Three Thoughts on Big 12 Men’s Basketball for March 1
The Big 12 had two games on Wednesday night, both of which had serious implications in the Big 12 race. Here are three thoughts on the night.
Horned Frogs Rock
They’ll call it the ‘Damion Baugh’ game when they look back on it, a 75-73 win for the TCU Horned Frogs (20-10, 9-8) over the Texas Longhorns (22-8, 11-6).
Baugh had a career-high 24 points and made a couple of key free throws down the stretch to help seal the win. He had nine assists, five rebounds and made all eight of his free throws. It was quite possibly his best game of the season.
It looked like a two-point game on paper, but TCU led the entire way and at times was up by double digits, despite Texas locking down Horned Frogs guard Mike Miles and holding him to one point. It didn’t matter. Along with Baugh, Emanuel Miller stepped up with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Micah Peavy and JaKobe Coles added eight points each. TCU shot 46 percent.
What kept Texas in the game was turnovers. The Longhorns forced 22 Horned Frogs turnovers and turned them into 27 points. Texas needed them all because it shot just 39 percent for the game. And it still wasn’t quite enough.
Sir’Jabari Rice came off the bench to score 16 points and lead Texas. Tyrese Hunter scored 15 points, while Dylan Disu and Marcus Carr had 10 points each. It was Disu’s second straight double-figure game. But it’s coming at the expense of another forward, Timmy Allen, who had just six points.
Texas can’t win the Big 12 regular-season title now. The loss means Kansas is the solo champion and will be the No. 1 seed in Kansas City at the Big 12 Tournament. Texas also isn’t guaranteed the No. 2 seed now.
TCU may have played its way closer to a Top 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament with the win.
Kansas State (23-7, 11-6) handled Oklahoma (14-16, 4-13) with relative ease on Wednesday, winning 85-69. Kansas State was up nine points at the break and just kept rolling on senior night.
Markquis Nowell had another double-double with 11 points and 10 assists. Keyontae Johnson had 16 points and three steals. But Desi Sills chipped in 15 points, nine rebounds and eight assists while Nae’Qwan Tomlin led the way with 19 points.
Kansas State looks whole again, honestly. The Wildcats have won four straight after that valley they went through in late January and early February when they lost five of seven.
Oklahoma got 20 points from Milos Uzan and 18 points from Otega Oweh, the talented freshman who is getting some starting experience down the stretch. Jacob Groves added 11 points. Since that win over Alabama in late January, the Sooners are 2-7.
Oklahoma’s NIT Hopes Are Done, Too
The Sooners are not going to make the NCAA Tournament. They’re now two games below .500 and I don’t see them going on a big run in Kansas City. At best, the Sooners could be a game or two under .500 when their season ends.
But would that be good enough to get the Sooners into the NIT? Here’s why I ask.
Dratings.com is about the only site I can find that puts some time into NIT bracketology. A few weeks ago, when I checked and the Sooners were still .500 or better, they were listed as a No. 6 seed. So, I was curious after OU’s loss on Wednesday — were the Sooners still there?
No, they were not. And those ratings were before Wednesday’s loss.
I’m skeptical the NIT committee would take a team with a losing record. But, here’s the thing. I found the NIT’s selection criteria at NCAA.com. There is no mention of win-loss record being a qualifier.
If there was ever a season to take a team with a losing overall record in a tournament like that, this is probably the year. But don’t count on it.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard