Big 12 Basketball: The Most Glaring Flaw for Every Team
Big 12 basketball is pretty deep at the top of the league standings this season. There are six teams within one loss of one another, making the Big 12 race compelling down the stretch.
Since there are a number of teams who could end up as the top seed in the Big 12 Tournament, that means there isn’t a dominant team out there and all these teams have flaws that could be their shortcoming.
Here are the most glaring flaws for every Big 12 team.
TCU is near the bottom of the Big 12 in almost every statistical category on offense. The Horned Frogs are last in the conference in scoring (54 points per game), field goal percentage (40.1 percent), free throw percentage (59.4 percent), assists (9.6 assists per game), assist-to-turnover ratio (0.69), and offensive rebound percentage (0.32).
While TCU’s low-scoring offense can be attributed somewhat to its slow tempo, the efficiency numbers don’t paint a prettier picture. The Horned Frogs are ranked No. 327 nationally in offensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. TCU is scoring just 87.5 points per 100 possessions, which is last among all power conference schools.
Flaw: Three-point shooting
Texas Tech has been brutal from beyond the arc. The Red Raiders are shooting 26.7 percent from three-point range, which is dead last in the Big 12. Of the 10 players who average double-digit minutes for Texas Tech, four are shooting less than 20 percent from long distance.
As a result, the Red Raiders have trouble scoring. Texas Tech has hit the 60-point mark just three times in its first 10 conference games. Four times the Red Raiders have failed to score 50 points in conference play.
Flaw: Point guard play
Texas had to play its first 23 games without starting point guard Myck Kabongo, who was suspended due to improper benefits, and the effect it had on the offensive end of the floor was obvious. The Longhorns rank last in the Big 12 in turnover margin (-1.78), and they are No. 8 in both assists (11.7 assists per game) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.75).
Kabongo’s absence has been a big reason why Texas has started 2-8 in conference play with wins coming over Texas Tech and TCU at home. True freshman Javan Felix has been pressed into a primary role before he’s ready. Felix has averaged 8.2 points and 5.5 assists per game, but he has issues with turnovers. He turned the ball over eight times in a 72-59 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Flaw: No primary scorer
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins had to replace a lot when Kevin Jones graduated. Jones led the Big East in scoring at 19.9 points per game and rebounding with 10.9 rebounds per game. This year, no one has stepped up to fill the void left by Jones.
West Virginia does not have a player who averages more than 9.5 points per game. Aaric Murray is the Mountaineers’ leading scorer, and he is certainly talented enough to be a big time player. However, Murray is wildly inconsistent, scoring 17 points against Kansas and a week later scoring just one against Texas.
Flaw: Can’t win tight games
Baylor has put itself in decent position to earn an NCAA Tournament bid, but the Bears have not fared well in close games. Baylor is just 2-7 in games decided by less than 10 points. That includes the 69-67 overtime loss at Oklahoma State on Feb. 6 when the Bears let Markel Brown go the length of the court for a layup in the final five seconds.
Five of those losses came against teams with an RPI that is No. 37 or higher. Baylor not only needs to start winning more close games, it also needs to start capitalizing on its opportunities against better teams.
Flaw: Protecting the rim
Of Iowa State’s top six players in its rotation, no one is taller than 6’7”. The Cyclones rank eighth in the Big 12 in blocked shots with 3.1 per game, and no one on the roster averages more than 0.8 blocks per game.
As a result, opponents are shooting 46.2 percent from the inside the arc. That number isn’t terrible, ranking No. 131 nationally, according to KenPom.com. However, the Cyclones could certainly benefit from having an enforcer in the middle of the defense.
Flaw: Three-point shooting
Oklahoma ranks seventh in the Big 12 in three-point shooting percentage, making just 31.1 percent from beyond the arc. The Sooners are eighth in made three-point field goals with 4.6 per game. It isn’t a huge deal, considering Oklahoma attempts 14.7 threes per game. The Sooners are not reliant on the three ball, which is a good thing, but it also does not help if they fall behind and are trying to play catch-up.
Steven Pledger is the only consistent threat from deep. He has made a team-high 42 threes so far this season, shooting 33.6 percent. No one else on the roster has made more than 19 shots from beyond the arc in the team’s first 23 games.
Flaw: Inconsistency of Le’Bryan Nash
Le’Bryan Nash is the X-factor for Oklahoma State. He has elite athleticism and is very physical. When it is all said and done, Nash could very well find himself as a first round pick in the NBA draft. The problem is that Travis Ford can’t be completely sure what to expect from Nash every game.
Nash put up at least 20 points in three of Oklahoma State’s first five games, but he has failed to score at least 10 in six of the last 12 games. He had 24 points at Baylor one game and two points against West Virginia the next. He had a game with zero rebounds and a game with nine rebounds. If Nash gives consistent production come March, the Cowboys will be very dangerous.
Flaw: Finishing at the rim
Kansas State is shooting just 46.1 percent from inside the three-point line. That mark ranks No. 228 nationally, according to KenPom.com.
The Wildcats’ struggles from in close came into play during their losses to Kansas and Gonzaga. In those three games, Kansas State made just 37.5 percent of its shots from the two-point area.
Flaw: Point guard play
Elijah Johnson moved into the role of the primary ball handler this season after Tyshawn Taylor’s departure, and Johnson has not given Bill Self the consistent play he is looking for. In his last eight games, Johnson has scored in double figures just once and has committed at least three turnovers. He is also shooting just 25 percent from the field in that span.
Naadir Tharpe has played at least 22 minutes in each of the last three games to try to take some of the burden off Johnson. His last time out against Kansas State, Tharpe had seven points, eight assists, and just one turnover in 27 minutes.