The second day of the Big 12 tournament brought out the conference’s elite teams. After the lower seeds battled for a right to continue on Wednesday, the top four seeds hit the Sprint Center court in Kansas City, Mo. for Thursday’s quarterfinals games.
Action began at 12:30 p.m. ET. and didn't fail to deliver.
Like most conference tournaments, the teams can be divided into a few different groups.
No Chance to Win
The first group is made up of teams that would need a series of minor miracles to come out of the bracket.
That group consists of TCU and Texas Tech, and both of those teams were dispatched on the first day of the tournament.
Neither TCU nor Texas Tech has a prayer of reaching the NCAA tournament. This likely ends a long and disappointing season for both.
Capable, But Not Elite
The next group are long shots but still talented squads. No one can call them favorites, but a strong tournament run wouldn't be the most surprising thing ever.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys, Baylor Bears, Kansas State Wildcats and West Virginia Mountaineers belong to that group.
The Cowboys handed Texas Tech a loss on Wednesday, and Baylor downed TCU. West Virginia will be looking to pull a minor upset over Texas in the late game on Thursday.
Texas swept the season series against West Virginia, but it's always difficult to beat a team three times in a season. Oklahoma State stands out most of all the teams in this grouping.
The team struggled through some tough times this season and bad decisions from its star Marcus Smart. But it has rebounded of late and will pose the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks a stiff challenge in Thursday's second game.
Smart leads his team on both ends of the floor, and that's what excites his coach Travis Ford the most.
This is what Ford said after the Cowboys knocked off Kansas on March 1, per Brian Hamilton of Sports Illustrated:
You can’t say enough about his effort. He is amazing defensively, because he can guard so many different positions and do it at a high level with great intensity.
He soaks up the scouting report. He is really attentive to what we are doing defensively. What I loved about tonight and the Kansas game, is when he was struggling offensively, he was still getting after it on the defensive end. That’s where we need to be.
The next group features the real sleepers. These are fairly legitimate contenders for the conference title but not the top seeds. Iowa State and Texas are the teams to watch here. Texas split the season series with the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks.
It has proven it has the ability to beat the best teams in the conference. Iowa State didn't manage to beat Kansas in the regular season, but the balanced attack led by Melvin Ejim and the head coaching prowess of Fred Hoiberg makes this a dangerous squad.
The Cyclones might be the best offensive team in the nation. Hoiberg has guided Iowa State to an 86-46 record in his time with the school. His success grabbed the attention of NBA general managers as early as last year.
An unnamed GM told Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski: "If I had to make a hire this year, [Hoiberg] would be one of the first calls I'd make. He is a natural for our league."
How long Hoiberg's alma mater will be able to hold on to him remains to be seen, but as long as the Cyclones keep winning, he'll be a hot commodity.
Obviously Kansas is the team to beat, but the Oklahoma Sooners are also a formidable squad. The No. 2-seeded Sooners are about the least discussed 23-8 team in a major conference.
In two games against Kansas, the Sooners have fallen by less than 10 points in both. They would love another chance to crack the Jayhawks' code, but they will have to win two games before they get that opportunity.
Kansas is led by freshmen sensations Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid—though the latter will not play because of a stress fracture in his back, per USA Today's Eric Prisbell.
As dominant as Embiid can be defensively, the Jayhawks are still in good hands with Wiggins, Wayne Selden and the talented members of the roster.
Wiggins exploded for 41 points in the team's last game. It was a loss to West Virginia, but it could turn out to be the turning point in the season for the NBA hopeful. The Embiid injury could signal the moment when Kansas became Wiggins' team.
If he can be assertive and effective, Kansas could still win the Big 12 and NCAA tournaments.
There are four games scheduled. Here are the scores and recaps for all four games, the updated bracket and the Day 3 schedule.
Day 2 Previews and Scores
No. 4 Iowa State 91
No. 5 Kansas State 85
No. 1 Kansas 77
No. 8 Oklahoma State 70 OT
No. 2 Oklahoma 73
No. 7 Baylor 78
No. 3 Texas 66
No. 6 West Virginia 49
|Big 12 Tournament Bracket|
|No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Texas Tech||No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 5 Kansas State||No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 1 Kansas|
|No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 10 TCU||No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 Oklahoma State|
|No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Baylor||No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 3 Texas|
|No. 3 Texas vs. No. 6 West Virginia|
Day 3 Schedule
Friday at 7 p.m. ET
Iowa State vs. Kansas
Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET
Baylor vs. Texas
Day 2 Recaps
Texas Longhorns Manhandle West Virginia Mountaineers, 66-49
Texas poured it on early and often in this blowout performance. After the first half of action, Texas led 35-14, as West Virginia was only shooting just 18 percent from the field. Johnathan Holmes and Javan Felix proved to be too much to handle for the Mountaineers 267th-ranked defense.
The team cruised to a 66-49 win, as Holmes and Felix combined for 36 points on the game and were the only two Longhorns' double-digit scorers.
It was simply an off day for West Virginia. The team's generally solid offense couldn't produce early and didn't have the range from the perimeter to catch up. Hitting six of its 20 attempts from three-point range, West Virginia couldn't muster enough points to come back against a second-half Texas team on cruise control.
The Mountaineers connected on just 30.3 percent of their attempts from the field, while Texas hit 48.9 percent on the evening. The Longhorns were also more aggressive in the paint, out rebounding West Virginia 40-34.
We are in for a treat on Friday, as the Longhorns are set to take on Baylor. However, if Baylor's defense collapses like it did against the Sooners earlier on Thursday, it could be another big day for these Texas standouts.
Baylor Bears Hold on, Upset Oklahoma Sooners, 78-73
It was a tale of two halves for Baylor on Thursday night. The team started out on fire, finishing the first half with a 47-31 lead. The Bears extended their lead to 21 points; however, they lost momentum in the second half and allowed the Sooners to get right back in the game.
With just over one minute left in the game, a Buddy Heild three-point attempt found its mark and pulled Oklahoma within four. Unfortunately for the Sooners, they couldn't capitalize and Baylor was able to hold on for the five-point victory.
Isaiah Austin was fantastic for Baylor on Thursday. He connected on eight of his 12 attempts from the field, scoring 18 points, and adding five rebounds, two assists, one steal and five blocks. He was simply everywhere.
Not only was Austin great on offense, but he is a defensive playmaker as well. Sportscaster Dave Armstrong noted his prowess, according to a tweet from the Baylor Basketball Twitter account:
However, Austin received plenty of help, as all five of Baylor's starters put up at least 12 points.
Even though they struggled in the second half, the Bears still shot 50 percent from the field as a team and out rebounded the Sooners 37 to 34.
After Oklahoma dug itself into such a deep hole, the team was forced to shoot from the perimeter, attempting a whopping 35 three's, connecting on 12 of them.
With this win, Baylor moves on to Friday's semifinals and will face the winner of Texas against West Virginia.
Kansas Jayhawks Fend Off Oklahoma State Cowboys in Overtime, 77-70
In one of the most exciting games we have seen this March, Kansas overcame a surging Oklahoma State team due to the stellar play of Andrew Wiggins. Wiggins scored 30 points, adding eight rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block, leading the Jayhawks to a 77-70 overtime victory.
The win certainly did not come easy. Oklahoma State has been one of the nation's better teams since the return of Marcus Smart from his three-game suspension. On Thursday, Smart executed very well once again, scoring 14 points, adding seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Oklahoma State's depth was on display, as four different players scored at least 12 points. However, that wasn't enough to overcome the enigmatic Wiggins.
After a dominant first half from Kansas, leading 32-23 at the break, the Cowboys surged back in the second half of the contest and effectively took a late lead.
However, Wiggins continued his hot shooting, nailing a jumper with one minute left to tie the game up at 67. The teams then traded possessions but couldn't get anything to drop, sending the game into overtime.
The Cowboys led early in the overtime period after Phil Forte nailed a three within the first minute. But after that, it was all Jayhawks, as Kansas scored the final seven points of the game.
After the win, Wiggins expressed his delight of playing in March, according to a tweet from Kansas Gameday:
Kansas head coach Bill Self explained that Wiggins is a very well-rounded player, according to a tweet from Kansas Gameday:
With the win, Kansas will move on to play Iowa State, in what is sure to be an offensively charged, high-octane battle on Friday.
Iowa State Cyclones Outgun Kansas State Wildcats, 91-85
In a high-scoring opener to Thursday's action, Melvin Ejim's 24 points and 10 rebounds led Iowa State past Kansas State and into the semifinals. It was a nip-and-tuck thriller the entire way.
The game was a battle from tipoff. After both teams traded blows back and forth, the first half ended with Iowa State holding on to a 44-41 lead.
In the second half, the Wildcats held a brief lead, but couldn't sustain it. A pair of free throws from Dustin Hogue and a three from Ejim made the score 66-64 Iowa State.
That sequence put the Cyclones on top to stay. The win was especially impressive because Iowa State played the final 3:55 without guard DeAndre Kane. He fouled out after an offensive foul with his team up by just two points.
The Cyclones showed depth and poise to hold on without one of its leaders.
Rob Dauster of NBC Sports talks about how this college hoops appetizer has set up the rest of the day of basketball:
We can only hope the other games are as good.
Iowa State's balanced attack is what got it the win. Ejim and Dustin Hogue gave the Cyclones double-double performances. Hogue had 19 points and 10 rebounds as Fred Hoiberg's club out-rebounded the Wildcats 38-29.
Marcus Foster led the Wildcats with 21 points. He nailed a three-pointer with 1:04 left to trim the Cyclones' lead to 87-85, but the Wildcats couldn't score again.
Despite the loss, Kansas State is a lock for the NCAA tournament at 20-12. The team had five wins over Top 25 teams during the regular season. That includes an 80-73 win over Iowa State on March 1.
That said, Thursday's loss marks the third straight for the team. This isn't exactly how it wanted to head into the NCAA tournament.
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