Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
Throughout the season, we'll check in on the conference and pass along news and notes to keep you updated on all the action in the Big XII.
It's been kind of lackluster start to the season. In the spotlight games to date, the Big XII simply hasn't performed. Kansas dropped a game to Michigan State, Baylor suffered a setback to Colorado and West Virginia was blown out by Gonzaga. Oklahoma State did net a solid win against Tennessee earlier in the day, but for the most part, it's been cupcake city around the conference.
Kansas State 3-0
Oklahoma State 3-0
Iowa State 2-0
Texas Tech 2-0
West Virginia 0-1
Iowa State - For the report on the Cyclone's start, click here.
Baylor - The #16 Bears got off to a solid start, notching impressive wins against Lehigh in their opener and against Boston College, but did drop a contest to Colorado earlier today in the Charleston Classic. The Buffs were a tournament team last year and have a solid nucleus back, but that was a surprising defeat for Baylor to take. Cory Jefferson, who was a reserve on last year's team has been a bright spot. The 6'9" junior is leading the Bears in rebounding and has scored in double figures every game. Freshman phenom Isaiah Austin looks like Perry Jones 2.0, which I guess is both good and bad. Sharpshooter Brady Heslip has been anything but. Including today's game, he's 5-22 from deep this year, good for only 22%.
Kansas State - It's been a pretty uneventful three games to open the Bruce Weber era. The Wildcats have blown out their cupcake schedule by an average of 39.3 points. It will be more of the same as the competition doesn't heat up until December when #19 Gonzaga and #10 Florida appear on the schedule. Really, the only thing of note has been the slow start Rodney McGruder has gotten out to. After posting 15.8 points a night last year, McGruder is only averaging 8.7 points currently and is shooting a woeful 1-10 from outside and only 37% overall. The talented senior should get things turned around, but it's something to keep an eye on.
Oklahoma State - Can somebody explain this team to me? They struggled to beat UC-Davis and had to squeak out a win against Akron in overtime, but then they notched a 17-point win against a solid Tennessee team at the Puerto Rico Tipoff earlier today. They'll play the winner of the Penn State-Providence tilt in the title game. Marcus Smart has shown glimpses of being as good as advertised and going into today's game, was leading the Cowboys in rebounding, assists and steals. He is only shooting 27% from the field but is making up for it at the line, draining 93% of his free throws. Sophomore Le'Bryan Nash has shown that an extra year in school might have been the right decision. He's pouring in 17 points a night and looks like a more confident scorer. Senior Jean-Paul Olukemi, who is recovering from ACL surgery, left the game against Akron and did not play against the Vols. That would be a major blow if the Pokes lose Olukemi for any extended time.
Texas - The major story here is that the NCAA has yet to clear sophomore point guard Myck Kabongo. In his absence, the Longhorns have gotten out to a 2-0 start heading into next week's EA Sports Maui Invitational. Sheldon McClellan has picked up the scoring load while freshman Javan Felix has handled the point guard duties. Through two games, McClellan is the only player averaging double figures. Cameron Ridley has been mostly ineffective two games into his collegiate career, but another freshman, Ioannis Papapetrou has been a surprise. He's currently the second leading scorer and leading rebounder for the 'Horns.
Texas Tech - From an Iowa State perspective, the Red Raiders did beat future opponent Nebraska-Omaha 91-63 on Wednesday night, so I guess that's noteworthy. Might as well celebrate the good times while you can if you're a Texas Tech fan. It's going to be a long, hard winter and while this team might be scrappy, they're not going to win very much, if at all in league play. We'll see how they fare in December against #12 Arizona, Alabama and Arizona State.
Oklahoma - The Sooners have only played one game, but it was a solid 85-51 beatdown of Louisiana-Monroe. Lon Kruger's squad gets back to action tonight against Texas-Arlington and has a pair of games against SEC foes Arkansas and Texas A&M in December. Also, don't sleep on that game against Ohio on 12/29.
Kansas - The Jayhawks rebounded from their loss to #21 Michigan State with an uninspired 14-point victory over Chattanooga on Thursday and will look to make it two in a row on Monday against Washington State in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City. Ben McLemore appears to be gaining confidence and tallied 25 points on Thursday. On pure talent alone, the Jayhawks are head and shoulders above the rest of the Big 12, but their lack of a true point guard and a complimentary inside threat hurt them against Michigan State. Elijah Johnson is a talented guard, but is playing out of position as a lead guard. Perry Ellis and Jamari Traylor are going to need to step up their play to take some pressure off Jeff Withey inside.
TCU - Losing to rival SMU was bad enough, but also losing Amric Fields, one of the Frog's best players to injury might be the bigger blow. It looks dire for Fields as he suffered a knee injury against SMU and could be gone for the season. TCU also lost freshman Aaron Durley for the season with a torn ACL. In their first season in the Big 12, these type of blows to the depth certainly won't help the Frog's chances. Sounds a little like the football team, does it not?
West Virginia - The Mountaineers have only played one game and it's one they'd likely prefer to forget. Traveling across country to #19 Gonzaga, in a game that started at midnight Eastern time proved to be a tough task as Bob Huggins' squad dropped their opener, 84-50. West Virginia doesn't play again until Thanksgiving day, so they'll have had plenty of time to work out the kinks. I predicted prior to the season that the 'Eers would struggle shooting from outside, and boy did they ever in game one. They posted a startling 3-26 from deep and that's just simply not going to get it done.