LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 15: Scott Christopherson #11 of the Iowa State Cyclones drives in the first half against Ryan Boatright #11 of the Connecticut Huskies during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 15, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Last night's Baylor win was just the meat in a successful Big XII basketball sandwich yesterday that saw Kansas State knock off Southern Mississippi in an 8-9 matchup and Iowa State do the same against perennial Big East power Connecticut later in the evening.
Of the three, Iowa State's win was the most convincing. ISU did the same thing to Connecticut last night that South Dakota State did to us; ISU came out blazing and hitting shots and built up a 20-point lead in the first half, but unlike the Jackrabbits, the Cyclones were able to keep their momentum going throughout the game. Sure, UConn went on a run of their own to narrow the gap, but Iowa State fended them off and ended up winning the game by 13. Most of the coverage I saw dogged UConn for their effort in the first half and seemed to minimize how well ISU actually played. I disagree with that approach; UConn's struggles certainly contributed, but Iowa State played really well at the same time. They should be extremely proud of that performance.
In Kansas State's game, guard Rodney McGruder paced the Wildcats for 30 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 steals. Forward Jordan Henriquez also played an extremely efficient game with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 6 blocks. 6 blocks!
Head below the jump for graphs about these three games and the next opponents for each team on Saturday. We'll also take a look at the Big XII slate of games for today, two of which involve the top-seeded teams in the conference, the Kansas Jayhawks and Missouri Tigers.
S. DAKOTA ST.
(27-8) Rank: NR/NR
NCAA Championship • Second Round
(28-7) Rank: #9/10
Baylor's win over South Dakota State last night sets up a matchup with #11-seed Colorado Buffaloes in the Round of 32 after Colorado's up-and-down win over UNLV last night. We'll talk more about Colorado in the coming days after I have a chance to find out more about them. Last night's game was the first time I've watched them all season, and I was both extremely impressed and not in the same game. They built up a huge lead over UNLV with precision shooting in the second half before blowing almost the entire thing and barely squeaking out a victory. It was oddly reminiscent of our game in Waco against Missouri.
For winning last night over UConn, Iowa State will be rewarded with a matchup tomorrow evening at 6:45 against the #1-overall seed Kentucky Wildcats, who predictably demolished the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers yesterday. Iowa State's run will likely end in that game.
Today's Big XII Action: