Baylor Bears

Top Five Takeaways From Saturday’s Big 12 Basketball Games

NCAA Basketball: Houston at Baylor

Here are five takeaways from Big 12 Conference men’s and women’s basketball on Saturday, as most of the conference was in action.

So what happened? Houston pulled off an escape, Kansas hosted a blowout, the men’s race got even tighter, it was Bedlam all day and Morgantown was home to the women’s game of the day.

Here are five thoughts on the day.

 

Cougars Escape On The Road

So how was your day? Pretty normal? Yeah it was a pretty normal day in the Big 12, you know?

Baylor fell behind by 17 points to Houston. Came back to tie. The game went to overtime. Houston won, 82-76.

Or, as we like to call it, Saturday in the Big 12, where instant classics seem to happen about three times per day.

Let’s not minimize it, though. This was a big road win for Houston, as the Cougars continue to cement what looks like an iron-clad case for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

In the Big 12 you can’t hang onto a 17-point lead. That’s not an indictment on Houston. It’s just how the league works. Everyone makes a run, especially teams like Baylor.

This was an escape act for Houston. The Cougars led for nearly 42 minutes. Baylor led for 24 seconds. And the game still went to overtime.

Jamal Shead didn’t carry as much of the scoring load, but he had a double-double for Houston — 12 points and 10 assists. J’Wan Roberts stepped up inside with 17 points and eight rebounds. Emmanuel Sharp led with 18 points and L.J. Cryer — returning to Baylor for the first time since transferring — added 16. The pair were a combined 12-for-12 at the free throw line.

Ja’Kobe Walter had a big day for Baylor with 23 points before fouling out. The freshman looks like he’s about hit a stride going into March. Jalen Bridges had his own double-double — 17 points and 13 rebounds — before fouling out. RayJ Dennis had 21 points and Jayden Nunn had 11 more.

The Cougars won in overtime with a 9-for-10 clip at the free-throw line.

 

Kansas Returns

A week off did Kansas good. It didn’t get Kevin McCullar Jr. healthy enough to play. But the rest of the Jayhawks took care of business, beating Texas, 86-67.

Kansas was sharp and shot better than 60% from the floor. The Longhorns didn’t have a chance. All five Kansas starters finished in double figures — Hunter Dickinson with 20 points, K.J. Adams Jr. with 16 points, DaJuan Harris Jr. with 14 points, Johnny Furphy with 16 points and Nicolas Timberlake with 13 points.

Timberlake was the key here. This is a shooter that the Jayhawks have been dying for a breakout from this season. For his previous two seasons of college ball he shot better than 40% from the 3-point line. This season it’s been less than 30%. This is the second time in three games he’s scored in double figures.

The Jayhawks need that kind of scoring whether McCullar is in the lineup or not. It’s important that when McCulllar returns Timberlake can sustain that. If he can, that improves the Jayhawks’ overall depth, which is threadbare when they’re healthy.

As for McCullar, well, he was in street clothes on Saturday and didn’t warm up with the team.

 

The Race Is On

With two weeks left in the regular season it’s probably safe to say that Houston and Iowa State will end up with two of the four double byes at the Big 12 Tournament.

But the other two? Well there’s some jockeying going on there.

After Kansas beat Texas, the Jayhawks moved into third place by itself, thanks to that win and what happened around them.

Baylor lost to Houston. Texas Tech fell to UCF, 75-61, on the road. Combine that with TCU’s impressive home win over Cincinnati, 75-57, and the Bears, Red Raiders and Horned Frogs were tied for fourth place (8-6) with four games left.

Don’t rule out Oklahoma and BYU, either. The Sooners beat Oklahoma State and BYU lost to Kansas State, 84-74. But OU and BYU are 7-7 in league play, one game back of the Texas trio tied for fourth.

There is plenty to be decided with four games remaining.

Bedlam All Day

The Big 12 schedule-makers did it right on Saturday. The final Bedlam Big 12 games were played at the same time, with the men squaring off in Stillwater and the women in Norman.

First, the women’s game wasn’t much to write home about. Oklahoma did not look ahead toward its huge matchup with Texas next week as the Sooners beat the Cowgirls, 91-56. Skylar Vann had a double-double — 17 points and 11 rebounds — for OU.

The men’s game? Well, there was the drama.

The game went to overtime and then this happened.

Javian McCollum’s 3-pointer at the buzzer gave the Sooners an 84-82 win over the Cowboys. As noted above, this conference features instant classics on the regular.

Aside from sweeping Bedlam, this win got OU closer to 20 regular-season wins before Kansas City and the Big 12 Tournament, which is a solid precursor to getting into the NCAA Tournament.

Eric Dailey Jr. had a big game for the Cowboys with 20 points and nine rebounds. Rivaldo Soares, who has played some great basketball for the Sooners the past few weeks, also poured in 20 points.

There were so many great performances in this game it was a satisfying conclusion to the Bedlam rivalry as the Big 12 knows it.

Hopefully, both the men and the women continue to play this game once a year after OU departs for the SEC later this year.

 

Jana in the Clutch

Baylor went on the road to face West Virginia in the sole Top 25 matchup of the day on the women’s side. It came down to Jana Van Gytenbeek and two free throws with 4.3 seconds left and the Bears down one point.

That’s as clutch as it gets. And to think the Bears had a 10-point lead with 4:31 left in the fourth quarter, lost it, and still won.

Plus, the only reason Van Gytenbeek took the free throws was because she subbed in for Jada Walker, who was injured while trying to score the go-ahead basket and was fouled by West Virginia’s JJ Quinerly.

Quinerly mishandled an entry pass and that led to the final sequence. Quinerly had 33 points to lead all scorers.

Van Gytenbeek had 10 points off the bench. Baylor has won three straight and is starting to round back into form after some struggles midway through the Big 12 slate. With just Cincinnati and Oklahoma State left, the Bears could be on a five-game winning streak going into Kansas City.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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