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Big 12 Confidential Awards and Analysis (Week 9)

by Jonathan Wall | March 9th, 2008

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With a win on Wednesday, Oklahoma and Texas A&M went from bubble teams sitting on the outside to real Tournament contenders. Wednesday’s victories marked a possible turning point for both schools.

After dealing with injuries (Oklahoma) and moments of sheer stupidity (A&M losing consecutive home games to Oklahoma State and Nebraska), both schools were able to dig deep and come up with two critical victories when it mattered most.

For Oklahoma, the win at Oklahoma State was nothing short of brilliant. After learning that the team would be without star frosh Blake Griffin for the final two games due to a tear in the medial meniscus, Oklahoma was able to use a career-high 25 points from guard Tony Crocker to all but end Oklahoma State’s chances of making the tournament.

“I’m really proud of our guys. I thought we showed toughness and determination,” said Oklahoma head coach Jeff Capel. “It allowed us to get this win. I’m not surprised though everyone else probably is. No one really thought we could win without Blake. I think our guys showed the determination that they could.”

A&M, like Oklahoma, used a mixture of suffocating defense and superior guard play to down the Bears in a game that was being billed as a make or break for the Aggies. After buckling under the pressure for the last two weeks to inferior competition, the Aggies were again able to claw their way back into the tournament picture with a clinical performance.

“That’s as well as we’ve played in a long time,” Aggies coach Mark Turgeon said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve played with this kind of swagger.”

For an Aggies team that won only their second game in three weeks, finding their swagger this late in the season was a must. Freshman DeAndre Jordan set a Big 12 record with six blocked shots, and guard Donald Sloan emerged from his recent funk to add 17 points and 8 rebounds.

If there was one thing that turned a pressure cooker game sour, it would have to be the wonderful display by the Baylor faithful who threw water bottles on the court at the end of the game. And you wonder why people continue to call Baylor athletics a joke.

You stay classy, Waco, Texas.

Tournament overview:

Kansas (28-3 overall/13-3 Big 12)
Chance of making the Tournament: LOCK
Stretch-run objectives: Relax and enjoy Selection Sunday.
Must-win games: @ Iowa State (2/27) W

Texas (23-5/13-3)
Chance of making the tournament: LOCK
Stretch-run objectives: Mission accomplished for Texas. The win against Kansas State was the perfect exclamation point for a team that continues to improve every week.
Must-win games: @ Kansas State (2/25) W

Oklahoma (21-10/9-7)
Chance of making the tournament: LOCK
Stretch-run objectives: For one, the Sooners need to stop the lopsided defeats. Last Saturday’s 62-45 road drubbing against Texas won’t make any committee member take notice & push OU to a higher seed. The Sooners beat Missouri this weekend in what was a make-or-break game.
Must-win games: @ Texas (2/23) L, @ Nebraska (2/27) L, Texas A&M (3/1) W, @ Oklahoma State (3/5) W

Kansas State (20-10/10-6)
Chance of making the tournament: GOOD
Stretch-run objectives: Win a conference tournament game. Beating Colorado on Tuesday was a must-win game for Kansas State. After a victory over Iowa State Saturday, winning a Big XII tournament game would just increase their seeding. Regardless, Beasley and Co. should be dancin’ in a couple of weeks.
Must-win games: @ Baylor (2/23) L, Texas (2/25) L

Baylor (21-9/9-7)
Chance of making the tournament: GOOD
Stretch-run objectives: It’s a shame Baylor couldn’t get it done at home against the Aggies earlier this week. In a game that could have defined their season, the Bears flopped hard against the reeling Aggies. Even with the loss, the Bears have a stong enough non-conference résumé to should keep them in the tournament picture.
Must-win games: Kansas State (2/23) W, @ Colorado (2/27) W, Texas A&M (3/5) L

Texas A&M (22-9/8-8)
Chance of making the tournament: FAIR to GOOD
Stretch-run objectives: Last night’s victory over Baylor all but placed the Aggies back in the Tournament, but A&M was unable to back it up with a home win over Kansas.
Must-win games: @ Oklahoma (3/1) L, @ Baylor (3/5) W
Big 12 Player of the Year – D.J. Augustin, PG, Texas

To be honest, I did consider moving Beasley up the list after Texas fell to Texas Tech last weekend, however, when I took a looked at the entire body of work Augustin put together this season, it was hard not to keep him at the top of the list. He led the conference this season with 5.8 assists, was second in the league in scoring with 19.8 ppg, while also leading the Longhorns to a possible number one seed in the tournament. He also helped Texas move on without talented freshman, Kevin Durant. And in all seriousness, that was one of the main reasons he won the award. Look, Beasley is a tremendous talent, but when you look at the fact that Augustin kept the Longhorns at the top after Durant’s absence, you have to see that his importance to the team far exceeds the impact Beasley has at Kansas State. Beasley made the Wildcats a good team; Augustin made the Longhorns great.

Big 12 Freshman of the Year – Michael Beasley, F, Kansas State

Giving anyone else this award would be just plain wrong. Not only should Beasley win this freshman of the year in the Big 12, he should also be considered for every other major college basketball award in the country after completing one of the most dominant season’s by a freshman in NCAA history. Beasley led the country with 12.6 rebounds this season, finished third in scoring at 26.9 ppg and still found time to put Kansas State back on the map. In short, Beasley did in a season what some players hope to accomplish in a career. He’ll be scary good next year if he gets on an NBA team with a decent point guard.

Top 5 teams in the Big 12
1. Texas: Loss to Texas Tech hurts, but beating Kansas in the head-to-head game keeps them at the top of the list.

2. Kansas: Warning: Kansas basketball is ruthless on Senior Night. The 105-51 thrashing of Texas Tech was one of the most dominant performance I’ve seen in some time.

3. Kansas State: Home win against Colorado on Tuesday was critical. If Kansas State can find a way to win at Iowa State, then they could all but end the speculation of getting left out of the tournament.

4. Texas A&M: Win against Baylor was the one they had to get. Game against Kansas on Saturday should be the perfect test to see where the Aggies stand before the tournament.

5. Baylor: Couldn’t get it done against A&M when it mattered most. Road game against Texas Tech would be a great place to get back on track.

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7 Responses to “Big 12 Confidential Awards and Analysis (Week 9)”  

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  1. Dex Says:

    You think Oklahoma has a better chance at making it as an at-large than K-State? I think they’re both in but I don’t agree with that.

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  2. David Mihm Says:

    Jonathan actually didn’t think that, but I did, which is why I’m the editor of this site :)

    OU’s non-conference profile is MILES better than K-State’s (N-Gonzaga, “@”West Virginia, Arkansas), its conference schedule was far tougher playing in the “South” division, and the Committee is probably going to give OU a break on some of the games it lost without Blake Griffin.

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  3. Dex Says:

    David, I see where you’re coming from. Oklahoma has had a very tough schedule (10th overall), but K-State’s SOS is 20. Their records are very similar and K-State actually has a better conference record. You could say that Oklahoma has no great wins, and that K-State does (KU). But after taking a closer look, I think that I have to agree with you. But I do have to say that I think that both teams are a lock. The Big 12 has the third toughest RPI. There’s not a doubt in my mind that both teams will make it. What do you think about Baylor? I always love to see teams come out of nowhere (examples: Drake, Washington St. last year). I see them getting a 9 or 10 seed. What do you think?

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  4. Jonathan Walkup Says:

    Jonathan, I just want to point out a piece of info that may have changed the ending of your piece “Big 12″ week 9. Yea throw stuff at A&M is not the right thing to do, but don’t pile on man. From what I understand that action was prompted by a bit of “in your face” behavior. As time was expiring (clearly A&M was going to win) there is no need to slam dunk unless you intended to provoke a full house.

    Baylor athletics is far from a joke my man. They have a whole host of programs in the top 25 and continue to build across the board. Don’t succumb to the “dog pile” on Baylor. I received my MBA in 93 and look to that school as a terrific institution. I graduated from U of Iowa and don’t give a rip about those guys.

    That’s all man – keep up the good work and cover these pesky bears. They sure deserve the support.
    Cheers,
    -J

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  5. Philip Says:

    Jonathan,

    Try taking off your Aggie goggles for a bit when you discuss the Baylor Bears. Had the game been in C.S. and the situation reversed, I guarantee you the Aggies would have been doing the same if not worse than what the few Baylor fans did.

    Also – if Baylor athletics are a joke, then what are Aggie athletics? Look at the standings, your Aggies are looking UP at the Bears.

    You stay ignorant and unnecessarily confident, Aggies

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  6. Jonathan Wall Says:

    @ Philip:
    Maybe if you read my articles a bit closer you’d see that I have given the Bears more respect than the Aggies almost the entire year. However, since you fail to see why throwing bottles at opposing teams is wrong, I’ll just say, “to each their own.” These boards have had useless bashing over the last couple of weeks, and honestly, I’d rather stay out of it and stay professional. If I was covering the Pac-10, then you would have seen the same article from me in regards to what happened at Arizona. Thinking my comments were made because Baylor happened to be playing A&M is plain ignorant. I would have made the same comments if another team had been playing in Waco that weekend. Good luck to Baylor in the tournament.

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  7. Jonathan Wall Says:

    @ Jonathan:
    Your points are well taken. Maybe I did go a bit far when blanketing the entire athletic department with that comment. To be honest, I have seen a huge change over the last five years. I wish you guys nothing but the best in the NCAA tournament. Thanks for the comments.

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