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Big 12 Quarterfinals Preview

March 13, 2004 Conference Notes No Comments




Big 12 Quarterfinals Preview

Preview by Zach Ewing

No. 8 Iowa State vs. No. 1 Oklahoma State
Iowa State finally managed to win a game outside of the state of Iowa this year, but the Cyclones’ next opponent is against the only team to beat in the state. Oklahoma State routed ISU by 21 in Ames in the teams’ earlier meeting this year.

“We’re looking forward to it,” ISU guard Jake Sullivan said. “It’s a great challenge. That team is the No. 1 team, and that’s what we want. That’s why we came here. If you want to win, you’ve got to beat the best.”

This is a difficult assignment for the Cyclone backcourt, even with the talented duo of freshman Curtis Stinson and senior Jake Sullivan. John Lucas and Tony Allen are both first-team all-conference and will test the ISU backcourt on defense. The Cyclones will have to take advantage of points in the paint, where OSU is strong but not unbeatable. Joey Graham has held the fort down, but if Jackson Vroman and Jared Homan can get him in foul trouble like they did to Jeremiah Massey, then the Cyclones will have a chance. Anything can happen in conference tournaments, and if ISU shoots and plays defense like it did in the first round, this one could be close.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 81, Iowa State 71

No. 5 Texas Tech vs. No. 4 Colorado
This is a rematch of a game that Colorado won by 15 in Boulder a couple of weeks ago. It was an important bubble game back then, but now it’s huge for the Buffaloes. Texas Tech is safely in the NCAA Tournament field, but CU could probably use this win to feel secure. It won’t be easy.

“They’re just a really good basketball team,” CU coach Ricardo Patton said of the Red Raiders. “We played them at our place, and I’m sure some of their players have some revenge on their minds.”

Tech is led by Andre Emmett, an all-Big 12 player who leads the conference in scoring both this season and all-time. The Red Raiders also have been helped by the contributions of freshman Jarrius Jackson and junior-college transfer Devonne Giles. CU counters with Michel Morandais and Blair Wilson on the outside, and David Harrison, another all-Big 12 player averaging a double-double every game. The key to this one will be defense on both ends of the floor.

“Colorado is well-put-together team that plays both ends of the court well,” TTU coach Bob Knight said, “and any team that does that is always going to be a difficult team to play.”

Both teams have been hot. After struggling for about three weeks in a row, Texas Tech only lost at Texas by three, and then beat Missouri and Iowa State by double-digits. Colorado has won four of its last five, with the only loss coming in Ames where the Buffaloes blew a big lead in the second half.

I like Tech in a close one. The Raiders have looked really good in the last week and Colorado struggles away from Boulder. Plus, TTU will be a lot closer to home in Dallas than will CU.

Prediction: Texas Tech 73, Colorado 65

No. 7 Okahoma vs. No. 2 Texas
It’s hard to believe OU got away with a win in its first-round game with only three big men and only one who has gotten any significant minutes this year. In fact, when Johnnie Gilbert fouled out with nine minutes still left, it was Brandon Foust and Larry Turner, two freshmen, who held down the OU fort inside. But that’s more of a case of Nebraska failing to get the ball inside than anything else. It will be different against Texas.

This is a match-up of possibly the deepest team in the country against perhaps the least deep. At different times this year, Texas has had P.J. Tucker, James Thomas and Jason Klotz have looked unstoppable inside. Gilbert, Foust and Turner will have their hands more than full. OU had better hope that the win over Nebraska will be enough to get them in the NCAA Tournament (it won’t), because the Longhorns will pound the Sooners.

Prediction: Texas 78, Oklahoma 55

No. 3 Missouri vs. No. 3 Kansas
The Tigers get a third chance to beat KU tomorrow night. The Jayhawks spoiled the Hearnes Center’s going-away party last Sunday with an 84-82 win and now will try to complete the trifecta. Look for Kansas to key on defending Arthur Johnson, who burned them for 37 points on 13-of-17 shooting in Sunday’s game. When that happens, the Tigers will try to get Travon Bryant or Rickey Paulding the ball for points.

On the other end of the court, Wayne Simien has had no trouble in two previous meetings with Mizzou, so the Tigers need to work on defending him. On the perimeter, Aaron Miles is deadly with the pass.

Logic says go with Kansas, who is hot and can take advantage of any more rebounding miscues MU has (like it did tonight against Texas A&M). But my gut says to go with the Tigers, because it’s hard to win three close games in one season over the same team, especially your arch-rival. I’ll go with my gut.

Prediction: Missouri 74, Kansas 73

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