Dallas Colleges: Basketball
Baylor has a chance to alter the conference race because it has remaining home games against K-State (Saturday) and Kansas (March 9). The Bears were waxed during their initial meetings with the Jayhawks and Wildcats, but they're talented enough to beat both teams if the stars align and the moon is full. Whatever happens, the final week of the season should be interesting. Here are this week's power rankings.
1. Kansas: Elijah Johnson's 39-point performance in Monday's overtime win at Iowa State marked the best game by a Big 12 player this season. A healthy and aggressive Johnson could be the difference in this team winning a game or two in the NCAA tournament and making the Final Four. Ben McLemore is averaging just 10.3 points in his past four games.
2. Kansas State: The Wildcats have won eight of their past nine games. They look better every time they step on the court. K-State's shot selection is good and they're playing tough defense. Shane Southwell has made 10 of his past 17 attempts from 3-point range. The Wildcats' past six wins have come by nine points or more, including a 20-point thrashing of Baylor on Feb. 16.
3. Oklahoma State: Le'Bryan Nash snapped out of a mini-funk Wednesday and scored a career-high 28 points in the Cowboys' 64-47 drubbing of TCU. Nash is averaging 19.5 points in his past four games. OSU has three tough games remaining against Texas, Iowa State and Kansas State. But only one of those contests (Iowa State) is away from home.
4. Iowa State: The Cyclones (19-9, 9-6) might be the most snakebitten team in the Big 12. Three of their losses have come in overtime and another occurred on a last-second basket at Oklahoma State. Fred Hoiberg's squad ranks fourth in the nation in scoring (80.1), 12th in assists (16.3) and 19th in rebounds (39.3). Saturday's game at Oklahoma will be pivotal in terms of NCAA tournament seeding.
5. Oklahoma: Lon Kruger's squad led Texas by as many as 22 points in the second half Wednesday before wilting down the stretch in a 92-86 overtime loss. The Sooners, who are getting a team-high 15 points per game from Romero Osby, will have a tough chore Saturday against Iowa State, a team they lost to by 19 points earlier this season. Things get easier after that with a home game against West Virginia and a road tilt with TCU to close the regular season.
6. Baylor: If the season ended today, the Bears wouldn't deserve to be in the NCAA tournament. But they still have plenty of opportunities to play their way into the field with remaining home games against No. 13 Kansas State and No. 6 Kansas. Both of those contests are at home. A win at Texas on Monday would also enhance Baylor's résumé. Scott Drew's squad has been a disappointment, but the talent is still there to upset anyone.
7. Texas: Even though the Longhorns have lost to West Virginia twice, I'm still ranking them above the Mountaineers, based on their current play. Overtime home wins against Iowa State and Oklahoma proved that Texas hasn't given up during the worst season in coach Rick Barnes' tenure. Myck Kabongo had 31 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals in Wednesday's overtime win against Oklahoma. He's averaging 11.2 fee throw attempts in his past five games.
8. West Virginia: Each of the Mountaineers' six Big 12 wins have come against teams ranked eighth, ninth or 10th in the league standings. West Virginia's leading scorer (Eron Harris) is only averaging 9.3 points. Harris, a freshman, turned in an encouraging performance by scoring 25 points in Wednesday's home loss to Baylor. With upcoming road games at Kansas and Oklahoma and a home game with Iowa State, the Mountaineers may not win again.
9. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are just 2-13 in Big 12 play and haven't won a game since beating Iowa State on Jan. 23. They'll likely be favored at home Saturday against TCU, a team it beat in the conference opener. And there's a chance Texas Tech could sneak up on Texas on March 9 in Lubbock. Freshman point guard Josh Gray (9.7 points, 3.2 assists) is showing positive signs.
10. TCU: The season can't end fast enough for the Horned Frogs, whose only Big 12 victory came in that stunner against Kansas on Feb. 6. Each of TCU's 14 Big 12 losses have come by nine points or more. It will be interesting to see how competitive Trent Johnson's squad is in Saturday's road game against fellow Big 12 bottom feeder Texas Tech.
Now the landscape has changed.
Four days after losing to Oklahoma State in Lawrence, KU suffered one of the biggest upsets in recent college basketball memory -- and easily the biggest in school history -- when it fell to last-place TCU on Wednesday in Fort Worth. Just like that, the race for the Big 12 title is wide-open, with six teams in the mix for the trophy.
Here are this week's power rankings. And remember, these rankings are based on how teams are playing at the moment. Kansas, for instance, touts the best record in the league at 19-3. But the Jayhawks have been terrible lately, which is why they're at No. 4.
1. Kansas State. The Wildcats have done a good job of winning the games they are supposed to win, but we'll find out what this team is truly made of in the next three days. K-State hosts a red-hot Iowa State team on Saturday before traveling to Lawrence to face Kansas on Monday. The Cyclones and Jayhawks handed K-State its only two Big 12 losses this season, so Bruce Weber's players should be foaming at the mouth for these two games. If the Wildcats come out in attack mode, they can win both of them -- and perhaps even a Big 12 title.
2. Oklahoma State. What a stretch this has been for the Cowboys. On Jan. 30 they beat Iowa State on a Marcus Smart layup with three seconds remaining. Three days later OSU became just the second team in 104 games to defeat Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, and then on Wednesday it toppled Baylor in overtime. The schedule sets up nicely for Travis Ford's team the rest of the way.
3. Iowa State. In Monday's win over Oklahoma, six Cyclones made 3-pointers in the first 12 minutes of the game. That's how potent this Iowa State offense can be. The problem with Iowa State is that it hasn't been able to win on the road. Fred Hoiberg's squad is 1-3 in league games away from Hilton Coliseum, although it's worth pointing out that ISU played well in losses at Kansas (97-89 in overtime) and Oklahoma State (78-76). Three of the Cyclones' next four games are on the road starting with Saturday's tilt at K-State.
4. Kansas. To put Wednesday's loss to TCU into perspective ... Jerry Palm, who crunches basketball numbers for cbssports.com, said TCU's victory marked the biggest upset in RPI difference in the 20 years he's been tracking numbers. Kansas entered the game No. 7 in RPI, TCU No. 237. KU's field goal percentage (29.5) was its worst in the Bill Self era, and so was its first-half point total (13). The Jayhawks hadn't lost consecutive games since 2006. And they haven't lost three straight since 2005. Kansas plays at Oklahoma on Saturday.
5. Oklahoma. The Sooners have lost four of their past six games, but they'll be catching Kansas at the perfect time this weekend. Oklahoma needs to get more out of Romero Osby, who is averaging 13.8 points on the season but only 10.5 points in his past four games. It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd shows up at the Lloyd Noble Center on Saturday. A sold-out arena would certainly help OU's chances.
6. Baylor. The Bears have lost three straight games by an average of 4.3 points. They are 2-7 in games decided by single digits, mainly because they make horrible decisions and shoot ill-advised, forced shots at the end of close games. And often it's the wrong player taking those shots. Baylor's next two games (against Texas Tech and West Virginia) are at home. Isaiah Austin is averaging 14 rebounds in his past three games.
7. West Virginia. The Mountaineers have won two in a row -- and there's a significant chance they could stretch that streak to four. Bob Huggins' squad plays at TCU on Saturday and then returns to the Lone Star State on Wednesday to face struggling Baylor. As a team West Virginia shoots just 40.3 percent from the field, a mark that ranks 303rd in the country.
8. Texas. The Longhorns host a hot Oklahoma State team on Saturday before welcoming back suspended point guard Myck Kabongo for Wednesday's game against Iowa State in Austin. Beneficial as it will be to get Kabongo back on the court, it may not make much difference in UT's season. The Longhorns are 10-12 overall and 2-7 in the Big 12. Barring a miracle, they'll miss the NCAA tournament for the first time in Rick Barnes' 14 seasons.
9. Texas Tech. The Red Raiders may be improving, but it's not showing up on the scoreboard. Texas Tech is 2-7 in league play, with the seven losses coming by an average of 19.8 points. Baylor and Oklahoma State each beat Texas Tech by 34 points. Those are the Red Raiders' next two opponents.
10. TCU. The Horned Frogs' victory over Kansas on Wednesday is even more amazing when you consider that they shot 39.1 percent from the field, shot 30.8 percent from 3-point range and lost the offensive-rebound battle 17-6. TCU also missed 16 free throws but still won 62-55.
6. Texas A&M. There’s good Texas A&M and bad Texas A&M. Bad Texas A&M is ranked 110th in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy. But the Aggies’ grit has helped them overcome those problems in multiple games this season. They held a double-digit lead over Missouri in the last six minutes of Thursday’s win. They squandered that advantage but made big plays down the stretch. (Fabyon Harris hit a game-winning 3-pointer in the final seconds.) That was good Texas A&M. The Aggies have wins over Missouri, Kentucky and Arkansas.
Oklahoma State at Baylor, 5:30 p.m. ET, ESPN: What if I told you that the final score of Baylor's last home game was -- wait for it -- 107-38? And that they set a school winning margin record in doing so? You would probably be really impressed, right? Don't be. The Bears racked up that tally against Hardin-Simmons, which is not a Division I opponent. I suppose if you insist on being impressed by that win, you could point to the fact that Baylor was able to destroy poor law firm-rec league-sounding Hardin-Simmons without Pierre Jackson and Isaiah Austin, whom coach Scott Drew elected to rest on Saturday. Your mileage may vary.
Anyway, if there is anything to take away from that game (beyond the fact that non-D1 opponents like Hardin-Simmons are exempt from RPI calculations, which is why it is savvy to schedule one or two a season and get a guaranteed tune-up game without the requisite RPI hit) it is that both Jackson and Austin don't have to fight the fatigue of a two-day turnaround when Oklahoma State comes to town this afternoon.
That is good news, because the Bears will need both. The Cowboys have built their 2012-13 renewal on one of the nation's five-best defensive efforts this season. Freshman point guard Marcus Smart's much-lauded intangibles don't always show up in the box score, but where they do show up is on the defensive end, where Smart ranks in the top 15 in the country in steals rate and blocks 3.3 shots for every 100 possessions. He is a difficult guard to play against, because his combination of size and quickness makes him uniquely immovable when he is planted in front of an opposing guard. That lockdown work on the perimeter, combined with Oklahoma State's impressive basket protection inside the arc (OSU opponents make just 40.1 percent of their twos), have fueled this season's impressive revival.
It's also precisely why Jackson and Austin need to be well rested and ready to go. Jackson might be the quickest guard in the country and serves not only as Baylor's primary scorer but its top assist man; everything runs through him. And Austin, the talented 7-footer with real guard skills, has had a good but not great freshman season. To hold on to a win in Waco, Jackson may need to dominate, and Austin will definitely need to be a presence in the paint. So, yes. It's good they sat out against Hardin-Simmons. (It was probably good for Hardin-Simmons, too.)
1. Kansas. The Jayhawks' offense has sputtered a bit lately, but defensively Bill Self's squad has been stout. The Jayhawks held Baylor to 44 points on 23.2 percent shooting Monday. Leading scorer Ben McLemore injured his ankle but is expected to play against Texas on Saturday in Austin.
2. Iowa State. After nearly upsetting KU in Lawrence nine days ago, Iowa State has defeated Texas by 20 points and staved off a late rally by West Virginia. The Cyclones' next two games are road tilts against the league's worst two teams: TCU and Texas Tech.
3. Kansas State. No other player in the Big 12 has been as good as Rodney McGruder since the beginning of conference play. The senior is averaging 22 points per game against Big 12 opponents and is shooting 54 percent from the field. Center Jordan Henriquez has given his team a nice boost off the bench in recent weeks.
4. Baylor. The Bears can't be as bad as they looked against Kansas on Monday, can they? Baylor is in for a long Big 12 season if it doesn't show more discipline and start taking better shots. Baylor plays a nonconference game against Hardin-Simmons on Saturday before hosting Oklahoma State in a crucial contest Monday night.
5. Oklahoma. The Sooners hit the jackpot by hiring Lon Kruger. Oklahoma is one of the league's three remaining undefeated teams along with Kansas and K-State. Romero Osby leads the team in points (13.7) and rebounds (6.3). Saturday's game at K-State is huge for both teams. Four of OU's next six games are on the road.
6. Oklahoma State. By the time they take the court for Saturday's game against Texas Tech, the Cowboys will have had a week to think about last weekend's 77-68 loss to rival Oklahoma in Norman. Marcus Smart has shown great leadership, but he's shooting just 41.3 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from 3-point range.
7. West Virginia. The Mountaineers haven't lived up to their expectations, but they certainly appear to be getting better, especially in the toughness department. Bob Huggins' squad erased an 18-point second-half deficit against Iowa State but lost when Cyclones forward Georges Niang hit a layup with 2.5 seconds remaining. WVU is a threat to beat anyone in the conference.
8. Texas. The Longhorns have lost four of their past five games, including two in overtime. With Kansas visiting this weekend, things probably won't get better soon. Sheldon McClellan played just one minute in last weekend's 20-point loss to Iowa State as coach Rick Barnes, displeased with McClellan's effort, sent the team's leading scorer a message.
9. Texas Tech. Chris Walker's squad has lost its past three Big 12 games by an average of 22 points. Jaye Crockett leads the team in points (13.8) and rebounds (8.3). Texas Tech's next two games (at Oklahoma State on Saturday and at home against Iowa State on Wednesday) will be tough. But a Jan. 26 tilt at Texas could be interesting.
10. TCU. The Horned Frogs led Baylor at halftime Saturday before losing 51-40. Trent Johnson's squad simply doesn't have the personnel to compete with major college schools. No one would be surprised if TCU finished 0-18 in league play.
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- A few quick thoughts from Kansas' 61-44 victory over Baylor on Monday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Overview: After barely escaping Iowa State and then playing poorly in a win at Texas Tech last week, Kansas returned to form Monday by embarrassing Baylor in front of 16,300 fans. The Bears looked completely inept against the Jayhawks' menacing defense. Scott Drew's squad trailed 33-20 at intermission after shooting just 6-for-28 (21.4 percent) in the opening half.
Kansas blocked 13 shots (including 10 in the first half) and led by as many as 19 points in the second half. It certainly wasn't one of the Jayhawks' better offensive games, but it didn't need to be. KU's defense was relentless from start to finish, rarely allowing the Bears -- usually a good 3-point shooting team -- a good look at the basket. Instead, Baylor's guards were forced to drive into the paint and force wild shots and passes (which were usually either blocked or stolen).
Bill Self's squad scored 11 points off Baylor's 14 turnovers. The Jayhawks also out-hustled the Bears inside, outscoring them 38-14 in the paint and 13-8 on second-chance points.
Kansas improved to 15-1 overall and 3-0 in Big 12 play. Baylor fell to 11-5 and 3-1.
Key player: Along with his 17 points, Ben McLemore grabbed eight rebounds, made three steals and blocked two shots for Kansas. McLemore left the game with what appeared to be an ankle sprain with 2:44 remaining.
Kevin Young scored only four points, but he was incredibly active in the paint with seven rebounds, including five on the offensive end.
Isaiah Austin had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Baylor while Pierre Jackson added 10 points and four assists. Jackson entered the game averaging 19.2 points. Ricardo Gathers played the toughest out of all the Bears with 13 rebounds (including five offensive) off the bench.
Key stat: The victory was the 101st for Kansas in its past 102 games at Allen Fieldhouse. KU has lost just once at home since 2007.
Up next: Baylor plays Hardin-Simmons in a nonconference game Saturday in Waco while Kansas travels to Austin to take on Texas, which is 0-3 in Big 12 play.
But who comes next?
Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Iowa State all have solid squads with somewhat similar resumes. Ranking those four schools -- and the rest of the league -- isn’t easy, but here’s how I see things as we near the season’s midway point.
1. Kansas. While most other schools open Big 12 play this week, the Jayhawks will host a Temple squad on Sunday that defeated previously unbeaten Syracuse last month. Point guards Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe combine to average 8.1 assists.
2. Oklahoma State. The Cowboys appeared to have Gonzaga beaten on New Year’s Eve in Stillwater before the Zags battled back for a 69-68 victory. Still, the Cowboys -- who got 23 points from Marcus Smart -- should be encouraged by their gutsy performance.
3. Baylor. The Bears have looked much better their past two outings, drubbing BYU at home before falling by seven points against a very strong Gonzaga squad in Spokane, Wash. They can’t afford to lose home games against lesser foes. That includes Texas, which visits Waco on Saturday still without point guard Myck Kabongo.
4. Iowa State. The Cyclones are off until their Big 12 opener at Kansas on Jan. 9. Will Clyburn and Tyrus McGee are averaging a combined 27.5 points. Melvin Ejim leads the team with 9.2 rebounds. It’s not absurd to say that Iowa State could finish as high as second in this league.
5. Kansas State. The Wildcats are playing hard for their new coach, Bruce Weber. But it’s not always pretty. K-State has looked mediocre since it defeated Florida Dec. 22 in Kansas City. Weber’s squad is good defensively while ranking 21st in the country in rebounds per game. But K-State has trouble scoring.
6. Texas. Freshman point guard Javan Felix hasn’t been all that bad in replacement of suspended sophomore Kabongo. Felix averages 6.5 assists. The Longhorns (8-5) have some serious work to do in conference play if they hope to keep their streak of 14 consecutive NCAA appearances alive.
7. Oklahoma. The Sooners are good enough to sneak up and beat anyone in this conference. But to contend for a postseason berth, Oklahoma needs to win some games on the road. It all starts Saturday with a tilt against West Virginia in Morgantown.
8. West Virginia. The Big 12’s most disappointing team can’t afford to lose Saturday’s home game against Oklahoma. Transfers Juwan Staten and Aaric Murray combine to average only 21.8 points.
9. Texas Tech. The Red Raiders will hit the road for the first time this season for Saturday’s game against TCU in Fort Worth. Texas Tech (7-4) is getting 15.2 points per game from Jaye Crockett.
10. TCU. Saturday’s home game against Texas Tech may be the best chance TCU will have at a conference win all season. Sophomore guard Kyan Anderson has been the Horned Frogs’ steadiest player, with 13 points per game.
1. Kansas. Saturday’s tilt with No. 7 Ohio State in Columbus will be the first true road game for Bill Self’s squad. The Jayhawks’ three most recent victories -- against Colorado, Belmont and Richmond -- came by an average of 31 points. Jeff Withey leads the nation with 5.4 blocks per game.
2. Oklahoma State. Kudos to the Cowboys, who have won four straight since losing at Virginia Tech on Dec. 1. Travis Ford’s squad, which gets a combined 30.2 points per game from Le’Bryan Nash and Markel Brown, hosts Tennessee Tech on Saturday and then has eight days off before a New Year’s Eve date with Gonzaga in Stillwater.
3. Iowa State. Christmas has come early for the Cyclones, who don’t play again until Jan. 1. Guard Tyrus McGee has been playing extremely well for Fred Hoiberg’s squad. He’s averaging 13.3 points and shooting 48 percent from 3-point range. Iowa State is 9-3 with losses to Cincinnati, UNLV and Iowa.
4. Baylor. The Bears host Brigham Young on Friday. They. Have. To. Win. Seriously, a team that’s already toting home losses to College of Charleston and Northwestern can’t afford to drop another non-league game against an inferior opponent. Baylor has zero chemistry on offense.
5. Kansas State. The Wildcats’ two losses are to Michigan (in New York) and to Gonzaga (in Seattle. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Still, even against mediocre teams at home, Kansas State has struggled to score. That’s not a good thing for a team that takes on Florida on Saturday in Kansas City.
6. Texas. Myck Kabongo won’t play for the Longhorns this season, but Texas didn’t even need him during Wednesday’s 85-67 whacking of an alarmingly sloppy, uninspired North Carolina club. Texas, which is getting 15.5 points from Sheldon McClellan, could pick up some additional momentum with a victory at Michigan State on Saturday.
7. Oklahoma. Wouldn’t you know it? The minute I start complimenting the Sooners for the strides they’ve made under Lon Kruger, Oklahoma goes out and drops a game to Stephen F. Austin. That’s inexcusable, boys. The Sooners' next game, a Dec. 29 visit from Ohio University, won’t be a cakewalk.
8. West Virginia. The Mountaineers ended a two-game losing streak by squeaking past Oakland on Wednesday. Still, Bob Huggins’ squad may be the Big 12’s biggest disappointment thus far. Transfers Aaric Murray and Juwan Staten are averaging a collective 20.5 points.
9. Texas Tech. Chris Walker is going to have a tough time earning the permanent head-coaching position if his team can’t beat McNeese State at home. The Red Raiders showed some fight against Alabama three nights later but still lost 66-62. Arizona State, Saturday’s opponent, is pesky.
10. TCU. The Horned Frogs haven’t caught any breaks in Trent Johnson’s first season. Aaron Durley and Amric Fields were both lost to ACL injuries, and now Jarvis Ray is out six to eight weeks with a broken foot.
1. Kansas: The Jayhawks are the league’s lone Final Four contender. No one was surprised that KU beat Colorado at Allen Fieldhouse. But a 36-point win over a Buffaloes team that’s been in the Top 25? Wow. Belmont will provide a tough test Saturday.
2. Oklahoma State: Billionaire booster T. Boone Pickens swept up the remaining 4,000 tickets to the Cowboys’ Dec. 31 game against Gonzaga and plans to distribute them for free. Even if they had to pay, fans would find Le'Bryan Nash and Marcus Smart to be worth the price of admission.
3. Kansas State: Rodney McGruder finally seems to be breaking out of his funk. The senior is averaging 17.7 points in his past three games for the Wildcats, which face a tough test against Gonzaga in Seattle on Saturday. Bruce Weber’s squad barely escaped with a victory at George Washington last weekend.
4. Baylor: Remember that College of Charleston team that beat the Bears in Waco? On Thursday, that same squad lost 65-49 -- at home -- to Division II Anderson. Baylor led Lamar by three points with 10 minutes remaining Thursday before pulling away. But that’s OK. It’s not like Lamar is 1-9 or anything. Oh wait ...
5. Iowa State: Just when I was starting to get a little excited about the Cyclones, Fred Hoiberg’s team turned in a clunker -- an 80-71 loss at Iowa last Friday. This is still a good enough team to finish as high as second in the league, but it may be awhile before we see the Cyclones mesh.
6. Oklahoma: It may not be saying much, but the Sooners are the most improved team in the Big 12 and are capable of beating any school in the conference. Romero Osby, Amath M'Baye and Steven Pledger are high-quality players, although Pledger’s scoring average (10.1) is the lowest since his freshman season.
7. West Virginia: It appeared the Mountaineers were turning the corner when they defeated previously unbeaten Virginia Tech in the final seconds Saturday. But three days later, they coughed up a 13-point halftime lead and lost 60-56 at Duquesne. Things could get ugly Saturday against Michigan.
8. Texas: Even if Myck Kabongo were playing, I’m not sure the Longhorns would be very good. Texas was up by as many as eight points late in the game against UCLA before choking it away in the final minutes. Freshman forward Cameron Ridley (14 points, 10 rebounds) had his best game to date as a collegian. North Carolina visits Austin on Wednesday.
9. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are better than they were last season, but they were exposed a bit earlier this month in an 85-57 home loss to Arizona, the first decent team they’ve played. Upcoming games against Alabama and Arizona State will be tough.
10. TCU: The Horned Frogs, which haven’t played since losing to Tulsa on Saturday, have lost three of their past five games. Trent Johnson’s team is averaging just 54.5 points per game. Kyan Anderson leads the team in points (13.3) and assists (3.7).
1. Kansas. The Jayhawks clearly have separated themselves from the rest of the Big 12, yet even Bill Self will admit his squad hasn’t looked all that great. Chemistry and depth are issues in the backcourt, and Kansas still is searching for a leader. Saturday’s home game against Colorado is scary.
2. Iowa State. As I mentioned, ranking the Big 12 is a crapshoot at this point, but Iowa State is 6-2 with losses against a pair of ranked teams (Cincinnati and UNLV). The Cyclones boast plenty of weapons with Will Clyburn, Korie Lucious, Tyrus McGee, Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang. And they’ve got a great coach. Good enough for me.
3. Oklahoma State. I know Virginia Tech has surprised some people, but the Cowboys still shouldn’t have lost to the Hokies by double figures last week in Blacksburg. Travis Ford’s team is too talented to let that happen. Oklahoma State deserves credit, however, for bouncing back with a nice effort in Wednesday’ 61-49 home victory over South Florida.
4. Kansas State. Rodney McGruder appears to have snapped out of his funk and is averaging 19 points in his past two games. Kansas State has played just one good team (Michigan) and lost handily. It’s tough to get a read on the Wildcats at this point, but they’re definitely one of the more experienced squads in the conference.
5. Oklahoma. Lon Kruger has made the Sooners relevant again. Oklahoma competed its tail off before losing to Arkansas 81-78 in a difficult road environment Tuesday. Romero Osby is averaging a team-high 12.5 points per game for the Sooners, who are off until Dec. 15.
6. Baylor. It seems unheard of for a team to beat Kentucky in Lexington and then drop four spots in the power rankings. But the Bears can’t be trusted. Not yet, at least. Considering its depth and talent, Baylor’s home losses to College of Charleston and Northwestern were two of the worst setbacks by any Division I team all season. And it easily could have lost to downtrodden Boston College. There’s no excuse for this team to be playing so sloppily and uninspired.
7. West Virginia. The Mountaineers appear to be on an upswing following Wednesday’s victory over a solid Marshall team, although the victory was marred by a near-brawl that led to the ejections of four WVU players for leaving the bench. Bob Huggins’ squad could gain even more momentum by beating undefeated Virginia Tech on Saturday.
8. Texas. As if a 12-point loss to Division II Chaminade wasn’t embarrassing enough, the Longhorns scored a measly 41 points in Tuesday’s setback against Georgetown in the Jimmy V Classic. Even the return of point guard Myck Kabongo might not be enough to save Rick Barnes’ team, which plays UCLA on Saturday in Houston.
9. Texas Tech. The Red Raiders finally played a quality opponent last week and, predictably, got exposed in an 85-57 loss to Arizona. Still, there are reasons for optimism in Lubbock. Guard Josh Gray is averaging three steals, and Jaye Crockett is scoring 15.3 points per game. This team will win some Big 12 games, and not just against TCU.
10. TCU. The Horned Frogs lost to Houston on Tuesday and will be looking to bounce back at Tulsa on Saturday. Coach Trent Johnson is doing well on the recruiting trail but simply lacks the personnel to win many games during his first season in Fort Worth.
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