Big 12 Basketball Power Rankings 2.0: Cowboy Up
After a weekend full of Big 12 action, the second edition of Big 12 Basketball Power Rankings has seen some risers and some fallers. Let's check it out.
1. Kansas Jayhawks (18-1, 4-0) LW: 1
Since last Wednesday the Kansas Jayhawks have done what they always do—win. Last Wednesday the Jayhawks knocked off Baylor 81-75. However, the Bears gave KU all they could handle, as the game was decided in the waning seconds by free throws. The 'Hawks followed this hard fought victory with a 84-61 dismantling of Iowa State in Aimes, Iowa.
However, the Baylor game exposed KU's lack of depth. They leaned heavily on their starters as they only got four points from their bench, all four coming from Markief Morris. Of the six players who came off the bench, only three played considerable minutes. In the closing minutes of the game, this weakness allowed Baylor to control the tempo and hang on for as long as they did.
KU hosts archrival Missouri tonight in a nationally televised matchup before they travel to Kansas State on Saturday for a much anticipated Sunflower State Showdown. The winner of that game will not only claim bragging rights within the state of tumbleweeds and cornfields, but will be sitting pretty atop the Big 12.
2. Oklahoma State Cowboys (15-4, 3-2) LW: 7
Making the biggest climb this week are the Cowboys from Stillwater, Oklahoma. After beating Colorado 90-78 in Boulder, the Cowboys handed No. 9 Kansas State their second conference loss in Manhattan.
The Big 12's leading scorer, junior guard James Anderson, tallied 30 points in their victory over the Wildcats, while Matt Pilgram and Nick Sidorakis combined for 15 points off the bench. This offense was much appreciated to counter starter Keaton Page's five points, as he only shot 1-5 from three-point land.
This week the Cowboys play host to Texas A&M and travel to Columbia, Missouri to take on the Missouri Tigers. Page will need to find his stroke quickly and the Cowboys must continue to receive quality minutes from their bench to hang with the depth and offensive firepower possessed by Missouri.
3. Kansas State Wildcats (16-3, 3-2) LW: 2
After their victory against Texas, I think every sports fan, along with myself, jinxed the Wildcats when they jumped on the K-State bandwagon quicker than VH1 picks up B-List celebs for reality shows.
Five days after their defeat of the then No. 1 Longhorns, the Wildcats lost 90-78 to Oklahoma State on the same floor. In that game, Jacob Cullen went a miserable 2-15 from the floor, causing OSU guards to swarm fellow guard Denis Clemente. Clemente struggled with the extra pressure, as did the Wildcats.
In fact, in K-State's three losses, Pullen has shot 11 for 44, only 25 percent. When the shots aren't falling for the junior guard from Maywood, Illinois it puts extra pressure on Clemente. While K-State is more known for their team approach, they need their stars to produce to compete for a Big 12 championship.
4. Baylor Bears (15-3, 2-2) LW: 4
The lack of games against ranked opponents (the game vs. KU was their first against a ranked team) did not seem to affect Baylor as they gave KU all they could handle on the 20th. Baylor shot 52 percent from the floor, as well as 48 percent from three-point range, to keep the game close.
KU only held a double digit lead once, when it used an 8-1 run to go up 60-50 with seven minutes to go. But Baylor used that hot shooting to pull back, trailing by as little as two with 1:30 to play.
Baylor continued its cupcake schedule with a questionable matchup against UMass. Although they came away a 71-48 winner, fans in Waco might be asking if that was the best way to prepare for a two-game stretch that includes games against K-State and at Texas this week.
5. Texas Longhorns (17-2, 3-1) LW: 3
Oh how the mighty have fallen. After ripping off 17 straight to start the campaign, Rick Barnes & Co. have dropped back-to-back games. After a rocky start to Big 12 play which saw the 'Horns win games against Colorado, Iowa State, and Texas A&M by an average of nine points (largely skewed due to a 103-86 beat down of CU), Texas traveled to UConn where they suffered a total collapse. They blew an eight-point halftime lead before losing 88-74.
Check last week's edition and you'll see the source. Dexter Pittman was on the bench most of the game with foul trouble and managed only five points and two rebounds in 15 minutes before eventually fouling out. This forced Texas to rely on seldom used forwards Matt Hill and Clint Chapman who combined for two points on 1-6 shooting and two rebounds. More importantly, this allowed Stanley Robinson and the rest of the UConn frontcourt to dominate the post.
This week Texas returns to Austin to lick their wounds for back-to-back games with in-state schools Texas Tech and Baylor.
6. Missouri Tigers (15-4, 3-1) LW: 5
The Tigers' only action since last week was a home game against lowly Nebraska on Saturday. However, Nebraska's grinding game plan forced the Tigers out of their comfort zone and it showed in a 70-53 victory that was much closer than the final score. The Tigers needed a 15-1 second half run, fueled in large part by reserve guard Miguel Paul's 15 points, his first points of Big 12 play.
An inspiring fact for Tiger fans should be the long awaited presence on the boards displayed on Saturday night. Although they finished tied in rebounds with the 'Huskers at 28 apiece, Missouri forward Justin Safford finally woke up this year and tallied his first double digit rebounding output, pulling down 11 boards.
Missouri takes on No. 2 Kansas in Lawrence tonight before hosting Oklahoma State Saturday in a matchup that should see a lot of scoring.
7. Texas Tech Red Raiders (14-5, 2-3) LW: 8
Pat Knight's squad enjoyed their first two conference wins, beating Iowa State and Oklahoma at home. However, both of those games were closer than they should've been, as the Red Raiders shot a combined 57.5 percent from the free throw line in those two victories.
Mike Singletary will need to keep playing out of his mind (23 points and 11 rebounds vs. ISU, 24 and 10 vs. Oklahoma) for Texas Tech to have a shot against big brother Texas this week in Austin.
8. Texas A&M Aggies (14-5, 3-2) LW: 7
The Aggies were only able to beat Colorado by four points in giving the Buffs their ninth loss of the year. The game was tied at 59 with 48 seconds to play before senior guard Donald Sloan nailed four late free throws to give A&M the 67-63 win. A&M turned the ball over 12 times, right at their season average, including 10 swipes from Colorado.
For the Aggies to stay relevant this year in the Big 12, they will have to do a better job of controlling the ball or they will be eaten alive by the swarming defenses of Missouri and Texas later in Big 12 play.
9. Oklahoma Sooners (11-8, 2-3) LW: 9
Oklahoma stays put at nine after dropping a 75-65 matchup to Texas Tech in Lubbock. Texas Tech outscored OU by 18 points in the second half and forced them into 16 turnovers. The absence of Willie Warren affected the Sooners deeply, as Tony Crocker and Tommy Mason-Griffin combined for 46 of the Sooners' 65 points.
This week they face Iowa State and travel to Nebraska.
10. Iowa State Cyclones (12-7, 1-3) LW: 11
Since losing starting guard Lucca Staiher to Germany, the Cyclones have at least competed. Sorta.
They lost to Texas Tech in Lubbock by only seven, before being blown out by 23 at the hands of Kansas. Even with Staiher and some of his new professional teammates, the score would have most likely been the same.
The Cyclones beat themselves against Kansas, turning the ball over 17 times and shooting a mediocre 65 percent from the free throw line.
11. Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-7, 0-4) LW: 12
Slow and steady wins the race. Up one spot from last week, the Huskers' version of "winning the race" realistically is more aimed for a middle of the pack finish in the Big 12. However, they had a positive showing last Saturday in front of a 15,000-plus sold out Mizzou Arena.
Nebraska kept their composure and executed their game plan, slowing Missouri down and only trailing by two at half. They pestered Kimmie English as he scored only six points and hit 1-5 from three-point range. In Lincoln, Nebraska should use this combination of tempo and defense to surprise a few people this season.
12. Colorado Buffaloes (10-9, 1-4) LW: 10
Heading into this week they were allowing the second most points in the Big 12 at 73 a game. They helped "pad" that stat by allowing 90 points to Oklahoma State.
This week proves hopeful for the Buffs, however, as they take on Nebraska and Iowa State who rank last and ninth, respectively, in scoring in the conference.
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