Every year there seems to considerable discussion about the relative strength of different basketball conferences. The Big 12 is invariably in the conversation as the best/deepest conference in America. This week, they showed why. Big 12 teams went a perfect 12-0 this week including wins over 4 power conference teams.
If you wanna check out last week’s post, you can find it here.
My Team of the Week: Kansas. The Jayhawks’ dominant win over Indiana is one of the most impressive victories by any team in the conference this season. They are trending in the right direction.
My Player of the Week: Marcus Carr, Texas. The veteran guard guided the Longhorns to a 2-0 record in a difficult week by accumulating 45 points, 6 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 steals on 51.7% FG, 46.2% 3P, and 75.0% FT.
1) Baylor Bears (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Washington State Cougars (KenPom:60)
Score: BU: 65 WSU:59
By the Numbers:
- Outscored the Cougars by 6 points from the free-throw line.
- +3 in turnover margin (16 takeaways).
- Neither team ever led by double-digits.
Keyonte George: 19 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in 32 minutes on 6/14 (42.9%) FG, 3/11 (27.3%) 3P, and 4/5 (80.0%) FT.
.@keyonte1george + @JoshuaOjianwuna = #SicEm | #CultureofJOY pic.twitter.com/vVwqFtKH6B— Baylor Men’s Basketball (@BaylorMBB) December 19, 2022
Adam Flagler: 12 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 4 steals, and 1 block in 32 minutes on 5/7 (71.4%) FG, 1/2 (50.0%) 3P, and 1/2 (50.0%) FT.
Flo Thamba: 8 points and 6 rebounds in 25 minutes on 3/5 (60.0%) FG and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
- Gave up too many good looks on the perimeter.
- George and Flagler took over late in the game.
- Defense came up huge down the stretch.
What’s Next: Northwestern State Demons (12/20)
It wasn’t a pretty win for the Bears in Dallas this past weekend. Still, they got the job done. They’ve won 3 straight. They’ll be 10-2 going into Big 12 play. This offense is excellent (even if they have occasional scoring droughts). Defensively, they’ve been forcing a good amount of turnovers and if they can keep that up, they’ll be one of the most dangerous teams in the nation. Their wins over UCLA and Gonzaga keep looking better and better. A pair of buy game are all the stand in their way before conference play starts up at the end of the month.
2) Kansas Jayhawks (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Indiana Hoosiers (KenPom: 17)
Score: KU: 84 IU: 62
By the Numbers:
- +9 in turnover margin (23 takeaways).
- Held the Hoosiers to 20/53 (37.7%) from the field.
- Outscored by 9 points from the free-throw line.
Gradey Dick: 20 points, 6 rebounds, 5 steals, and 1 block in 33 minutes on 8/12 (66.7%) FG and 4/5 (80.0%) 3P.
Gradey Dick's strong freshman campaign continued with a 20 point (4/5 3P), 6 rebound, 5 steal effort in a blowout win vs Indiana. Potential lottery pick is now shooting 49% for 3 this season. pic.twitter.com/oLh16nbmfI— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) December 17, 2022
Dajuan Harris. Jr.: 10 points, 2 rebounds, 10 assists, and 3 steals in 28 minutes on 5/8 (62.5%) and 0/1 (0.0%) 3P.
Kevin McCullar, Jr.: 11 points, 11 rebounds, 1 assist. 5 steals, and 1 block in 32 minutes on 5/11 (45.5%) FG and 1/3 (33.3%) 3P.
- Jalen Wilson struggled in a game finally, but everyone else stepped up.
- Easily the team’s most impressive win of the season.
- The team’s aggressive defense set the tone and won the game.
What’s Next: Harvard (11/22)
Since the team’s 14-point loss to Tennessee (which happens to be a pretty good team), the Jayhawks have won 4 consecutive games by a combined 88 points. Their defense is elite and this week we got something of an answer to the big question: “Can this team win without the heroics of Wilson against a good team?” For now, the answer appears to be yes, which is great news for a team that is ranked in the top 15 nationally in both offensive and defensive efficiency (per KenPom).
3) Texas Longhorns (Weekly Record: 2-0)
Game 1: Rice Owls (KenPom: 191)
Score (OT): UT: 87 Rice: 81
By the Numbers:
- Outscored the Owls by 6 points from the free-throw line.
- Trailed by as many as 10 points.
- Only one made field goal in the final 4 minutes of regulation.
Marcus Carr: 28 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 41 minutes on 9/16 (56.3%) FG, 4/7 (57.1%), and 6/8 (75.0%) FT.
Dillon Mitchell: 12 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals in 33 minutes on 3/6 (50.0%) FG and 6/6 (100.0%) FT.
Timmy Allen: 15 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in 22 minutes on 7/9 (77.8%) FG and 1/4 (25.0%) FT.
- Gutsy win in the face of an unimaginable day with the Beard drama unfolding.
- Rice fell apart offensively in OT, missing critical free-throws.
- The Owls deployed a 2-3 zone that caused some problems for the Horns offense.
Game 2: Stanford Cardinal (KenPom: 68)
Score: UT: 72 Stanford: 62
By the Numbers:
- +10 in turnover margin (18 takeaways).
- Assisted on 22/28 (78.6%) made field goals.
- Allowed a 14-1 run over 5 minutes in the middle of the 2nd half.
Marcus Carr: 17 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal in 33 minutes on 6/13 (46.2%) FG, 2/6 (33.3%) 3P, and 3/4 (75.0%) FT.
Marcus Carr took over down the stretch! pic.twitter.com/QDE2PnPVcA— Hook'em Headlines (@HookemHeadlines) December 18, 2022
Sir’Jabari Rice: 15 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block in 25 minutes off the bench on 6/10 (60.0%) FG and 3/5 (60.0%) 3P.
Timmy Allen: 15 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks in 29 minutes on 6/13 (46.2%) FG, 0/1 (0.0%) 3P, and 3/4 (75.0%) FT.
- This game was a lot closer than the final score indicates.
- The offense had several long stretches where they couldn’t get a shot.
- Defensively, this team is pretty much right where they want to be.
What’s Next: Louisiana (11/21)
I’ve dropped the Horns a couple of spots this week. They didn’t lose and still have championship-caliber talent. Still, they looked very shaky against Rice and a 4-7 Stanford team. The presumed loss of their coach for most, if not all, of the rest of the season (or beyond) is a lot to overcome. Maybe the Horns are able to overcome it and shock the world. But to win the Big XII, even great teams sometimes need everything to go their way and it’s sort of hard to imagine that being the case for Texas right now.
4) Kansas State Wildcats (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Nebraska Cornhuskers (KenPom: 83)
Score: KSU: 71 UNL: 56
By the Numbers:
- Assisted on 20/24 (83.3%) made field goals.
- Held the Huskers to just 18/56 (32.1%) from the field.
- +4 in turnover margin (18 takeaways).
Keyontae Johnson: 23 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals in 34 minutes on 9/13 (69.2%) FG, 2/3 (66.7%) 3P, and 3/6 (50.0%) FT.
Stuffing the stocking #KStateMBB x @keyontae pic.twitter.com/16CfBLvY9s— K-State Men's Basketball (@KStateMBB) December 18, 2022
Nae’Qwan Tomlin: 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in 34 minutes on 6/10 (60.0%) FG, 2/5 (40.0%) 3P, and 1/2 (50.0%) FT.
Markquis Nowell: 13 points, 1 rebound, 7 assists, and 2 steals in 37 minutes on 3/14 (21.4%) FG, 3/11 (27.3%) 3P, and 4/4 (100.0%) FT.
- The game was tightly contested for the first 15 minutes before the Wildcats started to build a little cushion.
- KSU had too many scoring droughts in the 2nd half.
- Nebraska’s offense was taken completely out of rhythm by the Wildcat defense.
What’s Next: Radford (11/21)
Kansas State keeps rolling and looks like they’ll be an impressive 11/1 heading into conference play. Their defense is nasty (in a good way [for them]). Offensively, they keep the ball moving constantly, leading to an elite assist rate, but also a large number of turnovers. They probably lean on Johnson and Nowell a bit too much, but so far, it’s been working for them.
5) Texas Tech Red Raiders (Weekly Record: 2-0)
Game 1: Eastern Washington Eagles (KenPom: 209)
Score: TTU: 77 EWU: 70
By the Numbers:
- +12 in turnover margin (21 takeaways).
- Never led by more than 7 points.
- Shot a woeful 4/25 (16.0%) from deep.
Kevin Obanor: 25 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals in 36 minutes on 8/15 (53.3%) FG, 1/5 (20.0%) 3P, and 8/8 (100.0%) FT.
DeVion Harmon: 19 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 6 steals in 35 minutes on 7/16 (43.8%) FG, 0/1 (0.0%) 3P, and 5/7 (71.4%) FT.
Pop Isaacs: 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in 36 minutes on 5/15 (33.3%) FG, 3/12 (25.0%) 3P, and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
- The game was tightly contested throughout.
- The backcourt duo came up clutch down the stretch.
- Starting center, Daniel Batcho’s absence was definitely felt.
Game 2: Jackson State Tigers (KenPom: 305)
Score: TTU: 102 Jackson St.: 52
By the Numbers:
- +22 in turnover margin (30 takeaways).
- Held the Tigers to just 18/49 (36.7%) from the field.
- Most points scored in a game in over 3 years.
Kevin Obanor: 16 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals in 28 minutes on 6/11 (54.5%) FG, 3/6 (50.0%) 3P, and 1/2 (50.0%) FT.
KJ Allen: 15 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 21 minutes off the bench on 7/10 (70.0%) FG, 0/1 (0.0%) 3P, and 1/1 (100.0%) FT.
D’Maurian Williams: 17 points, 1 rebound, 2 assist, and 3 steals in 16 minutes off the bench on 5/7 (71.4%) FG, 5/7 (71.4%) 3P, and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
- Tech jumped out early and never looked back.
- The smothering defense was elite.
- The offense seemingly got anything and everything it wanted on virtually every possession.
What’s Next: Houston Christian (12/21)
Tech has won 4 straight. After back-to-back games where they struggled against lesser teams, they finally poured it on in a buy game against Jackson State. Ball security and subpar 3P shooting continue to be concerns for the team. They’ll be 10-2 heading into conference play thanks to their great defense. It’s been a weird period for Tech with star transfer Fardaws Aimaq reportedly intending to leave mid-season through the portal and then denying such reports. If the team wants to do anything special this season, they need either Batcho (recent ankle injury) or Fardaws Aimaq (season-long leg injury) back healthy soon.
6) West Virginia Mountaineers (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Buffalo Bulls (KenPom: 184)
Score: WVU: 96 Buffalo: 78
By the Numbers:
- +11 in rebounding margin (15 offensive boards).
- Outscored the Bulls by 14 points from the free-throw line.
- Pulled away thanks to a 16-2 run in the 2nd half.
Erik Stevenson: 22 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 29 minutes on 8/13 (61.5%) FG, 5/8 (62.5%) 3P, and 1/2 (50.0%) FT.
Jimmy Bell, Jr.: 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 1 assist in 26 minutes on 5/6 (83.3%) FG and 8/13 (61.5%) FT.
Because two dunks are better than one #HailWV | @JimmyBellJr15 pic.twitter.com/1TuWLvB964— WVU Men's Basketball (@WVUhoops) December 11, 2022
Tre Mitchell: 17 points and 6 rebounds in 31 minutes on 6/12 (50.0%) FG, 0/3 (0.0%) 3P, and 5/6 (83.3%) FT.
- The final score does not show how close this game was for the first 30 minutes.
- The team managed starting forward, Emmitt Matthews’s absence (injury) well.
- The Mountaineers were the more physical team.
What’s Next: Stony Brook (12/22)
The Mountaineers are rolling, having won 3 in-a-row by a combined 50 points. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this team is the balance. They have several guys who can step up if others are struggling. They get it done on both ends of the floor, creating a lot of turnovers with their defense and boasting the 18th best eFG% in the nation as an offense. If West Virginia can keep out of foul trouble on a consistent basis, they look like a very dangerous team.
7) TCU Horned Frogs (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (KenPom: 360)
Score: TCU: 88 MVSU: 43
By the Numbers:
- +16 in rebounding margin (17 offensive boards).
- +11 in turnover margin (20 takeaways).
- Held the Delta Devils to 18/47 (38.3%) FG, 0/8 (0.0%) 3P, and 7/19 (36.8%) FT.
Mike Miles, Jr.: 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists in 21 minutes on 5/8 (62.5%) FG, 3/4 (75.0%), and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
Emanuel Miller: 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in 20 minutes on 4/7 (57.1%), 0/1 (0.0%), 3/4 (75.0%) FT.
Jakobe Coles: 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists in 18 minutes off the bench on 5/11 (45.5%) FG, 1/2 (50.0%) 3P, and 1/2 (50.0%) FT.
- The team did surprisingly well down low in the absence of starting center, Eddie Lampkin.
- The ball movement was probably the best it’s been all season for the Frogs.
- This was the 3P shooting performance they’ve been looking for.
What’s Next: Utah (12/21)
TCU has won 7 consecutive games following their loss to Northwestern State. Their defense is the biggest reason why. Offensively, the team has not been particularly efficient and a good shooting day against the lowly MVSU Delta Devils doesn’t really change that. This team will go as far as Mike Miles, Jr. can take them. Their tough, gritty defense will keep them in most games. They’ll face a tough test this week against the Utes.
8) Iowa State Cyclones (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Western Michigan Broncos (KenPom: 318)
Score: ISU: 73 WMU: 57
By the Numbers:
- +5 in turnover margin (16 takeaways).
- Assisted on 24/31 (77.4%) made field goals.
- Held the Broncos to 20/52 (38.5%) from the field.
Caleb Grill: 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 1 assist in 33 minutes on 5/7 (71.4%) FG, 3/5 (60.0%) 3P, and 1/1 (100.0%) FT.
Jaren Holmes: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block in 26 minutes on 4/9 (44.4%) FG and 2/5 (40.0%) 3P.
Robert Jones: 10 points, 2 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals in 22 minutes off the bench on 4/6 (66.7%) FG and 2/4 (50.0%) FT.
- After racing to an early 14-point lead, they never really let the Broncos back in it.
- Tre King made his season debut and looked pretty good.
- The offense didn’t take a ton of three-pointers and also struggled to get to the free-throw line.
What’s Next: Omaha (12/21)
This defense continues to be among the nation’s best at forcing turnovers. Still, they foul a lot, struggle on the glass, and have the worst offensive efficiency in the Big 12 (per KenPom). Hopefully Tre King helps bolster the bench and the starters become less streaky and more consistent as the season goes along. For now, the Cyclones need to focus on using their last tune-up game to get ready for Big 12 play.
9) Oklahoma Sooners (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Central Arkansas Bears (KenPom: 323)
Score: OU: 87 C. Ark.: 66
By the Numbers:
- +6 in rebounding margin (only 3 offensive boards allowed).
- Led by as many as 28 points in the 1st half.
- Career night for true freshman, Otega Oweh.
Jacob Groves: 26 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, and 3 steals in 30 minutes on 10/13 (76.9%) FG, 4/6 (66.7%) 3P, and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
The Swipe ✅— Oklahoma Basketball (@OU_MBBall) December 17, 2022
The Slam ✅
ESPN+ | https://t.co/tLxSuL6Lf4 pic.twitter.com/VvRgUggRSP
Grant Sherfield: 17 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists in 29 minutes on 6/9 (66.7%) FG, 3/5 (60.0%) 3P, and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
Otega Oweh: 10 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals in 15 minutes off the bench on 5/5 (100.0%) FG and 0/2 (0.0%) FT.
- It was the team’s best shooting performance from the field of the season.
- Sherfield and the Groves Bros continue to be the driving force of the team.
- If Oweh can develop into a semi-reliable bench piece, that’d be huge for the Sooners.
What’s Next: Florida (12/20)
It was a nice bounce-back win for the Sooners following their loss to the Razorbacks. Oklahoma has their trio of major contributors and all of them are good and they’re good together. Still, they need to get more out of the supporting cast. Hill, Noland, Uzan, and others have thus far, underperformed the preseason expectations for them. If any or some combination of those guys can start to step up, OU can potentially start to climb in these power rankings, back toward the middle of the conference.
10) Oklahoma State Cowboys (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Wichita State Shockers (KenPom: 89)
Score: OSU: 59 Wichita: 49
By the Numbers:
- +8 in rebounding margin (only 5 offensive boards allowed).
- Assisted on 14/19 (73.7%) made field goals.
- Held the Shockers to 19/52 (36.5) FG and 1/21 (4.8%) 3P.
Bryce Thompson: 19 points, 1 rebound, and 5 assists in 34 minutes on 7/17 (41.2%) FG and 5/9 (55.6%) 3P.
John-Michael Wright: 16 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 33 minutes on 5/10 (50.0%) FG, 4/7 (57.1%) 3P, and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
Moussa Cisse: 3 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 28 minutes on 1/2 (50.0%) FG and 1/2 (50.0%) FT.
- It’s nice when your opponent is colder than ice.
- Wright looked good, taking on a larger role in the offense.
- ESPN+ is a sad joke of streaming service. The game was to be broadcast on ESPNU, but the game in the timeslot before ran over significantly and viewers were unable to stream virtually any of the 1st half even on ESPN+.
What’s Next: Texas A&M Corpus Christi (12/20)
The Pokes have looked good defensively. On offense, they are terrible from deep and are one of the most turnover-prone teams in the nation. They have a lot of improvement to do if they want to be competitive in Big 12 play. The start to their conference slate includes a brutal first 5 games. They’ve got 1 more buy game before the fun begins.
Most of the conference will spend this week having their final tune-ups before the holidays and the start of conference play on New Year’s Eve. I hope most of you are able to take it easy and watch some hoops with Christmas around the corner. Have a great week, folks! Sic Em!
Stats courtesy of sports-reference.com; kenpom.com; 247sports.com; espn.com; maxreps.com; cbbanalytics.com; and/or shotquality.com.