Big 12 Conference Notebook
by Zach Ewing
Ah, the holiday season. For the Big 12 that means big wins, bad losses and … phone recordings from jail? Gather ’round the tree, and I’ll tell you all about it.
Clemons saga approaches climax
Things keep getting more and more complicated for No. 3 Missouri in the Ricky Clemons story. Late Tuesday evening, the Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch released information from tapes of Clemons’ phone conversations while he was in Boone County Jail this summer. The former Tiger point guard was serving time for second-degree assault and false imprisonment after choking his girlfriend in January.
The tapes revealed Clemons telling the wives of the university president and associate athletic director that assistant coaches had given him money and clothing while he played last year. He also hinted that Tiger stars Rickey Paulding and Arthur Johnson received cash. These stories are similar to those his ex-girlfriend told the press in August, but they differ on several key points. For instance, Clemons never mentions any illegal academic aid like his ex-girlfriend did. Clemons also has lied about several things according to the Post-Dispatch, including that he said his mother was dead (she lives in North Carolina) and that he saw a moose on an Alaskan trip he never took.
Paulding and Johnson issued denials to Clemons’ allegations earlier this week, and coach Quin Snyder said he could not comment. The university president, Elson Floyd, was embarrassed by his wife’s involvement but decided not to resign his position Thursday.
Meanwhile, several sources have attempted to determine when the NCAA might be done with its investigation in to Missouri’s program.
As for the verdict? It could come anytime from later this week to the middle of January. A big factor in Mizzou’s future will be if the NCAA decides Clemons, who has publicly lied about several things, is a credible source.
A not-so-rebuilding year for the Sooners
When Oklahoma stars Hollis Price, Quannas White and Ebi Ere graduated last year, it appeared the quality of OU basketball might be down. Not so fast.
The No. 10 Sooners handed Purdue its first loss of the season Thursday and backed it up with an 83-56 thrashing of Prairie View on Saturday. Oklahoma has ran its record to 7-0 and has been led by a stellar defense, which held the Boilermakers to 30 percent shooting, and 5-6 freshman point guard Drew Lavender, who beat Purdue with a driving shot with 1.1 seconds remaining. He averaged 13.5 points in OU’s two wins this week.
Self will meet with Graves and family about suspension
KU coach Bill Self will meet with senior center Jeff Graves and his family today to determine Graves’ future with the Jayhawk program.
“We’ll sit down and we’ll get a game plan together and if he can live by the game plan, then that’s great,” Self said in a post-game news conference. “If he can’t, we’ll move on.”
Self suspended Graves, who had a double-double in last year’s national championship game, last week for “irresponsible behavior” after the senior had continually been late to practices and meetings. Graves is averaging about four points and four rebounds a game this season, but he adds inside depth and is a solid complement to Wayne Simien for No. 7 Kansas.
Things get ugly in Waco and College Station
Baylor and Texas A&M lost a combined three games this week to in-state rivals in games they had no business losing. The Bears, a shorthanded team that had a somewhat promising start, crashed to Earth this week with close losses to North Texas and Texas-San Antonio.
The Aggies, meanwhile, suffered a third straight loss, this time to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 82-80. If these two teams can’t establish dominance over small schools in their own state, they’ll get blown out every night in Big 12 play.
Inside the Big 12
Baylor Bears (3-4)
Maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on the poor Bears, a sad bunch that held try-outs to complete its roster. Coach Scott Drew is being pretty tough on them, though.
During Saturday’s 53-45 loss to Texas-San Antonio, Drew pulled his entire line-up for walk-ons early in the second half after Baylor fell behind 35-19 to a team that lost to Alaska-Fairbanks. Baylor responded by cutting the lead to 44-42, but they couldn’t finish the job.
Earlier in the week, Baylor fought back from a 14-point deficit to lead 52-50, but gave it up again to lose to North Texas 73-69. Terrance Thomas had 22 and R.T. Guinn 17 in a losing effort for Baylor. They had better get used to the “losing effort” clause in Waco.
This week: Tuesday vs. Northeastern Louisiana, Friday vs. BYU-Hawaii, Saturday at San Jose State
Colorado Buffaloes (5-1)
The Buffs won their fourth straight game in Ft. Collins Wednesday night with an 84-78 win against Colorado State. CSU got out to a quick 18-9 lead, but Colorado fought back to lead 42-38 at halftime and used an 11-4 run to go up 53-42 early in the second. The Rams threatened down the stretch but CU hung on. David Harrison had 19 points and 8 rebounds and Michel Morandais added 17 to overcome 26 points from CSU’s Matt Williams.
This week: Friday vs. Tennessee State
Iowa State Cyclones (5-0)
Surprise, surprise! The Cyclones are now one of only two unbeaten teams in the Big 12 after their 76-58 win against Liberty. Freshman Curtis Stinson had a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead ISU. Liberty pulled within 44-38 with 11:49 left, but the Cyclones went on a16-0 run to put the game away. Stinson, Jared Homan and Jake Sullivan each scored 4 during the run.
Yes, Iowa State is still undefeated, but no, it still hasn’t played a road game. That will change this week when the Cyclones visit Drake on Saturday. After that, the schedule gets really tough, with games against Xavier and at Virginia.
This week: Saturday at Drake
Kansas Jayhawks (5-1)
Junior forward Wayne Simien sat out Wednesday’s game against Fort Hays State because of a groin injury. It didn’t matter. No. 7 KU out-rebounded an overmatched FHSU team 58-25 even without Simien and Jeff Graves.
More impressive is that Simien came back Saturday when the Jayhawks played Oregon in Kansas City at what coach Bill Self said was “80 percent” health. He didn’t stop at just getting in the game, though. Simien exploded for 19 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. After Luke Jackson led Oregon on an 11-0 run to pull within 49-47, Simien and KU responded with a 19-5 spurt to put the game away and eventually won, 77-67.
It’s a safe bet that the Sooners, Longhorns and Tigers in the Big 12 don’t want to see what Simien can do at 100 percent.
This week: Saturday vs. UC-Santa Barbara, Sunday at Nevada
Kansas State Wildcats (5-1)
K-State fought off a tough challenge Wednesday from one of the top teams in the Missouri Valley Conference, Wichita State. The Shockers didn’t go down easily, however. WSU had a 31-21 lead minutes into the second half before the Wildcats responded. Jeremiah Massey carried KSU throughout the game, scoring 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grabbing 11 boards. The Shockers missed four three-pointers in the game’s final minute down 53-50 before losing 54-50.
This week: Saturday vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Missouri Tigers (3-1)
No. 3 Mizzou compounded a bad week off the court with a loss on the hardwood Saturday in Seattle. After a Rickey Paulding three tied MU with Gonzaga at the end of regulation, the Zags won 87-80 in the extra period when, on successive trips down the floor for the Tigers, Jimmy McKinney was called for a charge, Paulding missed a dunk and Paulding stepped out-of-bounds.
Paulding scored 23 but shot only 8-of-29, and was just 3-of-17 from inside the three-point line. Freshman Linas Kleiza had 16 points and 13 rebounds for MU but fouled out late in regulation. In all, three Tigers fouled out, and their lack of depth allowed Ronny Turiaf to go wild for the No. 16 Bulldogs.
In the Tigers’ next game, however, they get a boost for that depth when point guard Randy Pulley and wing Jason Conley play their first games Sunday.
This week: Sunday vs. UNC-Greensboro
Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-1)
In its first road game of the year on Wednesday, Nebraska traveled only 60 miles east but still lost 61-54 to Creighton. The teams were tied 23-23 with about four minutes to go in the first half, but the Blue Jays went on a 10-0 run to end the half and then held on throughout the second 20 minutes for the victory. Andrew Drevo had 21 points and Jake Muhleisen scored 12 in a losing cause.
While the loss may have brought the previously unbeaten Huskers back to Earth, they responded nicely by handing Tennessee its first loss Saturday, 77-62. NU held the Vols to 17 points in the first half and stretched the lead to 50-28 at one point in the second. Nate Johnson went 10-of-10 from the free-throw line down the stretch and finished with 14 points. Nebraska has been perfect at home, and won’t leave the state until Dec. 29 at Minnesota.
This week: Saturday vs. Bethune-Cookman
Oklahoma Sooners (7-0)
This week was a coming-of-age of sorts for undersized freshman point guard Drew Lavender, who led the No. 10 Sooners to wins over No. 17 Purdue and Prairie View.
First, Thursday, Lavender scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, including a runner in the lane with 1.1 seconds left to help OU beat Purdue 47-45. Then Oklahoma kicked up its offense a bit in an 83-56 win Saturday against Prairie View. Four players scored in double figures for the young Sooners, including Lavender (who also had 7 assists) and sophomore Kevin Bookout. Now, OU should be able to stay unbeaten heading into a Jan. 11 match-up with No. 4 Connecticut on the road.
This week: Saturday vs. Jackson State
Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-1)
The Cowboys didn’t play a game last week, taking time off for finals before two games this week. Saturday’s game versus Arkansas is the last for Oklahoma State against a team from a major conference until Big 12 play begins.
This week: Tuesday vs. Southeast Oklahoma State, Saturday at Arkansas
Texas Longhorns (5-1)
No. 9 Texas finally got a chance to prove to the country that it was for real, but failed it Tuesday night, losing 91-83 to No. 8 Arizona in New York.
The Longhorn defense couldn’t stop the Wildcats on the interior, as center Hassan Adams went for 30 points and 10 boards and forward Andre Iguodala had 13 and 13. Arizona led by as much as 79-60, but Texas cut the lead to 86-80 before succumbing. P.J. Tucker led the Longhorns with an impressive 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Then, Sunday versus New Orleans, Tucker scored 17 more as UT handed New Orleans its first loss of the season 89-55. Another measuring stick awaits Texas next week when they visit Cameron Indoor Arena.
This week: Saturday at No. 6 Duke
Texas A&M Aggies (3-3)
After starting the season 3-0, things have gotten bad for A&M, really bad. The Aggies allowed two Texas A&M-Corpus Christi players to score more than 20 points and trailed the Islanders by 10 before a futile last-minute run. Corpus Christi started the second half on a 16-2 spurt to give them a cushion.
Can things get any worse for A&M? Well, they could finish last in the Big 12 to a Baylor team that’s half walk-ons. Wait a minute, didn’t Baylor beat Corpus Christi?
This week: Thursday at Texas-San Antonio, Sunday vs. Grambling
Texas Tech Red Raiders (8-2)
It was a week of Bob Knight outbursts in Lubbock. First, he chastised his team after a 67-60 win over Texas Christian on Wednesday because only four players scored. That’s right: only four players had any points at all for the Red Raiders, led by Andre Emmett with 27 and Jarrius Jackson with 19.
Then, Saturday, Knight turned his fury on referees and TTU fans. He received his second technical foul as a Red Raider and called it the least-deserved technical he’d ever gotten. He subsequently blasted Texas Tech and the Lubbock area for not attending games: he said that if more than 6,100 fans couldn’t show at Red Raider games, the school should just drop basketball. At least the General got some balanced scoring. Freshman Darryl Dora scored 14 points as TTU beat San Diego State 78-68.
This week: Wednesday vs. Sam Houston State
Big 12 Player of the week
Wayne Simien, Kansas: Simien scored 19 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in leading the Jayhawks to a big 77-67 win against Oregon. And all this after missing a game and playing at 80 percent health because of a groin injury.
Big 12 Freshman/Newcomer of the week
Drew Lavender, Oklahoma: Lavender scored 12 second-half points against Purdue, including the game-winning bucket. Then he handed out 7 assists as the Sooners blew out Prairie View.
Five games to watch this week
Wednesday: Sam Houston State at Texas Tech: What will Bob Knight have for us this time?
Saturday: Texas at Duke: One of the country’s best games all day
Saturday: Oklahoma State at Arkansas: A measuring stick for the Cowboys
Saturday: Iowa State at Drake: Can the Cyclones keep winning on the road?
Sunday: UNC-Greensboro at Missouri: The debuts of Randy Pulley and Jason Conley