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Big 12 Notebook

December 24, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big 12 Conference Notebook

by Zach Ewing

Happy Holidays to all and before we begin, a non-Big 12 note: the 119-114 victory for Wake Forest over North Carolina in three overtimes Saturday was the best game I’ve ever seen. It had a little bit of everything and, when combined with Duke’s shelling of Texas, proved the ACC is the best conference in America at this point. Congrats to Skip Prosser and the Demon Deacons on a victory in a fantastic game.

Now, on to the Big 12.

Texas flops in the Big Apple

No 12 Texas came into Saturday’s tilt with No. 4 Duke having won five games over lesser competition and having lost one to No. 3 Arizona. The game Saturday was played in Madison Square Garden in front of a pro-Duke crowd, and things quickly went awry for the Longhorns.

Texas missed its first nine shots and shot only 9-of-36 in the first half as the Blue Devils jumped to leads of 8-1 and 28-10 en route to a 48-29 halftime lead and a huge 89-61 victory. Duke was the better team on both ends, holding Texas to 32 percent shooting while sophomore J.J. Redick scored 20 as six Blue Devils scored in double figures.

Chris Duhon controlled the game for Duke, as he scored 15 and dished out 9 assists. In a microcosm of the game as a whole, he flipped a pass behind his back to Luol Deng for a dunk on a breakaway in the first half. A lot of fast-break points translated into 62 percent shooting for Duke.

The game was billed as a battle of titans, a possible Final Four preview, but instead Texas failed to show up. The Longhorns now become one of only four Big 12 teams to have suffered more than one loss.

No rest for Northern teams

Although Big 12 hoops doesn’t split the conference into North and South divisions like football does, the teams in those divisions do play basketball twice against each other and only once against teams in the opposite division.

This means Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all get four games against thus-far hapless Texas A&M and shorthanded Baylor. Meanwhile, the North teams get only two games against those two and have to play each other twice.

With much-improved squads at Kansas State, Nebraska and Iowa State, not to mention top-25 caliber teams in Colorado, Kansas and Missouri, there will be no easy games in the North. Kansas, maybe the best team in the league, is the only team in the North that has more than one loss, while four of the six South teams do.

Since Iowa State and Kansas State are very untested, this may not mean anything, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on as Big 12 play starts.

Iowa State proves its mettle on the road

Iowa State is still one of only two undefeated Big 12 teams, but two question marks remained for a team that had feasted on a weak schedule: “Can the Cyclones win on the road?” and “Can they beat top-level competition?” One of the questions was answered Saturday when ISU won its first road test of the year, 83-77 at Drake.

The Cyclones watched a Drake squad fight back from an early 23-6 deficit to take the lead 66-65 with 5:13 left. But ISU responded with an 8-0 run to take control, eventually winning the game and improving to 6-0.

The other question will be answered Tuesday when ISU welcomes the Xavier Musketeers to Ames. Although Xavier has been somewhat disappointing, it will provide a test like the Cyclones haven’t yet seen.

Oklahoma State gets it done on the road, too

Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton returned to the site of his old stomping grounds Saturday and the Cowboys left with their first road win, a 73-58 triumph over Arkansas. Sutton led the Razorbacks to 11 NCAA Tournament berths in Fayetteville before heading to Stillwater.

Tony Allen scored 22 points and the Cowboys used a 21-5 run to take a big lead early in the second half. Arkansas shot only 35 percent and never posed a serious threat. It was important for OSU to get the road win; they don’t play another game away from home until conference play begins.

Around the Big 12

Baylor Bears (4-6)

Terrance Thomas was one rebound away from a triple-double Tuesday night when Baylor evened its record at 4-4 with an 85-79, double-overtime win against Louisiana-Monroe. Thomas led four Bears in double figures with 26 points and also had 9 boards and 10 assists. UL-Monroe scored in the final minute of regulation and the first overtime to force five more minutes each time, but Thomas hit a three in the second OT to put Baylor up for good, 79-76.

Then, in the Surf ‘n’ Slam tournament in Hawaii, the Bears lost 72-67 to BYU-Hawaii and then 79-64 to San Jose State. The Spartans were 31-of-54 from the floor in the win Saturday. Baylor completes the round-robin tournament Monday against Northern Illinois before getting the holidays off.

This week: Monday vs. Northern Illinois in Hawaii

Colorado Buffaloes (6-1)

After an early loss to Pepperdine, the Buffs slipped under the radar but have been perfect and impressive since then. They continued that trend Friday with a 71-44 massacre of Tennessee State. Colorado was up only 50-40 in the second half before a 10-0 run put the game away with just over five minutes left. Center David Harrison had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Buffaloes surrendered 29 points to Tennessee State’s Bruce Price, but no other player scored more than 4 for TSU.

This week: Tuesday vs. Utah

Iowa State Cyclones (6-0)

Lost in the excitement over the Cyclones’ big road win against Drake was the fact that ISU didn’t really play very well. It relied on big performances from two freshmen to overcome a whopping 27 turnovers. Curtis Stinson turned in 9 assists and 8 rebounds and Will Blalock lit up Drake for a career-high 23 points. Perhaps the best sign for Wayne Morgan was when his team responded to its first deficit of the game, 66-65, with an 8-0 run with a little more than five minutes to go in regulation.

Now things get tough for ISU. The next three games are against Xavier, Virginia and San Diego State, all teams better than anyone the Cyclones have played thus far.

This week: Tuesday at Xavier

Kansas Jayhawks (7-2)

The No. 6 Jayhawks took the week off for finals before going to the Wolf Pack Holiday Classic in Reno, Nev., this weekend.

Friday, KU struggled in the first half against UC-Santa Barbara. It shot 24 percent on the way to a meager 24-18 halftime lead. Bill Self blamed Kansas’ new crimson jerseys for the poor shooting, but the jerseys didn’t stop KU from shooting 62 percent after the half to win 72-52. Wayne Simien had 15 points and 16 rebounds while Keith Langford added 19 points.

Then, in the tournament championship Saturday against host Nevada, the Wolf Pack pulled the shocker, jumping to a 40-20 halftime lead and hanging on for the 75-61 upset. Maybe there is something to that crimson jersey theory.

This week: no games

Kansas State Wildcats (6-1)

K-State exploded for 51 points in the second half as the Wildcats creamed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 89-50 on Saturday.

Jeremiah Massey was again the star. He shot 8-of-11 from the floor in scoring 20 points while pulling down 8 rebounds and sparking KSU on a 15-0 run that made the score 50-30 early in the second half. Corpus Christi is a team that beat Texas A&M and played Baylor tough, so Kansas State has to feel good knowing it is head-and-shoulders above at least two Big 12 teams.

This week: Monday vs. Bethune-Cookman

Missouri Tigers (4-1)

Tiger fans finally got a chance to welcome Jason Conley and Randy Pulley into MU uniforms Sunday as No. 13 Missouri beat UNC-Greensboro 106-98. Conley scored 19 points in 21 minutes, including two highlight-reel dunks and two three-pointers, and Pulley had 5 points in 11 minutes. While those performances were key in the victory, it was senior Rickey Paulding – who scored all of his 9 points during an 11-0 run – that finally gave the Tigers some breathing room.

Mizzou showed it has depth – five players scored in double figures and Paulding could have – but its defense was lackluster at best. UNC-Greensboro shot 57 percent from the floor, including 11-of-19 from the three-point line. MU will have to tighten up if it is to survive the tough week ahead.

This week: Tuesday vs. No. 18 Illinois in St. Louis, Saturday at Memphis

Nebraska Cornhuskers (7-1)

Bethune-Cookman was only down 14-12 to Nebraska early in the game on Saturday when the wheels came off. The Huskers reeled off a 19-0 run before the half ended, and then began the second period with another 19-0 spurt. Combine the two, and you’ve got a 40-2 Nebraska run that lasted about 23 minutes of game time and made the score 54-14.

NU went on to win 70-26, giving up the fewest points in the history of the Bob Devaney Center. Thirteen different players scored for the Cornhuskers, although only one, Jason Dourisseau with 14, scored in double figures.

This week: Monday vs. Lipscomb

Oklahoma Sooners (8-0)

It was a good news-bad news scenario for No. 8 Oklahoma on Saturday. The good news was freshman point guard Drew Lavender continued to impress with a 23-point, 5-assist performance as the Sooners beat Jackson State 68-46.

The bad news, however, is somewhat sobering: OU’s leading scorer, Jason Detrick, sat out the second half after taking a hard fall before halftime.

Back to good news: Detrick is expected to recover in OU’s upcoming week off, and the Sooners are still undefeated.

This week: no games

Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-1)

Before taking down Arkansas on Saturday in Eddie Sutton’s homecoming, the Cowboys throttled Division II team Southeastern Oklahoma State 93-46 on Tuesday. A Cowboy assistant coach said OSU scheduled a D-II team because it wouldn’t hurt his team’s strength of schedule in the RPI rankings.

This week: Monday vs. Texas-Pan American

Texas Longhorns (5-2)

Perhaps the lone bright spot for the No. 12 Longhorns in Saturday’s Duke debacle was point guard Royal Ivey, who had 12 points and 9 assists. Then again, Ivey allowed Chris Duhon’s big day on the other side of the floor. Texas desperately needs this week off before returning to action.

This week: no games

Texas A&M Aggies (5-3)

A&M snapped a three-game losing streak with an impressive defensive performance in a 62-49 victory over Texas-San Antonio. The Aggies used a 27-7 run to put the game away. Kevin Turner made 5 three’s during the run to account for all 15 of his points, which were collected in only 18 minutes of play.

Sunday versus Grambling, A&M kept a good thing going with a 103-101 win in double overtime. Still, there’s no reason this team should struggle like that with a SWAC team.

This week: Saturday at Houston

Texas Tech Red Raiders (9-2)

Texas Tech finally got an easy week after playing what seemed like every other day for the first month of the season. In their only game of the week, the Red Raiders never trailed in blowing by Sam Houston State on Wednesday, and coasted to a 97-63 win. Andre Emmett only scored 13, but Ronald Ross put up 24 and the Raiders forced 24 Bearkat turnovers. Now it’s on to Dallas, where slow ticket sales for TTU’s game with Iowa have Bob Knight ranting and raving.

This week: Monday vs. Iowa in Dallas

Big 12 Player of the Week:

Tony Allen, Oklahoma State

Allen scored 22 points in leading the Cowboys to their first road victory in their last tough game before conference play starts.

Big 12 Newcomer/Freshman of the Week

Will Blalock, Iowa State:

Blalock came up big with 23 points as the Cyclones stayed unbeaten and did something they haven’t done since 1995 – beat Drake on the road.

Five games to watch this week

Monday: Texas Tech vs. Iowa in Dallas – Notwithstanding the hype around slow ticket sales, this is still a great match-up.

Tuesday: Missouri vs. Illinois in St. Louis – The Braggin’ Rights game is always big, but especially when both teams are ranked.

Tuesday: Utah at Colorado – The Buffaloes continue to roll without being noticed.

Tuesday: Xavier at Iowa State – Finally, the Cyclones get a test.

Saturday: Missouri at Memphis – Everybody has forgotten about Memphis. Be on upset alert for this battle of Tigers.

     

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