The second week of Big 12 men’s basketball saw some great games and a couple of upsets. Here is this week’s Good, Bad and Ugly from the second week of the season.
Don’t forget about our new feature for men’s basketball — Daily Fantasy Lineups. Every night a Big 12 team is part of the Draft Kings pool, I’ll provide my picks for the game, along with my complete lineup. The hope is that by Big 12 play I’m able to put together a full Big 12 lineup during conference games. Here are the links to our pieces last week on the Kansas-Duke game, the Texas-Gonzaga game, and Friday’s game that featured Baylor and Oklahoma State, which allowed us to fill out a full lineup with Big 12 players.
Texas Makes a Statement
I thought Texas had a chance to beat Gonzaga on Wednesday night. I did not think Texas had a chance to beat Gonzaga by 19 points on Wednesday night.
But here we are.
It was as clinical a takedown as you’re like to see of a Top 2 team. This was about Texas playing at the highest level the Longhorns have played at since Chris Beard took over as coach. Remember — Gonzaga shot nearly 50 percent from the field. In the six years I’ve covered Big 12 basketball here at Heartland, it might be the best game I’ve seen Texas play.
It was Texas’ defense that ultimately won the day. The Longhorns forced the Bulldogs into 20 turnovers.
I’m not ready to make Texas the new favorite in the Big 12 because, well, we’ve been there before. You know, the ‘Texas is back’ narrative? That doesn’t just apply to football. Texas basketball hasn’t been to a Sweet 16 since 2008. What I will say is that Texas will absolutely be a team to be reckoned with in the Big 12, assuming they stay healthy. The chemistry is already miles ahead of last year’s team. Going undefeated in non-conference isn’t out of the question now.
Scott Drew’s Newest Accolade
Baylor coach Scott Drew has been leading the Bears so long that he won his 400th game with the program on Monday when the Bears beat Northern Colorado, 95-62.
Then he and his players showed their usual class by writing letters to the basketball players at Virginia to let them know they were thinking of them and their classmates after the shooting that killed three football players. Baylor and Virginia played in Las Vegas on Friday. We’ll get to that.
More Bob Huggins
When the West Virginia Mountaineers took on Morehead State on Tuesday night, Bob Huggins joined the Top 5 coaches in terms of games coached.
The Mountaineers won the game, 75-57, to improve to 3-0 for the season.
Then, after beating Penn on Friday, Huggins claimed career win No. 920, tying Jim Calhoun for fourth-most among Division I coaches. If the Mountaineers beat Purdue on Thursday, Huggins will be in third by himself. If not Purdue, then his next win will move him ahead of Calhoun.
One More Look at This
I wrote about the Kansas-Duke game on Tuesday, and wrote about freshman Gradey Dick, who had an interesting night. He scored 14 points. He fired off seven points early on, struggled in the middle of the game and then scored seven quick points to give Kansas the lead for good in the final four minutes. It’s safe to say he’ll continue to be a starter when coach Bill Self returns from his suspension this week, and that he has the goods to be a one-and-done player.
Plus, he can do this.
Another thing that was also clear from that game is that Kansas will go as far as forward Jalen Wilson takes them. And he could take them quite far this year.
After Sunday’s game, there are six undefeated teams left in the Big 12 — Kansas, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, Texas Tech and Iowa State. I’m certainly surprised TCU isn’t among them (see a little further below). I’m mildly surprised that Kansas State is among them, only because they were one of the few teams to challenge themselves with a Power 5 team in Week 1, where they beat Cal.
This week Kansas State is in the Caymans, where they’ll play Rhode Island in the first round of the Cayman Islands Classic, followed by either Nevada or Tulsa. I think there’s a good chance the Wildcats can win this tournament. Unfortunately, none of you will see it because it’s on FloHoops.
Baylor Shows Some Vulnerability?
About that Baylor game on Friday against Virginia … that 10-minute stretch for Virginia to start the second half was ‘one of those stretches,’ if we’re being honest. But, as I wrote that Friday night, the Bears need to work on their pick-and-roll defense and their frontcourt presence needs some work. They definitely miss the energy of Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua on both ends of the floor. But games like the loss to Virginia give you the opportunity to work on those, and I have no doubt the Baylor coaching staff will take a step back and break that down.
I would consider giving BYU transfer Caleb Lohner a spin inside with Flo Thamba in the starting lineup. He’s a better rebounder than Jalen Bridges, and Lohner outrebounded Bridges by three (5-2) on Friday. That rebounding will come in handy in Big 12 play.
By the way, Baylor beat UCLA on Sunday. The Bears are to a point as an elite program where you don’t keep them down long.
TCU’s Loss to Northwestern State
The Horned Frogs fell to Northwestern State at home, 63-62, on Monday. It was TCU’s first loss of the season and it came without starting guards Mike Miles Jr. (who was out due to an injury) and Damion Baugh (who was out due to a six-game suspension). Miles was still in a walking boot when the Horned Frogs took the court again later in the week.
Despite all of that, I wrote that it was an ugly loss because TCU had the talent to overcome the loss of those two players. Northwestern State was the No. 352 team in the country according to Ken Pomeroy rankings at the time. For reference, there are 363 Division I teams.
It might end up being the worst Big 12 loss of the season. It comes at a time in which the Horned Frogs have never been more highly regarded. I don’t expect TCU to be an NCAA Tournament bubble team. But, if the Horned Frogs end up there for some reason, this loss might cost them. TCU did bounce back in its next game, beating ULM, 95-60, so hopefully message received as they head to the West Coast this week for a Thanksgiving tournament.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard