Monday, December 19, 2011
Conference power rankings: Big 12
By Jason King
Here are the latest Big 12 power rankings, which feature a few changes from last week.
1. Baylor: The Bears notched one of the best road wins in school history Saturday when they knocked off BYU 86-83 in front of 22,700 in Provo. Perry Jones III scored a career-high 28 points, but things will only get tougher from here. Baylor plays St. Mary's and West Virginia in this week's Las Vegas Classic before taking on Mississippi State in Dallas on Dec. 28. Baylor needs to get tougher in the paint -- the Bears were outrebounded 41-26 by BYU.
2. Missouri: The Tigers' biggest test to date comes Thursday when they play Illinois in the annual Braggin' Rights game in St. Louis. The showdown lost a bit of its luster when the previously unbeaten Illini were stomped by UNLV in Chicago on Saturday. Don't be surprised if Missouri wins in a blowout.
3. Kansas: Just eight days removed from a minor knee injury, point guard Tyshawn Taylor is expected to return to the court when the Jayhawks face Davidson on Monday in Kansas City. Kansas, which is getting 17.8 points and 11.4 rebounds from Thomas Robinson, visits USC on Thursday to take on the undermanned Trojans.
4. Kansas State: The Wildcats' 71-58 victory Saturday over Alabama was one of the best nonconference victories of the season for a Big 12 squad. Point guard Angel Rodriguez (13 points, seven assists) and forward Jordan Henriquez (17 points, eight boards) provided a huge spark off the bench for a K-State squad that opens play in the Diamond Head Classic on Thursday against struggling Southern Illinois.
5. Texas: The Longhorns are getting better -- fast. Saturday's win over Temple was the seventh in a row for Texas, with each of the victories coming by double digits. After a somewhat slow start, freshman point guard Myck Kabongo is starting to catch on. He's averaged 12.2 points and 6.5 assists in his past five games.
6. Texas A&M: Injured forward Khris Middleton (knee) has returned to the lineup, but it didn't make much difference in Saturday's 20-point loss to Florida. The Aggies, who have yet to beat anyone of any significance, continue to have trouble scoring. They've averaged just 60 points in their past seven games.
7. Oklahoma:Steven Pledger is averaging 19.5 points for a Sooners squad that has been the surprise team of the league. Last week's victories over Arkansas and Houston should provide a huge momentum boost for a team that's adapted quickly to first-year coach Lon Kruger.
8. Iowa State: The Cyclones have just two games between now and Jan. 4. Coach Fred Hoiberg hopes to use that time to find the cohesion that has been missing from his team. Forward Royce White leads Iowa State in points, rebounds and assists.
9. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have lost four of their past seven games. Highly touted freshman wing LeBryan Nash is shooting just 37.4 percent from the field and 30 percent from beyond the arc. Oklahoma State will be hard-pressed Wednesday to beat an athletic Alabama team that will defend the Cowboys harder than they've been defended all season.
10. Texas Tech: Billy Gillispie's rebuilding project continues in Lubbock, where the Red Raiders are preparing for a huge game Wednesday at Oral Roberts, which is coming off a blowout win at Xavier. A victory would give Texas Tech a much-needed jolt of momentum, which they'll certainly need for Gillispie's intense practices during winter break.