Big 12 Sports Articles

Cade Cunningham Leads Big 12 with Strong Opening Day Performances

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State true freshman Cade Cunningham dazzled in his NCAA debut Wednesday night, as he recorded his first double-double in the Cowboys’ 75-68 win over UT-Arlington. 

Cunningham was one of the bright spots on an uneven first night of college basketball action around the country. The Big 12 ended up winning five of its six season debuts, with one season opener postponed due to COVID-19. 

Headlines: 

➡️ Keylan Boone also hits a double-double for the Cowboys, while Isaac Likekele gets in the neighborhood of a triple-double. 

➡️ West Virginia wins its debut and snags a matchup with Gonzaga in the Jimmy V Classic next week. 

➡️ Oklahoma has its season opener canceled hours before tip-off due to COVID. 

Oklahoma State 75, UT-Arlington 68 

Leaders — Oklahoma State: Cade Cunningham, 21 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists; Keylan Boone, 10 points, 12 rebounds; Isaac Likekele, 9 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists; Matthew Alexander-Moncrieffe, 11 points, 7 rebounds. UT-Arlington: Shahada Wells, 21 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals; David Azore, 14 points; Nicolas Elame, 12 points, 8 assists, 5 assists.  

Records — Oklahoma State (1-0), UT-Arlington (0-1) 

About the game — You can’t argue with this debut for the Cowboys. Two players with double-doubles, another sniffed a triple-double and a new bench threat pushed for serious playing time. We expected Cunningham to be great, and frankly that’s exactly what he was. But the first starting lineup of the Cunningham era was a mix of holdovers such as Likekele and the Boone brothers with newcomers like Cunningham and transfer Ferron Flavors Jr. Likekele picked up right where he left off from last season. Keylan Boone showed considerable improvement. And, for at least one game, the Cowboys showed they could balance the brilliance of the nation’s No. 1 recruit in Cunningham with the remaining and emerging parts of the rest of the roster. 

 

West Virginia 79, South Dakota State 71 

Leaders — West VirginiaMiles McBride, 21 points, 3 assists, 2 steals; Sean McNeil, 16 points, 5 rebounds 2 assists; Derek Culver, 7 point, 14 rebounds; Taz Sherman, 14 points, 2 assists. South Dakota StateDouglas Wilson, 17 points, Noah Friedel, 16 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists; Baylor Scheierman, 13 points, 3 assists; Matt Dentlinger, 10 points, 7 rebounds.   

Records — West Virginia (1-0), South Dakota State (0-1) 

About the game — This is the Miles McBride that West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins has been talking about all offseason. He shot better than 50 percent from the floor and even pitched in two steals. But the big surprise here is Sean McNeil, who pitched in 16 points and built on the productive final month of Big 12 action from last season (7.9 ppg in his final six games). But that’s still a big jump for the junior. Taz Sherman gave the Mountaineers a boost from the bench, and Culver was a beast on the glass. All that, and Oscar Tshiebwe ONLY had to pitch in 7 points and 3 rebounds. Highly-touted freshman Isaiah Cottrell made his debut and scored two points. The shooting wasn’t great overall, but a 9-2 edge in steals and a plus-10 turnover ratio helped put the Mountaineers over the top. 

Update: Before the game we learned that the Mountaineer would take Tennessee’s place in the Jimmy V Classic next Wednesday in Indianapolis. The opponent? Gonzaga, which plays Kanas on Thursday and Baylor next week.  

Texas Tech 101, Northwestern State 58 

Leaders — Texas TechMac McClung, 20 points, 3 assists, 3 steals; Terrence Shannon Jr., 16 points, 5 rebounds; Micah Peavy, 14 points, 6 points, 3 assists, 3 steals; Kyler Edwards, 10 points, 6 assists; Marcos Santos-Silva, 10 points, 12 points, 1 block. Northwestern State: Jamaure Gregg, 11 points, 4 rebounds.    

Records — Texas Tech (1-0), Northwestern State (0-1) 

About the game — This was about as good an opener as you’re going to get. All five Red Raider starters hit double figures. Head coach Chris Beard’s first starting lineup of the season featured two transfers (Mac McClung, Marcos Santos-Silva), two holdovers from last season (Terrence Shannon Jr. and Kyler Edwards) and a highly-touted true freshman (Micah Peavy). Santos-Silva was quite impressive, registering a double-double. Peavy shot 70 percent from the floor. McClung led all scorers with 20 points. And Edwards led the team with six assists. The bench produced, too. The Red Raiders shot 54.3 percent from the floor, had a 13-2 edge in steals and a plus-9 turnover ratio. The schedule gets a bit tougher from here, but getting 12 players on the floor in the first game of the season is a helpful beginning. 

 

Texas 91, UT-Rio Grande Valley 55 

Leaders — Texas: Courtney Ramey, 20 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, Matt Coleman III, 17 points, 5 assists; Kai Jones, 14 points, 8 rebounds; Greg Brown, 11 points, 10 rebounds; Gerald Liddell, 10 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists. UTRGVQuinton Johnson II, 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals; Chris Freeman, 10 points, 5 rebounds; LaQuan Butler, 10 points.     

Records — Texas (1-0), UTRGV (0-1) 

About the game — The ‘other’ highly-touted recruit in the 2020 Big 12 class made his debut, as Greg Brown finished with his own double-double. Brown was a likely starter, but head coach Shaka Smart went with a tall starting lineup, adding Kai Jones and Jericho Sims, along with guards Courtney Ramey and Matt Coleman III. Jones towered over the Vaqueros, and while Sims only had 4 points he did add 10 rebounds. Texas had a huge advantage on the glass, 44-21, but the Longhorns as a whole committed 18 turnovers, and that’s something to correct. Texas didn’t need its full lineup, but Andrew Jones and Jase Febres did not play. Jones was held out of the opener due to a cough, which sounds odd until you remember that he’s a leukemia survivor. Febres is recovering from offseason knee surgery. So Texas wasn’t at full-strength, but the ‘big’ lineup served them well on this night.  

TCU 69, Houston Baptist 45 

Leaders — TCUMike Miles, 13 points, 5 assists; Chuck O’Bannon Jr., 11 points, 9 rebounds; Kevin Samuel, 6 points, 10 rebounds. Houston BaptistPedro Castro, 13 points, 10 rebounds; Hunter Janacek, 10 points, 6 rebounds.      

Records — TCU (1-0), Houston Baptist (0-1) 

About the game — Mike Miles, the true freshman from Lancaster, Texas, gave the Horned Frogs something to smile about with a 13-point, 5-assist, 3-steal performance. Francisco Farabello is supposed to be the ‘true’ point guard for this team, but the offense ran through Miles on the perimeter against the Huskies. Chuck O’Bannon Jr., in his first game in a year, paid off that transfer to TCU after he left USC with a solid performance. Samuel didn’t score much, but he grabbed 10 rebounds, and that’s what the Horned Frogs need. What’s interesting is the balance in minutes played. Nine TCU players played at least 13 minutes. Does that mean head coach Jamie Dixon likes his rotation or is still searching for what it looks like? It’s probably too early to tell. But the Horned Frogs were without their top returning guard, RJ Nembhard, who didn’t play due to a leg injury. That probably had something to do with it. 

Drake 80, Kansas State 70 

Leaders — Kansas State: Mike McGuirl, 22 points, 6 rebounds; DaJuan Gordon, 15 points, 5 rebounds; Nijel Pack, 9 points, 5 assists. Drake: Garrett Sturtz, 15 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 steals; Tremell Murphy, 12 points, 7 rebounds; Roman Penn, 9 pounds, 8 rebounds.  

Records — Drake (1-0), Kansas State (0-1) 

About the game — Kansas State knew it had its hands full going into this, as Drake is a solid mid-major program. Plus, we knew head coach Bruce Weber had his hands full with a roster that is nearly brand-new. Drake pulled away in the second half of this one, outscoring the Wildcats by 8 points. The great news for the Wildcats is that their one experienced senior, Mike McGuirl, had one of the best games of his career, scoring 22 points. That is the kind of production the Wildcats wanted from him last year and just didn’t get. Nijel Pack was the only true freshman to make it into the starting lineup, and his five assists were promising. Kasoi Ezeagu has a promising start, too, with 9 points and 5 rebounds. The Wildcats need him to stabilize the middle. But, Weber didn’t dig into his bench much, with Antonio Gordon the only bench player to log at least 20 minutes (Gordon had 4 points and 7 rebounds).  

Oklahoma vs. UT-San Antonio (postponed) 

Just a few hours before the Sooners were to face the Roadrunners, OU announced that it was canceling its game due to positive COVID tests inside the OU program. Hours later, the Sooners football team announced it was postponing its game with West Virginia, scheduled for this weekend, to Dec. 12.  

The Sooners also postponed its game with UCF on Nov. 28.  

Baylor vs. Arizona State (canceled) 

Baylor’s game with Arizona State at the Empire Classic was canceled earlier in the week after head coach Scott Drew tested positive for COVID-19 (even though no one else in the program had reportedly tested positive). The Bears game with either Villanova or Boston College at the Empire Classic on Nov. 26 has also been canceled, along with the Bears’ Big 12-Big East Battle Game scheduled for Nov. 29.  

The Bears are now slated to open the season against Illinois in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis. 

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