Okay, so, this is what I decided to do. Instead of just leaving the Big 12 conference recaps to Sundays, I want to do something every Thursday. But, I didn't want to step on the weekend's toes, as I think the original turned out quite well. So, here's what I came up with. I'll just give you the recap of this week's games, leaving the weekend games and all of the power rankings and the look aheads and all of that fun stuff to the weekend. So, yeah, this will be all you'll get.
With all of that said, let's get it on.
Monday January 19th
Kansas 73 Texas A&M 53 -- In a ridiculously difficult stretch, this might have been A&M's best chance to pick up a win. However, they never completely showed up to Allen Field House, while the Jayhawks started out hot and never, ever looked back. This game was over five minutes in, and wasn't the best representation of how good Texas A&M is. Of course, they haven't really shown up and proven "this is how good we are", so who knows. Coming in, I figured they were an NCAA team, but now, I'm not so sure. Actually, I doubt they make it. The Big 12 probably isn't getting six teams in, and even then, I think they are currently seventh in the pecking order.
What this means is that under Turgeon, we don't just lose when we go on the road in conference play, we get annihilated by an average of 20 points per loss. When we lose on the road, we aren't even competitive. Our loss to Kansas is par for the course when it comes to us losing on the road; we hit our average perfectly.
The rest of the games, and some extra stuff, after the jump...
Tuesday January 20th
Texas Tech 63 Colorado 55 -- The battle of the two worst teams in the conference wasn't pretty, but the Red Raiders were able to pick up what could be their only win. With a tough, South slate ahead, a home game against Colorado was almost certainly their best shot to win. John Roberson is about all Pat Knight has to work with, but he is a really good player. Same with Colorado and Cory Higgins. The good thing is that both are sophomores, so hopefully, by the end of their college careers, they will be joined by some other competent players.
The Ralphie Report (comments; by nebraskasux):
I'll be honest, I've been in somewhat of a sports-slump or sports-malaise since the Cotton Bowl loss and it's continued to bleed over into basketball season. I'm a pretty patient guy, but this was getting a little tough for even a homer like me to continue to stay positive. Quite simply, I needed a win. And if lowly blogger "Seth C" needed a win, then I can only imagine how Junior Knight and the entire team felt.
I know these guys feel like they're better than their record indicates, but the unforced turnovers and errors really kill the team. If they can just be careful with the ball, I'm pretty sure this would have been a 20 point victory. Again, I'm talking about something that hasn't happened all year, so it's totally hypothetical, but taking care of the ball is key.
Wednesday January 21st
Baylor 83 Kansas State 65 -- Yuck. Coming into Big 12 play, there were some who thought that the Wildcats could, conceivably, be the second best team in the North. Yeah, well, no. They are clearly sitting at #4 right now, and one could certainly argue that the Iowa State Cyclones are a superior team. They have some nice pieces in Denis Clemente, Jacob Pullen and Dominique Sutton, but Frank Martin looks lost at times over there on the sideline. And, sorry, but Jacob Kent isn't a player that should be seeing big-time minutes. Baylor, on the other hand, picked up a good win. Sure, the Powercats aren't that good, but it was on the road. LaceDarius shot the lights out (9-12 from three), and the Bears have enough talent to win the Big 12. Honest. I don't think they will, but they certainly have the talent to be able to.
It's getting harder and harder to watch these guys, as it's clear their confidence is devastated and they expect Murphy's Law will be in full effect no matter what they do. Given that Baylor is a pretty good team, certainly NCAA-tournament worthy, losing to the Bears is no big shame, but at some point we have to step up and protect our home court against good teams. Also, being down double-digits and losing by 18, at home, is not acceptable. I'll give the team and coaches credit, as it appeared they fought til the end, rather than giving up like they did in Lincoln, but at some point we have to figure out a way to play well in the first half of a game.
Missouri 97 Oklahoma State 95 -- OK, well, I don't know exactly what to think. Coming in, I figured this game would be huge for both teams. A win by either team would go a long way, especially if it was the Tigers. And, for the first 36 minutes-or-so, Missouri was the much, much better team. They showed up in a big way, and really started to freak me out. But then, classic Missouri sports showed up, and they nearly blew a sixteen point lead in the final four minutes. Ouch. Seriously, after playing nearly flawless for almost the entire game, they did everything they could think of to lose the game. Alas, they were bailed out by a terrible call by the officials late (the second straight egregious, late call to go against the Pokes; first against Baylor in Waco on Saturday, then last night) and still found a way to win. I think the Tigers go dancing this year, as long as they don't blow any stupid games. Which, of course, means they will.
I really have no explanation for what happened last night...all I know is, when it comes to MU-OSU, in any sport, nothing ever makes sense. The only thing that would make less sense than us getting a 20-point lead at Gallagher-Iba would be us blowing a 20-point lead at Gallagher-Iba. And the only thing that would make less sense than THAT would be us winning anyway. Good god.
I'll say this much, though: I mentioned after the Illinois game that the last step to learning how to win is learning how to win when it's all going against you. Granted, most of the "going against you" was self-inflicted (and that last four minutes was like watching a track runner break down in slow motion), but...well...scoreboard. 16-3.
Oklahoma 72 Nebraska 61 -- Easily, this is the most surprising game in the early-going of Big 12 play. I mean, this wasn't an eleven point game. Nebraska was winning pretty much the entire game, only to watch the lead quickly slip away after Dagunduro fouled out and Blake Griffin explode. It would have been awesome if the Cornhuskers would have picked up a victory, for two reasons. Primarily, because it would have made winning the Big 12 that much easier, with an unexpected loss like that. But also, because it would have made the North look a lot better. It would have, combined with Missouri's win in the other Oklahoma city, given the North three legitimate contenders. And even though the Huskers came up on the short end of the stick when it came to the score, they still showed a lot of people a lot of stuff last night. They are for real, and are certainly not to be taken lightly. And yes, I know the Cornhuskers don't have any size. But they have a bunch of little guys on the perimeter who can really play, kind of like Okie State, and have a really good coach. We could, legitimately, lose in Lincoln next Wednesday night. Should be a big game.
Jeff Capel has brought the OU men’s basketball program to new heights but even with their #5/6 ranking the Sooners learned that they aren’t good enough to sleep walk on teams in the Big 12 Conference. Playing scrappy defense and shoot three point shots at an alarming pace the Nebraska Cornhuskers built a first half lead of as many as 7 points at one time and led 38-32 at the intermission.
Apparently the alarm clock went off at halftime as OU unleashed the beast by feeding the ball to Blake Griffin and outscored the Huskers 40-23 over the final 20 minutes of the game in route to a 72-61 win.
Griffinfinished with 27 points, 18 rebounds and also swatted 3 shots. He was followed by Austin Johnson, who continues to impress in conference play, with 15 points, 3 rebounds and 5 assists. Tony Crocker also had 5 dishes to go along with his 12 points making him Nebraska ’s third player to score in double figures. Oklahoma
Oklahomafell into ’s trap early by not being patient and settling for long distance shots rather than trying to work the ball inside to Blake Griffin. Meanwhile Nebraska was hot early allowing them to build a lead but the story would be much different in the second half. Nebraska Nebraska’s defense, pesky in the first half, couldn’t come up with an answer for in the second half while OU was able to cool off the Husker’s hot shooting with a stifling defense of their own. Griffin
OK, so, at the end, I just want to do a short little segement: What We've Learned. Self-explanatory enough, I imagine, so that's all I'll say:
- Nebraska? Yeah, for real. Doc Sadler is a good coach, and when they are draining their threes, they are a damn dangerous team. Now, I don't think they are NCAA-quality yet (they did, after all, lose to Maryland-Baltimore County), but going to the NIT should be a nice step up for them. Then, next year, with a lot returning, they could make a run at the four-letter tournament. But, seriously, let's play the what-if game for a second. Let's say they score another bucket and beat Oregon State in Corvallis, and barely squak out a win against UMBC. They lost the two games by a combined three points, so that isn't asking much. Then, they are currently standing at 14-3. With two of those losses coming @ Arizona State and @ Oklahoma. Damn. I mean, they would be getting a lot more press than they are currently getting. I'm scared of this team, I tell ya.
- Oklahoma State? Not as good as I thought. I thought they were a legitimate NCAA contender, and maybe they still are, but they got thoroughly outplayed at home by Missouri. Now, the Tigers are probably better than any of us thought, but still. And, the Pokes' resume looks fine, with their losses coming: vs. Gonzaga, vs. Michigan State, @ Washington, @ Baylor and now vs. Missouri. And, the last two games, they've gotten screwed. So, this is more just because I thought so highly of them. I thought they could be the third best team in the conference, which isn't true. Still, though, if the league gets six, which I think will happen, they are clearly #6 in the pecking order. Last night hurts, though, because if we only get #5, they just lost at home to the team that is likely fifth right now. Whoops.
- Speaking of Okie State and Nebraska, Saturday's game has turned out to be a huge one. I didn't list it on my Key Games of the Week, but then last night happened, and I want to change it. A Nebraska win would keep extremely slim NCAA hopes alive, while an Okie State win is really needed to get off this streak. It's in Lincoln, and should be a dandy. Watch it.
- Finally, there is a way to beat Boomer Sooner. If you want to know how, just watch what the Cornhuskers did last night. After the game last night, I am now confident that we could (not will, could) very likely win the game in Norman. I mean, seriously. If you just hound Blake Griffin inside, he has to pass it out. And as awesome of a passer Blake is, it doesn't matter too much if Boomer Sooner ain't hitting their threes. That's what Nebraska did all of last night, and up until Blake Griffin said "Screw it" and started to do it alone, they were winning because of it. Combine a significantly better offense (ours is getting better every game, by late February, it might be awesome), and you have a decent shot at pulling an upset.
OK, that's all. Iowa State-related stuff coming tomorrow. Shouldn't be all that difficult, but we really can't afford a loss in Ames. Now, I'm terrified we're going to lose in Lincoln. And we certainly, no matter what, can't lose both. So, yeah, let's just win in Ames, m'kay?