Originally Published: January 22, 2012

Team of the Week: Missouri

The Tigers won the matchup of the weekend by beating third-ranked Baylor 89-88 on the road. The victory followed a beatdown of Texas A&M earlier in the week in Columbia.

If there was any doubt concerning Missouri's ability to win the Big 12 or challenge for a Final Four, it should be erased. The Tigers are in the top five nationally in scoring, field-goal percentage and in the top 20 in assists. They were the better team for all 40 minutes in Waco as Ricardo Ratliffe scored 27 points and had eight boards against a supposedly superior frontline of Baylor. Mizzou was the more efficient team in every facet. And when it came time to make the right decisions late, the Tigers did just that. When the Bears had to decide who and what kind of shot to take late, they failed. Don't underestimate MU's role in that.

Missouri got to the line 31 times as opposed to Baylor's 11. That means Mizzou (especially guards Marcus Denmon and Phil Pressey) created more contact than Baylor and forced officials to make calls.

Until proven othewise, Kansas is still the team to beat in the Big 12. But the Jayhawks haven't gone to three of the toughest spots on the road (Missouri, Kansas State and Baylor) and Mizzou has already gone to two of those places and split. Expect the Tigers to be in the mix to the very end. This team is for real.

-- Andy Katz

Editor's note: This edition is only for games played from Monday, Jan. 16, to Sunday, Jan. 22.

More teams that impressed us

Dayton: The Flyers easily knocked off rival Xavier to move into first place by themselves in the A-10. That followed up a four-point win over surprising league contender La Salle. The A-10 coach of the year award is Archie Miller's to lose.

Florida State: The Seminoles had one of their best weeks ever under Leonard Hamilton, beating Maryland at home and then stunning Duke on the road on a last-second 3-pointer by Michael Snaer. FSU is in the race for the ACC title. Get used to it.

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Brendan Maloney/US PresswireTyshawn Taylor is playing some of the best ball of his Kansas career at the moment.

Kansas: The Jayhawks dominated Baylor and then withstood a big rally at Texas. Tyshawn Taylor has emerged as a legitimate scoring partner to Thomas Robinson. Mizzou is the team of the week, but the Big 12 still goes through KU. Can't say it enough.

LIU Brooklyn: The Blackbirds were the preseason favorite in the Northeast Conference, but didn't take advantage of several nonconference opportunities. They didn't have the signature win like Wagner did at Pitt. But this team is now 8-0 in the NEC after beating Wagner on the road.

Long Beach State: The 49ers played a brutal nonconference schedule. The point was to be in position for a possible at-large berth to the NCAA tournament, but more importantly set themselves up for a run in the Big West. Well, it's working. LBSU took out two of its top competitors by sweeping a road trip to Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara to go to 7-0 in the conference.

Loyola Marymount: LMU had one game last week but it was a big one, winning at BYU's vaunted Marriott Center. The Lions have had a strange season, beating UCLA, Saint Louis and now BYU, but losing to Columbia, North Texas and Morgan State. This week's home game with 8-0 Saint Mary's is now huge. This team could be dangerous in the WCC tournament.

Marquette: The Golden Eagles quietly rallied from consecutive road losses at Georgetown and Syracuse by winning four in a row, the latest being an 11-point win over Louisville and a road win at Providence. They have to be taken seriously again as a top-four Big East team.

Murray State: The world is watching the Racers and they are still winning. The nation's last unbeaten had a struggle at rival Morehead State but came back for the win and then took care of SIU-Edwardsville rather easily on the road.

Ole Miss: Andy Kennedy should get plenty of credit for holding this team together after Dundrecous Nelson was dismissed. The Rebels beat rival Mississippi State at home and then won at Georgia. Suddenly, Ole Miss is 3-2 in the SEC with Florida arriving in Oxford on Thursday.

San Diego State: The Aztecs followed up an impressive two-point win over UNLV the previous week with a gritty five-point win at the Pit in Albuquerque and a home win over Air Force. With victories over UNLV and UNM, it's hard not to dub SDSU at the very least a co-favorite with UNLV at this juncture.

UCF: The Knights didn't wilt after losing to Marshall the previous week. UCF beat league-favorite Memphis for the first time ever in a one-point thriller and then survived an ugly game and won by seven at UAB. These guys are a serious threat to win Conference USA.

Washington State: Who saw this coming? The rebuilding Cougars started Pac-12 Conference play 1-4, but then came home and swept the Bay Area schools (Stanford and Cal), both of whom have conference title aspirations. Faisal Aden was a beast off the bench for Wazzu.

Shoutout-worthy: Creighton, Davidson, Kentucky, Nevada, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn, Southern Miss, UNLV, Valparaiso, Villanova, Wisconsin, Wyoming

-- Andy Katz

Player of the week: Kevin Jones, West Virginia

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AP Photo/David SmithKevin Jones sparkled for West Virginia in a win over Cincinnati with 26 points and 13 rebounds.

Some of you disagreed with me keeping Jones off of my first-team All-American ballot last week, but I'm all in now. He's the Big East player of the year to this point and as a result is pushing hard to be on that list of the five best. Jones had a stellar week in two critical games for the Mountaineers as they mount a serious campaign to be the second-best team in the Big East. (And who knows, maybe even first?)

The senior forward helped beat Cincinnati in overtime on Saturday with 26 points on an efficient 11-of-15 shooting performance. He also had 13 boards and no turnovers. Earlier in the week, Jones scored 25 points with seven boards in 40 minutes in a win over in-state rival Marshall in Charleston.

Jones was expected to star last season for the Mountaineers after the team took some hits following a Final Four run, but he struggled finding consistency. That's not the case this season. Jones has been a star from the outset, averaging 20.7 points and 11.5 rebounds overall. His numbers continue to climb in Big East play and he's a virtual double-double lock it seems. Quite simply, Jones is playing as well as any player in the country right now.

-- Andy Katz

More performances that wowed us

Blake Allen, Youngstown State: 27 pts (8-10 FG, 7-8 3-pt FG) in win over Milwaukee
Faisal Aden, Washington State: 57 pts (19-29 FG) in wins over Stanford, Cal
Aaron Broussard, Seattle: 51 pts (19-30 FG) in wins over E. Washington, Utah State
Mark Cisco, Columbia: 18 pts, 20 rebs in win over Cornell
Jason Clark, Georgetown: 31 pts (11-14 FG, 5-7 3-pt FG), 4 stls in win at DePaul
Jake Cohen, Davidson: 29 pts, 14 rebs in win over Charleston
Robert Covington, Tennessee State: 30 pts, 15 rebs in loss at Austin Peay
Anthony Davis, Kentucky: 27 pts (10-12 FG), 14 rebs, 7 blks in win over Arkansas
Anthony Marshall, UNLV: 40 pts, 18 assists in wins over TCU, New Mexico
Rodney McGruder, Kansas State: 33 pts (11-17 FG), 8 rebs in win over Texas
Tony Mitchell, North Texas: 30 pts, 17 rebs in win over Denver
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State: 21 pts, 14 rebs, 4 stls in win at Vanderbilt
Kyle O'Quinn, Norfolk State: 46 pts (19-26 FG), 30 rebs in wins at Coppin St., Hampton
Ricardo Ratliffe, Missouri: 27 pts (11-14 FG), 8 rebs in win at Baylor
Thomas Robinson, Kansas: 27 pts (11-18 FG), 14 rebs in win over Baylor
Colt Ryan, Evansville: 39 pts (8-14 3-pt FG), 9 rebs in win over Bradley
Jesse Sanders, Liberty: Triple-double (14 pts, 10 rebs, 13 asts) in win at Hight Point
Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee: 16 pts, 12 rebs in win over Connecticut
Charlie Westbrook, South Dakota: 32 pts, 6 rebs, 6 asts, 4 stls in win over IUPUI
Leonard Washington, Wyoming: 32 pts (12-16 FG), 14 rebs in win over Colorado State Darren White, Campbell: 22 pts (10-12 FG), 16 rebs, 8 asts in win over VMI

-- Brett Edgerton

Upset pick of the week: Cincinnati over Syracuse

I considered this after Cincinnati beat Connecticut, even before the Orange lost to Notre Dame and Fab Melo was held out due to an unresolved academic issue from the first semester. I'll stick with it. UC will have its house rocking like never before under Mick Cronin. The Orange come in wounded and won't be No. 1 on Monday, but they are still the team to beat in the Big East. So this is a monster test for Yancy Gates to emerge as a force inside without Melo playing in the middle. But Sean Kilpatrick is playing at such a high level he can make 3-pointers and get into the lane for teardrop shots against the zone. So too can Cashmere Wright. The key may be someone such as Jaquon Parker, who will have his hands full at both ends of the court. This upset is doable and if it occurs, the Bearcats are in the thick of the race for a top-three finish in the Big East.

-- Andy Katz

King's observations from the week that was

1. UNLV is the best team in the Mountain West Conference. And, yes, I realize there will be plenty of folks who disagree with me in the wake of the Runnin' Rebels' 69-67 loss at San Diego State on Jan. 14. But UNLV bounced back from that defeat with convincing victories over TCU (101-78) and New Mexico (80-63). I'd pick Dave Rice's squad to beat anyone in the league on a neutral court. As it stands, the Feb. 11 rematch between UNLV and San Diego State in Sin City could be one of the more anticipated games of the season.

2. Syracuse is the only Final Four contender in the Big East. I reserve the right to change my opinion, but as of today, I can't envision any other school from the conference advancing to college basketball's final weekend. Connecticut is in a major rut with losses in four of its past six games. Georgetown is 16-3 but needed some late-game heroics to get by Rutgers Saturday. Marquette is solid but certainly not elite. West Virginia and Cincinnati are the other candidates from a league that has been disappointing.

3. Mississippi State has some moxie, after all. Success on the road usually plays a huge factor in conference-title races, which is why the Bulldogs haven't been taken all that seriously in the SEC. Rick Stansbury's squad lost at Arkansas on Jan. 7 before falling to rival Ole Miss in Oxford less than two weeks later. Mississippi State, however, responded in a huge way Saturday with an overtime win against Vanderbilt in Nashville. Oft-criticized forward Renardo Sidney was one of the heroes with a clutch 3-pointer and a key assist down the stretch.

4. Tyshawn Taylor is on fire. Not many point guards in the country are playing as well right now as Kansas' fourth-year starter. Taylor is averaging 26 points and 5.3 assists in KU's past three victories (against Iowa State, Baylor and Texas) and is shooting 56 percent from the field during that span. Taylor's ability to penetrate into the paint at will is opening things up for his teammates.

5. The "overrated" chant is overused. Just because Syracuse finally lost a game doesn't mean the Orange were overrated. They were 20-0 before Saturday, for cryin' out loud. And losing a 1-point game against a top-five opponent like Baylor did against Missouri certainly doesn't mean you're a bad team or that you were "exposed." Baylor is still 17-2 with a slew of top-50 victories. Fans need to be a little more selective with their "overrated" chants.

--Jason King

For Myron Medcalf's five observations of the week, visit the Nation blog.

They said it (or tweeted it)

"Up early watching film. Had 6 turnovers yesterday. Gotta find out what I was doing wrong to prevent that from happening again …"
-- Tweet from Missouri's Ricardo Ratliffe after he scored 27 points in his team's 89-88 victory over Baylor on Saturday.

"Notre Dame has an unbelievable history against No. 1 teams. We saw a little video to just kind of pump us up a little bit."
-- Notre Dame's Scott Martin following the Fighting Irish's 67-58 win over No. 1 Syracuse on Saturday. Players watched a video of Notre Dame's previous upsets against No. 1 teams prior to the game.

"It's so frustrating because we prepare so well and work so hard. Everybody fought. I don't think anybody was lazy. We were blow-for-blow and they got that last blow in, the last shot at the last second."
-- Duke's Austin Rivers after his team lost to Florida State, 76-73, at home Saturday on Michael Snaer's buzzer-beater.

"I think that's an excuse, in my opinion."
-- Purdue's Matt Painter after his team's 83-58 loss at Michigan State on Saturday. The Boilermakers were stuck on a runway for three hours and reached East Lansing, Mich., two hours before tipoff due to travel issues.

"I remember one time he just told his guys, 'Just bring him in here, I'm going to block everything.'"
-- Arkansas guard Mardracus Wade quoting Anthony Davis during his team's 86-63 loss to Kentucky on Tuesday.

-- Myron Medcalf


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