Advertisement

Posts tagged with Big 12

Big 12 unveils new logo

In the college athletics business, July 1 marks the start of the new year. Goodbye, 2013-14. Hello, 2014-15.

Consequently, today holds great significance for some of the country's most famous conferences. The Big Ten — or B1G, as the league's marketing folks like to call it — now boasts 14 teams with the additions of Maryland and Rutgers.

Not one to take conference realignment lying down, the ACC officially adds Louisville today, reaching 15 teams when you count Notre Dame, which remains independent in football.

(Aside: How great is ACC basketball going to be? Duke, Louisville, North Carolina, Pitt and Syracuse? That's a ginormous wow factor, even without mentioning resurgent Virginia or Notre Dame, North Carolina State and Florida State.)

Of course, the league Kansas University calls home — the Big 12 — isn't welcoming any new institutions today. But the 10-team conference rolled out a new logo.

Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the following in the league's press release:

“Today marks an exciting day for the future of the Big 12 and its member institutions. The Conference is proud to launch a new logo that integrates the league’s iconic heritage with a progressive new look.”

So, without further ado, here it is. Cue the drumroll and hold onto your hats.

None

That do anything for you? No? Well, how about this?

None

Or this?

None

Not exciting enough. I get it. Good news. The Big 12 has you covered.

Sparks! Magic! Different colors! Flames! Ice! Melted ice! Plants! Paint! Spinning! Lasers!?!? Smoke! Graphics! Lights!

THE BIG 12!

Now that's a logo unveiling.

The conference's Twitter account is posting different photos featuring the new design throughout the day. Here are some of the highlights so far.

None by Big 12 Conference

None by Big 12 Conference

None by Gary Patterson

But let's face it. Nothing's going to beat that video.

Check out the league's revamped website at Big12sports.com.

Reply

Rest of Big 12 lagging behind KU in March

Oklahoma State players, from left, Tony Allen, Joey Graham and Ivan
McFarlin watch the NCAA Tournament selection show after the Big 12
Conference tournament championship game. The Cowboys were selected
as the No. 2 seed in the East Rutherford (N.J.) Regional and will
play in Kansas City, Mo., after beating Texas, 65-49, Sunday in
Dallas.

Oklahoma State players, from left, Tony Allen, Joey Graham and Ivan McFarlin watch the NCAA Tournament selection show after the Big 12 Conference tournament championship game. The Cowboys were selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Rutherford (N.J.) Regional and will play in Kansas City, Mo., after beating Texas, 65-49, Sunday in Dallas. by AP Photo

Try to remember the last time someone told you, "The Big 12 is a great basketball league," and you completely agreed.

Hopefully that happened sometime around 2002 to 2004. Because, in terms of overall NCAA Tournament success for the league as a whole, that statement hasn't exactly held true in about a decade.

Quick. Name the last men's basketball team from the Big 12 besides Kansas University to reach the Final Four.

Texas' T.J. Ford drives on Syracuse's Josh Pace in the first half of a semifinal game of the Final Four on Saturday, April 5, 2003, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Texas' T.J. Ford drives on Syracuse's Josh Pace in the first half of a semifinal game of the Final Four on Saturday, April 5, 2003, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Playing this game in my head, I went to Rick Barnes' 2003 Texas team, led by dynamic, though slight, guard T.J. Ford. Somehow, I skipped over Eddie Sutton's 2004 Oklahoma State team, featuring Tony Allen's amazing all-around game and the at times unstoppable offense of John Lucas.

Point being: It's been a while. It was 10 years ago that a Big 12 team not coached by Bill Self advanced all the way to the Final Four. When Sutton took the Cowboys, Self had just completed his first season at KU.

In the Big 12 men's basketball season review, sent to media from the conference in April, the league highlights its postseason accolades, including its seven bids in the 2014 tourney. And rightfully so. Seventy percent of the conference went dancing and each program got in with a single-digit seed.

But not a one of them — not even Kansas — could make it beyond the Sweet 16 this year. Of course, only two, Iowa State and Baylor, even survived that long.

Iowa State's Dustin Hogue reacts to Iowa State's 81-76 loss to Connecticut in a regional semifinal of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Friday, March 28, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Iowa State's Dustin Hogue reacts to Iowa State's 81-76 loss to Connecticut in a regional semifinal of the NCAA men's college basketball tournament Friday, March 28, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Big 12 failed to reach the Elite Eight in 2005 and 2013, as well. But the more telling statistic regarding the league's ability outside of Kansas to contend for a national championship lies in the number of Final Four appearances in the past 10 tournaments by conference teams who don't wear crimson and blue: zero.

In that same span, Kansas reached the sport's ultimate showcase in 2008 and 2012. Meanwhile…

The old Big East sent six programs — Georgetown, Connecticut, Villanova, West Virginia (now in the Big 12), Louisville and Syracuse — to the Final Four.

The Big Ten? Five: Illinois, Michigan State, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin.

The SEC checks in with three: Florida, LSU and Kentucky.

Three different leagues have produced two representatives: the ACC (North Carolina and Duke), Conference USA (Louisville and Memphis) and even the Colonial Athletic Association (George Mason and VCU).

That leaves the Big 12 in the same tier as the former Pac 10 (UCLA), the Horizon League (former team Butler) and the Missouri Valley Conference (Wichita State), with one program representing their leagues at the Final Four from 2005 to 2014.

Don't forget. No league in the country has reached the same stratosphere as the storied American Athletic Conference, which hasn't existed without one of its teams winning the national championship (Connecticut).

When the Big 12 boasts it is among the national leaders in Final Four appearances, it uses data form 2002 to present. In 2002, both Oklahoma — then coached by Kelvin Sampson — and Kansas made it, and in 2003, KU and Texas represented the league.

That just reads better than the facts from the past 10 years: two appearances, one school.

Kansas big men Thomas Robinson (0) and Jeff Withey (5) grab a rebound from Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger during the second half on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Superdome.

Kansas big men Thomas Robinson (0) and Jeff Withey (5) grab a rebound from Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger during the second half on Saturday, March 31, 2012 at the Superdome. by Nick Krug

As long as the flawed RPI exists, Big 12 coaches will continue to reference that as proof their league is one of the toughest around. The Big 12 had the best RPI in the nation this past season. Same goes for 2009-10. It has ranked in the top three in conference RPI seven of the past 10 years.

Big 12 RPI rank, past 10 seasons

2013-14: 1st

2012-13: 5th

2011-12: 3rd

2010-11: 3rd

2009-10: 1st

2008-09: 3rd

2007-08: 3rd

2006-07: 7th

2005-06: 5th

2004-05: 3rd

— (Source: statsheet.com)

A lot of good that did in a decade's worth of NCAA Tournaments.

The Big 12 rarely has disappointed in January and February, when games are exciting to watch, KU inevitably finishes first and that year's crop of other top dogs beat each other up just enough to lag behind the Jayhawks.

But, really, could one team win the regular-season title — outright or a share of it — 10 years in a row if the league truly was great?

Maybe Texas can end the rest of the Big 12's slump in March of 2015. Barnes' chances improved immensely when KU target Myles Turner, a 6-foot-11 center from Euless, Texas, announced he'll stay in state and join UT's talented Jonathan Holmes, Cameron Ridley, Demarcus Holland, Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix as a member of the Longhorns.

Final Four representatives, by conference, 2005-14

Big East: Connecticut (2), Louisville (2), Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia.

Big Ten: Michigan State (3), Ohio State (2), Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

SEC: Florida (3), Kentucky (3) and LSU.

ACC: North Carolina (3) and Duke.

Conference USA: Louisville and Memphis.

Colonial Athletic Association: George Mason and VCU.

Big 12: Kansas (2).

Pac 10: UCLA (3).

Horizon League: Butler (2).

American Athletic Conference: Connecticut.

Missouri Valley: Wichita State.

Reply

One more time: Oklahoma State and Kansas tangle again

Both times Kansas and Oklahoma State met on the basketball court during the regular season, the Cowboys' guard-oriented attack gave the Jayhawks some trouble.

The first time around, KU held off a second-half OSU surge to earn an 80-78 win at Allen Fieldhouse.

In the rematch, the Jayhawks weren't as lucky, and lost, 72-65, at Gallagher-Iba Arena, in Stillwater, Okla.

Now comes Cowboys vs. Jayhawks, Part 3 — in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals at 2 p.m., at Sprint Center, in Kansas City, Mo.

One of the preseason Big 12 favorites is going home to regroup for the NCAAs. And it could be No. 10 Kansas (23-8) if the Cowboys (21-11) have their way.

OSU, after all, has won five of its last six games since Marcus Smart's return from his suspension, with its only loss coming in overtime at Iowa State — on the Cyclones' Senior Day.

Meanwhile, Kansas has lost two of its last three.

After Oklahoma State disposed of Texas Tech, 80-62, Wednesday night, coach Travis Ford uttered some words that should frighten any team that faces OSU from this point on: "I thought we ran our offense — for the first time — pretty complete for 40 minutes. We took good shots, we had good possessions."

That's right, the man in charge of this ultra-talented, if underachieving, group said Marcus Smart, Markel Brown, Le'Bryan Nash and Phil Forte had not run the offense full throttle until now.

Of course, Texas Tech (14-18) isn't Kansas. But think about it this way: a team that already has split with KU is just starting to get it. And Kansas doesn't have 7-foot freshman center Joel Embiid to protect the paint this time.

OSU plans to attack KU off the dribble to get points in the paint. And if that works, Nash pointed out, it could mean difficulties for Kansas on more than one front.

"They bench is shorter now," Nash said Wednesday night. "We get 'em in foul trouble, maybe it can work out for us."

On that note, here's a brief refresher on OSU's core six players.

Marcus Smart, No. 33

6-4, 220, so. guard

Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart celebrates before the Kansas bench as the Cowboys close out the game on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart celebrates before the Kansas bench as the Cowboys close out the game on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 at KU: 16 points, 3/14 FGs, 0/6 3s, 10/10 FTs, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals, 3 turnovers in 39 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 21 points, 5/14 FGs, 2/7 3s, 9/14 FTs, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers in 36 minutes.

Too strong to be slowed down by a foul, one of the nation's elite guards finishes through the contact he creates. Smart had a blast dismantling Texas Tech Wednesday night at the Sprint Center, where he made 6 of 10 shots, scored 18 points, grabbed seven rebounds, dished seven assists and feasted on the Tech backcourt with six steals.

The Cowboys will go as far as Smart and Brown can take them in the next few weeks, and their first legit postseason test comes today, against Kansas.

Smart's season averages: 17.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.7 steals.

Markel Brown, No. 22

6-3, 190, sr. guard

Kansas players Joel Embiid and Jamari Traylor watch as Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown comes down from a dunk during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas players Joel Embiid and Jamari Traylor watch as Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown comes down from a dunk during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 15 points, 5/13 FGs, 5/9 3s, 0/0 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 5 fouls in 28 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 21 points, 4/7 FGs, 3/5 3s, 10/10 FTs, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers in 38 minutes.

The chemistry Brown has with Smart in the backcourt makes OSU's talented backcourt all the more difficult to handle. The two can make eye contact on the perimeter and the next thing you know, Brown is catching a lob above the rim for an alley-oop.

Brown will step on the floor today feeling good, because he went for 20 points and hit 3 of 6 3-pointers against Tech less than 24 hours earlier.

While Brown can burn you on the perimeter with his touch (38.6% on 3s), he will gladly drive by his man for a layup or slam, too.

He averages 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds, plus 3.0 assists.

Le'Bryan Nash, No. 2

6-7, 235, jr. wing

Kansas guard Frank Mason tries to hook a pass around Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Frank Mason tries to hook a pass around Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash during the second half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 10 points, 5/11 FGs, 0/2 FTs, 5 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls in 22 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 16 points, 6/9 FGs, 4/5 FTs, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 blocks, 2 turnovers in 33 minutes.

Le'Bryan "Slash" took a back seat to Smart and Brown most of the Big 12 Tournament opener, but still produced 10 points — mainly by getting to the foul line, where he went 6 of 7.

Like Smart and Brown, Nash is too quick and strong for many perimeter defenders to deal with. He averages 14.0 points and 5.6 rebounds, and makes 52.5% of his shots.

Phil Forte, No. 13

5-11, 185, so. guard

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe hoists a three over Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte during the first half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe hoists a three over Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte during the first half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 23 points, 7/11 FGs, 7/10 3s, 2/2 FTs, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 0 turnovers in 30 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 2 points, 1/6 FGs, 0/4 3s, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 turnover in 39 minutes.

It's almost bizarre to think OSU defeated Kansas in Stillwater with Forte going 0-for-the-game from 3-point range and only scoring two points.

It appeared the sophomore sniper might end up having a similar night against Tech on Wednesday. Forte didn't hit a shot until the 15:43 mark of the second half. Not that it mattered. The sophomore guard's 91st three-pointer of the season put Tech's deficit at 51-32. And he went on to score 14 points on 4 of 9 3-point shooting.

The kind of 3-point marksman Kansas hopes Conner Frankamp can become, Forte has made 94 3-pointers this season on 208 attempts (45.2%). Seventy-six percent of his shots come from behind the arc.

Kamari Murphy, No. 21

6-8, 220, so. post

Kansas center Joel Embiid and Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy tangle for position during the first half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

Kansas center Joel Embiid and Oklahoma State forward Kamari Murphy tangle for position during the first half on Saturday, March 1, 2014 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 12 points, 5/10 FGs, 2/2 FTs, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 4 fouls, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2 blocks in 38 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 8 points, 3/8 FGs, 2/2 FTs, 4 rebounds, 1 block, 1 turnover and 5 fouls in 30 minutes.

Even with Embiid playing, Murphy enjoyed more success against Kansas than he has, on average, this season.

If KU help defenders come over to cut off drives by Smart, Brown and Nash, Murphy figures to benefit with open looks at the rim.

He averages 6.0 points and 6.2 rebounds this season, and leads OSU with 40 blocked shots (five more than Brown).

Murphy only scored two points and had one rebound against Tech, and he picked up four fouls in 14 minutes.

OSU bench

Brian Williams, No. 4

6-5, 210, jr. wing

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 2 points, 1/5 FGs, 0/1 3s, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steal in 21 minutes.

— March 1 vs KU: 4 points, 1/2 FGs, 2/2 FTs, 3 steals and 1 turnover in 11 minutes.

Williams scored five of his six points against Tech in the first half, and went 4 for 5 at the foul line in OSU's easy win.

On the year, he averages 6.3 points and 3.4 rebounds.

Note: Fellow backup Leyton Hammonds gave OSU its first points of the game Wednesday night against Texas Tech, with a 3-pointer, after the Pokes fell behind, 8-0, prior to the first media timeout. Hamonds had gone scoreless in OSU's three previous games in limited minutes.

Reply

Getting reacquainted with West Virginia

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins stews on a stool during a stretch of bad play by the Mountaineers in the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia head coach Bob Huggins stews on a stool during a stretch of bad play by the Mountaineers in the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

West Virginia men's basketball coach Bob Huggins rarely appears overjoyed on the sideline (see above photo).

But he might crack a smile for a split-second if the Mountaineers (16-14 overall, 8-9 Big 12) could figure out a way to knock off No. 8 Kansas (23-7, 14-3) in the regular-season finale for both teams.

Keeping Huggins perpetually cantankerous these days, WVU has lost five of its last seven games, including an 83-69 defeat at the hands of Kansas on Feb. 8.

Here's a look at WVU's schedule since then:

-Feb. 10 — W vs Iowa State, 102-77

-Feb. 15 — L at Texas, 88-71

-Feb. 22 — L vs Baylor, 88-75

-Feb. 26 — L at Iowa State, 83-66

-March 1 — W vs TCU, 81-59

-March 5 — L at Oklahoma, 72-62

Defensive breakdowns have cost the Mountaineers, who give up a Big 12-worst 77.6 points a game in conference action and have allowed Big 12 opponents to hit 47.5% of their shots — also last in the league. They aren't much better at defending behind the 3-point line, either. Big 12 opponents have mad 36.6% of their tries.

When West Virginia has managed to hold opponents 70 points, it is a perfect 10-0 this season.

Its WVU's offense that keeps this team competitive. In Big 12 games, the Mountaineers are:

-1st in turnover margin (+3.0 a game)

-2nd in free throw percentage (74%, behind only Oklahoma's 76.8%)

-2nd in 3-point field goal percentage (37.1%, slightly behind OU's 37.7%)

-2nd in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.27, behind Iowa State's 1.69)

-3rd in 3-point field goals made (7.59 a game)

Additionally, the Mountaineers give themselves a much better chance when they are scoring inside. They are 16-5 this season when producing 20 or more points in the paint. And 0-9 when they don't hit the 20-point mark.

It wouldn't be a first if Huggins' crew is able to pull off an upset victory over Kansas. Now in his seventh season at WVU, his teams have defeated 22 ranked teams, and eight of those victories came against top-10 opponents.

Before we get reacquainted with the players who will attempt to knock off the Big 12 champion Jayhawks at 11 a.m. Saturday at WVU Coliseum, watch this interview with Huggins about the matchup:

Juwan Staten, No. 3

6-1, 190, jr. guard

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends as West Virginia guard Juwan Staten puts up a shot during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis defends as West Virginia guard Juwan Staten puts up a shot during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 22 points, 7/12 FGs, 8/10 FTs, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 4 turnovers in 39 minutes

A don't-blink-or-you'll-miss-him guard who could be an All-Big 12 First team selection when postseason awards are announced on Sunday, Staten averages a league-leading 19.7 points in Big 12 games.

The Bob Cousy Award finalist averages 18.2 points and 5.9 rebounds a game on the season, and a team-leading 5.8 assists.

Too fast for most defenders to keep him in front of them, Staten has attempted 7.3 free throws a game this year and has made 73.1% of them.

He has only made 5 of 14 3-pointers all season and didn't attempt one against Kansas in the first meeting.

Eron Harris, No. 10

6-3, 195, so. guard

West Virginia guard Eron Harris pumps his fist after hitting a three against the Jayhawks during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

West Virginia guard Eron Harris pumps his fist after hitting a three against the Jayhawks during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 17 points, 3/10 FGs, 3/9 3s, 8/8 FTs, 6 rebounds, 3 assits, 1 steal, 4 turnovers, 1 block in 39 minutes

After a hot first half at KU, Harris only scored four in the second, once Kansas began defending him with Andrew Wiggins.

The leading free-throw shooter in Big 12 games (92.8% on 69 attempts), like Staten, enjoys creating havoc off the dribble.

Unlike Staten, Harris (17.6 points a game) is a serious threat from 3-point range. He has knocked down 81 this season on 194 attempts (41.8%, third in the Big 12).

Among Big 12 players, only Phil Forte of Oklahoma State (88) and Brady Heslip of Baylor (95) have made more 3-pointers than Harris, who is tied for third in that category with Buddy Hield of Oklahoma.

Devin Williams, No. 5

6-9, 255, fr. forward

Kansas center Joel Embiid swats away a shot from West Virginia forward Devin Williams during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas center Joel Embiid swats away a shot from West Virginia forward Devin Williams during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 4 points, 1/4 FGs, 2/4 FTs, 6 rebounds, 1 turnover, 5 fouls in 12 minutes.

The big man just couldn't figure out a way to stay on the floor at Kansas. Williams fouled out while playing just 12 minutes.

Clearly, WVU needs him on the court. He grabbed six rebounds during his cameo in Lawrence.

He'll have one less post threat to worry about this time, with Joel Embiid resting his strained back, so Williams should have an easier time producing near his season averages of 8.3 points and 7.1 rebounds.

Williams enters the game coming off back-to-back double-doubles, with 10 points and 10 boards against TCU and 14 points and 12 boards against Oklahoma.

Rémi Dibo, No. 0

6-7, 225, jr. forward

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 7 points, 2/9 FGs, 1/7 3s, 2/2 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 4 fouls in 17 minutes

Dibo forced some bad shots at KU, but he still produced close to his season averages of 7.4 points and 3.3 rebounds.

His past two games have gone much worse for him, though. Dibo combined to go 2-for-13 against TCU and Oklahoma, scoring two points in each contest and missing all six of his 3-pointers.

On the season, he has made 39.5% of his 3's (fourth in the Big 12) and totaled 49 makes (seventh in the Big 12).

Nathan Adrian, No. 11

6-9, 230, fr. forward

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 3 points, 1/3 FGs, 1/3 3s, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 steal, 4 fouls in 18 minutes

The freshman big came off the bench when WVU played at Kansas, but he is a starter now due to an illness that has kept Terry Henderson off the floor.

Adrian only averages 5.6 points and 2.9 rebounds on the season, but he scored 14 points and pulled down six rebounds against TCU before going scoreless at OU with two boards.

More of an outside shooter than a guy who likes to post up, the 6-foot-9 freshman has made 37 of 102 3-pointers.

West Virginia bench

Gary Browne, No. 14

6-1, 195, jr. guard

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 5 points, 1/3 FGs, 1/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal in 23 minutes

He only scores 6.1 points a game, but he is the most experienced player on the roster, having appeared in 94 career games.

Browne is capable of more than his average shows, too. He has 21 double-figure scoring games in his career, with six coming this season.

He went 2 for 3 from 3-point range and scored 12 points in WVU's loss at OU this week.

Terry Henderson, No. 15

6-4, 200, so. guard

— Feb. 8 vs. KU: 2 points, 0/3 FGs, 0/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 3 turnovers in 22 minutes.

Huggins said in an interview this week he doesn't know how much the team can expect out of Henderson — the team's third-leading scorer this season — against Kansas.

Since KU limited the sophomore guard at Allen Fieldhouse, he has battled an illness that kept him out of the past four WVU games.

If Henderson can go, Kansas will have another WVU perimeter weapon to worry about. The sophomore guard averages 12.1 points on the season and has made 42 of 113 3-pointers (37.2%).

Reply

Getting reacquainted with Texas Tech

First-year Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith pleads with a game official during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

First-year Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith pleads with a game official during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

Tubby Smith's Texas Tech men's basketball team nearly had one of the upsets of the 2013-14 season on Feb. 18, at Lubbock, Texas.

That was before Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins scored the winning basket of a 64-63 victory with just more than a second to go.

Both Wiggins and center Joel Embiid turned out to be fortunate freshmen in the final minute, and the Red Raiders lost their second game of what is now a five-game skid, entering tonight's rematch at Allen Fieldhouse vs. the No. 8 Jayhawks (22-7 overall, 13-3 Big 12).

Texas Tech (13-16) is just 5-11 in the Big 12, but as anyone who watched the Red Raiders nearly knock off KU could attest to, they are far more competitive this season under first-year coach Smith. In their 11 conference defeats, they've lost by an average margin of 7.4 points. Last season, Tech dropped 15 Big 12 games by an average of 21.4 points.

Tech does a few things well, and most of its success comes due to a commitment to playing at a methodical pace, which limits possessions and chances for its opponents. In Big 12 games, the Red Raiders are:

• 1st in scoring defense (68.1 points allowed)

• 1st in rebounding defense (opponents grab 29.0 a game)

• 2nd in 3-point field goal percentage (30.64%, percentage points behind Kansas State's 30.56%)

• 3rd in field goal percentage (44.4%)

• 4th in rebounding margin (+2.0)

While Tech is just 6th in Big 12 games in the category of offensive rebounds (11.0 a contest), the number is deceiving because the Red Raiders play at a slower pace, so there are fewer shots taken — and therefore fewer rebounds available — in their games than in those played between other Big 12 teams.

In conference games, 35.5% of Tech's 31.0 rebounds a game come on offense.

Against Kansas, the Red Raiders earned just more than half of their 25 rebounds on the offensive glass (13, compared to 12 defensive boards), leading to 14 second-chance points for Tech.

That glass work has helped Tech become one of the more prolific teams in the nation at scoring inside the 3-point line. The Red Raiders score 58.3 percent of their points on 2-point field goals — 18th in the country.

Just one Red Raider consistently takes and makes a high volume of 3-pointers, and he comes off the bench. On that note, let's get reacquainted with Texas Tech.

Jaye Crockett, No. 30

6-7, 210, sr. forward

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a shot from Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett late in the game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a shot from Texas Tech forward Jaye Crockett late in the game on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 10 points, 3/11 FGs, 2/3 3s, 2/3 FTs, 5 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers in 26 minutes.

A huge chunk of Tech's inside-the-arc offense comes from its leading scorer. Crockett averages 13.6 points and 6.3 rebounds, and has made 51.2% of his shots this season.

The senior forward will take some bombs from beyond the arc — 18-for-56, 32.1% — but he does much more damage inside of it. On 2-point shot attempts, he makes 55.6%.

However, Crockett's production has dropped off the past three games, as he has battled tendinitis in both knees.

Since scoring 10 against Kansas, he had six points in 26 minutes at Oklahoma State, 8 points in 32 minutes vs. Kansas State and 1 point in 18 minutes at Baylor.

Not a good sign.

Jordan Tolbert, No. 32

6-7, 225, jr. forward

Kansas players Joel Embiid and Jamari Traylor defend a shot from Texas Tech forward Jordan Tolbert during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas players Joel Embiid and Jamari Traylor defend a shot from Texas Tech forward Jordan Tolbert during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 16 points, 7/10 FGs, 0/1 3s, 2/2 FTs, 6 rebounds (4 offensive), 2 steals, 2 turnovers.

Now 20 points shy of 1,000 for his career, the junior averages 10.9 points and 6.0 rebounds this season. He has started five games against Kansas during between his freshman season and now, and averages 10.6 points against the Jayhawks.

Like Crockett, Tolbert scores efficiently inside the arc. A 55.6% shooter from the floor overall, he is one of the more experienced players in the Big 12 and has converted 60% of his 2-point attempts.

In his past two games, though, Crockett has made just three of his 12 field-goal attempts, and is averaging 7.5 points a game, scoring 66.6% of his points at the free-throw line.

Robert Turner, No. 14

6-3, 180, jr. guard

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 11 points, 4/7 FGs, 1/2 3s, 2/2 FTs, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 2 steals, 3 turnovers.

A junior college transfer, Turner leads Tech with 77 assists this season.

He averages 9.6 points and 2.7 assists, and is tied for the second-most 3-pointers attempted on the team. From distance, Turner has hit 22 of his 72 tries (30.6%). In his last 12 Big 12 games, he has only hit more than one 3-pointer on one occasion. In that stretch, he is 7-for-26 (26.9).

Turner made 6 of 7 2-point attempts at Baylor his last time out, and is a 41.1% shooter overall this year.

His 40 steals lead Tech.

Toddrick Gotcher, No. 20

6-4, 200, so. guard

Texas Tech guard Toddrick Gotcher explodes after a three by the Red Raiders during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech guard Toddrick Gotcher explodes after a three by the Red Raiders during the second half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 0 points, 0/0 FGs, 0/4 FTs, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover in 21 minutes.

At different times this season, he has played all three positions on the perimeter, and averages 7.6 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists.

Gotcher has averaged 9.0 points a game in his past three, since getting shut out vs. Kansas.

Like Turner, he has hoisted 72 3-pointers. Gotcher has found a little more success, making 24 (33.3%).

From the floor, he has made 40.5% of his field goal attempts.

Dejan Kravic, No. 11

7-0, 235, sr. forward

Texas Tech forward Dejan Kravic extends an arm in the face of a shot by Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Texas Tech forward Dejan Kravic extends an arm in the face of a shot by Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 13 points, 6/8 FGs, 1/1 FTs, 3 rebounds, 4 fouls, 1 turnover in 23 minutes.

The big man, as you might assume, basically lives inside the arc offensively. He has only tried a pair of 3-pointers this season. His field-goal percentage is 49.7% for the year and 51.7% in Big 12 action.

Kravic averages 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds on the season.

His 37 blocked shots lead the Red Raiders.

Texas Tech bench

Dusty Hannahs, No. 2

6-4, 210, so. guard

Kansas guard Conner Frankamp heads out of bounds as Texas Tech guard Dusty Hannahs tries to save the ball during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas guard Conner Frankamp heads out of bounds as Texas Tech guard Dusty Hannahs tries to save the ball during the first half on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 18 vs. KU: 10 points, 3/9 FGs, 2/5 3s, 2/2 FTs, 4 rebounds (2 offensive), 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover in 30 minutes.

The backup guard is Tech's gunner. He has hit 40 of 104 3-pointers on the season (38.5%), while making 25 of 61 in Big 12 games (41%).

Hannahs averages 8.3 points a game, and as a 91.8% free-throw shooter is on pace to be Tech's all-time single-season leader in that category. He averages 2.1 free-throw makes a game in 22.5 minutes this season. In Big 12 play, he had nailed 33 of 35 (94.3%).

Box score: Kansas 64, Texas Tech 63

Reply

Getting reacquainted with Oklahoma State

Game officials break up a skirmish between the Kansas and Oklahoma State players during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Game officials break up a skirmish between the Kansas and Oklahoma State players during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

You thought things got intense the last time Kansas University's men's basketball team played against Oklahoma State? Just wait until Saturday night.

What a way to kick off the month of March. The Cowboys (18-10 overall, 6-9 Big 12) have not lived up to their potential this season — they struggled even before Marcus Smart got suspended for his altercation with a Texas Tech fan — and this ESPN College Game Day matchup doesn't have the ramifications most thought it would before the season began. Still, you won't find a much more dangerous bubble team in the nation right now than OSU. Time is running out for the Cowboys to prove they belong in the NCAA Tournament (despite losing seven straight games from Jan. 27 to Feb. 17), and nothing would solidify their spot in The Big Dance more than beating No. 5 Kansas (22-6, 13-2).

Gallagher-Iba Arena figures to shake with noise as long as Oklahoma State can stick around with Kansas, and the Cowboys have enough talent in their backcourt to beat any team in the country.

Since Smart's return to the lineup, OSU has blown out the two teams at the bottom of the Big 12 standings, Texas Tech and TCU.

Even though the Cowboys have lost 10 times, eight of those were by two possessions or less, including two overtime losses: 3OT vs. Iowa State and OT at Baylor. Four losses were in one-possession games.

Since Travis Ford took over at Oklahoma State in 2008-09, the Cowboys are 9-10 at home against Top 25 teams. One of those victories came in November vs. Memphis. But the Cowboys are only 2-4 against ranked opponents overall this season.

For the Cowboys to earn the kind of hey-look-at-us victory that has eluded them to date, they will need significant production from their top four leading scorers. So let's get reacquainted with Smart and his highly skilled allies, who would like to keep the Jayhawks from winning the Big 12 outright today in Stillwater, Okla.

Marcus Smart, No. 33

6-4, 220, so. guard

Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart goes to the bucket against Kansas defenders Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins (22) late in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma State guard Marcus Smart goes to the bucket against Kansas defenders Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins (22) late in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 16 points, 3/14 FGs, 0/6 3s, 10/10 FTs, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 4 steals, 3 turnovers in 39 minutes.

One assist shy of a triple-double in OSU's two-point loss at Kansas, the troubled soon-to-be NBA lottery pick put up a great stat line despite missing 11 of his 14 shots.

Smart is strong in every facet of the game. In his two appearances since serving his three-game suspension, he has delivered 16.5 points, 8.5 assists, 5.5 steals and 5.5 rebounds.

On the season, the bull of a point guard averages 17.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and shoots 42.1% from the floor — but only 29.3% from 3-point range (39 of 133).

Markel Brown, No. 22

6-3, 190, sr. guard

Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown (22) walks off the court after his second technical with teammate Marcus Smart during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma State guard Markel Brown (22) walks off the court after his second technical with teammate Marcus Smart during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 15 points, 5/13 FGs, 5/9 3s, 0/0 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 5 fouls in 28 minutes.

Two technical fouls limited Brown's productivity in OSU's loss at Kansas. And he still made five 3-pointers.

The high-flying shooting guard averages 16.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, makes 47% of his shots and 36.7% of his 3-pointers (44 of 120).

Brown is the first player in OSU history to record career numbers of 250 assists, 100 steals and 100 blocks. And he is only the second Cowboy in the program's record books to get to 500 career rebounds (Brown has 555) playing under the height of 6-4. The other was Randy Rutherford.

Le'Bryan Nash, No. 2

6-7, 235, jr. wing

Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash loses the ball before Kansas defenders Frank Mason (0) and Wayne Selden on the final possession as time expires during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Oklahoma State forward Le'Bryan Nash loses the ball before Kansas defenders Frank Mason (0) and Wayne Selden on the final possession as time expires during the second half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 10 points, 5/11 FGs, 0/2 FTs, 5 rebounds (3 offensive), 2 assists, 3 turnovers, 4 fouls in 22 minutes.

Not that long-range daggers are his specialty, but Nash had a chance to defeat Kansas with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at Allen Fieldhouse in January. However, on the Cowboys' final possession, he was stripped by Frank Mason (see above photo).

A slashing junior forward, Nash has never scored more than 11 points against Kansas in four career games.

This season, Nash averages 14.4 points and 5.8 rebounds. He's a 52.7% shooter, but doesn't have to be worried about behind the arc, where he has missed all six of his attempts.

Phil Forte, No. 13

5-11, 185, so. guard

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe puts up a three over Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte with seconds remaining in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Tharpe hit the three to widen the Jayhawks' lead.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe puts up a three over Oklahoma State guard Phil Forte with seconds remaining in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. Tharpe hit the three to widen the Jayhawks' lead. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 23 points, 7/11 FGs, 7/10 3s, 2/2 FTs, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 0 turnovers in 30 minutes.

A sub the first time these two teams met, one of the most dangerous 3-point shooters in the country can burn opponents from the opening tip now that he's a starter.

Forte averages 13.3 points, 1.3 assists, converts 45.5% field goals and is slightly better from long range, making 45.8% of his 3-pointers.

The 5-11 guard makes 3.1 3-pointers a game in Big 12 action. He torched Kansas for seven the first time around. He's coming off a 5-for-10 performance at TCU, and he made all six of his 3's at Oklahoma in January.

In 86 tries at the free-throw line this season, Forte has only missed nine times. His 89.5% success rate leads the Big 12.

Kamari Murphy, No. 21

6-8, 220, so. post

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) and guard Brannen Greene (14) position for a rebound against Oklahoma State's Kamari Murphy (21) in the Jayhawks 80-78 win over Oklahoma State Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis (34) and guard Brannen Greene (14) position for a rebound against Oklahoma State's Kamari Murphy (21) in the Jayhawks 80-78 win over Oklahoma State Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse. by Mike Yoder

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 12 points, 5/10 FGs, 2/2 FTs, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 4 fouls, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 2 blocks in 38 minutes.

Essentially the lone post player for OSU, the 6-8 forward only had 1 rebound in 38 minutes at KU, back in January.

Murphy averages 6.4 boards this season and surely will make a larger impact in Stillwater. In his last five games, he's averaging 9.8 rebounds to go with 7.2 points.

About 31 percent of his rebounds this season come on the offensive glass, and he makes 57% of his shot attempts — all of which are 2-pointers.

OSU bench

Brian Williams, No. 4

6-5, 210, jr. wing

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins is fouled as he drives around Oklahoma State defender Brian Williams during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins is fouled as he drives around Oklahoma State defender Brian Williams during the first half on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 18 vs. KU: 2 points, 1/5 FGs, 0/1 3s, 3 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steal in 21 minutes.

Earlier in the season, Williams started for Ford, but that's no longer the case.

He averages 6.8 points and 3.8 rebounds. While Williams has made 48.6% of his shots overall, he hits just 27.3% of his 3-pointers and doesn't take them too often (3 for 11).

After scoring a season-high 15 points against Iowa State, Williams has gone scoreless in three of his last six outings and hasn't played more than 12 minutes since being moved to the bench.

Reply

Bill Self meets the press, talks Oklahoma State

Kansas University men's basketball coach Bill Self fielded questions from the media for about 30 minutes Thursday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse.

The No. 5 Jayhawks (22-6 overall, 11-2 Big 12) play at Oklahoma State (18-10, 6-9) at 8 p.m. Saturday night. Self commented on that game and much more, including the rise of Wichita State to national prominence and whether the Jayhawks could add the Shockers to their schedule.

Here are the highlights in bullet-point form:

• Winning the Big 12 outright is a small part of the motivation on Saturday. The big part is playing an Oklahoma State team Kansas has developed a little rivalry with lately, as well as playing on a national showcase in prime time on ESPN.

• Oklahoma State is different now that Marcus Smart is back. He can impact a game and not score. His defensive anticipation is as good as anyone who KU will play against, and not just this year. Smart has totally dominated the games since serving his suspension.

• OSU is playing better because Phil Forte is playing better. He thrives when Smart is on the floor. They're kind of like the Morris twins in the way they feed off of one another. You can't leave Forte open. That's what makes him hard to guard.

• Self thought this game at OSU would have conference title implications, as far as who would have the best shot to win it. It's nice to go down there with a tie already clinched, but the Jayhawks want to take care of business. KU needs to play well to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

• On Tarik Black and Jamari Traylor: They're a big part of why KU is better. They provide a needed energy presence, and give the Jayhawks a different look than the starting frontcourt players, Joel Embiid and Perry Ellis.

• Kansas isn't in competing with Wichita State for a No. 1 seed, despite the arguments media or people want to have about it. Self thinks WSU deserves the No. 1 seed line if the Shockers keep on winning. It's hard to win on the road, especially when you're everybody's Super Bowl game. … Self isn't in the least bit concerned with anything but the teams on KU's schedule. The Jayhawks have a long way to go before they will be a No. 1 seed. It all depends on how they finish the season.

• Wichita State's success is great for the state. Iron sharpens iron. When others are good in your area, it makes you better. It's good for Kansas to have Wichita State and Kansas State playing well.

• On returning to Oklahoma State, where he played in college: The first time he coached KU down there, Self toured every place and talked with a lot of good friends. KU got rocked in that game. Now he approaches it as a business trip.

• Going into the NCAAs, you start thinking more about seeding and the tournament itself. It's too premature to give much thought to those things now.

• Kansas keeps making the NCAA Tournament despite turnover in the roster. That's because the players are good and the assistant coaches are good. Those are the constants, the jobs those assistants have done. KU has brought in talent and has been able to overcome inexperience.

• On the Big 12 player of the year coming from KU: Self would like to see Embiid as a candidate but numbers tend to drive that award and people might not include him despite the impact he has on the floor. Andrew Wiggins is a leading contender. People should wait to draw their conclusions until the Big 12 season is over.

• On KU assistant coaches: Self thought Barry Hinson was positive, but Fred Quartlebaum (director of student-athlete development in his first year at Kansas) makes Hinson look like a the sky is falling and the sun will never come up personality. Jerrance Howard is a younger coach, has more energy and fun to him than Self and Kurtis Townsend. One thing you can't undersell is having someone who has been in the fire. Norm Roberts was a head coach in New York for St. John's. KU has a nice blend on its staff, and has for a while. Different personalities on the staff offset each other, and that's a good thing.

• On highly-ranked recruits: The key with Kansas has been evaluating and projecting what they could become. You can look at players who are ranked in the top five or 10 and you know they will have a huge impact. But there isn't much difference between 11 and 50. Those recruiting services, though Self appreciates them, are overrated. KU coaches have done a good job of plugging in guys that fit the program.

• Wayne Selden is getting it. Embiid and Wiggins deserve the majority of the attention, but if KU didn't have those two, Selden would be a guy that would be in consideration for freshman of the year in the Big 12.

• Naadir Tharpe has given KU point guard play that has allowed the Jayhawks to do well in the Big 12. He has gotten better, but one area where he can get better is on the defensive end.

• Wiggins has learned to impact the game with his athletic ability. People line up and what to get a piece of him, because he got so much attention. He has had the best season of any player on the team to this point. Wiggins has been the most consistent. That's pretty good when you don't have upperclassmen to show you how to do it, plus all the expectations on him. He has been himself and not tried to be what he's not. No disrespect to Embiid, but it's easier when there is less pressure. Now Embiid is feeling the way Wiggins has all season.

Wiggins is so nice. He might be the most polite kid KU has ever had. Nice is OK, except for two and a half hours a day. Wiggins couldn't have handled it better with all the hype. He just plays. Some of the things that are said about him register for him and motivate him.

• Oklahoma State is capable of beating anybody, particularly when they're playing at home. OSU is right at the top of the Big 12 in terms of raw talent.

• Self wouldn't say Kansas would never play Wichita State. KU is pretty locked in schedule wise, and that wouldn't be a part of what they have planned right now. KU will schedule strictly on what the program thinks is best. It might be better for KU to play out in New York or Los Angeles or Philadelphia. You want to do what's best for the program. When Self was at Illinois, the program had a presence in a lot of metropolitan areas because they were in the Big 10. It doesn't hurt now that he's at KU to be able to go play at Georgetown or another major city.

• Self thought against Texas Kansas was at the level it needs to be defensively. They didn't carry that over to the Oklahoma game. Kansas needs to make other teams play poorly. That's what got the Jayhawks to the title game in 2012.

• Re-focusing after clinching a share of the Big 12 title. Whenever you win your league, that's a good year. But good years aren't good enough. The whole focus now is what are they going to give to make good become great, and can they become special. It's hard to take those steps. If they're not motivated by that, then there is a problem.

• As the road team for a College Game day game: It's not too different from another road game. Except when guys are laying around watching TV, there will be a lot of talk about the game, which should get the Jayhawks amped up.

• Self's parting shot: "This may have been the longest press conference I've ever done."

— Hear the complete press conference by clicking here: Bill Self discusses what lies ahead for KU

— Listen to a Q & A with guard Wayne Selden: Wayne Selden discusses learning as a freshman, the Big 12 title

Reply

Getting reacquainted with the Sooners

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger pleads to an official during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger pleads to an official during the first half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

It feels like about a year ago that Kansas University's men's basketball team last faced Oklahoma.

Actually, it was only close to a full Big 12 schedule ago.

OU has played 12 times since the Jayhawks beat the Sooners, 90-83, back on Jan. 8, in Norman, Okla., and KU has competed in 13 games in the six-plus weeks that have passed since their first meeting.

This rematch doesn't have the same anticipation surrounding it as KU's revenge sequel with Texas on Saturday, but Oklahoma (20-7 overall, 9-5 Big 12) is one of three teams currently tied for second in the conference (Iowa State and UT are the others) and quickly running out of time in its pursuit of Kansas (21-6, 12-2).

Tonight's Big Monday game at Allen Fieldhouse is one of KU's biggest to date, because a victory guarantees the Jayhawks at least a share of their 10th straight Big 12 championship.

Kansas coach Bill Self said Saturday night it has been long enough since KU faced Oklahoma that players from both teams have long forgotten the intricacies of the scouting reports they received for that game.

So, what have Lon Kruger's Sooners been up to? For one, they spent most of Saturday afternoon blasting Kansas State. The final score was OU 86, K-State 73, but Oklahoma led by as many as 27 points in the second half on its home floor.

That was Oklahoma at its best, but the Sooners have been inconsistent over the past few weeks. In fact, three of OU's five conference losses have come in the last six games. The Sooners really needed their win over K-State on Saturday, as well as their victory at Oklahoma State (without Marcus Smart) a week earlier, because prior to that they had dropped three of their previous four:

• L 81-75 at Iowa State on Feb. 1

• L 91-86 (OT) at West Virginia on Feb. 5

• W 88-72 vs. Baylor on Feb. 8

• L 68-60 vs. Texas Tech on Feb. 12

Despite its recent road setbacks, Oklahoma is 8-4 away from Norman this season — 4-3 in true road games and 4-1 at neutral sites.

The Sooners create most of their success on the offensive end of the court. In Big 12 games, Oklahoma is:

  • 1st in free throw percentage (76.4%)

  • 1st in made 3-pointers (124, or 8.9 a game)

  • 3rd in scoring (78.6 points)

  • 3rd in 3-point FG percentage (37.3%)

  • tied for 3rd in steals (6.29)

Kruger has embraced the power of the 3-pointer, so OU isn't shy from behind the arc. The Sooners average 21.8 attempts from deep per game, and they are the only team in the Big 12 with six players to have made at least 20 3-pointers.

Let's get reacquainted with the six OU gunslingers (and one of their teammates).

Buddy Hield, No. 24

6-4, 208, so. guard

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe drives around Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe drives around Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 8 vs. KU: 18 points, 6/14 FGs, 3/8 3s, 3/4 FTs, 8 rebounds (3 offensive), 1 steal, 1 turnover, 5 fouls in 38 minutes.

Fact: Hield is going to hoist some 3-pointers. He averages 6.7 attempts from deep a game and has made 70 of his 182 tries (38.5%).

He averages 17.5 points and 3.4 successful 3-pointers a game in Big 12 play, and scored a career-high 30 points at ISU on Feb. 1.

In three of his last six games, he has made five from downtown.

Defensively, the sophomore guard is second in the Big 12 in steals (1.44 a game, behind only Marcus Smart's 2.46).

Cameron Clark, No. 21

6-7, 211, sr. forward

Kansas guard Wayne Selden gets on the floor to secure a loose ball from Oklahoma defenders Jordan Woodard (10) and Cameron Clark late in the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Wayne Selden gets on the floor to secure a loose ball from Oklahoma defenders Jordan Woodard (10) and Cameron Clark late in the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan. 8 vs. KU: 32 points, 10/18 FGs, 0/4 3s, 12/16 FTs, 3 rebounds, 1 steal, 4 personal fouls in 29 minutes.

Percentage-wise, the versatile forward is OU's most effective 3-point shooter. Clark, who torched Kansas for 32 points back in January without even making a 3, has converted 28 of his 60 tries from downtown (46.7%).

During OU's last four games, he has hit 20 of his 33 shots (60.6%). He scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds Saturday vs. K-State.

Clark averages 15.2 points and 5.7 rebounds, and when he draws contact, he hits 78.4% of his free throws.

Jordan Woodard, No. 10

6-0, 185, fr. guard

— Jan. 8 vs. KU: 10 points, 0/5 FGs, 0/1 3s, 10/10 FTs, 1 rebound, 2 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers.

This freshman isn't only a threat from long range (22 for 58, 37.9%), he attacks the opposing defense.

Woodard's 173 free throw attempts lead OU, he shoots 77.5% at the foul line and that's where he has scored 45% of his 11.0 points a game this season.

He tends to wear down defenders in the second half — that's when 128 of his free-throw attempts have come.

Sixth in the Big 12 with 4.7 assists a game, the first-year point guard can set up his teammates almost as easily as he can create his own offense.

Isaiah Cousins, No. 11

6-4, 186, so. guard

— Jan. 8 vs. KU: 4 points, 1/5 FGs, 0/1 3s, 2/2 FTs, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals, 2 turnovers.

The sophomore is coming off a 6-for-11, 17-point outing against K-State and has made 43.4% of his field goals this season. His career high of 21 came four games ago against Baylor.

Cousins averages 10.5 points and 4.1 rebounds. From the land of 3, he has made 26 of his 72 shots (36.1%).

Ryan Spangler, No. 00

6-8, 232, so. forward

— Jan. 8 vs. KU: 4 points, 2/3 FGs, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, 1 turnover, 4 fouls in 23 minutes.

Hey, it's a Sooner who isn't going to shoot a 3-pointer … Well, actually he might, too. Even OU's bruiser has hit 3 of 11 from distance.

But most of the time, you'll find Spangler attacking the glass — and not just on defense. The sophomore power forward averages 9.6 boards a game and about a third of those come on offense (3.3 a game).

The hard-working big man has 10 double-doubles to his name and leads the league in boards. He has been successful on 60.2% of his shots this season and made at least half of his attempts in 23 of OU's 27 games.

His board production fell off against K-State, when he only had two, but in other Big 12 games he has hauled in double-digit totals seven times, with a season-high 17 coming against Oklahoma State late last month.

Oklahoma bench

Tyler Neal, No. 15

6-7, 234, sr. forward

— Jan.. 8 vs. KU: 11 points, 4/5 FGs, 2/2 3s, 1/2 FTs, 2 rebounds, 1 turnover in 23 minutes.

In just 15.9 minutes a game, the substitute forward scores 6.8 points and pulls down 3.4 rebounds.

And, of course, he can knock down 3-pointers. Neal has nailed 27 this season and makes 42.2% of his bombs.

Frank Booker, No. 1

6-4, 198, fr. guard

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a late three from Oklahoma guard Frank Booker during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Kansas guard Andrew Wiggins blocks a late three from Oklahoma guard Frank Booker during the second half on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2013 at Lloyd Noble Center in Norman, Oklahoma. by Nick Krug

— Jan.. 8 vs. KU: 4 points, 1/2 FGs, 1/2 3s, 1/2 FTs, 0 turnovers in 10 minutes.

A relative non-factor against Kansas the first time around, the backup guard has done damage against other Big 12 opponents and averages 5.3 points on the year.

The freshman went 4 for 6 on 3-pointers at OSU and scored 15 points. At K-State on Jan. 14 he made 3 of 7 treys for nine points.

On the season, Booker has hit 34 of 93 3-pointers (36.6%). The guy loves hanging out beyond the arc. He has only made seven two-point field goals this season.

Reply

Getting reacquainted with the Longhorns

Texas head coach Rick Barnes calls a play during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Texas head coach Rick Barnes calls a play during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

Three weeks ago, Rick Barnes' Texas basketball team handled Kansas in Austin, Texas, giving the Longhorns their fourth straight win over a top-25 team and catapulting them into the chase for the Big 12 championship.

The Horns' bigs gave the Jayhawks fits, and point guard Isaiah Taylor flew up and down the floor, rarely slowing down.

Today, No. 19 Texas (20-6 overall, 9-4 Big 12) comes to Allen Fieldhouse trying to narrow the gap between first and second place against No. 8 Kansas (20-6, 11-2).

A pair of road setbacks since UT's defeat of Kansas on Feb. 1 kept the Longhorns from gaining any more ground on KU. Here is what Texas has done since knocking off the Jayhawks:

• W at TCU, 59-54

• L at Kansas State, 74-57

• W vs. Oklahoma State, 87-68

• W vs. West Virginia, 88-71

• L at Iowa State, 85-76

That leaves the top half of the Big 12 standings looking like this, heading into Saturday's marquee matchup between the top two teams in the conference:

Kansas, 11-2

Texas, 9-4

Iowa State, 8-5

Oklahoma, 8-5

Kansas State, 8-5

If the Jayhawks earn some redemption for their 81-69 loss at Texas tonight, a 10th straight Big 12 championship becomes even more attainable. If the Longhorns pull off a sweep of KU, the next couple of weeks become very interesting in the Big 12 title chase.

Texas held KU to 38.5% shooting in the first meeting. In the Longhorns' nine conference wins this season, opponents have scored 66.1 points and shot 38.1% from the floor — plus a 29.2% mark from 3-point range.

In their four Big 12 losses, the Longhorns allowed an average of 83.5 points per game on 47.6% shooting.

UT out-rebounds its opponents by an average margin of +8.0 a game, and has won the battle of the boards in 21 of 26 games. The Longhorns got the better of the Jayhawks, 38-33, on Feb. 1.

Now, it's time to get reacquainted with the Longhorns who will try to duplicate that success in tonight's rematch.

Jonathan Holmes, No. 10

6-8, 240, jr. forward

Texas forward Jonathan Holmes turns for a shot over Kansas guard Andrew White during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Texas forward Jonathan Holmes turns for a shot over Kansas guard Andrew White during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 22 points, 6/13 FGs, 1/2 3s, 9/10 FTs, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 0 turnovers, 3 blocks.

The team's most experienced player and a certain leader, Holmes averages 13.1 points and 7.4 rebounds.

He's one of the most effective scorers in the Big 12, converting 51.2% of his shots, hitting 23 of 60 3-pointers (38.3%) and making 78% of his free throws.

The one thing he doesn't do much of on offense is pass to set up someone else: 16 assists this season vs. 43 turnovers.

He hauled in a UT season-high 16 boards (including six on offense) in the Longhorns' win at TCU on Feb. 4.

Defensively, Holmes is one of three UT players in the top eight in the league in blocked shots. At 6-8, he's eighth, with 1.21 swats a game.

Javan Felix, No. 3

5-11, 195, so. guard

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe chases down a loose ball past Texas guard Javan Felix late in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas guard Naadir Tharpe chases down a loose ball past Texas guard Javan Felix late in the second half on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 at Frank Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 9 points, 1/6 FGs, 0/2 3s, 7/10 FTs, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 turnover, 4 fouls in 18 minutes.

The undersized guard scored 16 points and nailed four 3-pointers for the second game in a row in UT's loss to Iowa State this week.

Felix has been on a tear the last three games, averaging 20.3 points on 22-for-52 shooting and 14-for-33 accuracy (42%) from behind the 3-point line.

On the season, he averages 12.8 points and 2.8 assists, but in Big 12 games, the sophomore's scoring numbers have gone up, to 15.5.

Felix leads UT with 44 3-pointers this season, and he attempts 5.3 a game, making 33%. He hit what proved to be a game-winner in the final seconds of overtime at Temple in December.

Isaiah Taylor, No. 1

6-1, 170, fr. guard

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y-Y_viRB13c

— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 23 points, 7/14 FGs, 1/2 3s, 8/8 FTs, 1 rebound, 0 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers.

The speedy freshman was a highlight reel waiting to happen against Kansas in Austin, Texas.

Taylor averages 13.1 points and 3.7 assists on the season, but is coming off another breakout game at Iowa State, where he scored 26 points, and had eight assists, seven rebounds and one turnover.

Taylor has only taken 15 3-pointers this season, but uses his speed to create high-percentage opportunities, and shoots 41.7% from the floor.

His ability to beat his man off the dribble also helps him get to the free-throw line, where he has made 124 of 165 attempts (6.6 trips a game) this season — 75.2%.

In his last seven games, Taylor is averaging 19.1 points and shooting 45.3% from the floor. At the foul line in that stretch he has only missed three of his 50 free throws.

Cameron Ridley, No. 55

6-9, 285, so. center

Texas center Cameron Ridley throws down a dunk before Kansas center Joel Embiid after being fouled during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Texas center Cameron Ridley throws down a dunk before Kansas center Joel Embiid after being fouled during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 9 points, 3/7 FGs, 3/6 FTs, 10 rebounds, 0 assists, 1 steal, 2 turnovers, 4 blocks, 4 fouls in 23 minutes.

The ginormous center delivered one of the most impressive plays of the game against Kansas three weeks ago, nearly tearing down the rim on a dunk as he went past Joel Embiid.

In 25.1 minutes a game this year, Ridley averages 10.8 points and a team-leading 7.9 rebounds.

Ridley pulls down 3.0 offensive rebounds a game.

His 2.31 blocks are third-best in the Big 12, and he denied four KU shots in the Horns' win at UT.

Demarcus Holland, No. 2

6-2, 185, so. guard

— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 4 points, 1/4 FGs, 2/4 FTs, 11 rebounds (5 offensive), 3 assists, 2 steals.

Usually the last offensive option when he is on the floor, Holland still averages 7.8 points a game.

The sophomore has made 40.5% of his shots this season, but struggles from behind the 3-point line, where he has only made 13 of 45 (28.9%).

Those shooting woes carry over to the foul line, too, where Holland is just 41 for 73 (56.2%) on the year.

Still, as a guard he averages 5.0 rebounds and does enough little things that he leads UT in minutes a game this season: 31.12.

Texas bench

Connor Lammert, No. 21

6-9, 235, so. forward

— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 7 points, 3/5 FGs, 0/2 3s, 1/2 FTs, 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 turnover, 1 block in 19 minutes.

Though he comes off the bench, Lammert has scored in double figures four times this season.

The sixth man averages 5.7 points and is third on the team with 5.0 rebounds.

The 6-9 forward stretches opposing defenses occasionally, making 14 of 37 3-pointers this season.

Overall from the floor, Lammert has made 49.6% of his shots.

Prince Ibeh, No. 44

6-10, 250, so. center

Kansas forward Perry Ellis turns for a shot against Texas center Prince Ibeh during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas forward Perry Ellis turns for a shot against Texas center Prince Ibeh during the second half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

— Feb. 1 vs. KU: 2 points, 1/3 FGs, 0/2 FTs, 3 rebounds (all on offense), 1 turnover, 4 blocks, 3 fouls in 17 minutes.

Ibeh didn't play a ton against Kansas, but he proved to be as significant a deterrent to the Jayhawks' offense as anybody in burnt orange, swatting away four KU shot attempts.

The backup big only averages 14.0 minutes a game this season, but contributes 3.7 rebounds and 1.88 blocks (fourth in the Big 12) to go with 4.2 points.

Reply

Bill Self press conference notes: Feb. 20, 2014

Kansas head coach Bill Self rips into point guard Frank Mason after Mason was issued a flagrant foul during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas.

Kansas head coach Bill Self rips into point guard Frank Mason after Mason was issued a flagrant foul during the first half on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 at Erwin Center in Austin, Texas. by Nick Krug

With Saturday's home game against No. 19 Texas coming up, Kansas basketball coach Bill Self met with the media Thursday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse to talk about the rematch with the Longhorns, who handled the No. 8 Jayhawks in Austin, Texas, on Feb. 1.

Here are the bullet-point highlights from the Q & A:

• On Texas freshman guard Isaiah Taylor: "I thought he totally controlled the game." Texas had KU on its heels the whole time. The Longhorns' transition offense was better than KU's defense, and the Jayhawks' ball-screen defense wasn't any good at all. KU did a bad job on the boards at Texas, too.

• UT bigs Cameron Ridley and Demarcus Holland gave KU problems. The Jayhawks usually win the battle of the boards in Big 12 play this season. But the one game they didn't "we obviously got whipped" on the glass. That was a big reason why Texas controlled the game.

• On clinching the Big 12 title in the weeks to come: We can't talk about anything past Saturday, because if KU doesn't win against Texas, it's down to a one-game lead, as opposed to a three-game lead. To him, this game isn't even about the league race as much as it is playing a Texas team that smacked the Jayhawks around already.

• February can be a tough time of the year, and part of it is playing teams a second time. Self watched a little of Syracuse's loss to Boston College on Wednesday night. Regardless of what people think, in 35 games or so of basketball, it's hard to be jacked up every game. Emotion plays a big part of your energy level.

When another team gives you your best shot and you're off a little bit, that negates a talent advantage that might be had. Playing a team the second time, it's harder to get easy baskets, players are better scouted. If two teams play the first time and it's a wide margin "I guarantee the second game is always gonna be much narrower." Teams raise their level the second time if they've been handled easily the first time. Top-five teams in the country are laboring to win, especially on the road. It's been that way every year. That's likely what happened with Syracuse.

• KU has been ranked as a top field-goal percentage defense team most of Self year's in Lawrence. This season, the Jayhawks are one of the top offensive field goal percentage teams. KU entered the week No. 1 in the nation in field goal percentage. (Currently, they're at 50.3%.) Self would rather Kansas be good at making it difficult for its opponents to score. No matter what a team's offense is like, there are going to be some nights where it is off, like at Texas Tech. You have to figure out a way to win those games when shots aren't falling.

A lot of times, guys have the sense that it is easy to out-score foes if shots are falling. Defense is a better formula for success over time. You're not always gonna make shots. "Defense always travels."

Self figured this team would be really good defensively and average on offense. It's kind of been the reverse. "And we're still not great, offensively."

KU might not be as bad defensively as he plays it up. In order for KU to be great, Jayhawks have to be great defensively. This team just has different pieces and personalities from teams in the past. Some personalities are more laid back than past intense guys on defense like Thomas Robinson or Travis Releford.

"We're better defensively when we suck offensively."

• Can players get tougher once they arrive at a college program? Coaches can improve on it, but you can't turn a guy into a junk yard dog. You can improve them on a scale — if they're a 5, they can go to an 8. There's room for improvement. It's also a team thing.

• Self would like to see KU's point guards "cut the head off" defensively. Past guards like Tyshawn Taylor, Sherron Collins, Russell Robinson and Mario Chalmers might have been taken for granted. Naadir Tharpe isn't as big as some of those guys, but he and Frank Mason can do a better job of forcing opponents to play poorly offensively.

Self isn't just picking on Tharpe and Mason, that's just kind of the way KU is playing.

• Joel Embiid seems to be fine. Self talked to him this morning. He assumes his back is fine. It's his back that would give him problems, if anything.

• Embiid is about to set the KU freshman blocks record. He's currently tied with Eric Chenowith at 62. He is good, but could be great. There is another step he has to take.

• Naadir Tharpe hasn't shot it great the past week. But he's been a consistent shooter this season and is a good passer, creates shots off penetration. KU needs him to be good for the Jayhawks to be great. Self is pleased with Tharpe, but he would like to see him and others guard the ball better.

• On the Kansas vs Texas series: There have been some really good players and games between the two programs since Self's arrival at Kansas. Hopefully this one will be a classic, too.

• If Kansas isn't good defensively, that's on Self. There's no excuse for not being good on that end.

— Hear full audio from the press conference by clicking here: Bill Self discusses KU's upcoming rematch with Texas

— Listen to Jayhawks freshmen Conner Frankamp and Joel Embiid talk about Saturday's game.

Reply

Prev 1 2