Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball is the RTC correspondent for the Missouri Valley and Big 12 Conferences.
Big 12 Conference Week in Review (Nov. 14-23)
Current Records and my standings:
Kansas St. (4-0)
Oklahoma St. (4-0)
Texas Tech (4-0)
Iowa St. (3-0)
Texas A&M (3-0)
TEAM OF THE WEEK
Oklahoma—Oklahoma has gotten off to a fast 4-0 start behind Blake Griffin and his supporting cast. They survived the Gardner-Webb bug that Kentucky suffered from last year. Griffin scored 35 points and pulled down 21 rebounds to lead Oklahoma to a win. Now they head to New York after holding off Stephen Curry and Davidson in their NIT regional. They get a somewhat favorable matchup against UAB instead of an expected Arizona team.
TEAMS DOING WELL
Nebraska—I actually like Nebraska just for the fact that they are one of the only Big 12 teams that already has a road game under their belt as they made the trip to TCU this week. Though they only had 21 free throws (most came towards the end) against TCU’s 38 free throws, Nebraska survived their first road test and will build some toughness as they continue a somewhat soft non-conference schedule. However, Nebraska won against Arkansas-Pine Bluff but according to Doc Sadler, the Huskers were “outworked.” Maybe next time after the morning shootaround you should keep the players there and let them prepare for the game instead of sending them home.
Missouri—Missouri started the season with a couple warmup games against Prairie View A&M and Chattanooga and then headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a tournament – losing to Xavier, winning against Fairfield and getting a nice win against USC. The bench for Missouri is starting to feel a little comfortable. The Tigers’ high pressure defense caused 20 or more turnovers by their opponents the first three games of the season. Missouri gets a week off before hosting Summit Conference favorite Oral Roberts next Sunday.
Kansas St.-The Wildcats enjoyed a little cupcake city playing against a bad Florida A&M team, a troubled Southeast Missouri St. team and D2 Emporia State, but then took to the road to play against Horizon league favorite Cleveland St. and left with a win—their first true non-conference road win in nearly two years. Kansas St. is enjoying balanced scoring as they have six players averaging double figures in scoring.
Baylor—Baylor’s documented scoring machine has not disappointed as they are averaging almost 95 points a game. In addition to what they already had, Baylor got a new scoring threat in Quincy Acy. The freshman has yet to miss a shot, scoring 18 straight baskets over his 3-game career, breaking a Big 12 record. With an assist for every two baskets, that means the Bears are doing a good job of playing some team ball. They get a warm up with Jacksonville on Monday night before heading to Anaheim for the 76 Classic.
Texas—Texas, for being favored in the Big 12, has been relatively quiet to start the season. They won against Stetson and Tulane to open things up before heading to Maui for the ever popular Maui Invitational. AJ Abrams moving to point guard hasn’t affected his scoring too much as he leads Texas in scoring with 18 pts per game while expected point guard Dogus Balbay finally made his debut. Texas has also had the opportunity to build depth as they have 9 players playing more than 13 minutes a game so far.
Kansas—Kansas welcomed a whole new bunch of players to Allen Field House this week as they played their CBE Classic pod against in-state UMKC and Florida Gulf Coast. As expected, Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich are leading the way for the Jayhawks in scoring.
Oklahoma St.—The cowboys hosted Texas-San Antonio and North Texas as well as Tulsa and Grambling St. with relatively easy wins. The 3-point shot has almost been non-existent as they have been playing a lot of pick and roll basketball. Five players are averaging double figures in scoring per game. Okie St. will have a challenging week ahead as a part of the Old Spice Classic in Orlando.
Texas Tech—The basketball team must have taken some notes from the football team as far as high paced scoring goes as the Red Raiders scored 167 points and opened the record book against East Central Oklahoma. But what is even worse is that they did not have any defense either as they gave up 115 points themselves. You have to kind of feel for Tyree Graham as he played 18 minutes and couldn’t score while everyone else did and mostly in double figures. With that scoring explosion, through 4 games the Red Raiders are averaging 108 points a game. Wow.
TEAMS THAT ARE STRUGGLING
Iowa St.—The Cyclones hosted their own multi-team tournament including UC Davis, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Loyola Marymount. They didn’t look that great, but with so many new players that is probably expected. However that opening three games was last weekend. After 9 days off, the Cyclones headed to Hawaii for what appears to be a vacation and one game, it will be interesting to see how that works for them before turning around and hosting the SWAC’s Mississippi Valley St.
Texas A&M—Texas A&M struggled with Southland favorite Stephen F. Austin sandwiched in between SWAC opponents Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Jackson St. The game with SFA was tight the whole game and everyone in College Station was holding their breath hoping their basketball team isn’t going to be as bad as their football team was this year. A&M may be undefeated, but at this point looks like smoke and mirrors so they are considered “struggling.”
Colorado—Colorado opened up against Arkansas-Pine Bluff with a great win and everyone in Boulder was tricked into thinking that they had a basketball team this season. Then they hosted Big Sky Conference dweller Montana St. and lost. Whoops. Well maybe that is a good thing for the Buffalos.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Oklahoma vs. Davidson, NIT Tip Off—Davidson and Stephen Curry gave Oklahoma all they wanted in one of the more exciting games of the season so far. The Griffin brothers combined for 41 points and 27 rebounds. Though Oklahoma led by as many as 21 in the game, Davidson crept back in and made it a game to the end. Great foul shooting led to a win for Oklahoma.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Blake Griffin, Oklahoma—As advertised, Blake was just a beast in Oklahoma’s 4 games they have already played. He is averaging 25 points and 20 rebounds a game. That is just ridiculous.
WEEK AHEAD AND GAMES TO WATCH
The Big 12 has played as advertised so far winning the games they are expected to win. This week will be the “Week of Tournaments” where several Big 12 teams will stop playing the cupcakes and play some real competition in the annually known neutral holiday tournaments:
- 11/24-11/25, Kansas @ CBE Classic (ESPN2 and ESPNU)—Kansas gets a bit of a home court advantage as they play Washington and either Syracuse or Florida at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
- 11/24-11/26, Texas @ Maui Invitational (ESPN Family of Networks)—Texas starts off with St. Joseph’s, then either Notre Dame or Indiana and then possibly North Carolina.
- 11/26-11/28, Oklahoma @ NIT Tip Off (ESPN2)—Oklahoma gets a bit of surprise when they open up in New York against UAB and then will play either Boston College or Purdue.
- 11/27-11/30, Baylor @ 76 Classic (ESPN2 and ESPNU)—Baylor opens with Providence and new coach Keno Davis, then most likely Arizona St. and then probably St. Mary’s or Wake Forest.
- 11/27-11/30, Oklahoma St. @ Old Spice Classic (ESPN2 and ESPNU)—A stacked tournament where the Cowboys open with Gonzaga and then either Maryland or Michigan St. If they win both of those, then they could likely be playing either Tennessee or Georgetown.
- 11/28-11/29, Texas A&M @ South Padre Invitational (Fox College Sports Atlantic)—A&M plays Tulsa and then most likely Illinois.
- 11/28-11/29, Kansas St. @ Las Vegas Invitational (ESPNU and ESPN2)—Kansas St. plays a struggling Kentucky team and then either Iowa or West Virginia in the city that never sleeps.
- 11/28-11/29, Texas Tech @ Legends Classic (HDNET)—Texas Tech takes their new found high scoring offense into New Jersey hoping to beat Pittsburgh and then either Mississippi St. or Washington St.
- 11/29, Colorado @ Stanford (Fox Sports Net)—Two teams seeing if they can be considered a player this season.
- 11/29, Nebraska vs. Creighton (Fox Sports Midwest)—This in-state rivalry will heat up once again and I will actually be there to see it in person.