The Kansas Jayhawks remain No. 1 in the Heartland College Sports Big 12 men’s basketball power rankings After Week 1 of the 2021-22 season. Our Power Rankings will appear every Monday.
1. KANSAS (2-0) (Last Week: 1)
The Jayhawks might be here a while. Their 13-point win over Michigan State was impressive, especially in the second half as guard Ochai Agbaji took over and had a career-high in points. Agbaji lit it up again in the 88-62 win over Tarleton State, scoring 25 points. But Christian Braun had 15 points, Remy Martin had 14 points and Jalen Coleman-Lands had 10 points off the bench. The Kansas City Star’s Jesse Newell pointed out that Braun did something pretty rare in that win.
The Jayhawks look utterly primed to not just remain at the top of these rankings for a while, but to, perhaps, move to the No. 1 spot in the nation, assuming something happens with Gonzaga (which did not happen this week). Oh, and Kansas pulled a Top 4 recruiting class, too.
2. BAYLOR (1-0) (Last Week: 3)
The Bears waited until Friday to open the season, and they had some chores to do — you know, raise a national championship banner and hand out some championship rings. The Bears beat Incarnate Word, 87-60, and it was a mix of holdover players and newcomers. Holdovers Matthew Mayer (14) and L.J. Cryer (13) had solid games, while newcomers Kendall Brown (13), Jeremy Sochan (10) and James Akinjo (10) all played well. Still, there’s plenty of need to tinker with the chemistry and head Scott Drew will get the time to do so. The Bears move up a spot this, mostly because of what happened to our No. 3 team.
3. TEXAS (1-1) (Last Week: 2)
The Longhorns slammed Houston Baptist, 92-48. Six Longhorns in double figures probably isn’t going to happen every night, but it underscores the options head coach Chris Beard has at his disposal — Courtney Ramey (14), Andrew Jones (11), Jaylon Tyson (11), Marcus Carr (10), Christian Bishop (10) and Tre Mitchell (10). Texas, like Kansas, looks incredibly deep.
That depth was tested against Gonzaga on Saturday. And the Longhorns failed, especially in the first half of their 86-74 road loss to the Bulldogs. Texas looked utterly disjointed in the first half and had no defensive answer for forward Drew Timme. It exposed the fact that Chris Beard just can’t put the recipe together in a week. He needs time. The lack of quality of their performance against Gonzaga is what drops Texas a spot this week.
4. WEST VIRGINIA (2-0) (Last Week: 4)
It was a big week for head coach Bob Huggins. He received a commemorative jersey for his 900th career win, claimed last season. Then, he and the Mountaineers won both games, including forcing an incredible 32 turnovers in the ‘Backyard Brawl’ game with Pitt. In doing so, Huggins tied Bob Knight for fifth all-time in Division I wins. And, Huggins can tie Roy Williams with his next win. It wasn’t all about Huggs, of course. In the 60-53 season-opening win over Oakland, Taz Sherman and Sean McNeil combined for 29 points. Kedrian Johnson earned a start at point guard, and Isaiah Cottrell started at center. In the 78-49 win over Pitt, Jalen Bridges joined Sherman and McNeil in double figures with a team-high 18 points and transfer Malik Curry added 10 points.
5. TEXAS TECH (2-0) (Last Week: 6)
Our next change in the Power Rankings sees Texas Tech go up a spot after a perfect week without Terrence Shannon Jr., as the Red Raiders try to make sure that he’s eligible after he went through the NBA Draft scouting process this summer. Naturally, that opens up opportunity. In beating North Florida, 89-74, the transfers ruled — Bryson Williams scored 22 points, Kevin Obanor scored 17 points and Davion Warren scored 14 points. Then, in the 88-62 win over Grambling State, holdover Kevin McCullar had a career-high 24 points, while Warren pitched in 19 and Williams added 16. These are early returns, of course, but seeing the talent new head coach Mark Adams gathered this offseason blending well with McCullar and Marcus Santos-Silva early on bodes well for the team’s overall chemistry.
6. OKLAHOMA (2-0) (Last Week: 8)
This was a really good start for a program that saw its talent turn over by about 75 percent from last season. The 77-59 win over Northwestern State saw holdovers Jalen Hill and Umoja Gibson score 15 points and 13 points, respectively (Hill also had eight rebounds), while transfer Tanner Groves had 15 points nine rebounds. Jordan Goldwire had nine points and four assists. The UTSA win, 96-44, might have been more impressive. Groves scored 21 points, Gibson and Elijah Harkless had 10 points each, and Marvin Johnson had 10 points off the bench. Four different Sooners had at least two made 3-pointers in the game. More challenging games are ahead, so we’ll get a better feel for how they’re gelling by Thanksgiving. But, for now, the Sooners move up.
7. KANSAS STATE (1-0) (Last Week: 7)
There is only one game to go on here, but the Wildcats looked solid in their 67-57 win over Florida A&M. If you’re K-State, your biggest source of optimism is that guard Nijel Pack played well as he works his way back from injury (18 points, three assists). Transfer Mark Smith got a lot of run, scoring 10 points and grabbing six rebounds. Selton Miguel, who started as a freshman, came off the bench with 10 points and seven rebounds, displaying the improvement that many have talked about this offseason. The starting five was far more veteran than head coach Bruce Weber was able to put up last season. We’ll see how that shows as the non-conference slate continues.
8. OKLAHOMA STATE (2-1) (Last Week: 5)
The Cowboys take a hit this week, and it’s rare that you see a head coach take to Twitter to apologize to the fan base. But that’s what Mike Boynton Jr. did after the Cowboys lost to Oakland (which West Virginia beat earlier in the week) on Thursday.
Boynton probably didn’t need to do that, but it’s possible he felt he HAD to do that, not so much for the fan base but for his team, which knows it can’t go to the NCAA Tournament this season. In the 56-55 loss to Oakland, Isaac Likekele had 12 points, nine rebounds and five assists, while Bryce Thompson had 12 points and Rondel Walker scored 11. But, the fact that the Cowboys were 3-of-17 from behind the arc and hit just 6-of-12 foul shots probably didn’t sit well with Boynton. The 88-45 win over UT-Arlington in the opener was far more productive, with transfer Moussa Cisse leading the way with 17 points and 10 rebounds. The fact that OSU’s four leading scorers blended holdover talent with transfers bodes well for the team’s overall chemistry. Oklahoma State bounced back with a 72-59 win over Prairie View A&M, making them the only Big 12 team to play three games this week. But that Oakland loss hurts, at least for this week.
9. IOWA STATE (2-0) (Last Week: 10)
Yep, we’re bumping the Cyclones up a spot after a 2-0 week. Props to T.J. Otzelberger for leading Iowa State to its first win in nearly a year, winning his 100th career game and leading the Cyclones to their first winning streak since the 2019-20 season. In the 84-73 win over Kennesaw State, transfers Gabe Kalscheur (19 points) and Izaiah Brockington (18 points) had solid nights, and freshman Tyrese Hunter (11 points, six rebounds, five assists) had a solid debut. Caleb Grill and Tre Jackson combined for 21 points off the bench. But, the big win came Friday night, 60-50, over Oregon State. The Beavers went to the Elite Eight last season. Kalscheur had another fine game (15 points), while Brockington added 10. Brockington also had 12 rebounds and Hunter had nine points and seven assists. It’s clear that Kalscheur, Brockington and Hunter have coalesced together quickly. The win over the Beavers could be a big one from a program development standpoint this early in the season.
10. TCU (1-0) (Last Week: 9)
There’s just one game to go on here, but there are encouraging signs from TCU after defeating McNeese State, 77-61. Mike Miles, as expected, had a great night (22 points). Transfer Emanuel Miller had 12 points and 10 rebounds in his debut. Another transfer, Micah Peavy, had six points and 10 rebounds. Charles O’Bannon scored 10 points off the bench. Still, the Horned Frogs shot just 35 percent from the floor and had 18 turnovers. So there are some things for Jamie Dixon and his staff to clean up. The fact that Iowa State beat an Elite Eight team from a season ago meant we had to bump the Cyclones up a spot. So, for now, TCU falls to the bottom of these rankings.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
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