU and a team trying to stay afloat for an NIT berth in Baylor.
This game was chock full of good stuff. There was Trae Young, of course, who scored 44 points, dished out 9 assists and was 16-of-19 from the foul line — and at least two of those misses came in the first half. As the game went on Young became more clutch and even got a bounce or two.


But, in reality OU was more than Young’s 44 points might indicate. Christian James missed the game with the flu and that meant Kameron McGusty had to start, and he didn’t have a productive game in James’ place, as he scored just five points. But the other three OU starters — Brady Manek (16 points, 8 rebounds), Khadeem Lattin (15 points, 12 rebounds) and Rashard Odomes (18 points, 4 rebounds) — all had great games. In fact it was Odomes who picked up the slack in the first half with some great full court play, scoring nearly all of his points in the first 20 minutes.


In the final minute of the game, down three, 96-93, Lattin dunked with 54 seconds left to cut the lead to one. Then, after a bad missed 3-pointer by Baylor’s Jo Lual-Acuil Jr., Manek grabbed the rebound and Young got to the foul line to make both three throws and give the Sooners the lead with 23 seconds left. Baylor had a chance to tie but guard Jake Lindsey missed the front end of a one-and-one, Odomes rebounded and drew a foul and made one free throw for the game’s final score. All four of them had a hand in completing that comeback.
As for Baylor, well, geez what are you gonna do? The Bears played a damn good game. They shot 51.7 percent from the 3-point line. Guard Manu Lecomte hit seven of those 3-pointers and finished with 29 points. Lual-Acuil Jr. had 14 points and 9 rebounds. Nuni Omot gave the Bears a welcome charge off the bench with 23 points in 26 minutes, including a perfect 6-for-6 from the arc. The Bears have been missing those kinds of contributions from their bench and after a mid-season lull, Omot appears to be gathering some steam.


If the Bears can bottle up this effort for the rest of Big 12 play, they could make things really difficult for the league’s upper echelon. As we’re fond of saying, there is no bottom in the Big 12. Right now the Bears are fighting to get an NIT berth. With their strength of schedule and the conference’s overall RPI, a winning record should do it. But you saw the standings at the start of the story? They’re running out of margin for error.

Iowa State 93, West Virginia 77: “Hilton is supposed to be our safe haven. We’re disrespecting Hilton right now.”
Those were the words of Iowa State senior Donovan Jackson before Wednesday’s game with West Virginia. Entering the game, the Cyclones had lost four home games, three of them by 16 or more points.
Well the Cyclones showed Hilton Coliseum some respect against the Mountaineers.


This was a sublime game from Iowa State. Coming off an absolutely disastrous loss to Tennessee on Saturday, Iowa State needed a bounce-back and they were down a point guard, Nick Weiler-Babb, who was out with knee tendonitis. That put Zoran Talley Jr. in the starting lineup and he was serviceable (7 points, 5 assists, just 2 turnovers). The danger in playing a team like West Virginia, which spends most of the game pressing, is turnovers. Well Iowa State, despite being without Weiler-Babb, avoided the turnover bug, giving up the ball just eight times. That’s huge against a West Virginia team that forces 19 per game (and 16 per game in Big 12 action). The Mountaineers rely on that to fuel their offense.

The Cyclones picked up the slack with Weiler-Babb out. Jackson hit six 3-pointers and scored 25 points. Cameron Lard (18 points, 13 rebounds) and Solomon Young (14 points, 10 rebounds) had double-doubles inside. And their super freshman, Lindell Wigginton, poured in 22 points despite drawing West Virginia guard Jevon Carter, one of the country’s best on-ball defenders.

Iowa State drew even in the rebounding game (32-32), despite dealing with West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate. But it was the shooting that really defined Iowa State’s win. The Cyclones started the game like they were shot out of a cannon, getting off to a 14-6 start. At one point late in the first half ISU was shooting better than 70 percent, and for the game the Cyclones shot 62.1 percent (including 55.6 percent from the 3-point line). How big a deal was that for Iowa State?


Yeah, it’s been a while since ISU shot that well.

West Virginia had its own problems in its lineup. Daxter Miles was out with an illness, so Chase Harler played in his place. Head coach Bob Huggins also tweaked the lineup by starting Esa Ahmad over Lamont West, and it paid off with 17 points from Ahmad. Konate added another 17 points and 6 rebounds (but only 1 block) and Carter scored 18 points and had 9 assists. Despite ISU’s hot start the Mountaineers crawled back into this game with an 18-3 run that tied the game at 29-29 just after the under-8 timeout of the first half.

But, right after that ISU went on a 9-0 run and the Mountaineers were never able to make it a one-possession game again. What happened?

Well, Iowa State’s exceptional shooting didn’t help. But in the first half the Mountaineers at least shot well, 57 percent, which would be enough to keep you in most games. But in the second half that shooting fell off a cliff and the Mountaineers finished the game 43.3 percent from the field. It continued a disturbing trend of tepid second-half play for this West Virginia team, which has lost five of its last six and has been outscored by 61 points in those losses. The shooting downturn, along with the failure to create turnovers, became a bad recipe for West Virginia. And, for the first time in a long time, I finished watching this game questioning the Mountaineers’ defensive effort a bit. See the video tweet below. Iowa State did a great job spacing the floor all night to break the press, but the Mountaineers’ effort on this particular play seemed to seep into their defensive play all night.


Huggins has some work to do, and I’m not sure what the solution is. Putting Ahmad in the lineup helped, but it also robbed the Mountaineers of a valuable bench resource. It’s time for the Mountaineers to go back to the drawing board.

As for Iowa State, I’m on record as saying I really enjoy watching this team play. If the Cyclones can win enough games to get into the NIT, I think they could do something similar to what TCU did last year. Given the youth on this team — four starters should be back next year, along with two transfers who are sitting out the season — that would do wonders for their development.

Texas Tech 73, Texas 71 (OT): Well let’s just get to it, shall we? Texas Tech guard Kennan Evans had a huge night, including the game-winner in overtime.


Evans ended up with 38 points. But it wasn’t just overtime where he was key. Evans hit four free throws in the final minute of regulation to help the Red Raiders make up a four-point deficit and get to overtime. Evans shot 18-of-20 from the free-throw line. Plus, Evans played the final 2:33 of regulation and all of overtime with four fouls. Tech needed every bit of it because he was the only Red Raider in double figures. Plus, Tech shot only 42.3 percent from the floor, 29.4 percent from the 3-point line, was outrebounded by 5 and had 15 turnovers. It was not a quality game for the Red Raiders, but they made it work.

Texas should have won this game. Up four points with less than a minute, the Longhorns committed the cardinal sin of perimeter defense — fouling a shooter behind the 3-point line in the act of shooting. That became Evans’ first three free throws. Then, after Texas’ Dylan Osetkowski missed a jumper that would have made it a three-point game, Evans drove to the basket, drew a foul and sent Texas center Mo Bamba to the bench with his fifth foul.

But Tech should have won this game before overtime, frankly. I mean Evans missed two free throws in this one and what unfortunate timing that one of those misses came on the back end of those two free throws, after he made the first to tie the game.

But that set up a whale of an overtime, where Texas guard Kerwin Roach II tied the game with 12 seconds on a bank-shot 3-pointer and Evans then won it with his jumper with a second left.

Both Texas Tech and Texas showed some real grit in this one. Tech could have folded up after blowing a huge second-half lead, but they put their faith in Evans and he delivered.

Texas, down 13 at one point in the second half, went on a 23-6 run in an 8-minute period to get back into the game, tie it and take the lead in the final four minutes. At various times they were without Bamba (11 points, 10 rebounds) and Osetkowski (8 points, 9 rebounds) due to injuries that sent both to the bench. But they each returned. Bamba’s injury seemed to energize him, as he scored 9 points and 5 rebounds after the injury.

Roach ended up with 20 points to lead Texas. Matt Coleman had 12 points but was one of three Longhorns who left the game in regulation due to foul trouble.

Leftovers

Kansas State’s Barry Brown Jr. was averaging 22 points in his previous six Big 12 games before facing Kansas on Monday. … Kansas head coach Bill Self is now 31-5 vs. Kansas State in his career with the Jayhawks. … Kansas is 26-4 at Bramlage Coliseum, the home of the Kansas State Wildcats. … Kansas has now won seven straight against Kansas State. … Oklahoma State’s Jeremy Carroll became the 27th Cowboy to clear 1,200 career points during Tuesday’s game with TCU. … TCU’s win over Oklahoma State was its first win in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 93 years. … Baylor is now 5-23 in Norman, Oklahoma, after the Bears’ loss to OU on Tuesday. … Trae Young is the first OU player from Norman since Steve Ayers (1967-68). … Young has hit at least one 3-pointer in every game this season. … Young has seven games with at least 25 points and 10 assists this season. That’s tied for most in the NCAA in the last 10 seasons (JJ Barea, Northeastern). Young also recorded his fourth game of 40 or more points, tied for the most in the last 20 years of NCAA action (Eddie House). … Eight of Baylor’s 10 losses this season are against Top 25 teams. … Baylor is also 0-7 on the road this year. … West Virginia has lost five of their last six games since being ranked No. 2 in the country on Jan. 14. … West Virginia’s Jevon Carter has 288 career steals, most in West Virginia history. … The West Virginia-Iowa State game was a rematch of last year’s Big 12 Tournament championship game. … Iowa State freshman guard Lindell Wigginton’s scoring average (15.9 ppg) is currently the best of any freshman in Iowa State history. He also recorded his eighth 20-point game of the season, tied for most of any ISU freshman. … Iowa State’s 53 points in the first half are the most points West Virginia has given up in any half of any game this season. … West Virginia gave up more than 90 points for the first time since 2013. … Even with the loss, Texas has won 18 of its last 22 matchups with Texas Tech. Tech’s win over Texas was its eighth since the Big 12 was founded. … Texas C Mo Bamba has 95 blocks this season, which is a new Texas single-season record.

Looking ahead to Saturday: I’ll be in Fort Worth to check out Texas Tech as they face TCU, West Virginia looks for a win against Kansas State and the Red River Showdown, basketball style, goes down in Austin as Texas hosts Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Kansas hosts Oklahoma State and Iowa State looks for more momentum when it travels to Baylor.

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