Monday, January 30, 2012
Conference Power Rankings: Big 12
By Jason King
Here are this week’s Big 12 Power Rankings:
1. Kansas: Saturday’s 72-64 loss at Iowa State snapped a 10-game winning streak. The Jayhawks should beat Oklahoma at home Wednesday, but then face consecutive road games at Missouri on Feb. 4 and Baylor on Feb. 8. Thomas Robinson's numbers (15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds) have been down a bit in his past two games.
2. Missouri: The Tigers’ 79-72 loss on Jan. 25 at Oklahoma State was one of the more stunning results of the conference season. Two of Missouri’s past three opponents have shot 57 percent or better from the field. Saturday’s game against Kansas may mark the last time the Jayhawks and Tigers ever play at Mizzou Arena.
3. Baylor: The Bears bounced back from a tough 89-88 home loss to Missouri on Jan. 21 with back-to-back victories against Oklahoma and Texas. Perry Jones III, who has been battling an ankle injury, averaged 21.5 points and 13.5 rebounds in the two wins. The Bears’ next two games -- against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State -- are on the road.
4. Iowa State: The Cyclones still have some work to do before they can feel good about their chances of an NCAA tournament berth, but Saturday’s 72-64 victory over Kansas certainly enhances their résumé. Iowa State had lost 14 straight to the Jayhawks before Saturday and hadn’t defeated Kansas in Ames since 2004.
5. Texas: Their record may not show it, but the Longhorns are getting better. Rick Barnes’ squad gave Kansas all it could handle on Jan. 21 before beating Iowa State in Austin a few days later. Texas battled back Saturday from a double-digit deficit to tie Baylor late in the second half before the Bears pulled away for a 76-71 victory in Waco. J'Covan Brown (19.7 points) is one of the country’s most underrated players.
6. Oklahoma: Two of the Sooners’ three Big 12 victories are against Kansas State. Guard Steven Pledger scored 30 points on 11-of-17 shooting in Saturday’s 63-60 victory in Manhattan. Things will only get tougher from here, as Oklahoma’s next three games are against Kansas, Iowa State and Missouri.
7. Kansas State: Saturday’s home 63-60 loss to Oklahoma was a huge momentum-killer for a Wildcats squad that entered the game with three straight wins. The Big 12 championship appears to be falling out of Kansas State’s reach, but this is still a Top-25 caliber team when everything is clicking. A win at Iowa State on Tuesday would be huge.
8. Texas A&M: The Aggies are improving at a rapid pace. They lost by only 10 points (64-54) to Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse this past week, before defeating Oklahoma State by 15 points (76-61) at home Saturday. Khris Middleton (knee) didn’t play in either game. Elston Turner is averaging 23.3 points in his past three contests.
9. Oklahoma State: So much for capitalizing on momentum. Less than a week after upsetting then-No. 2 Missouri in Stillwater, the Cowboys reverted back to their old ways in Saturday’s lopsided defeat at Texas A&M. This team needs to prove it can win on the road.
10. Texas Tech: Don’t be surprised if Texas Tech doesn’t win a Big 12 game. There simply aren’t enough Division I-caliber players on the roster. Give the Red Raiders and first-year coach Billy Gillispie credit, however, for keeping things close in Saturday’s 13-point loss at Missouri. Tuesday’s home game against Oklahoma State may be Texas Tech’s best remaining opportunity for a league victory.