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Big 12 Notebook

January 15, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big 12 Conference Notebook

by Mitch Schneider

Three for the road

Three Big 12 teams have each the lost the service of a key player within the last few days.

On Jan. 12, Missouri coach Quin Snyder announced sophomore forward Najeeb Echols is leaving the team for good. Apparently, Echols plans to transfer to a program where he will play more and be closer to his Chicago home.

A day later, x-rays revealed Jake Muhleisen, Nebraska’s sophomore guard, had broken his hip in a Saturday loss to Kansas. His season is now over.

And hours after Muhleisen’s injury was announced, reports from Boulder offered that Colorado senior guard James “Mookie” Wright will be missing a sizeable chunk of the season. Wright was initially suspended by the University after allegedly exposing himself to a female student in a campus dormitory. However, that suspension has been overturned, though his status is uncertain due to pending charges. The earliest Wright will be back on the court will be for the Big 12 Tournament.

The loss of all three of these players sets all three respective schools back in varying, yet, significant ways.

In Echols, the Tigers lose a physical presence in the post who was expected to be a solid contributor for future Missouri teams.

The 6-9, 230-pound forward didn’t play a whole lot this year (Echols averaged 12.2 minutes per game) as his season stats would suggest (3.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG). However, Echols proved in high school that he was capable of great things by averaging 25 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists as a junior prep.

In Muhleisen, the Huskers lose a “leader on the court and in the locker room,” according to NU coach Barry Collier. Muhleisen started all 14 games for Nebraska, averaging 11.7 points and 3.4 assists per contest.

The 6-4 guard was injured after attempting a lay-up against the Jayhawks. On the play, Muhleisen collided with Kansas’ Nick Collison, and landed on his back.

And in Wright, the Buffaloes lose their only experienced point guard. Wright didn’t exactly post incredibly high numbers this season (6.2 PPG, 3.9 APG), but the senior was an integral part of CU’s team.

Wright had a large hand in Colorado’s recent six-game winning streak, and was one of the better defenders in the Buffs’ stable.

Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado don’t have much time to fill their newly created holes. The Huskers and Buffaloes next take the floor Wed., Jan. 15 (CU vs. Kansas St. and NU vs. Texas A&M), while the Tigers will travel to Oklahoma St. for a Saturday showdown.

How ’bout ‘dem Cowboys . . .?

Oklahoma is starting to get sick of the old saying.

On Monday, Oklahoma State knocked off the 5th-ranked OU Sooners, 48-46, in front of an electric Stillwater crowd. The win was O-kie State’s 11th straight, and put the Cowboys (13-1, 2-0) atop the conference standings along with Kansas (11-3, 2-0).

Monday’s win is noteworthy because, two and a half months ago, the OSU football team also beat the Sooners in a Stillwater match-up. And the same fans that rushed the field then, were probably the same fans who stormed the court Monday.

Both Cowboy victories came against OU teams ranked within the top five, and both wins will go down as two of the larger ones in O-kie State history (at least in the last 12 months).

It’s apparent that Still-waters do run deep… especially in Norman.

Red Raider Reversal

Bobby Knight’s Texas Tech Red Raiders – winners of five straight, owners of a national ranking, and benefactors of the Big 12’s leading scorer – traveled to Manhattan, Kansas last Saturday for what should have been a cake walk.

After all, Tech was taking on an overmatched Kansas State squad, one that started five no-name players on a team that went 13-16 last year. And in last season’s meeting between these two schools, Texas Tech destroyed the Wildcats by 25.

Chalk up another Red Raider victory, right General?

Wrong.

In one of the biggest early-season upsets of the 2003 Big 12 season, the Wildcats manhandled Texas Tech, 68-44, last weekend. K-State held one of the conference’s highest-scoring teams to just 26 percent shooting for the game (3-19 from behind the arc), while out-rebounding the Red Raiders, 49-19.

Tech’s Andre Emmett, the Big 12’s leading scorer, did pour in 18 points against Kansas State. But Emmett was the only bright spot for Knight’s platoon as the rest of his team combined to miss 39 of 48 shots. Ouch.

K-State’s Gilson DeJesus led all scorers with 19 points, and the Wildcats ran up the victory pole for the eighth consecutive time.

Manhattan chowder . . . a vengeful dish, best served cold.

Intriguing match-ups of the week:

Wednesday, January 15 – Texas at Baylor
Saturday, January 18 – Colorado at Nebraska
Saturday, January 18 – Missouri at Oklahoma State
Saturday, January 18 – Oklahoma at Iowa State

     

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