I hope that all of you had a very merry Christmas full of family, friends, and lots of cheer. The good news is that I’m mostly here to talk hoops, not rehash last week which included a disappointing end to the football team’s season, a bittersweet football signing day, and for our friends in the Lone Star State, subzero temperatures, the 3rd strongest earthquake in state history, and from what I’ve heard, locusts, frogs, and our pets heads falling off. Seriously though, we’re entering the final week of 2022 and the final week before Big 12 play starts for men’s basketball. The Big 12 went 9-0 on the week with a couple of wins over power conference teams.
If you wanna check out last week’s post, you can find it here.
My Team of the Week: TCU. The Frogs won their only game of the week and their first game in enemy territory of the season (it wasn’t a full-blown road game but they played against Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah which is close enough for me).
My Player of the Week: Devion Harmon, Texas Tech. Harmon helped lead the Raiders to a dominant win thanks to his 22 points and 9 assists on 8/10 from the field.
1) Baylor Bears (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Northwestern State Demons (KenPom: 268)
Score: BU: 58 Northwestern St: 48
By the Numbers:
- +7 in rebounding margin (12 offensive boards).
- Held the Demons to 19/60 (31.7%) from the field and 7/28 (25.0%) from deep.
- Opened the 2nd half with a 14-2 run.
Jalen Bridges: 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 1 block in 27 minutes on 5/8 (62.5%) FG, 2/4 (50.0%) 3P, and 1/2 (50.0%) FT.
Dale Bonner: 11 points, 1 rebound, 7 assists, and 3 steals in 32 minutes on 4/8 (50.0%) FG, 1/4 (25.0%) 3P, and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
LJ Cryer: 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists in 37 minutes on 4/13 (30.8%) FG and 3/10 (30.0%) 3P.
- Without Flagler (illness), the offense was held to its lowest scoring output of the season.
- Keyonte is still searching for the consistency he’ll need to have if the team wants to make a serious run at three-peating as Big 12 Champs.
- Jalen Bridges starting to hit shots could be a major development for the team/
What’s Next: Nicholls State (12/28) and @ Iowa State (12/31)
The Bears won an ugly game in their only contest of the week. Of course it was against the same Northwestern State team that knocked off TCU in Fort Worth earlier this season. Plus the Bears were without arguably their most important player. Assuming that Flagler gets healthy before this week’s first game and final tune up game before Big 12 play starts on Saturday, Baylor should be fine against the Colonels. Then the real season will begins.
2) Kansas Jayhawks (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Harvard Crimson (KenPom: 180)
Score: KU: 68 Harvard: 54
By the Numbers:
- +9 in rebounding margin (10 offensive boards).
- +6 in turnover margin (16 takeaways).
- Saw the Crimson go 5/14 (35.7%) from the free-throw line.
Jalen Wilson: 21 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in 34 minutes on 10/17 (58.8%) FG and 1/6 (16.7%) 3P.
Kevin McCullar, Jr.: 14 points, 11 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks in 33 minutes on 5/12 (41.7%) FG, 0/4 (0.0%) 3P, and 4/4 (100.0%) FT.
KJ Adams, Jr.: 10 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 4 steals, and 2 blocks in 31 minutes on 5/8 (62.5%) FG.
- The team overcame a horrendous 3P shooting performance.
- Jalen Wilson stepped up big late offensively after struggling for much of the game on the defensive end.
- KU could never fully pull away.
What’s Next: Oklahoma State (12/31)
The Jayhawks are done with their non-conference slate (other than the Big 12-SEC Challenge in about a month). They have won 5 straight and should be feeling very good about what they’ve done thus far this season. Still, I have my doubts about their depth. Additionally, 4 of their wins are by single digits. As of now, KenPom favors them to win all but 2 of their remaining games this season. I expect them to lose more than that, but Kansas is likely Baylor’s biggest threat in the conference.
3) Texas Longhorns (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Louisiana Ragin Cajuns (KenPom: 132)
Score: UT: 100 Louisiana: 72
By the Numbers:
- +6 in rebounding margin (only 8 offensive boards allowed).
- Outscored the Cajuns by 18 points from deep.
- Forced a nearly 5-minute scoring drought in the middle of the game.
Arterio Morris: 25 points, 1 rebound, and 1 assist in 17 minutes off the bench on 9/11 (81.8%) FG, 5/7 (71.4%) 3P, and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
Timmy Allen: 17 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks in 25 minutes on 6/8 (75.0%) FG, 0/1 (0.0%) 3P, and 5/5 (100.0%) FT.
Marcus Carr: 17 points, 1 rebound, 4 assists, and 1 steal in 24 minutes on 5/9 (_%) FG, 3/3 (100.0%) 3P, and 4/4 (100.0%) FT.
- When it rains it pours. The Longhorns entered the game with a bad 3P% but they were able to knock down 12/22 (54.5%) against the Cajuns.
- After opening the game on a 14-4 run, they never looked back.
- Morris developing into a reliable rotation piece would be huge for this team.
What’s Next: Texas A&M Commerce (12/27) and Oklahoma (12/31)
For a team in desperate need of some stability, they seem to be getting stronger. They went from an OT nailbiter against Rice to a 10-point over Stanford and then this dominant win over a decent Louisiana team. The talent level has never waned for the Horns. The question remains how well this team will be able to manage distractions and what will the quality of coaching look like for the remainder of the season. It’s easy to get outcoached and lose to a slightly less talented team in the Big 12.
4) Kansas State Wildcats (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Radford Highlanders (KenPom: 222)
Score: KSU: 73 Radford: 65
By the Numbers:
- +14 in rebounding margin (13 offensive boards).
- Assisted on 20/29 (69.0%) made field goals.
- Led by as many as 17 points.
Nae’Qwan Tomlin: 26 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 2 blocks in 33 minutes on 11/18 (61.1%) FG, 1/4 (25.0%) 3P, and 3/3 (100.0%) FT.
Keyontae Johnson: 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 assists in 36 minutes on 6/15 (40.0%) FG, 0/4 (0.0%) 3P, and 4/7 (57.1%) FT.
Markquis Nowell: 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 11 assists, and 2 steals in 36 minutes on 3/6 (50.0%) FG, 2/4 (50.0%) 3P, and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
- Coach Tang pushed the right buttons for the team to pull it out late.
- When Johnson is getting to his spots in the lane, he’s virtually impossible to defend.
- The Cats may have had the holidays on their mind, sleep walking through parts of the game.
What’s Next: West Virginia (12/31)
Next up for KSU is the conference slate. KenPom has them as underdogs in 5 of their next 6 games. This will be a crucial stretch for the Wildcats. They’ll look to rely on good ball movement and stingy defense to stay close and hope that Johnson and Nowell will be their difference-makers late in close games.
5) Texas Tech Red Raiders (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Houston Christian Huskies (KenPom: 351)
Score: TTU: 111 HCU: 67
By the Numbers:
- +10 in turnover margin (24 takeaways).
- +5 in rebounding margin (7 offensive boards).
- Held the Huskies to 22/61 (36.1%) from the field.
Devion Harmon: 22 points, 1 rebound, 9 assists, and 1 steal in 28 minutes on 8/10 (80.0%) FG, 2/3 (66.7%) 3P, and 4/6 (66.7%) FT.
Kevin Obanor: 22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in 25 minutes on 7/12 (58.3%) FG, 2/4 (50.0%) 3P, and 6/6 (100.0%) FT.
Daniel Batcho: 12 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block in 22 minutes off the bench on 5/7 (71.4%) FG, 0/1 (0.0%) 3P, and 2/4 (50.0%) FT.
- Batcho returned after a 2-game absence, which is a big deal for the Raiders.
- The wire-to-wire domination was fueled by Harmon’s career-best game.
- Obanor took over at times offensively.
What’s Next: South Carolina State (12/27) and TCU (12/31)
The team has now won 5 consecutive games and are rolling defensively. They’ve also hit triple digits in back-to-back games. Offensively, they are staying away from the three-ball and attacking effectively down low. They have to limit their turnovers but they look solid on both ends right now.
6) West Virginia Mountaineers (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Stony Brook Seawolves (KenPom: 331)
Score: WVU: 75 Stony Brook: 64
By the Numbers:
- +6 in turnover margin (only 8 giveaways).
- They held the Seawolves to just 20/52 (38.5%) from the field.
- Led by as many as 19 points.
Kedrian Johnson: 18 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals in 37 minutes on 4/9 (44.4%) FG, 2/6 (33.3%) 3P, and 8/8 (100.0%) FT.
Erik Stevenson: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 steal in 35 minutes on 7/14 (50.0%) FG, 2/4 (50.0%) 3P, and 0/1 (0.0%) FT.
Joe Toussaint: 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in 18 minutes off the bench on 2/7 (28.6%) FG, 2/5 (40.0%) 3P, and 6/6 (100.0%) FT.
- Emmitt Matthews continued absence (knee injury) is a major concern for the Mountaineers.
- Toussaint helped hold off Stony Brook’s comeback effort.
- The 1st half 3P shooting struggles for WVU helped keep the Seawolves in it early.
What’s Next: Kansas State (12/31)
Don’t look now but WVU is ranked in the top 50 by KenPom in both offensive and defensive efficiency for the first time since 2018 which just so happens to be the last time they made it past the 1st weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Their balance has been impressive thus far, which is why they are now ranked in the AP Top 25. Still, they need to get Matthews back to feel really good about their chances in conference play.
7) TCU Horned Frogs (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Utah Utes (KenPom: 50)
Score: TCU: 75 Utah: 71
By the Numbers:
- +9 in turnover margin (19 takeaways).
- Outscored the Utes by 18 points in the paint.
- Outscored the Utes by 12 points in the fast break.
Emanuel Miller: 21 points, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, and 1 block in 31 minutes on 9/14 (64.3%) FG, 2/2 (100.0%) 3P, and 1/3 (33.3%) FT.
Mike Miles, Jr.: 18 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block in 35 minutes on 8/16 (50.0%) FG, 0/4 (0.0%) 3P, and 2/4 (50.0%) FT.
Chuck O’Bannon, Jr.: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steals, and 2 blocks in 32 minutes on 3/8 (37.5%) FG, 2/4 (50.0%) 3P, and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
- The Frogs struggled to keep Utah off the offensive glass, which kept the Utes in the game.
- Utah never let TCU fully pull away.
- The Horned Frogs hit their final 3 free-throws to ice it.
What’s Next: Central Arkansas (12/28) and Texas Tech (12/31)
The Frogs have one final tune-up before the fun starts this weekend. To this point their defense is far ahead of their offense and now that we’ve gotten a meaningful sample size of games with the normal starting lineup playing together this season, one thing is clear: the offense still has a lot to figure out. The team has also struggled to keep opponents off the offensive glass.
8) Iowa State Cyclones (Weekly Record: 0-0)
ISU’s only game last week was cancelled due to weather.
What’s Next: Baylor (12/31)
They remain where we left them, an excellent defense with a totally unreliable offense. We’ll see how they do against the Bears this weekend.
9) Oklahoma Sooners (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Florida Gators (KenPom: 54)
Score: OU: 62 Florida: 53
By the Numbers:
- +5 in rebounding margin (only 8 offensive boards allowed).
- Held the Gators to 20/61 (32.8%) from the field and 2/22 (9.1%) from deep.
- Trailed by as many as 11 points.
Grant Sherfield: 22 points and 2 rebounds in 29 minutes on 7/13 (53.8%) FG, 4/6 (66.7%) 3P, and 4/5 (80.0%) FT.
Tanner Groves: 13 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 28 minutes on 4/11 (36.4%) FG, 1/5 (20.0%) 3P, and 4/6 (66.7%) FT.
Milos Uzan: 6 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and 1 steal in 33 minutes on 3/7 (42.9%) FG and 0/1 (0.0%) 3P.
- Florida punched OU in the mouth but the Sooners responded well to draw within 2 points at halftime.
- Sherfield came alive in the 2nd half, carrying the team to victory.
- Uzan is emerging as a productive backcourt companion for Sherfield.
What’s Next: Texas (12/31)
The Sooners should feel good about themselves heading into conference play. They have wins over 4 teams in the KenPom Top 100 (for comparison, Baylor only has 3 such wins). If they can limit turnovers, they should be competitive against just about anyone in the Big 12. The talent is there for this to be one of the more balanced, well-rounded teams in the conference. At this point, I wouldn’t want to bet against OU making the Big Dance.
10) Oklahoma State Cowboys (Weekly Record: 1-0)
Game 1: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders (KenPom: 212)
Score: OSU: 81 TAMU-CC: 58
By the Numbers:
- +12 in rebounding margin (only 8 offensive boards allowed).
- Held the Islanders to 21/65 (32.3%) from the field.
- Assisted on 22/29 (75.9%) made field goals.
Moussa Cisse: 12 points, 14 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, and 1 block in 30 minutes on 6/9 (66.7%) FG and 0/2 (0.0%) FT.
Avery Anderson III: 10 points, 5 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block in 30 minutes on 3/7 (42.9%) FG, 2/6 (33.3%) 3P, and 2/2 (100.0%) FT.
Bryce Thompson: 13 points, 4 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals in 33 minutes on 4/10 (40.0%) FG, 4/8 (50.0%) 3P, and 1/2 (50.0%) FT.
- Anderson looked in complete control of the offense, wearing protective goggles.
- It took nearly 5 minutes for the Islanders to finally break through for their first field goal against this stingy defense.
- This was Oklahoma State’s best 3P shooting performance of the season.
What’s Next: Kansas (12/31)
This team still has a lot of question marks unanswered heading into the conference play. As of now, they’ll rely on their versatile defense, rim protection, and athletic guards to carry a heavy burden. They have to improve their ball security. It’s also hard to imagine them making the NCAA Tourney if they don’t improve their 3P shooting. Anderson and Cisse are the key players while Boone and Thompson are contenders to step up and help lift the team out of the bottom of the conference.
This will likely be the last time this season that this post takes this exact form. Once we get into conference play starts, I’ll start implementing some changes to make them better (fingers crossed). I’m also hoping to get these things put up every Monday. If you have any hot takes before the Big 12 slate begins, you’d better hop in those comments and let us hear ‘em. Have a good week and a Happy New Year, everyone!
Stats courtesy of sports-reference.com; kenpom.com; 247sports.com; espn.com; maxreps.com; cbbanalytics.com; and/or shotquality.com.