We had some incredible games this week, with Big 12 teams on both the men’s side and the women’s side claiming huge wins over Top 25 teams in what was one of the best weeks of the season so far.
Here are the good, bad, and ugly from Week 4 in Big 12 men’s and women’s basketball.
Allen Fieldhouse Rocks
Allen Fieldhouse is one of college basketball’s legendary venues. I’ve been to a game there as a fan when my alma mater, Stephen F. Austin, played there a couple of winters ago and I was impressed. And that was just a non-conference game.
On Friday, Kansas hosted UConn in their Big 12-Big EAST Battle game. It was a significant contest as it pitted the winners of the last two national titles against each other. I expected a great atmosphere as I settled into watch it on TV.
But even I could tell that things were on a different level.
So could Sue Bird, the legendary UConn women’s basketball star who was in attendance on Friday.
Self on a special AFH crowd: “That might be the best atmosphere we’ve ever had. Sue Bird was in our locker room and I asked her if she’d ever seen anything like it and she said, ‘No, that’s the best crowd I’ve ever seen.’ That was a different building and atmosphere tonight and…— Brian Hanni (@BHanni) December 2, 2023
The game even brought out Jason Sudeikis, who sat with Bird during the game and Ted Lasso’ed his way through the game supporting the Jayhawks.
Ultimately, Kansas won by four points, with K.J. Adams contributing 18 points. Adams is still grieving the loss of his mother, Yvonne, to cancer, which happened just before Kansas left for the Maui Invitational. He’s played through it.
Before the game, students usually hold up newspapers as if they’re reading them when the other team’s starting lineup is announced. On Friday, they held up newspapers printed by the Kansas student newspaper with Yvonne Adams’ photo on it.
Adams flew home on Saturday for his mother’s memorial service. The Kansas coaching staff went with him. Kansas coach Bill Self made it clear what Friday’s victory was about.
“This game belonged to one person.”— Kansas Men’s Basketball (@KUHoops) December 2, 2023
For Yvonne ❤️ pic.twitter.com/pociv2gYJO
The Rise of Lipsey
The Big 12-Big EAST Battle saw Iowa State pulverize DePaul on the road, 99-80. It also saw guard Tamin Lipsey do something that had only occurred six other times in program history.
Lipsey had 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as he joined Tyrese Haliburton, Monté Morris, Royce White, Jamaal Tinsley, Curtis Stinson and Marc Urquhart as Cyclones that have done it before.
The Cyclones needed Lipsey to take on a bigger scoring load this year and so far it’s happening. Lipsey was much more of a facilitator last season — 7.3 points and 4.4 assists. The great thing about the fact that he’s scoring 15.1 points is that his assists have also gone up to 6.3. He’s even grabbing 6.5 rebounds.
What’s the root of this? Well, it could be that he’s improved as a 3-point shooter, something I felt he had to do in his sophomore season. He’s gone from 20 percent last season to 36 percent this season. A 40 percent shooter from distance is a high-level shooter. Lipsey has taken off like a rocket ship toward that standard.
That’s good news for him and for the Cyclones.
Mark Dec. 30 On Your Calendar
It’s really starting to look like Baylor and Texas will be undefeated when they meet in their Big 12 women’s college basketball opener on Dec. 30.
The Longhorns beat UConn for the first time on Sunday, winning 80-68, to remain undefeated. Looking ahead, Texas has Long Beach State, Arizona, UT-RGV and Jackson State. Arizona is not the Arizona we’re used to seeing.
Baylor now has wins over two Pac-12 teams after beating Oregon on Sunday (Utah is the other). Baylor has a harder road, with games coming up against Delaware State, Miami (FL), Providence and South Florida. Fortunately, all are either at home or on neutral sites.
I think Kansas State is absolutely a contender to win the Big 12 regular-season title. But the road, as usual, appears to run through Austin and Waco. And we’ll get a great barometer of where they are at on the penultimate day of 2023.
Shade from Jose
The Big 12-Big EAST Battle also continued in Morgantown as West Virginia hosted St. John’s in a great renewal of Big EAST basketball.
Personal aside — if the Big 12 ever decides to expand basketball-only into the eastern seaboard, look for them to make a hard push for St. John’s. That would get the league the New York market, something commissioner Brett Yormark absolutely wants. If you didn’t hear, Saturday’s Big 12 Championship football game was streamed in Times Square.
Anyway, St. John’s beat West Virginia and at least one interested party was keeping tabs — Jose Perez.
Perez transferred to WVU last season after his head coach at Manhattan was fired. He didn’t get his waiver to play last year, but he remained with the team after Bob Huggins’ resignation, hoping to play this year for Josh Eilert.
Well, that didn’t work out. Perez left the program and got an immediate waiver to play at Arizona State (yes, I know, this waiver stuff is a mess). It wasn’t the cleanest exit. When Eilert was asked about it he said that he “wasn’t going to compromise the integrity of the program, and the culture of the program.”
So … there’s that. And there was Perez, on Twitter, on Friday night, after St. John’s beat WVU.
THANK YOU @steve_masiello ❤️🔒— Jose Perez (@showout_zayy0) December 2, 2023
In case you’re wondering Steve Masiello is a St. John’s assistant coach.
Petty? Sure, and WVU fans — along with former WVU forward Emmitt Matthews Jr. — told him to move on. Perez said he has no issues with the fan base.
You can connect the rest of the dots.
A Referee Miss
Don’t get me wrong. TCU pulled out a great win over Georgetown on the road and hit helped even up the Big 12-Big EAST Battle at 3-3. And you have to like Emanuel Miller hitting the clutch shot at the buzzer to win.
But … I have questions about whether he was inbounds or not. Do you?
After review, Emanuel Miller's game-winner counts and TCU defeats Georgetown.— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) December 3, 2023
Was hit foot on the line? 👀 pic.twitter.com/ECq4uzLZtM
I think Miller’s foot was out. But you know what else I noticed after watching the replay several times? The referee following Miller on the play was not looking at Miller’s feet as he prepared to take the shot. He was totally focused on the ball and defender.
Gotta check those feet. And they all but admitted it. Per ESPN, though officials reviewed the play, because they missed Miller stepping out-of-bounds in real time, by rule they couldn’t overturn the shot.
By the way, Miller had 29 points in that game and is averaging 15.3 points per game. He’s making his decision to return to college for one more season look like a good one.
Oklahoma State’s Big Loss
The Oklahoma State Cowgirls are struggling just a bit to start the season, and this loss won’t help at all.
Oklahoma State WBB recently lost Chandler Prater (grad transfer from Kansas) for the season as a result of a ruptured Achilles; she was averaging 8.0 PPG and 6.0 RPG off the bench https://t.co/aFVqvIlP6o pic.twitter.com/fW8xbbi7Pt— Raoul (@Raoul_000) December 1, 2023
Losing Prater is significant, as the tweet noted. She was integral to Kansas’ run to the Women’s Postseason NIT title before transferring to the Cowgirls. Now, four players are averaging double figures. But Prater, a guard, is second in rebounds.
As a result, you’ll probably see Kennedy Fauntleroy and Rylee Langerman get a boost in playing time.
As for Prater, she started her career in 2020, she hasn’t used her COVID waiver and has a redshirt. Here’s hoping the NCAA will allow her to use it just five games into this season.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.