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NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Gonzaga

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Big 12 Men’s Basketball Week 4 Recap & Power Rankings

A lot of shuffling in the rankings — including a new team in the top spot

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Intro

It wasn’t exactly a banner week for the conference, going 5-5 in the Big East – Big 12 Battle. It also wasn’t the best of weeks for the Baylor Bears, who suffered a blowout loss, costing them the top spot in these power rankings. There’s an argument to be made for keeping the Bears ahead of the Longhorns, but if we’re being honest, Baylor hasn’t earned the top spot. It’s no reason to panic. We have a long season ahead of us and every single team in the Big 12 is going to have more losses than they do right now. By the way, the Big XII remains KenPom’s best conference, and so the Bears being anywhere near the top is a very good thing.

If you wanna check out last week’s post, you can find it here.

Team of the Week: Kansas. The Jayhawks won both their matchups handily including a dominant win against a pretty good Seton Hall team.

Player of the Week: Jalen Wilson, Kansas. Helping his team to a 2-0 record on the week, Wilson accumulated 37 points, 18 rebounds, 7 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks on 44.8% FG, 50.0% 3P, and 50.0% FT.

1) Texas Longhorns (Weekly Record: 1-0)

Game 1: Creighton Blue Jays

Score: UT: 72 Creighton: 67

By the Numbers:

+5 in turnover margin (only 3 giveaways!).

Held the Blue Jays to just 4/27 (14.8%) from deep.

Led by as much as 11 points.

Standouts:

Marcus Carr: 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in 34 minutes on 35.0% FG, 40.0% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

Timmy Allen: 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in 26 minutes on 50.0% FG, 0.0% 3P, and 33.3% FT.

Tyrese Hunter: 15 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal in 34 minutes on 46.7% FG and 25.0% 3P.

Takeaways:

Texas is as good as it gets in college basketball right now (unfortunately).

There was some good luck mixed in with this game (Creighton missed quite a few open looks).

Carr is clutch.

What’s Next: Illinois (12/6) and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (12/10)

Outlook

You have to know that I take absolutely no pleasure in putting the Longhorns in the top spot in the conference. I’m not sure I had any other choice. They are the only undefeated team in the conference, are ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll, and sit at No. 2 nationally per KenPom. Their defense is excellent and they have more than enough offense to go with it at the moment. They boast wins over Gonzaga and Creighton. I will mention though that Gonzaga now has 3 losses and Creighton has 4 losses now (after dropping one to the Cornhuskers on Sunday [GBR!]). Still, until Texas loses their first game, they’re probably a safe bet to sit atop the power rankings. If they beat the Illini this week, they’ll likely be undefeated heading into conference play.

2) Baylor Bears (Weekly Record: 1-1)

Game 1: Marquette Golden Eagles

Score: BU:70 Marquette: 96

By the Numbers:

-11 in turnover margin.

Allowed Marquette to convert 35/60 (58.3%) field goal attempts.

+8 in rebounding margin (12 offensive boards).

Standouts:

Adam Flagler: 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in 32 minutes on 55.6% FG, 57.1% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

LJ Cryer: 19 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 35 minutes on 50.0% FG, 50.0% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

Keyonte George: 12 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal in 26 minutes on 41.7% FG, 20.0% 3P, and 50.0% FT.

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Marquette Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Takeaways:

The Bears got punched in the mouth by Marquette’s aggressive defense and fast offense early and never fully recovered.

Defense had a tough time keeping the Golden Eagles out of the middle of the floor which is the weak spot of their defensive scheme.

Lackadaisical ball handling and passing combined with a lack of focus and physicality doomed Baylor from the jump.

ODB Recap: Here

Game 2: Gonzaga Bulldogs

Score: BU: 64 Zags: 63

By the Numbers:

Held Gonzaga to just 22/61 (36.1%) from the field.

Closed the game on an 8-0 run over the final 90+ seconds.

-15 in rebounding (16 offensive boards allowed).

Standouts:

Keyonte George: 18 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 25 minutes on 40.0% FG, 37.5% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

Langston Love: 10 points and 2 rebounds in 13 minutes off the bench on 66.7% FG, 0.0% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

Flo Thamba: 2 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 28 minutes on 33.3% FG.

Takeaways:

This was the team’s most physical and best defensive performance of the season.

Superior depth and coaching was the reason Baylor won.

Ball security and focus looked to be much improved compared to the Marquette game.

ODB Recap: Here

What’s Next: Tarleton State (12/6)

Outlook

I’m not at all happy to be dropping the Bears out of the top spot. They didn’t really leave me much room to do otherwise though after their poor performance in Milwaukee where they suffered the program’s worst loss in 15 years. Still, we’re not hitting the panic button in the slightest. This team is still elite and if they can maintain the style of play they showed off against Gonzaga, they should still have realistic dreams about accomplishing a whole heck of a lot in March and potentially April.

3) Kansas Jayhawks (Weekly Record: 2-0)

Game 1: Texas Southern Tigers

Score: KU: 87 Tx So: 55

By the Numbers:

+10 in rebounding margin (12 offensive boards).

+7 in turnover margin.

Assisted on 23/30 (76.7%) made field goals.

Standouts:

Jalen Wilson: 22 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in 30 minutes on 50.0% FG, 50.0% 3P, and 50.0% FT.

MJ Rice: 19 points and 3 rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench on 66.7% FG, 50.0% 3P, and 83.3% FT.

Joseph Yesufu: 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 30 minutes on 57.1% FG, 60.0% 3P, and 75.0% FT.

Takeaways:

No problem without McCullar against an inferior opponent.

After a competitive first 8 minutes, KU dominated the rest of the game.

It was a balanced approach for the Jayhawks with 5 guys scoring in double figures.

Game 2: Seton Hall Pirates

Score: KU: 91 Seton: 65

By the Numbers:

+12 in rebounding margin (11 offensive boards).

Held the Pirates to just 4/19 (21.1%) from deep.

Saw Seton Hall miss 13 free-throws.

Standouts:

Kevin McCullar, Jr.: 17 points, 10 rebounds, 1 assist, and 4 steals in 35 minutes on 60.0% FG, 75.0% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

Jalen Wilson: 15 points, 13 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block in 32 minutes on 38.5% FG, 50.0% 3P, and 50.0% FT.

Dajaun Harris, Jr.: 10 points, 1 rebound, 7 assists, and 3 steals in 32 minutes on 83.3% FG.

Takeaways:

This team is a lot better with McCullar on the floor.

This was maybe the most balanced that KU has looked this year, getting contributions from just about everyone.

The defensive intensity is in a really good place right now.

What’s Next: Missouri (12/10)

Outlook

The Jayhawks have bounced back nicely after losing to Tennessee during Feast Week. The rest of December features a couple of tough matchups for the Jayhawks (and a buy game), but the games are spread out. Kansas is playing good basketball right now, balanced and physical. They’ll probably go as far as Jalen Wilson takes them and at this point, that looks like it could be pretty far.

4) Iowa State Cyclones (Weekly Record: 2-0)

Game 1: North Dakota Fighting Hawks

Score: ISU: 63 UND: 44

By the Numbers:

+9 in rebounding margin (15 offensive boards).

+8 in turnover margin.

Held the Fighting Hawks to just 17/48 (35.4%) from the field.

Standouts:

Caleb Grill: 16 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals in 34 minutes on 66.7% FG and 80.0% 3P.

Tamin Lipsey: 11 points, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals in 33 minutes on 71.4% FG and 100.0% 3P.

Aljaz Kunc: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals in 24 minutes on 25.0% FG, 33.3% 3P, and 75.0% FT.

Takeaways:

Things were a bit sloppy in the 1st half but much better in the 2nd.

Tamin Lipsey looks to be settling in nicely as the primary facilitator in this offense.

Strong defense allowed the Cyclones to pull away.

Game 2: St. John’s Red Storm

Score: ISU: 71 St. John’s: 60

By the Numbers:

+8 in turnover margin.

Held the Red Storm to just 19/53 (35.8%) from the field.

Opened the game on a 22-5 run over the first 11+ minutes.

Standouts:

Aljaz Kunc: 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 32 minutes on 50.0% FG, 25.0% 3P, and 62.5% FT.

Jaren Holmes: 14 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in 32 minutes on 33.3% FG, 100.0% 3P, and 66.7% FT.

Caleb Grill: 7 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, and 5 steals in 34 minutes on 33.3% FG, 33.3% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

Takeaways:

The defense applied effective pressure, forcing a of lot mistakes by St. John’s.

The guards did a great job cutting to the basket and playing downhill.

Offensively, ISU handled the full-court press with relative ease.

What’s Next: Iowa (12/8) and McNeese State (12/11)

Outlook

Much like last year, the Cyclones have an elite defense and a subpar offense. ISU’s offense currently ranks 196th nationally in Effective FG%. They’ll likely need to improve on the offensive end if they want to truly contend near the top of the Big XII this season. Still, they lead the nation in Defensive Turnover Rate and that will give them a chance to win a lot of basketball games, including against quality opponents in conference play.

5) Texas Tech Red Raiders (Weekly Record: 1-0)

Game 1: Georgetown Hoyas

Score: TTU: 79 Georgetown: 65

By the Numbers:

+18 in rebounding margin (12 offensive boards).

Led by as much as 23 points.

Allowed a 24-3 run in the 2nd half to let the Hoyas back in it.

Standouts:

Jaylon Tyson: 18 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 steals in 30 minutes on 70.0% FG and 80.0% 3P.

Daniel Batcho: 15 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block in 35 minutes on 77.8% FG and 100.0% 3P.

DeVion Harmon: 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals 42.9% FG, 25.0% 3P, and 83.3% FT.

Takeaways:

Tyson’s best collegiate game.

After blowing the big lead, they finished strong.

The more physical team often wins and that was certainly true here.

What’s Next: Nicholls State (12/7)

Outlook

The Red Raiders responded nicely last week after losing a pair of games in Hawaii. Their defense is excellent, and they are getting great play from Batcho down low. The major concern with this team right now is their propensity to turn it over too much on offense. If they can improve their ball security, they are in good shape to have another strong campaign. According to KenPom, they have a 96% or better win probability in their next 5 games leading into Big XII play.

6) Kansas State Wildcats (Weekly Record: 1-1)

Game 1: Butler Bulldogs

Score: KSU: 64 Butler: 76

By the Numbers:

Outscored by 12 points from the 3P line.

Trailed by as much as 20 points.

Three separate 3+ minute scoring droughts.

Standouts:

Keyontae Johnson: 20 points, 12 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals in 36 minutes on 100.0% FG and 100.0% 3P.

Desi Sills: 17 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, and 2 steals in 29 minutes off the bench on 53.3% FG, 25.0% 3P, and 0.0% FT.

Markquis Nowell: 13 points, 1 rebound, 8 assists, and 1 steal in 35 minutes on 33.3% FG, 16.7% 3P, and 100.0% FG.

Takeaways:

Tomlin, Carter, and Massoud were a combined 2/19 (10.5%) from the field in 64 combined minutes. Oof.

Desi Sills flipped the switch, scoring all of his points in the 2nd half.

Johnson, great as he is, can’t do it alone.

Game 2: Wichita State Shockers

Score: KSU: 55 Wichita St.: 50

By the Numbers:

Closed the game on a 16-5 run.

+8 in turnover margin.

Assisted on 13/19 (68.4%) made field goals.

Standouts:

Keyontae Johnson: 17 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 steal in 30 minutes on 50.0% FG, 0.0% 3P, and 50.0% FT.

Markquis Nowell: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 3 steals in 37 minutes on 28.6% FG, 16.7% 3P, and 66.7% FT.

Nae’Qwan Tomlin: 14 points, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in 33 minutes on 41.7% FG, 50.0% 3P, and 50.0% FT.

Takeaways:

This was a nice comeback win for the Wildcats.

The defense was legit.

KSU just kept hanging around until they were able to wear down the Shockers.

What’s Next: Abilene Christian (12/6) and Incarnate Word (12/11)

Outlook

The Wildcats are perfect no more. They lost by double digits to a Butler team that isn’t exactly the cream of the crop in the Big East and then struggled mightily to Wichita State. Their defense is very good. They force a lot of turnovers. They do foul too much which is something they’ll need to fix going forward. Their offense also has some serious question marks in terms of scoring efficiency and a worryingly high Turnover Rate. A pair of buy games this week should give them an opportunity to work out some of those kinks.

7) West Virginia Mountaineers (Weekly Record: 0-1)

Game 1: Xavier Musketeers

Score: WVU: 74 Xavier: 84

By the Numbers:

Led for nearly 30 minutes of the game (including by as much as 11 points).

Outscored by 12 points from the free-throw line.

-6 in rebounding margin (9 offensive boards allowed).

Standouts:

Jimmy Bell, Jr.: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 block in 31 minutes on 100.0% FG and 100.0% FT.

Erik Stevenson: 16 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals in 29 minutes on 38.5% FG, 42.9% 3P, and 75.0% FT.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Joe Toussaint: 9 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 27 minutes off the bench on 27.3% FG, 50.0% 3P, and 66.7% FT.

Takeaways:

Game didn’t feel like a double-digit loss.

Defense had a lot of trouble with Xavier’s Boum in the 2nd half.

Offense totally disappeared in the final 4 minutes of the game.

What’s Next: Navy (12/7) and UAB (12/10)

Outlook

The Mountaineers were let down by the offense at the end of the Xavier game. Offensively there’s a lot to like about this West Virginia group that has thus far been far better on that end of the floor than I thought they’d be before the season started. The defense is solid but they’ve taken losses in each of the past 2 weeks now and will need to steady themselves before Big XII play starts.

8) Texas Christian Horned Frogs (Weekly Record: 1-0)

Game 1: Providence Friars

Score: TCU: 75 Providence: 62

By the Numbers:

+6 in turnover margin.

Opened the 2nd half with a 13-1 run.

6 Frogs scored in double figures.

Standouts:

Eddie Lampkin, Jr.: 16 points and 12 rebounds in 30 minutes on 63.6% FG and 100.0% FT.

Damion Baugh: 10 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals in 31 minutes on 57.1% FG, 100.0% 3P, and 50.0% FT.

Mike Miles, Jr.: 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 1 assist in 34 minutes on 62.5% FG, 33.3% 3P, and 33.3% FT.

Takeaways:

It’s nice to be at full strength finally.

The Frogs had too many options for the Friars to try and stop.

The chemistry looked good as TCU kept a respectable team at a relatively comfortable distance throughout the 2nd half.

What’s Next: Jackson State (12/6) and SMU (12/10)

Outlook

The Horned Frogs finally have everyone available and they’ve rattled off 4 wins in a row since their embarrassing loss to Northwestern State. TCU’s defense looks particularly strong. Offensively, a lot of problems like very poor 3P and FT shooting have been covered up by the team’s strong performance on the offensive glass to this point. We’ll see if the full-strength Frogs can continue to improve as we head toward the end of the year and the start of Big XII play.

9) Oklahoma Sooners (Weekly Record: 0-1)

Game 1: Villanova Wildcats

Score: OU: 66 Nova: 70

By the Numbers:

-6 in turnover margin.

7+ minute scoring drought after leading by 11 points in the 1st half.

+12 in rebounding margin (only 2 offensive boards allowed).

Standouts:

Grant Sherfield: 21 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists in 38 minutes on 43.8% FG, 75.0% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

Tanner Groves: 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists in 31 minutes on 50.0% FG, 0.0% 3P, and 50.0% FT.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma at Villanova Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Jacob Groves: 14 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 33 minutes on 62.5% FG, 66.7% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

Takeaways:

They missed a potentially game-tying free-throw with just over a minute remaining.

This defense is still really good.

Outside of the Groves Bros and Sherfield some other Sooners need to start stepping it up and contributing more consistently.

What’s Next: UMKC (12/6) and Arkansas (12/10)

Outlook

The Sooners snapped their 6-game win streak with a narrow loss to Villanova. Right now, Oklahoma is pretty balanced. Their offense is about as good as their defense and both ends of the floor have been fairly kind to the Sooners. The lingering question marks for this team: offensively, they need to cut down on their turnovers, and defensively, they’ve got to find some additional rim protection from somewhere. This week will tell us a lot about how improved the Sooners are and how much work they have to do before conference play starts.

10) Oklahoma State Cowboys (Weekly Record: 0-1)

Game 1: UConn Huskies

Score: OSU: 64 UConn: 74

By the Numbers:

-10 in turnover margin.

Converted just 22/56 (39.3%) from the field.

Trailed by as much as 19 points.

Standouts:

Kalib Boone: 15 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block in 34 minutes on 41.7% FG and 71.4% FT.

NCAA Basketball: Oklahoma State at Connecticut Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Avery Anderson III: 14 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals in 31 minutes on 38.5% FG, 0.0% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

Caleb Asberry: 11 points, 2 rebounds, and 3 assists in 27 minutes off the bench on 75.0% FG, 75.0% 3P, and 100.0% FT.

Takeaways:

The starting backcourt was an inefficient 34.5% from the field.

Defense had few answers for UConn’s duo of Sonogo and Hawkins who combined for 46 points.

Carelessness with the ball made a comeback impossible.

What’s Next: Sam Houston State (12/6) and Virginia Tech (12/11)

Outlook

The Pokes have the most losses in the conference. It might not be fair to fault them too much for losing to a very good UConn team but they haven’t shown anything to this point that indicates that they should be anywhere but the bottom of the league right now. Their defense has been good, but the offense (particularly the backcourt) has a lot of question marks.

Conclusion

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Gonzaga Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

There’s been a lot of movement in these rankings after a roller coaster of a week for both the Bears and the Big XII. This week figures to be a bit tamer and I expect there to be no more than 1 or 2 losses across the league this week. We’ve only got a few weeks before the holidays get here and Big XII play starts. Every team (other than maybe Texas) is still trying to sort some things out and gain momentum before the gauntlet that is conference play begins. Sic Em!

Stats courtesy of sports-reference.com; kenpom.com; 247sports.com; espn.com; maxreps.com; cbbanalytics.com; and/or shotquality.com.

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