First, this is not necessarily a bright and cheery post. Obviously this was the worst regular season week for Baylor Men's Basketball in years. It was the first time the Bears have lost back-to-back home games since January of 2014 (it was the first time an AP #1 team has ever lost back-to-back home games). Saturday's game was so bad, I turned it off and watched a horror movie with my fiancé because that was a more uplifting way to spend the day. I cannot remember the last time I actually didn't finish watching a Baylor game (I watched the final 13ish minutes on Sunday). You will probably be able to tell which parts of this post were written before the OSU game and which ones were written after (I may or may not have somewhat mailed in the ones written after the loss). Second, I'm messing around with the format of these posts again as should be apparent once you read about each team in the power rankings. Third, only Baylor pics this week because last week stunk (and I am really busy at work [please forgive any typos herein). Finally, if you'd like to check out last week's post, you can find it here.
Big XII Team of the Week: Kansas. The Jayhawks went undefeated throughout the week including a win over ranked Iowa State as well as a blowout of WVU.
Big XII Player of the Week: Andrew Jones, Texas. In the Longhorns' 2 games, Jones averaged 20 PPG, 5 RPG, and 2 SPG on 52% from the field and 50% from deep.
Kansas, Baylor, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State
1) #7 Kansas Jayhawks (Prev: 2). Overall Record: 14-2. Weekly Record: 2-0. Conference Record: 3-1. B12 Position: 1. KenPom Rank: 7. NCAA NET Rank: 8. SOS (per KenPom): 29. Q1+Q2: 7-2. Q3+Q4: 7-0.
Game Notes: WIN. KU 62 v ISU 61. This one was wild and went down to the wire with 4 lead changes in the final minute. Dajuan Harris Jr. hit the go-ahead (and ultimately game-winning) shot but Ochai Agbaji was the star with 22 points and 7 rebounds on 53% from the field.
Game Notes: WIN. KU 85 v WVU 59. After leading by just 2 at the break, the Jayhawks dominated the 2nd half. KU utilized great ball movement, assisting on 64% of their made field goals. They also strongly outrebounded the Mountaineers.
Outlook: This next week, Kansas will travel to play Oklahoma and Kansas State. I've moved them into the top spot in the conference this week because frankly, they are playing better basketball than anyone else in the conference.
2) #5 Baylor Bears (Prev: 1). Overall Record: 15-2. Weekly Record: 0-2. Conference Record: 3-2. B12 Position: T-3. KenPom Rank: 2. NCAA NET Rank: 6. SOS (per KenPom): 73. Q1+Q2: 7-2. Q3+Q4: 8-0.
Game Notes: LOSS. BU 62 v TTU 65. Let me be clear, it is not time to hyperventilate or hit the panic button. We are fine. Baylor is still the one of the best teams in the conference and one of the best teams in the nation. About the game, the Bears have to get better at the FT line. Their 61% against Tech could have been the difference in the game as they missed 5 including a front-end. Baylor was beaten in the paint yet again, and also struggled from the 3P line in the 2nd half. We all love Scott Drew, but he was outcoached by Mark Adams in a way I don't recall seeing in the last few years. The Bears struggled with a lot of the things Tech threw at them, the 3-2 zone, the fluid switching of bigs onto guards, and Adam's no-middle scheme. Also, the last offensive possession was a train wreck. There was a lot of lazy passing by Baylor. Matthew Mayer is one of my favorite players on this team. I genuinely think he's the most impactful defender in the conference this year (see the leaderboard below). Still, his offensive production has taken an absolute nosedive lately. Mayer's first 8 games: 11.6 PPG on 43% from the field and 36% from deep. Mayer's last 7 games (not including the OSU game): 5.1 PPG on 32% from the field and 19% from deep. Until further notice, he needs to focus on continuing to be an elite player on defense and taking the offense as it comes instead of forcing the matter. My biggest concern about this team right now is that James Akinjo seems to be the only guy who can be trusted to put the ball on the floor and make a play. Adam Flagler and LJ Cryer aren't terrible at creating their own offense, but they're nowhere close to the playmaking ability of Akinjo. Last year, Baylor had 2 guys (Mitchell and Butler) who could create their own shot. Now we have just 1 which makes us much easier to handle down the stretch for opposing defenses (especially elite defenses like Texas Tech). Okay, now the good part. Flagler stayed hot (5/8 from deep).
Game Notes: LOSS. BU 54 v OSU 61. Yikes. I still agree with what I said in the immediately preceding game notes. We are not giving up on this squad despite what went down this past week. The stats show how ineffective Baylor's offense was in this game. The Bears had an eFG% of 37.9%. This is the lowest Baylor has had since January 4, 2020 (in a win against Texas) and the worst they've had in a losing effort since February 2018. Even more concerning than the inability to hit shots (which can be at least partially explained by Oklahoma State being a top 10 defense nationally), was the way in which Baylor was outworked by the Pokes. It looked like they simply wanted it more than the Bears. Once again, Baylor struggled with a team that mixed defenses between man and zone. James Akinjo and Adam Flagler previous 5 games: 39.8 PPG, 10.0 APG, and 3.4 SPG on over 52% from the field and over 45% from deep. Akinjo and Flagler in this game: 8 points, 2 assists, 0 steals on 11% from the field and 20% from deep. If that star backcourt duo can get back on track, Baylor should be fine. Akinjo was limited with tailbone soreness which threw off both his scoring and his facilitating. His importance to this offense and the team in general is massive. We need him back healthy, and it wouldn't hurt to have Jeremy Sochan back either. It was unrealistic to think that Baylor would go through Big XII play unscathed. This also probably isn't the last loss of the season for the Bears and that's okay. With the depth in the conference this year, I expect the Big XII champ to have at least 3 or 4 losses.
Outlook: Up next for Baylor will be a road trip to West Virginia which will be a tough game, especially if Akinjo is still less than 100% and Sochan remains out with his ankle injury. Then, Baylor will get their rematch with the Sooners in Norman. Fun Fact: My fiancé and I will be attending Saturday's game (our first of the year). Baylor needs a win this week more than maybe in other team in the country, just so that they can get back on track. They need to reestablish their confidence and their rhythm, and it starts on the defensive end, getting stops, forcing turnovers, and on offense, crashing the glass to create second chance opportunities. I have the utmost faith in this team going forward. A sweep this week would likely move them back to the top spot in next week's edition of these rankings.
3) #18 Texas Tech Red Raiders (Prev: 3). Overall Record: 13-4. Weekly Record: 2-1. Conference Record: 3-2. B12 Position: T-3. KenPom Rank: 16. NCAA NET Rank: 17. SOS (per KenPom): 169. Q1+Q2: 4-4. Q3+Q4: 9-0.
Game Notes: WIN. TTU 65 @ BU 62. I don't want to rehash too much about this painful game for Baylor fans but we have to give credit where it's due. The Red Raiders are legit and I don't see any reason to think that they aren't one of the 3 best teams in the conference. Without arguably their best player, TJ Shannon, they went on the road and ended the nation's longest winning streak against one of the best teams in America. This team has a Final Four caliber defense fueled by coach of the year candidate, Mark Adams's no-middle defense. This defense has the luxury of playing 5 guys who can switch 1-5. They are long, athletic, and physical. That's a great combination. I still don't think this squad is as balanced as the top 2 teams in the conference (Baylor and Kansas), but they've already beaten both of those teams.
Game Notes: WIN. TTU 78 v OSU 57. Two days after their upset of Baylor, Tech returned home to face Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders dominated the game, starting with a 10-0 sprint and never trailing. It was a balanced attack for TTU who had 5 players score in double figures. The defense was once again, front and center as Tech allowed the lowest eFG% in this game of their 4 conference games thus far. It was also a good sign for the Red Raiders that they were able to knock down some three-pointers (their 9 made 3PFGs were more than the wins against BU and KU combined ).
Game Notes: LOSS. TTU 51 @ KSU 62. Playing their 4th game in 8 days, Tech snapped their 3-game winning streak in Manhattan, Kansas. It was a competitive game in the first half where TTU went to the break with a 2-point lead. It was a 1-point Red Raider deficit with less than 5 minutes remaining in the game before KSU knocked down a couple of late three-pointers to hold on for the win. This loss looks bad because KSU hadn't won a Big XII game prior and has been at the bottom of these power rankings all season. Still, KSU has been competitive in most of their Big XII games so far and it isn't all that surprising that they finally got over the hump. Bryson Williams did his best to keep Tech in the game with 20 points on 60% from the field.
Outlook: This upcoming week will see Tech host a rematch against Iowa State before West Virginia makes the trip to Lubbock. This team should feel good about where it is, the loss to the Wildcats notwithstanding. We know that they can compete with the top of the conference behind their stout defense. We also know they can lose to the bottom of the conference if their offense isn't in good rhythm.
4) #15 Iowa State Cyclones (Prev: 5). Overall Record: 14-3. Weekly Record: 1-1. Conference Record: 2-3. B12 Position: T-7. KenPom Rank: 28. NCAA NET Rank: 20. SOS (per KenPom): 74. Q1+Q2: 6-3. Q3+Q4: 8-0.
Game Notes: LOSS. ISU 61 @ KU 62. Iowa State hung with Kansas throughout and had a good look for Gabe Kalscheur as the clock was winding down that would have won them the game. He missed and the Cyclones lost, simple as that. No shame in losing to an elite squad on the road by a single point but the losses have started to stack up for ISU in the early part of Big XII play.
Game Notes: WIN. ISU 79 v UT 70. The Cyclones got their desperately needed bounce back win over the Longhorns at home on Saturday. They controlled most of the game but were unable to build a comfortable cushion. Kalscheur and Tyrese Hunter were the stars, combining for 35 points, 5 rebounds, 11 assists, and 4 steals on 50% from the field.
Outlook: ISU will start the week with a rematch against Tech (this one on the road) before hosting TCU next weekend. The Cyclones continue to excel defensively and Tyrese Hunter is settling in nicely as the team's primary facilitator.
5) #23 Texas Longhorns (Prev: 6). Overall Record: 13-4. Weekly Record: 1-1. Conference Record: 3-2. B12 Position: T-3. KenPom Rank: 15. NCAA NET Rank: 14. SOS (per KenPom): 234. Q1+Q2: 4-4. Q3+Q4: 9-0.
Game Notes: WIN. UT 66 v OU 52. The Longhorns beat their bitter rival behind a balanced attack whereby the 5 starters scored a combined 61 points on 50% from the field. UT's defense was excellent and the key to the dominant performance.
Game Notes: LOSS. UT 70 @ ISU 79. Texas fell to the Cyclones on Saturday due in large part to having committed 20 turnovers. The Longhorns refused to go away but were unable to fully close the gap and get over the hump. They had far too many self-inflicted wounds to be able to beat a good team on the road.
Outlook: The Longhorns will play host to Kansas State and Oklahoma State this week. This offense looked better this week and the defense is still good. The main thing holding this team back is the turnovers (130th nationally in turnovers per game).
6) Oklahoma Sooners (Prev: 4). Overall Record: 12-5. Weekly Record: 0-2. Conference Record: 2-3. B12 Position: T-7. KenPom Rank: 33. NCAA NET Rank: 35. SOS (per KenPom): 65. Q1+Q2: 5-4. Q3+Q4: 7-1.
Game Notes: LOSS. OU 52 @ UT 66. After about 5 minutes of action the score was tied 6-6. Then Texas went on an 11-0 run to open up a lead that it would never surrender. The Sooners were miserable from beyond the arc (1/13 [7%]).
Game Notes: LOSS. OU 58 @ TCU 59. TCU won the game on a go-ahead three pointer from Chuck O'Bannon Jr. with less than 30 seconds left in overtime. Not that I'm a huge gambler but I had to check the point total for this one. Per Caesar's Sportsbook, the point total for this game was set at 135.5. The fact that not even overtime could get these teams even close to hitting the over is a sad statement for these 2 offenses (more so even than it is a testament to either defense). These offenses just didn't have it on Saturday, combining for 39 turnovers. Jalen Hill did his best for OU, 12 points and 14 rebounds on 66% from the field.
Outlook: Things don't get any easier for Oklahoma as they'll face Kansas and Baylor this week. The Sooners have now lost 3 of their last 4 and seem to be reeling just a bit. If things don't turn around in a hurry, they could quickly fall out of the race in the conference.
7) West Virginia Mountaineers (Prev: 7). Overall Record: 13-3. Weekly Record: 1-1. Conference Record: 2-2. B12 Position: 6. KenPom Rank: 44. NCAA NET Rank: 44. SOS (per KenPom): 58. Q1+Q2: 6-3. Q3+Q4: 7-0.
Game Notes: WIN. WVU 70 v OSU 60. The Mountaineers built an 11-point lead by halftime and held on to it by dominating the free throw line where they outscored the Pokes by 12.
Game Notes: LOSS. WVU 59 @ KU 85. Guard Malik Curry leading the team with 23 points off the bench was the lone bright spot of the game for WVU.
Outlook: West Virginia will take on Baylor and Texas Tech this week. The Mountaineers' national ranks offensively are highly concerning (307th in assists, 254th in eFG%, and 210th in scoring). This team is fundamentally flawed both offensively and with their defensive rebounding.
8) Texas Christian Horned Frogs (Prev: 9). Overall Record: 12-2. Weekly Record: 2-0. Conference Record: 2-1. B12 Position: 2. KenPom Rank: 61. NCAA NET Rank: 53. SOS (per KenPom): 213. Q1+Q2: 3-2. Q3+Q4: 9-0.
Game Notes: WIN. TCU 60 @ KSU 57. The Frogs went on an 8-0 run over the final 71 seconds of the game to beat the Wildcats. TCU dominated the glass (+13 in rebounds). Mike Miles led the way with 19 points, 5 boards, and 6 assists.
Game Notes: WIN. TCU 59 v OU 58. It took a go ahead three pointer from Chuck O'Bannon Jr. to defeat the Sooners in overtime. O'Bannon and Micah Peavy were the only players for TCU to score in double figures.
Outlook: The Horned Frogs will travel to play both Oklahoma State and Iowa State this week. This offense remains highly inefficient, ranking 244th nationally in eFG%.
9) Oklahoma State Cowboys (Prev: 8). Overall Record: 9-7. Weekly Record: 1-2. Conference Record: 2-3. B12 Position: T-7. KenPom Rank: 46. NCAA NET Rank: 50. SOS (per KenPom): 9. Q1+Q2: 3-6. Q3+Q4: 6-1.
Game Notes: LOSS. OSU 60 @ WVU 70. OSU started the week by getting slaughtered at the free throw line and also losing the turnover battle.
Game Notes: LOSS. OSU 57 @ TTU 78. It was an embarrassing defeat in Lubbock. It was the largest margin of defeat of the season for the Pokes. It was both the worst eFG% this offense has had in a game this year and also the worst eFG% this defense has allowed this season. We have repeatedly highlighted to poor scoring efficiency of OSU's guards this season. In this one, Bryce Williams, Avery Anderson III, Isaac Likekele, and Rondel Walker played a combined 89 minutes for the Cowboys. In those minutes, that foursome shot a combined 4/25 (16%) from the field. That's losing basketball. Some of the credit belongs to TTU which has a great defense. Some of the blame belongs with these disappointing guards.
Game Notes: WIN. OSU 61 @ BU 54. I've already talked about this game more than enough in the Baylor section above. Guards, Bryce Williams, Bryce Thompson, and Isaac Likekele over the previous 5 games: 26.4 PPG on 34% from the field. That same trio against Baylor: 34 points on 42% from the field.
Outlook: The Pokes take on TCU this week before heading to Austin this next weekend. This offense is far too turnover prone to consistently compete and win against teams near and at the top of the conference.
10) Kansas State Wildcats (Prev: 10). Overall Record: 9-7. Weekly Record: 1-1. Conference Record: 1-1. B12 Position: 10. KenPom Rank: 63. NCAA NET Rank: 75. SOS (per KenPom): 89. Q1+Q2: 2-7. Q3+Q4: 7-0.
Game Notes: LOSS. KSU 57 v TCU 60. The Wildcats blew a late lead against TCU despite a strong performance from Markqius Nowell, who had 18 points, 3 boards, 4 assists, and 7 steals (!) on 58% from the field.
Game Notes: WIN. KSU 62 v TTU 51. Kansas State outscored Tech by 15 points from the 3P line to earn their first conference win of the season. Mike McGuirl was impressive with 10 points in just 16 minutes off the bench.
Outlook: The Wildcats play Texas and Kansas this week. KSU finally got over the hump and won their first game in conference play. I doubt that it will be their last win of the season but they still should be underdogs in almost every game of the season, especially those this week.
Big XII Award Leaderboards
Coach of the Year Leaderboard:
1) TJ Otzelberger, Iowa State. The Cyclones stopped their slide with a win over Texas on Saturday.
2) Porter Moser, Oklahoma. The Sooners have lost 3 of 4 and are in need of a change in momentum.
3) Mark Adams, Texas Tech. The Red Raiders knocked off Baylor on the road, snapping about a thousand streaks for the conference's reigning champ.
4) Scott Drew, Baylor. Baylor was twice outcoached this week, he needs to right the ship immediately.
Player of the Year Leaderboard:
1) Ochai Agbaji, Kansas. Last 3 games: 22.0 PPG and 6.0 RPG on 52% from the field and 56% from deep.
2) Taz Sherman, West Virginia. Last 8 games: 17.8 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 2.0 APG, and 1.6 SPG on 43% from the field and 39% from deep.
3) Izaiah Brockington, Iowa State. Last 7 games: 16.3 PPG and 8.3 RPG on 45% from the field.
4) James Akinjo, Baylor. Last 6 games: 18.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 5.0 APG, and 1.8 SPG on 47% from the field and 36% from deep.
Defensive Player of the Year Leaderboard:
1) Matthew Mayer, Baylor. League leader in defensive rating.
2) Tyrese Hunter, Iowa State. League leader in steals.
3) Timmy Allen, Texas. 4th in the league in defensive rating and defensive win shares.
4) Flo Thamba, Baylor. Top 4 in the league in defensive rating and block%.
Sixth Man of the Year Leaderboard:
1) LJ Cryer, Baylor. 1 start in 15 games played. 20.4 points per 40 minutes on 59% from the field and 46% from deep.
2) Malik Curry, West Virginia. 0 starts in 16 games played. 16.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.2 steals per 40 minutes on 44% from the field.
3) Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua, Baylor. 0 starts in 17 games played. 14.6 points and 14.4 rebounds per 40 minutes on 63% from the field.
4) Aljaz Kunc, Iowa State. 0 starts in 17 games played. 13.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per 40 minutes on 56% from the field and 54% from deep.
Freshman of the Year Leaderboard:
1) Tyrese Hunter, Iowa State. Last 3 games: 15.0 PPG, 5.7 APG, and 3.7 SPG, 53% from the field.
2) Kendall Brown, Baylor. Last 8 games: 8.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 63% from the field.
3) Jeremy Sochan, Baylor. Last 4 games: 8.3 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 52% from the field.
4) CJ Noland, Oklahoma. Last 7 games: 4.4 PPG, 0.7 SPG, 76% from the field (3 attempts per game).
Newcomer of the Year Leaderboard:
1) James Akinjo, Baylor. See Player of the Year stats above.
2) Izaiah Brockington, Iowa State. See Player of the Year stats above.
3) Tanner Groves, Oklahoma. Last 9 games: 11.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 57% from the field.
4) Timmy Allen, Texas. Last 4 games: 11.3 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 1.5 SPG, 53% from the field.
Upcoming Big XII Games Worth Monitoring
Last week's predictions: 1-3 (big oof); I had Baylor winning last Tuesday by 7, they lost by 3 (sad); I had Baylor winning last Saturday by 15, they lost by 7 (more sad); I had Kansas winning last Tuesday by 3, they won by 1; and I had Oklahoma winning last Tuesday by 1, they lost by 14.
a) Baylor @ West Virginia. Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at 4:00 PM CT on ESPN2. Prediction: Baylor by 4.
b) Iowa State @ Texas Tech. Tuesday, January 18, 2022, at 8:00 PM CT on ESPNU. Prediction: TTU by 5.
c) Baylor @ Oklahoma. Saturday, January 22, 2022, at 2:00 PM CT on ESPN+. Prediction: Baylor by 6.
d) West Virginia @ Texas Tech. Saturday, January 22, 2022, at 11:00 AM CT on ESPN2. Prediction: TTU by 10.