Archive for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

This week in the Big 12 Conference

March 5, 2008

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Big 12 Spotlight 03-05-08 ( .PDF )

What Keegan says

Nobody saw this season coming from Texas. Nobody would have guessed they would tie Kansas for a Big 12 Conference title.

Yet as remarkable as the Longhorns doing that is, in retrospect, what KU pulled off in the Big 12 two seasons ago is even more amazing.

That Texas team had Daniel Gibson and LaMarcus Aldridge, both scoring in double figures presently for their NBA teams. And neither guy was the best player on the team. That was P.J. Tucker.

KU started three freshmen and two sophomores, tied Texas for the regular season title and defeated the Longhorns in the Big 12 Conference tourney title game. That was even more amazing than what Texas has done this year.

- Tom Keegan

Turgeon baffled lately

Texas A&M; coach Mark Turgeon wasn't exactly pleased with the Aggies' recent inconsistencies. For instance, A&M; beat Texas Tech by 44 points on Feb. 27, then lost to Oklahoma, 64-37, the next game.

"This is probably the most frustrating season I've been through as a coach," Turgeon said. "With that said, we've still won 21 games. But the ups and downs are unexplainable. You don't win by 44 one game, then lose like we did."

A&M; (21-8) is 7-7 in conference play.

Big 12 No. 2 in RPI

The Big 12 Conference now has the second-highest Ratings Percentage Index in the nation. As of Sunday, the conference had seven teams in the Top 50 of the RPI, which calculates a team's winning percentage (50 percent), its opponents' winning percentage (25 percent) and the opponents' opponents winning percentage (25 percent).

"I'd be disappointed if we don't get six teams in," Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton said of the NCAA Tournament.

The Cowboys (16-12) have now won five straight conference games to even their Big 12 record to 7-7. Sutton has mentioned in the past that five games ago, he set a goal for his team in the locker room to win its final seven games. Five down, two to go.

Griffin to miss time

Oklahoma standout freshman Blake Griffin underwent knee surgery Sunday and will miss the Sooners' last two regular-season games. Coach Jeff Capel said he expected Griffin to return in time for the Big 12 Tournament on March 13.

Griffin, who averages 15.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, tore the medial meniscus in the first half of Saturday's victory over Texas Tech. He actually returned in the second half and scored 10 points and grabbed five boards, despite the injury.

"We didn't know the extent of the injury at the time," Capel said. "He's played as well as anyone in this league in the last five or six games. I wouldn't trade him for anyone in the country."

Rush/Rogers honored

KU's Brandon Rush and Baylor's Kevin Rogers were named the Big 12 Players of the Week.

Rush went off for 21 points against Kansas State on Saturday. Rush leads the Jayhawks in Big 12 play with 14.2 points per contest.

Rogers, a 6-foot-9 junior out of Dallas, has averaged 18 points and 11.5 rebounds in Baylor's last two victories, over Colorado and Missouri.

Bears break out razors

Baylor coaches made a deal with their players toward the end of February that for each game the Bears won, an assistant coach would have to shave his head. The Bears have won three straight games. They'd still have to win their final two regular season games, then reach the Big 12 Tournament championship to apply the razor to head coach Scott Drew.

"Right now, I'm good with my hair," Drew said. "They have to keep winning if they want to see it any different."

Tough season expected

Colorado coach Jeff Bzdelik had a rather candid response when asked about the Buffaloes' 11-17 record (3-11 conference).

"What's happened is fully what I expected to happen," the first-year coach said. "I knew we weren't a very good rebounding team. I knew we weren't going to be a very good defensive team. I knew we would struggle to score at times.

"There's a lot of things being done that aren't reflected into wins: Facilities, culture, environment, tangible evidence that there's an investment in the basketball program that's never been done here before. I almost have to giggle if anybody thought we'd be doing better than what we're doing right now."

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