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Big 12 Notebook

January 27, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments

Big 12 Conference Notebook

by Zach Ewing

A howdy to all college basketball and Big 12 fans out there, and an apology for the absence last week. This notebook will cover two weeks, so grab a snack and read up.

Tech keeps on raiding

The team in the Big 12 everyone keeps overlooking may just force its way into consciousness. Bob Knight has his Texas Tech Red Raiders 4-0 in the Big 12, one of only two teams (along with Kansas) to be undefeated to this point. TTU is the only team to have beaten Oklahoma State, plus the Red Raiders own victories against Oklahoma and Baylor.

But Texas Tech’s fast start has not come so easily. Saturday against Texas A&M, the Raiders found themselves in a fight. With the game tied 78-78, senior superstar Andre Emmett drove into the lane, fought through several Aggies and put up the game-winning shot with six seconds on the clock. Emmett finished with 23 points and the Red Raiders won their 12th game in a row, 80-78.

Four Texas Tech players scored in double figures, including Emmett, Jarrius Jackson with 16 points and Mikey Marshall off the bench with 14. If Tech can come up with a 2-0 record in the tough week ahead, with games against Texas and Oklahoma State, this team can start thinking about the Big 12 title.

Roller-coaster week for Jayhawks

Kansas looked dominant on Sunday against Colorado. Period. Wayne Simien started 5-of-5 from the floor and KU raced to a 25-12 lead midway through the first half, a 41-21 halftime lead, and a 78-57 victory. Simien finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while David Harrison, Michel Morandais and Blair Wilson combined for only 8 first-half points and 18 in the whole game.

Colorado never stood a chance, especially when Harrison picked up his fourth foul with 16:48 still left in the game. Kansas completed the first season sweep in the Big 12. The Jayhawks beat Colorado 77-62 in Boulder in the first Big 12 game of the year. KU ran its record to 4-0 in the Big 12 and is tied with Tech for the top spot.

But earlier in the week, Allen Fieldhouse wasn’t full of happy fans. Richmond, an Atlantic-10 team that had previously beaten Colorado, came in and took out KU 69-68 when the Spiders’ Tony Dobbins beat the buzzer with a fade-away jump shot for the win. Mike Skrocki sent the Jayhawks to their fate with 23 points, including 4 three-pointers. The loss, while shocking, was at least a non-conference game. But the question remains: how can a team like Kansas, that has defeated Michigan State and slaughtered Colorado twice but lost to Nevada and Richmond, be consistent in a tournament setting? This is a team that could spring a huge win in the NCAA Tournament and make it all the way back to the Final Four, but could just as easily lose in the first round to a lesser opponent.

Texas gets assist from Johnson block

In what easily amounted to the game of the week in the Big 12, Texas came into the Hearnes Center and beat Missouri 75-69 in overtime. But the Longhorns couldn’t have done it without point guard Royal Ivey and an unlikely hand from Missouri’s Arthur Johnson.

After a see-saw battle left Mizzou with a 61-58 lead with about 30 seconds to play, Texas took possession. Conventional strategy says to try for a two-point shot and then foul the other team and hope to extend the game. But Texas let the clock run down to 10 seconds before Ivey made a move toward the basket. By this time, the Longhorns only had time for a three to tie the game, but Ivey put a two-pointer.

This is where Johnson comes in. The MU center did what he was supposed to do and had one of his 7 blocks to reject Ivey. With the game all but lost for Texas, the block turned into more of an assist. The ball bounced directly to a wide-open Brian Boddicker on the right wing, who drained a three and tied the game at 61 with 6.7 seconds to play. When the game went to overtime, Ivey took over. He scored 10 of his game-high 24 points in overtime, including 6-of-6 from the free-throw line, while the normally reliable Missouri senior Rickey Paulding made only 6-of-12 charity tosses. The heartbreaker dropped MU to 2-2 in the Big 12 and left the Tigers in desperate need of a big winning streak.

Baylor etches a mark in the win column

After their first conference game of the year, the Baylor Bears had players quoted as saying they would get a Big 12 win this season before all was said and done. After a hard-fought loss against Texas Tech, Baylor went up to Nebraska and got blasted by the Cornhuskers 76-47 to drop the Bears to 0-3 in the conference.

Then, all of a sudden, things turned around against Iowa State. Corey Herring scored 16 points and the Bears used a big second half run right after halftime to take an 11-point lead against the Cyclones. Then Baylor hung on down the stretch and won the game 63-59. The win is a great accomplishment for the Bears, a team that yours truly said might not win a game in the Big 12. Whoops. Anybody who comes to Waco had better be on upset-alert.

Meanwhile, for Iowa State, this is not good at all. The Cyclones have now lost 19 straight Big 12 road games and have not won a game this season outside the state of Iowa. To compete in conference and make the NCAA Tournament, teams need road wins, and losing at Baylor was a big opportunity lost. ISU may simply be a spoiler instead of a tournament contender.

Great games, road wins pepper Big 12 Saturday

Somebody must have put something bad in everybody’s home cooking Friday night. A quick glance at the Big 12 scoreboard on Saturday, Jan. 17, reveals that road teams went 4-2 for the weekend, and that doesn’t include Texas’ great escape, a 63-61 squeaker over Nebraska in Austin. Missouri, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Texas Tech all got wins away from home, and even mighty Oklahoma, which had won 45 of its last 46 games at home, fell in Norman in overtime.

Before that point, road teams had been 2-7 in conference play. None of the four wins came easy, however. Oklahoma State had to fight back from a surprising 16-point deficit against a game Kansas State squad. They did it with the help of point guard transfer John Lucas, who scored 20, including the go-ahead basket that put OSU up 55-54. Lucas’ old team, the Baylor Bears, was aided by the reinstatement of Terrance Thomas and R.T. Guinn and led Texas Tech at several points in the second half before Ronald Ross, Andre Emmett, and the rest of Bob Knight’s crew pulled away in the last few minutes.

Kansas, meanwhile, hoped to have an easy time in College Station against Texas A&M, but the Aggies also showed up. The Jayhawks trailed 20-15 early and led by only two points at halftime. Even when they went on a run to lead 61-48, Antoine Wright led an A&M run to fight back. KU held on to win 71-65.

The win was KU’s second road win of the Big 12 season, but the most important thus far belongs to Mizzou, which also had to fight back for its 79-75 overtime win against Oklahoma. The Sooners used great shooting to take a 40-28 lead, but Rickey Paulding and Travon Bryant led the Tigers back, and then MU scored the first seven points of the overtime session to cruise to victory.

Big woe for big O

The loss was Oklahoma’s third straight, after the Sooners had won their first ten games, rising to No. 5 in the Hoopville poll in the process. Before OU blew a 12-point lead against the Tigers, however, it began a bad week up the road in Stillwater. A raucous crowd of 13, 611, almost all clad in orange, saw Oklahoma State take a 12-2 lead and never trail. OU never made a serious run. It closed within nine points at the half, but another OSU run quelled any hope of a Sooner win.

Now Oklahoma must travel to Lubbock, where an undefeated Texas Tech team awaits on Big Monday. A loss here and the Sooners would be 0-3 in the Big 12, and the young team would have a long way to travel to get back to the top of the standings.

Coach Kelvin Sampson has continually reminded the press and his team’s fans that the Sooners are young, but I still think most people in Norman were expecting a good result in March after the promising start.

One more big non-conference bone

An early-season match-up against an Arizona team that could put you on the map? Nope, sorry, 91-83 Wildcats. How about a game against traditional power Duke in Madison Square Garden? Sorry, you’ve just been blown out.

Texas waited until after the start of the conference season to get its best non-conference win. An undefeated Wake Forest team came calling to Austin on Tuesday, an left with a huge headache and a blemish in its record. The Longhorns ran up 52 points in the first half, out-rebounded and out-shot the Demon Deacons, and made 25 free throws in a 94-81 win. All of a sudden Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas are separating themselves as the best teams in the Big 12.

Inside the Big 12

Big 12 Player of the Week, week of Jan. 12-18:

John Lucas, Oklahoma State

The transfer from Baylor averaged 21 points in two wins this week, including the go-ahead deuce late in the game against Kansas State

Big 12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Week, week of Jan. 12-18:

Linas Kleiza, Missouri

You can’t blame the Vanilla Gorilla for Missouri’s iffy start – 9 points and 12 rebounds against Syracuse, 13 and 9 against Oklahoma, including the game-tying free throws

Player of the Week, week of Jan. 19-25:

Andre Emmett, Texas Tech: I know I sound like a broken record, but so does anyone reading Emmett’s scoring line. 44 more points in two games this week, not to mention vastly improved defense.

Freshman/Newcomer of the Week, week of Jan. 19-25:

Joey Graham, Oklahoma State: The transfer from Central Florida played a big role in OSU’s 72-67 win against Texas on Saturday.

Around the Big 12

Baylor Bears (6-11 overall, 1-3 Big 12)

The NCAA decided to give seniors R.T. Guinn and Terrance Thomas a second chance. The two Bear starters had been declared academically ineligible, but the NCAA waived its own ruling when Baylor appealed, deciding that the circumstances surrounding the Dave Bliss/Patrick Dennehy scandal this summer were extenuating.

Guinn and Thomas made the most of their return, leading Baylor in a good effort against the hottest team in the league on Saturday. Texas Tech won the game 75-66, but Thomas and Guinn, coming off the bench, had the Bears within 58-57 with about five minutes left. Thomas led the Bears with 20 and BU even had a lead before Texas Tech ended the game with an aggressive defensive spurt.

In a game at Nebraska where the Bears looked like a lost team, BU didn’t even muster a field goal until there was less than seven minutes remaining in the first half. Thomas scored 16 points, but plenty of them came after the game had already been decided.

But Guinn, Thomas and the rest of the Bears still had some comeback adrenaline left for Saturday’s game against Iowa State. A 16-8 run to open the second half gave Baylor the lead and clutch-free throw shooting kept ISU behind. You have to give Scott Drew and BU credit for continuing to fight in what amounts to a lost season. In fact, Baylor’s not even in the Big 12 cellar and is a respectable 5-6 at home.

This week: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma, Saturday at Colorado

Colorado Buffaloes (10-6, 2-3)

What’s wrong with the Buffs? Losses at Oklahoma State and Kansas were not really unexpected but the stinker CU pulled out in Lawrence was. David Harrison needs to stop acting like a baby every time he gets called for a foul and instead take out his frustration on the court. Unfortunately for the Buffaloes, he got in foul trouble and stayed there, and finished with only 5 points and 2 rebounds. The rest of the team had a decent second half, but by that time it was a lost cause.

That loss followed another in Stillwater against Oklahoma State by a score of 71-62. Here Colorado didn’t play poorly, but just ran into a very hot team. A tie game at the half and even a 54-50 CU lead evaporated with a late 10-3 OSU run. Four Buffaloes scored in double figures, led by Harrison and Lamar Harris with 13. The problem for Colorado is that it is now 2-3 in the Big 12. A loss against Missouri at home might bury the boys from Boulder.

The bad week came right after a great week in Boulder, in which the Buffs rebounded from a home loss to Kansas with wins at Nebraska and at home versus Iowa State. Wednesday in Lincoln, it was a close, defensive game for 35 minutes, with NU leading 55-54 and five minutes left. After that, it was a Colorado-dominated game. CU outscored Nebraska 14-2 to take a 68-57 lead, and won the game 68-60. Michel Morandais scored 18 to start a big week, and Blair Wilson added 15, but it was defense that won the game.

Then on Saturday, CU busted open another close game behind Morandais. It was 60-56 with less than 10 minutes to play, but Morandais scored all 9 points in a 9-2 Buffalo run to make the score 69-58. Morandais finished the game with 19 points and center David Harrison added 16 points and 10 rebounds. Colorado out-shot ISU 53 percent to 37 percent and won the game 88-70.

This week: Wednesday vs. Missouri, Saturday vs. Baylor

Iowa State Cyclones (11-4, 2-2)

Iowa State won some bragging rights but lost a much more important game last week. Wednesday, the Cyclones beat the Iowa Hawkeyes 84-76 in a battle of a game. Iowa led a close game 68-63, but ISU closed to within 70-68 and then the Cyclones erupted for 12 consecutive points to essentially win the game. Two great individual performances highlighted the game for ISU: Jake Sullivan, who made 5 three-pointers and scored 23 points, and Jackson Vroman scored 18 points and had 16 rebounds.

But then on Saturday, ISU dropped the ball against Baylor. A win would have made it 3-1 in the Big 12, but instead questions abound about whether this team can ever win on the road. If not at Baylor, then where?

Iowa State did make a run late in the game when Sullivan made five free throws in a row, but after the Cyclones got within 54-53, they couldn’t get any closer. Freshman Curtis Stinson scored 16 points in a losing effort, and Vroman added 12. Iowa State had several big leads in the first half; it missed a big chance when it couldn’t close the deal.

Last Saturday against CU was the same story. Another road game, another poor performance. Iowa State, after the 88-70 loss, has now fallen 18 straight times on the road in the Big 12. Don’t blame Jackson Vroman. He scored 20 points and 18 rebounds, but ISU’s poor shooting doomed it. Only offensive rebounds could make the game close until Michel Morandais won it for CU.

This week: Wednesday vs. Texas A&M, Saturday vs. Kansas

Kansas Jayhawks (12-3, 4-0)

Wayne Simien continues to be one of the best players in the Big 12. When you have 16 points and 8 rebounds by halftime, like Simien did against Colorado on Sunday, you know it’s going to be a good day. He finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds for a double-double, and the Jayhawk defense won the game early with defense.

Thursday’s shocking loss to Richmond was a product of missed opportunities. KU shot only 18-of-28 from the free-throw line and wasted 18 points from Keith Langford and 14 points and 14 boards from Simien. Aaron Miles tried to run the clock down in the game’s last minute, but he missed a three and then Tony Dobbins won the game for Richmond, 69-68.

The week before, KU’s 73-67 victory over Kansas State on Wednesday wasn’t an episode of ER, no matter how much it looked like it. Here was the injury list: Michael Lee was returning from a broken collarbone; Keith Langford was sick with flu-like symptoms; Aaron Miles had a sprained ankle; and Danny Graves played the most minutes since he came back from a suspension issued by coach Bill Self. However, all four players were in action, and what’s more, they all played well. Lee had 16 points, Langford scored 17, Miles dished out 11 assists and Graves put up 11 points and 9 rebounds. K-State was game, but the Jayhawks had too much for the Wildcats.

Last Saturday against Texas A&M, it was much the same story. The Aggies put up a good fight, but the Jayhawks rallied in the second half and then hung on for the 71-65 win. Miles had 12 more assists to go with 11 points and 7 rebounds, and Langford shot 7-of-8 for 21 points. Bill Self was upset with his team’s finish, but things look smooth in Lawrence otherwise.

This week: Wednesday at Kansas State, Saturday at Iowa State

Kansas State Wildcats (9-6, 1-3)

The list of winless Big 12 teams was bound to shrink on Wednesday when 0-2 K-State battled 0-2 Texas A&M. The Wildcats were able to get themselves into the win column with a 70-61 win. Tim Ellis and Jarrett Hart both scored 19 points, and Ellis put the Wildcats up for good with a steal of an inbounds pass and a three-pointer with 1:12 remaining.

Another chance came for the Wildcats to play a winless team on Saturday, when they came to Norman to battle 0-3 Oklahoma. The Sooners, though, are not your typical winless squad, even without Kevin Bookout, and beat KSU 61-49. K-State committed an ungodly 21 turnovers, including 6 from point guard Frank Richards. Hart put up 16 points as the only KSU player in double figures.

How did the Wildcats get to 0-2, you ask? Well, let’s look back to last week. If not for some clutch free-throw shooting by Michael Lee, I might be writing about the upset of the week in this space. Instead, K-State lost for the 27th straight time to Kansas. Some positives were Frank Richards day, which included 19 points and 8 rebounds, and the debut of Dramane Diarra, who made his first start. Diarra is a junior-college transfer who had his eligibility questioned by the NCAA, and scored four points with 5 rebounds before being hampered by foul trouble. K-State will get another shot at the Jayhawks at home Wednesday.

Again, if not for a big rally and a fellow named John Lucas, I might be writing about a huge upset in this paragraph. But K-State lost a heartbreaker 57-56 to Oklahoma State after leading 50-34 in Manhattan on Saturday. Lucas gave the Cowboys the lead 55-54 but then Jeremiah Massey drew a charge for KSU with 26.7 seconds left. After a turnover, Tony Allen missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Jarrett Hart’s three-pointer was blocked as time expired.

This week: Wednesday vs. Kansas, Saturday at Missouri

Missouri Tigers (8-7, 3-2)

After the heartbreaking loss to Texas, in which Rickey Paulding scored 20 points and Arthur Johnson added 16 points, 10 rebounds and 7 blocks but MU shot 2-of-15 from three-point range, the Tigers took out some frustration on Nebraska. The Huskers did what they do to most teams and slowed down the tempo and held Missouri to eight points over the first 11 minutes of the game for an 18-8 lead. But the Tigers got back to a 30-29 lead at halftime when freshman Thomas Gardner hit a three-pointer. In the second half, NU had an 8-0 run to take a 44-43 lead, but Paulding scored seven consecutive points and Mizzou embarked on a 29-2 run during which Nebraska didn’t have a field goal for eight minutes. Paulding finished with 19 points and Gardner had 17, while only one Nebraska players scored in double figures.

In the previous week, the Tigers’ disappointing season may finally have hit rock bottom last Monday, when Syracuse blew out Mizzou 82-68 in the Hearnes Center on national television. Hakim Warrick scored 21 points and gathered 12 rebounds and Craig Forth scored 18 as the Orangemen used a 16-2 run to gain a 59-42 advantage with about 11 minutes left. Rickey Paulding’s 25-point, sometimes spectacular performance wasn’t enough to overcome 5-of-27 three-point shooting for the Tigers.

If Monday was the bottom of the pits for this team, it took the first step back up with on Saturday with a badly-needed win at Oklahoma. OU led 40-28 in the second half, but the Tigers fought their way back to take a 50-49 lead. Then after a Drew Lavender shot bounced out and missed, the two teams headed to overtime. MU went inside for four points, and then Paulding hit a three for a 65-58 lead. OU did a great job of extending the game, but Mizzou hit its free throws to hang for the 79-75 win. Paulding finished with 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-4 from three-point range.

This week: Wednesday at Colorado, Saturday vs. Kansas State

Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-5, 1-4)

The Huskers manhandled Baylor on Wednesday, with a dominating defensive performance, winning 76-47. The NU offense struggled a bit, leading only 12-1 13 minutes into the game, but scored 50 points in the second half and hit 11-of-18 three-pointers overall. Jason Dourisseau led the Huskers with 18 points, one more than BU scored in the entire first half.

Unfortunately for Husker fans, Saturday was the end of NU’s manhandling and the start of its being manhandled. A team that shoots over 40 percent from three-point range made only 4-of-18 shots from long range, and the best team defense in the Big 12 gave up too many fast-break opportunities in Missouri’s second-half run, including several momentum-changing dunks.

Two games NU could easily have won turned into losses in the previous week, starting with Wednesday’s 68-60 defeat at the hands of Colorado. A team that certainly can’t lose home games like this lost the game in the last five minutes by getting only one field goal until a meaningless three at the end of the game. Saturday’s game at Texas was a chance for NU to redeem itself and more. The Cornhuskers slowed down the pace of the contest enough to hold the Longhorns 30 points under their season average for points and a 10-0 Nebraska run put the Huskers ahead 56-52 with 2:32 left. Andrew Drevo had 23 points, but after Brian Boddicker tied the game at 61, Drevo missed a three to set up Royal Ivey’s heroics and a 63-61 Texas win. Nebraska can’t afford to lose any more games that it should win.

This week: Sunday vs. Oklahoma

Oklahoma Sooners (11-4, 1-3)

It might have been a hangover from an 86-59 whipping at the hands of Connecticut, but Oklahoma started out very badly against Oklahoma State in the most recent chapter of the Bedlam Series a week ago Wednesday. OSU was up 12-2 and Oklahoma committed 20 turnovers and shot only 35 percent, 25 percent from beyond the arc. After the 77-56 loss, OU coach Kelvin Sampson said his team wouldn’t win many games if it didn’t shoot well.

He couldn’t use that excuse last Saturday against Missouri, because the Sooners had very good three-point shooting to get a 40-28 second half lead. The Sooners, however, had no answer inside for the Tiger trio of Arthur Johnson, Travon Bryant and Linas Kleiza as MU stormed back. The back-to-back 20-point losses to UCONN and Oklahoma State hurt for OU, but this loss, at home, may hurt even more.

Oklahoma took its fourth straight loss and its third whipping in those four games on Monday in Lubbock when it lost 67-47 to Texas Tech. OU shot only 33 percent from the floor and was never in the game, falling behind 25-13 after a 15-2 Tech run.

OU finally rebounded when it beat Kansas State 61-49 in Norman. Jason Detrick broke out of a scoring slump in a big way with 24 points and OU’s zone stymied K-State into many turnovers and poor shooting. The Sooners, however, still have a lot of work to do. A team that was supposed to contend for the Big 12 championship is now struggling even to get in the top half of the standings. A couple of wins this week would really help OU out in that quest.

This week: Wednesday at Baylor, Sunday at Nebraska

Oklahoma State Cowboys (14-2, 4-1)

Baylor sure could use John Lucas now. The transfer from BU put on a show last week for Oklahoma State. First he recorded 22 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists against Oklahoma in a 77-56 win. The Cowboys dominated all game long, shooting 56 percent, as Tony Allen added 20 points and Ivan McFarlin had 17. Then on Saturday, Lucas led OSU back from 16 down with a 21-4 run against Kansas State. He finished with 20, including the go-ahead bucket late in the game. Allen sealed the victory with a block of Jarrett Hart’s shot in the final seconds.

Then, this week, OSU took care of business Wednesday against Colorado with a 71-62 win. Oklahoma State didn’t shoot well, only 39 percent, but Tony Allen and John Lucas led the Cowboys on a late run that gave them control of the game. Allen finished shooting only 6-of-16 but had 19 points and Lucas added 15.

The Cowboys’ biggest win over the last two weeks and maybe the biggest of the season, however, came Saturday at Texas. The cast of heroes changed this time for Okie State. Joey Graham had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Texas led 35-32 at halftime, but an extended run gave OSU a 60-49 lead. One of Lucas’ five assists, a pass from mid-court to Terrance Crawford for a lay-up gave the Cowboys a 70-66 lead, and they hung on for a 72-67 win. This week, they can get revenge for their only loss in the Big 12 season when they get Texas Tech at home on Saturday.

This week: Saturday vs. Texas Tech

Texas Longhorns (12-3, 3-1)

Lucky or not, Texas did a good job of taking advantage of its opportunities Tuesday at Missouri. First Brian Boddicker drained the three to tie the game when the ball bounced right to him at the end of regulation. Then, in overtime, Royal Ivey, a 57 percent free-throw shooter, hit all six of his free throws and Texas was 10-of-10 overall from the line as the Longhorns put the game away.

It all turned around when the Longhorns returned home on Saturday. Oklahoma State beat UT with a solid second-half performance. James Thomas had a big performance off the bench with 13 points and 9 rebounds, but the Longhorn’s dug themselves an 11-point hole before coming back. Ivey finally cooled off, scoring 14 points but shooting only 5-of-12 from the floor and 4-of-10 from the line. I’ll bet a lot of money that some Mizzou fans would kill for that same free-throw performance in Tuesday’s game.

The best win of the season for UT, and maybe for the entire Big 12, occurred in Austin on Tuesday of last week, as the Longhorns bested then-No. 2 Wake Forest 94-81. Five Texas players scored in double figures, led by P.J. Tucker with 21 points. Brian Boddicker added 14 points and 10 rebounds as Texas shot 52 percent and had a 42-28 edge on the boards.

Things slowed down Saturday versus Nebraska, but Boddicker hit a big three late and then after a defensive stop, Royal Ivey won the game with a pull-up jump shot with 2.4 seconds to play. The Longhorns proved they could win without Tucker, who was held to 2 points on 1-of-6 shooting.

This week: Monday at Texas Tech, Saturday at Texas A&M

Texas A&M Aggies (7-8, 0-4)

Two tough losses for A&M this week, first in Manhattan on Wednesday where the Aggies led for much of the game until a late Kansas State run gave the Wildcats the 70-61 victory. The loss was A&M’s 14th consecutive Big 12 road loss, and came despite 17 points from Leandro Garcia-Morales and 16 plus 16 rebounds from Andy Slocum. The Aggies led the whole game and had a 53-47 lead with 7:58 left, but a late 8-0 run by K-State hurt TAMU.

For the third straight Saturday, Texas A&M played well against a tough Big 12 opponent, but for the third consecutive week, the Aggies fell. This time it was an 80-78 defeat at the hands of Texas Tech. Five Aggies scored in double figures and the team shot 50 percent, but Texas Tech did even better, shooting 61 percent from the floor.

The week before, the close loss came 71-65 to the Kansas Jayhawks. Antoine Wright led the charge for A&M, leading a 17-10 run to end the game. Wright scored 25 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and even had enough time to dish out 4 assists, but there was simply too much Keith Langford and too much Jayhawk for the Aggies to pull off the upset.

This week: Wednesday at Kansas State, Saturday vs. Texas Tech

Texas Tech Red Raiders (16-2, 4-0)

Who would have thought that Texas Tech, after 4 conference games, would be the favorite to win the Big 12. Pretty impressive stuff. A dominating defensive performance led to a 67-47 win against Oklahoma. Andre Emmett had 21 points and 8 rebounds and led Tech to the kill early with a 15-2 run. Defense was the real story, though: only one Sooner scored in double figures, and that was Jason Detrick’s 11 off the bench.

The Red Raiders’ performance wasn’t so thoroughly dominating on Saturday at Texas A&M, especially on defense, but it was good enough for the win. Emmett put up 23 more, and scored the game-winner with six seconds left in an 80-78 win. Anybody else think this guy is ready for national player of the year mention?

Coach Bob Knight wasn’t happy with the NCAA’s decision to let Terrance Thomas and R.T. Guinn play for Baylor against the Red Raiders, but he had to be pleased with his team’s defensive stand late in the game. Ronald Ross had two steals that led to two dunks late in the game to help seal a 75-66 victory on Saturday. The first one put TTU up 64-57, and the second made it a 70-60 game. Ross scored 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting and Andre Emmett added 22 points and 5 rebounds to overcome a feisty Baylor squad. If that one-two combo, coupled with some great defense, can get going throughout the Big 12 season, the Red Raiders might be Big 12 champs.

One word of warning for Tech fans: the Raiders’ first three games against tough Southern division opponents will all have come in Lubbock after the Big Monday game with Texas. It will be a bigger task to win those games on the road. The first test comes in Stillwater on Saturday.

This week: Monday vs. Texas, Saturday at Oklahoma State

Five games to watch this week

Monday – Texas at Texas Tech: Big Monday on ESPN is exactly as promised: big. The winner of this one is in the top two in the Big 12.

Wednesday – Missouri at Colorado: Two teams headed in opposite directions after this weekend. Or can CU defend its homecourt and keep MU from winning two in a row again?

Saturday – Kansas at Iowa State: Despite the loss at Baylor, ISU is a force at home. Meanwhile, KU’s first big test since winning at Colorado.

Saturday – Texas Tech at Oklahoma State: Two bona fide championship contenders.

Sunday – Oklahoma at Nebraska: Warm up for the Super Bowl by finding out if OU can claw its way back into the Big 12 title race.


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Talking Hoops With Ted Sarandis – March 10, 2018

March 10, 2018 by

As Championship Week nears its climax on the big Saturday, we look at a pair of semifinals and a lot of bubble teams that may be sweating it out on Sunday.

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Recruiting Coverage

Lincoln captures Hamilton Park title

August 15, 2017 by

For the first time, a public school won the Hamilton Park Summer League, and they were led by a big effort from a junior point guard in the title game.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Boston Shootout

June 12, 2017 by

Some news and notes coming from the second and final day of action at the 2017 Boston Shootout, where the host program provided plenty of talent, but so did a program that produced a team that beat them.

Notes from a day at the 2017 Northeast Hoops Festival

April 11, 2017 by

The Northeast Hoops Festival helped bring in the new spring travel season in New England, and we have notes from some of Saturday’s action.

2016 Boston Back to School Showcase notes

September 12, 2016 by

We look back at the 2016 Boston Back to School Showcase, where a couple of Boston City League teams were among the most impressive on the day.

2016 Hoopville Spring Finale championship recap

June 28, 2016 by

We look back at the championship games of the 2016 Hoopville Spring Finale, which had a big local flavor as one might have expected.