Here are three thoughts on the Big 12 Conference basketball on Monday, as there was just one game on the slate on Big Monday.
So what happened? Well, Houston faced Texas and we got another instant classic nearly 30 years in the making. But there was other news, too, including Baylor announcing a big jersey retirement next month.
Here are three thoughts on the day.
“There are No Upsets”
At halftime of Monday’s Houston-Texas game, the No. 4 Cougars were up by eight points and ESPN’s Kris Budden got Houston coach Kelvin Sampson at halftime.
She started one of her questions with “There have been a lot of upsets on the road …” and Sampson cut her off saying, “There are no upsets.”
Sampson’s point was that in this conference it doesn’t matter if you’re on the road or at home, you’re in for a game, whether you’re No. 4 or unranked. Budden, as always, handled it like a pro.
Monday was Houston’s and Texas’ first conference game since March 2, 1996, which was each team’s final regular-season game in the Southwest Conference. Texas moved on to the Big 12 and Houston moved on to a whole lot of other conferences before it landed back in the Big 12 this season.
Houston won that matchup, 86-76. This one was closer. But Houston won, 76-72, in overtime.
The Cougars bucked a trend. Entering the game AP Top 10 teams were 22-27 against unranked teams on the road, the worst percentage in history. Houston absorbed two of those losses to Iowa State and TCU (both of those teams are now ranked, in part due to beating Houston).
The intensity of the game ramped up in overtime. The Longhorns, sick of Houston guard Jamal Shead dumping points on them — he scored 25 — had Chendall Weaver face guard him the entire overtime. Houston (19-2, 6-2 in Big 12) barely got what it needed, with seven of its 11 overtime points coming at the free-throw line and two unlikely players — J’Wan Roberts and Joseph Tugler — scoring the only field goals.
Roberts did have 14 points. So did L.J. Cryer while guard Emanuel Sharp added 13. Four different Cougars had eight rebounds.
Texas (14-7, 3-5) was on fire in the second half and nearly took complete control, going up by six points at the under-8 time out. With Max Abmas (20 points), Dylan Disu (14 points) and Dillon Mitchell (16 points) leading the way, Texas had Houston in a corner.
After that, Shead hit back-to-back 3’s and Sharp hit another to put Houston back in front.
Texas shot a ridiculous 60 percent in the second half and couldn’t close the deal. Actually, Houston had the best chance to win in regulation and Shead threw up perhaps his worst shot choice of the night, an air ball 3-pointer.
Houston handed Texas its first loss to a Top 10 team at home since the Moody Center opened last year. They also dealt Texas’ NCAA Tournament credentials a bit of a blow.
During the game, ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla relayed something that Sampson said to his team before Monday’s game.
“Our reputation means we get everyone’s best shot.”
Houston absorbs its next shot against Kansas on Saturday. It will be their first road game against a ranked Big 12 team.
BG’s Number is Going Up
Baylor announced on Monday that Brittney Griner’s No. 42 would be retired on Feb. 18 when the Bears host Texas Tech.
Honestly? It’s about time.
If you’re putting together a Mount Rushmore of Big 12 women’s basketball, Griner has to be on it. Baylor went 135-15 with Griner, including a 40-0 record en route to the 2012 national championship.
Baylor put out a release and Griner’s accomplishments with Baylor took up most of it. Besides the national title, she finished her career with 3,283 points and 1,305 rebounds. She was a two-time consensus National Player of the Year, a four-time All-Big 12 First-Team selection and a three-time All-American.
I could go on. But if it’s been done in the Big 12, Griner has probably done it.
It’s long overdue. Congratulations to Griner and a hat tip to the Baylor community for getting this done.
K-State’s Mighty Man Moving Up
Former Kansas State star Markquis Nowell was always going to have to make it to the NBA the hard way. In spite of his incredible final season with the Wildcats he wasn’t drafted.
He signed with the Toronto Raptors, played in NBA Summer League, went through preseason and ended up with the Raptors’ G League team, the 905, on a two-way contract.
The 5-foot-7 guard played in one game for the Raptors in November and scored two points. But, with the 905 he’s producing, averaging 15.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 2.1 steals.
On Monday, the 905 announced that Nowell would be part of the player pool in the G League Next Up Game, which will be played during NBA All-Star Weekend festivities next month.
He isn’t the only Kansas State product in the pool, either. So is his former K-State teammate, Keyontae Johnson.
This is how it happens sometimes in the NBA. It takes time, it takes hard work and eventually you get your shot. If anyone embodies that, it’s Nowell. I fully expect him to be on an NBA roster full-time one day. Johnson, too, for that matter.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.