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Big 12 Notebook

December 30, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments

Big 12 Conference Notebook

by Zach Ewing

There wasn’t much on the college basketball plate this week, but we still found out some more about the Big 12 as we head toward the new year. Iowa State might really be for real, and Missouri has a lot of work to do. Happy New Year and enjoy.

Mizzou’s on-court woes

While most of the teams around the country took most of the Christmas week off, No. 13 Missouri went out to prove its worth with two high-profile games. Problem for the Tigers: they only showed up for half of each game, finished the week 0-2, and are now an unimpressive 4-3 overall.

On Tuesday, Illinois jumped to a 40-19 lead in the first half before watching Mizzou fight all the way back to tie the game at 67 on a Travon Bryant three. James Augustine made a lay-up and after a Tiger turnover and missed lay-up by Arthur Johnson, Dee Brown sealed the game with two free throws. The Illini won the annual Braggin’ Rights game for the fourth straight time, 71-70.

Then on Saturday, MU faced another set of Tigers, those from Memphis, and again buried itself in the first half. Memphis led 29-14 in the first half before Missouri cut the lead to nine at the half and to one several times in the second half. Once again, however, the Tigers couldn’t overcome a slow start and lost 61-59 when a 40-foot three-pointer from Jimmy McKinney wouldn’t go at the buzzer.

The Tigers are playing so far below their talent level that they need a periscope to see how good they could be. Rickey Paulding and Johnson are bona fide NBA players and Bryant is having the best season of his career. Add in Jason Conley, who led the nation in scoring two years ago, and freshman Linas Kleiza, who averages a double-double, and this team should be at least in the top five in the country. Instead, the Tigers will likely fall out of the top 20, if not further.

The silver lining in Columbia is that some teams play better under the radar. Missouri has had numerous off-court distractions to go with on-court expectations and with both of those somewhat diminished, the Tigers could go on a run and be ready to play in March. They start Big 12 play next Wednesday, however, so time is running out for this team to find an identity.

Iowa State comes up big

While the Tigers are failing to come close to expectations in the Show Me state, the Iowa State Cyclones are surpassing them one state to the north. With Tuesday’s 68-61 win over Xavier, Iowa State ran its record to 7-0 and more importantly, finally beat someone of significance.

Freshman Curtis Stinson helped ISU overcome an early Xavier lead with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals, while the Cyclones held the Musketeers to 37 percent shooting to hold them off in the second half. Up next for ISU are two road tests this week. To make it to Big 12 play on Jan. 7 undefeated would be a major and unexpected accomplishment for Wayne Morgan’s squad.

And by the way, don’t look now, but the two teams mentioned above open conference play against each other in Ames.

Gear up for conference play

After three straight days without games for the holidays, things are heating up again, and that’s no exception in the Big 12. This coming week is the last before conference games begin to dot the schedule, starting with a Big Monday match-up between Kansas and Colorado on Jan. 5. Without further ado, here are the conference openers for each Big 12 team.

Baylor: Jan. 10 at Texas
Colorado: Jan. 5 at Kansas
Iowa State: Jan. 7 vs. Missouri
Kansas: Jan. 5 vs. Colorado
Kansas State: Jan. 14 at Kansas
Missouri: Jan. 7 at Iowa State
Nebraska: Jan. 10 at Iowa State
Oklahoma: Jan. 14 at Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State: Jan. 10 at Texas Tech
Texas: Jan. 10 vs. Baylor
Texas A&M: Jan. 10 at Missouri
Texas Tech: Jan. 10 vs. Oklahoma State

Around the Big 12

Baylor Bears (5-6)

Baylor beat Northern Illinois on Monday to finish 2-1 at the Surf ‘n’ Slam Classic in Hawaii last weekend. The 69-59 victory was a good one, possibly the Bears’ best win all year. It was the Thomas show for BU, as Harvey Thomas had a huge game, going for 30 points and 10 rebounds, while Terrance Thomas added 17 points.

The bad news for Baylor? They’ve played 11 weak teams so far and are currently 5-6. Now the schedule gets tough, starting Saturday against a very good Boilermaker team.

This week: Saturday vs. Purdue

Colorado Buffaloes (6-2)

The Buffs were on cloud nine heading into Christmas, having won five in a row and heading to Boulder with a 15-game home winning streak. That is, until the Grinch came to town, in the form of a Ute.

Utah erased a 10-point first-half deficit and outscored CU 45-23 in the second half to upset the Buffaloes 77-57. Ute freshman Andrew Bogut had a double-double, with 13 points and 13 rebounds. In the second half, Utah shot 60 percent while CU could only manage 18 percent. The bright spot for Colorado was David Harrison, who had 18 points and set the school career block record.

This week: Wednesday vs. Richmond

Iowa State Cyclones (7-0)

Curtis Stinson got all the headlines for the Cyclones in their big win against Xavier on Tuesday, but ISU’s other freshman guard, Will Blalock, had the biggest play. The Musketeers had closed to 62-56 with about 1:30 to play when Blalock completed a three-point play to put the game out of reach. Jackson Vroman also added 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting for Iowa State. If the Cyclones are still undefeated at this time next week, they’re legit.

This week: Wednesday at Virginia, Saturday at San Diego State

Kansas Jayhawks (6-2)

KU took the week off, but probably would rather have played than left the bitter taste of a 75-61 upset at the hands of Nevada last week linger. Look for the Jayhawks to take it out on poor Binghamton.

This week: Monday vs. Binghamton, Friday vs. Villanova

Kansas State Wildcats (7-1)

After taking a big step forward by throttling Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last week, the Wildcats looked decidedly unimpressive in beating winless Bethune Cookman 66-52 on Monday. Bethune Cookman, 0-5 coming into the game, actually led 38-35 with 12:06 to play, but a 14-0 K-State run finally put the game away. Jeremiah Massey led the Wildcats with 17 points, while Marques Hayden had 11 and 12 rebounds.

This week: Tuesday at Missouri-Kansas City, Saturday at Saint Louis

Missouri Tigers (4-3)

A bright spot for the Tigers was continued strong play from senior forward Travon Bryant, who put together two double-doubles against good teams away from home.

Tuesday in MU’s 71-70 loss to Illinois, he had 19 points, 12 rebounds and 2 blocks and was Mizzou’s only consistent threat. Then on Saturday, as the Tigers lost 61-59 to Memphis, he had 13 points and 10 rebounds. If two other seniors, Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson, could play that consistently, all of Missouri’s problems on the court might suddenly be solved.

This week: Tuesday vs. Belmont, Saturday vs. Iowa

Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-1)

The Huskers took a huge 40-18 lead into the locker room on Monday and then coasted to a 75-52 victory over Lipscomb. Jason Douisseau led Nebraska with 21 points, but the whole team played well, with four Huskers scoring in double figures. Now we get to see if Nebraska can win on the road or against a good team. NU has failed its only test so far, losing at Creighton, but gets another shot at Minnesota.

This week: Monday at Minnesota

Oklahoma Sooners (8-0)

No games this week for the undefeated Sooners, who should coast until a Jan. 11 match-up with Connecticut on the road.

This week: Monday at Texas Pan-American, Saturday vs. Princeton

Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-1)

The Cowboys handled Texas Pan-American on Monday, outscoring an overmatched Pan American squad 50-10 in the paint. Ivan McFarlin scored 17 points and John Lucas added 15 for the Cowboys. OSU is now 112-1 in its last 113 non-conference home games and should continue that streak and be 10-1 before Big 12 play begins. Watch out for SMU, though: the Mustangs have already beaten two Big 12 teams this year, including Texas Tech.

This week: Tuesday vs. Samford, Saturday vs. Southern Methodist

Texas Longhorns (5-2)

Texas got a chance to stew over being routed by Duke last Saturday. The Longhorns had the week off.

This week: Monday vs. George Washington, Friday vs. Texas-Arlington

Texas A&M Aggies (5-4)

Andre Owens, Houston Cougar extraordinaire, single-handedly beat the Aggies on Saturday with a 41-point effort. Owens erased a 9-point, second-half deficit with 7 straight points and then had the Cougars ahead by three before Antoine Wright tied the game for A&M with a three-pointer with 9.9 seconds left in regulation. Houston went 8-of-8 from the free-throw line in blowing out A&M in the extra period.

Jesse King led the Aggies with 19 points; Wright had 15 and Andy Slocum finished with 14 plus 12 rebounds.

This week: Saturday at Louisiana-Monroe

Texas Tech Red Raiders (10-2)

I think there’s been enough said about the Bobby Knight-Steve Alford match-up on Monday, and I still have hopes of getting a Christmas card from coach Knight next year (hey, you never know), so I won’t mention it again.

The players on the court are what count anyway, and Andre Emmett was great in leading the Red Raiders to a big 65-59 win over Iowa in Dallas on Monday. Emmett scored 23 points, including six in a row to make the score 16-6 in the early going. Tech looked a little sluggish in the second half, though, which can’t make the General happy.

This week: Thursday vs. Minnesota, Sunday at Ohio State

Big 12 Player of the Week

Harvey Thomas, Baylor

Hey, this might be the only chance for a Bear to win this award and Thomas lit up Northern Illinois for 30 points and 10 rebounds and got his team a win.

Big 12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Week

Curtis Stinson, Iowa State

For the second straight week, I’m honoring a Cyclone guard in this spot. Stinson certainly deserves it after 19 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals in a win over Xavier.

Five games to watch this week

Monday: Nebraska at Minnesota – Can the Huskers win away from Lincoln?

Wednesday: Iowa State at Virginia – Each game gets bigger and bigger for the undefeated Cyclones

Friday: Villanova at Kansas – The Wildcats are 7-2, but getting a win in Allen Fieldhouse is a tall task.

Saturday: Iowa at Missouri – The Tigers need this game to get back on track.

Saturday: Kansas State at Saint Louis – K-State lost its only road game so far; this week, they get a shot at UMKC and then this one in St. Louis.


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