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 13th set of games in the Big 12 Conference, played on Feb. 12-14 (rankings in parenthesis in standings are AP).
|BIG 12 STANDINGS||Conf.||All|
|Texas Tech (7)||10-3||22-4|
|West Virginia (20)||8-5||19-7|
Monday, Feb. 12
West Virginia 82, TCU 66
Baylor 74, Texas 73 (2 OT)
Tuesday, Feb. 6
Texas Tech 88, Oklahoma 78
Kansas 83, Iowa State 77
Wednesday, Feb. 7
Kansas State 82, Oklahoma State 72
NEXT GAMES (all times CST unless noted)
Saturday, Feb. 17
Texas at Oklahoma, 11 a.m.
Iowa State at Kansas State, noon
West Virginia at Kansas, 5 p.m.
Texas Tech at Baylor, 6:30 p.m.
Oklahoma State at TCU, 7 p.m.
20-point games: 26 — Terry Maston (Baylor), Keenan Evans (Texas Tech); 25 — Barry Brown Jr. (Kansas State); 23 — Christian James (Oklahoma)
10-rebound games: 16 — Mo Bamba (Texas); 11 — Jo Lual-Acuil (Baylor), Cameron Lard (Iowa State).
5-assist games: 9 — Jevon Carter (West Virginia); 7 — Manu Lecomte (BU), Kenrich Williams (TCU); 6 — Trae Young (OU); 5 — Lindell Wigginton (ISU), Nick Weiler-Babb (ISU), Devonte’ Graham (Kansas).
4-block games: 4 — Sagaba Konate (WV), Mo Bamba (UT)
4-steal games: None
Double-doubles: Jo Lual-Acuil (BU), 14 points, 11 rebounds; Cameron Lard (Iowa State), 19 points, 11 rebounds); Mo Bamba (UT), 16 points, 16 rebounds)
The Starting Five
Keenan Evans, Texas Tech: He scored 26 points and hit some big-time baskets to lead Tech to a win over Trae Young and Oklahoma.
Daxter Miles Jr., West Virginia: He returned to the starting lineup and scored 13 points in a game where the WVU starters didn’t exactly stand out.
Jo Lual-Acuil, Baylor: The Baylor forward had a double-double and scored the game-winning basket on a put-back in double overtime.
Udoka Azubuike, Kansas: He was nearly automatic inside (9-of-10) and hit his only free throw to lead Kansas with 19 points.
Barry Brown Jr., Kansas State: The guard scored 25 points for the Wildcats, including a 12-for-14 night from the free-throw line.
The Sixth Man
Terry Maston, Baylor: The Bears’ leading scorer for the game, he scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half and both overtimes.
NCAA & NIT Bracketology
Here are the Monday NCAA and NIT Bracketology updates:
#Big12MBB #ESPN #Bracketology from Joe Lunardi on Feb. 12: No. 2 #RockChalk No.3 Seed #WreckEm No. 5 Seed #BoomerSooner and #HailWV No. 8 seed #FearTheFrog No. 10 Seed #HookEm No. 11 #KState First Four @Heartland_CS https://t.co/DT7HpuweA3
— Matthew Postins (@PostinsPostcard) February 12, 2018
#Big12MBB #CBSSports #Bracketology from Jerry Palm on Feb. 11: No. 2 Seed #RockChalk No.3 Seed #WreckEm No. 4 Seed #BoomerSooner No. 5 Seed #HailWV No. 10 seed #FearTheFrog No. 12 #KState & #HookEm First Four @Heartland_CS https://t.co/D2avMol8SY
— Matthew Postins (@PostinsPostcard) February 12, 2018
— Matthew Postins (@PostinsPostcard) February 12, 2018
#Big12MBB #NIT #Bracketology through Feb. 11 by #DRatings: No. 1 Seed #OKState No. 8 Seed #CyclONEnation. No #Baylor? DRatings sees Bears as a “Last 4 In” team for #NCAA #SicEm @Heartland_CS https://t.co/3Ba881u85b
— Matthew Postins (@PostinsPostcard) February 12, 2018
With Iowa State now being included in the NIT brackets, the chances have gone up that all ten Big 12 teams could be playing postseason ball in either the NCAA or the NIT.
West Virginia 82, TCU 66: For West Virginia, this game proved to be all about the bench.
Yes, Daxter Miles Jr. came back to the starting lineup and scored 13 points. Yes, Wesley Harris had an unusually hot night from the arc (3-for-3) and ended up with 11 points. But with the rest of West Virginia’s starters scoring below expectations, the Mountaineers needed some of their depth to pull things through.
In stepped Teddy Allen and James Bolden. Allen had 16 points for the game and was part of a run at the end of the first half that put the Mountaineers up by double digits. And from there West Virginia never trailed.
— Matthew Postins (@PostinsPostcard) February 13, 2018
Allen’s surge is timely. He started Big 12 play on a hot streak, but when Esa Ahmad returned to the lineup he lost some playing time plus he ended up in Bob Huggins’ doghouse. The 16 points was his highest output in Big 12 play since scoring 22 against Kansas State on New Year’s Day. It also represents Allen’s second game in double-digits off the bench in his last four games. When given the playing time, Allen can produce.
Same goes for Bolden, who did a brief stint in the starting lineup in place of Miles when the senior guard slumped in late January. Bolden is a terrific on-ball defender, but his scoring production can sometimes be lacking. So, Bolden returned to his bench role on Monday and it agreed with him, as he scored 14 points in just 17 minutes and produced two steals. Bolden scored most of his points in the first half and he was 2-of-5 from the 3-point line. I think Huggins would like Miles to be his starter and have Bolden come off the bench. If both produce like they did on Monday, that rotation can work.
For West Virginia this win also came down to shooting, and when it comes against one of the league’s best shooting and scoring teams, that’s useful. The Mountaineers shot 50.8/56.3/91.7 percent, and those clips at the 3-point line and the free throw line were key. The Horned Frogs are a great 3-point shooting team, but they were sub-par on Monday (35.3 percent on 6-of-17 shooting) and the Mountaineers’ consistent shooting kept the Horned Frogs from mounting a serious comeback. Every time TCU got close, West Virginia had an answer.
This was an atypical scoring game for TCU, one of the top scoring teams in the country. Shooting 42.9 percent from the floor is not their usual percentage. They were without backup guard Shawn Olden, and that meant Alex Robinson had to play more minutes. He only scored 6 points, but he dished out 4 assists. Kenrich Williams had another solid, well-round game (9 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds). But the Mountaineers held Williams without a point in the game’s final 17 minutes and any production from Williams would have helped a potential comeback. So, while TCU had three players in double figures (led by Desmond Bane’s 16 points) and Sagaba Konate didn’t exactly own the paint against a TCU frontline he should have dominated (8 points, 4 blocks but just 5 rebounds), TCU just couldn’t mount enough effort defensively to slow the Mountaineers down. Not that I necessarily expected lock-down defense from TCU. That’s not their forte right now.
So, West Virginia got a huge win from the standpoint that they stopped the bleeding a bit from that home loss to Oklahoma State. TCU absorbed a tough loss because at 5-8 in league action with five games to play, one has to assume the Horned Frogs might start appearing on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Baylor 74, Texas 73 (2 OT): It’s time to acknowledge that Baylor may be coming for someone’s NCAA Tournament berth.
I gave up on them a few weeks ago. The Bears looked like they were sinking into the depths of the Big 12 Conference and, I assumed, an NIT berth. Well, that’s the last time I underestimate Baylor and its head coach, Scott Drew.
— David Smoak (@DavidSmoak) February 13, 2018
His body of work in Waco speaks for itself. His Bears stopped a four-game losing streak with a blowout of Iowa State, followed by a road win over Oklahoma State (their first road win of the season) and then that 16-point throttling of Kansas in Waco last Saturday (their first win over a ranked team this season). So, headed to Austin Monday night, it could have been letdown time for the Bears, who faced back-to-back games against ranked opponents after the Longhorns.
Well Terry Maston Jr. wouldn’t allow that to happen. His rise on the Bears’ bench has fueled the Bears’ rise up the Big 12 standings. Maston missed seven games in the middle of the season with an injury and when he returned he needed time to work his way back into the Bears’ lineup. His playing time was inconsistent. Therefore, his scoring was inconsistent. For instance, he had a 20-point game against TCU on Jan. 2, but he followed that with five straight games without hitting double figures.
Maston isn’t putting up double figures every night. But he has dropped double figures in four of his last seven games, and his 26 points against Texas on Monday was a career high. Plus, he scored 22 of those points in the second half and in the two overtimes.
Yes, the game went to overtime, which for Texas is old hat. The Longhorns have played six overtime games this year (tied for most in the NCAA). But Texas hasn’t been great in those games, as they’re now 2-4 after Monday’s loss. And it cut hard in the final seconds of the second overtime.
— Matthew Postins (@PostinsPostcard) February 13, 2018
In spite of Maston’s excellence this was, for the most part, a pretty sloppy game. The Bears and Longhorns started the first eight minutes 5-fo-25 from the floor. The score was tied at 56 at the end of regulation. Both teams missed chances to win it before the second overtime.
Why did Baylor win, besides Maston? Guard Manu Lecomte had another fine game (16 points, 7 assists), Jo Lual-Acuil had a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds), and he defended Texas center Mo Bamba well enough, even though the freshman had his own double-double (16 points, 16 rebounds). The Bears used their exceptional zone defense to make Texas passive offensively. The Longhorns settled for long jumpers too often, and since we know the Longhorns don’t shoot well outside to begin with, it’s not surprising that their shooting led in part to their loss (36.1 percent from the floor and 15.8 percent from the 3-point line). In fact, it was Texas’ free throw shooting (18-of-22) that allowed it to extend the game both in regulation and in the first overtime.
The shame for Texas is that the Longhorns had four players in double figures — Dylan Osetkowski, Matt Coleman and Kerwin Roach II each had 15 points. But Coleman was the only one of the four that made a 3-pointer. Plus, all of the starters shot under 50 percent. Texas also had a really good night defensively, forcing Baylor into 13 turnovers. But, despite Bamba’s presence inside, the Bears outrebounded the Longhorns by 12, giving the Bears plenty of second-chance opportunities, including the game-winner in the second overtime.
The Bears have a hard road ahead, with three ranked teams in their final five games. But they’re a game below .500 in Big 12 action and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them start popping up in Bracketology next week as a last four in or first four out team. As for Texas, at least one Bracketology bracket had the Longhorns in the First Four games, along with Kansas State. So, I think it’s safe to say that the Longhorns may have some problems if this keeps up.
ESPN underscored that during the broadcast. With the Bears’ win ESPN’s noted that Baylor’s chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament went up to 71 percent. Plus, with the loss, Texas’ chances of making the NCAA Tournament fell to 51 percent.
Texas Tech 88, Oklahoma 78: I’ve been giving the Red Raider faithful a little grief for their lack of capacity crowds for mid-week games against Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Hey, you can’t get a marquee game every night, even in the Big 12. But at least the fans showed up Tuesday night.
— Texas Tech Basketball (@TexasTechMBB) February 13, 2018
And what they saw was Texas Tech asserting itself as the leader in the Big 12 and guard Keenan Evans, perhaps, asserting himself as the leading candidate for the league’s Most Valuable Player award.
Evans finished with 26 points in this one, including four 3-pointers, plus 2 assists and 2 steals. ESPN ran the ticker box for Oklahoma guard Trae Young for a good portion of this game, but they might have been better off giving Evans the ticker treatment. He scored 17 of his points in the second half, draining long-distance shots and driving the basket with equal authority. At one point, late in the game, Evans drew Oklahoma’s Kameron McGusty on offense and simply gave him a jab step, a ball fake and left him in the dust as he drove to the basket for a dunk to help the Red Raiders seal the game.
If you’ve watched Evans this entire conference season like I have, that sort of game from him is no surprise. But for national viewers that may be starting to catch up with Texas Tech, it might have been revelatory. The fact that he outplayed Young on national television was probably stunning to the casual fan.
This was a typical Red Raiders game. They played solid defense and forced 14 OU turnovers. The scoring was balanced as eight different players scored. Four hit double figures, including 14 from Norense Odiase, 13 from Zhaire Smith and 12 from Niem Stevenson off the bench. So, Jarrett Culver, Tech’s other talented freshman, had just 7 points. But this underscores Tech’s depth. There are at least seven players that can step up besides Evans when it comes to the offense. I’m not sure there’s a deeper, more complete team in this Big 12 right now than Texas Tech. A month ago, the Red Raiders didn’t quite have a balanced offense. They do now.
Odiase signaled his satisfaction with Tuesday’s result on Twitter.
Great Win. Better Atmosphere.
Thank you Red Raider Nation! #WreckEm
— Norense Odiase (@kingno_) February 14, 2018
Tech did a job on Young the last time they met, holding him to 30 percent shooting and 20 percent shooting on contested shots. OU still managed to win that matchup in Norman, though. But that was more than a month ago. On Tuesday the Red Raiders, again, did a number on Young, holding him to 25 percent shooting (4-of-16), including an 0-for-9 night from the 3-point line. So Young went without a 3-pointer for the first game this season and, when you count OU’s loss to Iowa State last weekend Young is 1-for-17 from behind the arc in his last two games. It’s safe to say that Young is in a funk from long distance.
Young was a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line and driving to the basket and drawing fouls was his best weapon Tuesday night. But he ended up with 19 points, 6 assists and 6 turnovers, including a key dribble off his leg and out of bounds in the final two minutes. Plus, in the waning minutes he couldn’t find any daylight to take a 3-pointer.
Young actually cost the Sooners on Tuesday because he had the support — Christian James landed 23 points, Kameron McGusty scored 13 points and Jamuni McNease had 11 points, though he scored all of that in the first half. He also grabbed 9 rebounds. If the Sooners can pair those kinds of contributions from the rest of the team with a better performance from Young, then OU may snap out of this funk that has cost them losses in five of their last six games. The Sooners are now below .500 in Big 12 action and that should start costing them seeding in Bracketology as soon as next week.
Oh, and Young made news before the game, or actually LeBron James made news talking about Young before the game.
The King (LeBron) has spoken and he says Trae Young “better go pro” https://t.co/W4jJS2iNU9
— Heartland College Sports (@Heartland_CS) February 14, 2018
Kansas 83, Iowa State 77: You have to enjoy a game where 10 different players score in double figures. There was such offensive balance on both sides of the floor Tuesday night. But Kansas center Udoka Azubuike stole the show.
One of the nation’s leaders in field goal percentage, Azubuike can be a bit polarizing. I think he could be more assertive and consistent as a rebounder and he’s a bit of a defensive liability inside at this early stage of his career (let’s not forget he’s a sophomore). But he shoots 76.5 percent from the field and when he has a night like Tuesday night, you forgive the quibbles about his game.
Azubuike shot 9-of-10 from the floor, made his only free throw attempt and scored 19 points in 22 minutes. He proved unstoppable and that was key for the Jayhawks as they bounced back from their road loss to Baylor.
All five of Kansas’ starters hit double figures and that caught my eye. Svi Mykhailiuk rebounded after two sub-par games with 10 points. Devonte’ Graham gutted out a 13-point game despite 3-of-16 shooting. But the real star was Lagerald Vick, the player Kansas head coach Bill Self benched a week ago for Mitch Lightfoot. Message received. Vick scored 16 points, went 6-of-10 from the floor and was 4-of-7 from the 3-point line. I made the point last week that if the Jayhawks are going to make a deep NCAA run, Vick has to be firing the way he was earlier this season. This could be a really good sign for the Jayhawks. In fact, Kansas’ 3-point shooting, along with Azubuike, won this game for Kansas. The Jayhawks were 9-fo-26 from the arc, while Iowa State was 3-of-16.
But it wasn’t like Iowa State was out of this game. Five Cyclones hit double figures, including a double-double from Cameron Lard (19 points, 11 rebounds). I love how his game is growing. In January he looked uncontrolled at times on both ends of the floor. Now, there is aggressive polish in his game. He’s harnessed that incredible vertical leap when it comes to running the floor, and he’s proving more adept at creating offense with his back to the basket. He’s growing into something fierce that will give Big 12 defense consistent trouble next year.
The return of guard Nick Weiler-Babb was a great development for ISU. He didn’t start, but he played 22 minutes off the bench, scored 14 points and dished out 5 assists. He looked like his old self, frankly. As the Cyclones try to keep their waning NCAA hopes alive (I think those hopes are done, honestly) and stay afloat for the NIT (very possible as long as they’re at or above .500 at season’s end), his return is key, but so was the development of Zoran Talley Jr. in Weiler-Babb’s absence. Talley filled in capably and had one of his best games this season, scoring 15 points. His development allows head coach Steve Prohm the luxury of working Weiler-Babb into the lineup without having to push his junior too hard.
By the way, senior guard Donovan Jackson was in single figures for the second time in three games. Anyone else worried?
Kansas State 82, Oklahoma State 72: Well, did Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy sucker you into spending Valentine’s Day with the Cowboys and the Wildcats?
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Our tickets are cheaper
Than dinner for two!
— Oklahoma State (@OSUAthletics) February 13, 2018
Too bad you didn’t get much of a game.
Kansas State had a double-digit lead 16 minutes into the game and never let up, shooting a 54.9/44.4/85.7 percent clip for the game. Oklahoma State just couldn’t match it.
The Wildcats have guard Barry Brown Jr. to thank for this win and his 25-point outburst could not have come at a better time. Brown was nearly unstoppable in his first eight games in Big 12 action, capped by a 34-point game against Baylor. But after that game Brown’s shooting has been tepid, as he failed to reach double figures in four out of five games before going off against the Cowboys. He was 50 percent from the floor and took advantage of several trips to the foul line, going 12-of-14.
Another piece of good news for Kansas State is that guard Kamau Stokes had his best game since returning from injury, scoring 11 points and dishing out 3 assists. He’s still coming off the bench, but he and Cartier Diarra spent the same amount of time on the floor Wednesday night (25 minutes) and it may be time to insert Stokes back into the starting lineup and see what happens.
Oklahoma State is going to look at that 11-rebound advantage on Kansas State and wonder what happened. Well, 41.5 percent field goal shooting happened, including a 30 percent clip from the 3-point line. Kendall Smith had 16 points, Jeremy Carroll had 13 points and 9 rebounds and Cam McGriff fouled out with 13 points and 7 rebounds. Plus, the Cowboys only had 7 assists as a team, probably due in part to the fact one of their best facilitators, Brandon Averette, played just 17 minutes.
Oklahoma State is now getting some consideration in NCAA Bracketology, but they to win some of these games coming down the stretch. The Cowboys still have games with Texas Tech and Kansas, but there are winnable games against TCU, Texas and Iowa State left as well. I think they’re a solid NIT team unless the Cowboys completely bottom out late.
TCU is now 0-6 at West Virginia. … TCU G Shawn Olden missed Monday’s game with a concussion, but should be cleared on Tuesday, per ESPN. … West Virginia has dropped every week in the AP poll since being ranked No. 2 in the country on Jan. 8. … TCU’s Vladimir Brodziansky has now scored at least 10 points in 18 straight games. … TCU guard Alex Robinson wears No. 25, the same number his mother, Darla, wore when she played for the TCU women’s team in the 1980s. … Baylor has now won six straight games vs. Texas. … Baylor guard Manu Lecomte passed 225 made 3-pointers for his career on Monday night. … 23 NBA scouts attended Monday’s Baylor-Texas game. … Texas C Mo Bamba recorded his 100th blocked shot of the season on Monday, adding to his Texas single-season high in the category. He also recorded his 13th double-double of the season. … Baylor is 12-0 this season when leading at the half. … Texas played its sixth overtime game of the season on Monday, tying it for most in the NCAA this season. … Oklahoma has now lost seven straight games on the road. … Iowa State forward Cameron Lard has eight double-doubles this season.
Looking ahead to Saturday: The Red River Rivalry on hardwood kicks off the day, followed by an important game for Iowa State to keep its postseason hopes alive. Sandwiched in the middle of the day is West Virginia’s trip to Kansas, which should be an epic battle. In the evening Texas Tech has to go to surging Baylor while Oklahoma State and TCU battle for a win in Fort Worth.