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Big XII Confidential (Week 2)

by Jonathan Wall | January 17th, 2008

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Well, unless you’ve been hiding under a rock all weekend–or you don’t follow the Big 12 as closely as I do–then you probably already heard the news of Texas’ demise in Columbia, Missouri.

If you saw the game, then you know Texas was not outclassed–the ‘Horns were merely outscored. Look, I’m all for telling it like it is, but if Missouri doesn’t shoot over 50-percent from the field, and 46-percent from beyond the arc, then this game is probably closer with Texas most likely even coming out on top.

Give credit to the Tigers for their hot shooting, but also know that a team won’t be able to produce such a performance every night of the week. 97 points by any team in the college ranks is something to take notice about; however, Missouri better find other ways to put points on the board rather than expecting to go 12-of-27 from beyond the arc every night.

Also, give credit to Kansas State and freshman phenom Michael Beasley. I knew Beasley was a special player, but after watching him single-handedly beat Oklahoma in Norman, I think he put the entire Big 12 on notice that Kansas State is a team to be reckoned with this year.

Beasley’s stat line (32 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks) is nothing short of amazing if you’ve never seen him play. However, when you realize the guy has been averaging 24 points and 13 rebounds per game, it doesn’t seem like such a career night.

I might be the only one saying this, but I really believe Beasley deserves some early National Player of the Year hype. He has some of the best numbers of the nation, he won his first conference game on the road, and he plays in a major conference. The two things going against him, however, are the fact that he will have to will Kansas State to the tournament to have any shot at the making the final list, and unlike when Durant won it last year for Texas, Kansas State isn’t a household name.

Here’s hoping Beasley continues to make more noise the rest of the way.

Big 12 Player of the Year candidates (After Week 1):

1. Michael Beasley, F (Kansas State): Had 32 points and 11 rebounds in a road win against Oklahoma. That alone is worth moving him to the top after Augustin and Texas fell over the weekend.

2. Joseph Jones, F (Texas A&M): Had 10 points and six assists for the Aggies in a route over Colorado. Again, it’s not the number of points that makes Jones impressive, but rather his ability to give A&M that intangible edge many teams don’t have.

3. D.J. Augustin, PG (Texas): Augustin poured in 17 points and eight assists in a losing cause against Missouri. The loss will hurt his stock at the top, but the points and assists continue to look very impressive.

4. Darrell Arthur, F (Kansas): Had only eight points over the weekend against Nebraska. But he followed up the sub-par performance with 14 points and eight rebounds in a 85-55 blowout win over Oklahoma.

5. Curtis Jerrells, G (Baylor) : Helped lead Baylor to a tough home win against Iowa State. The win wasn’t pretty, but Jerrells’ 14 points, four rebounds and three assists put the shifty guard back in the top five.

Dropped out: A.J. Abrams, G (TEXAS)

Notables: Dominique Kirk (Texas A&M), Brandon Rush (Kansas), A.J. Abrams (Texas)

Big 12 Rookie of the Year candidates (Week 1):

1. Beasley: Enjoy Beasley while you still can.

2. DeAndre Jordan, C (Texas A&M): 14 points and 9 rebounds are impressive numbers in his first Big 12 game. However, the dunk he had against Colorado on Saturday is something to behold for the rangy center that is maturing before our eyes.

3. Blake Griffin, F (Oklahoma): Griffin had 27 points and 14 rebounds in a tough loss to Kansas State. He then followed that loss up by watching the Sooners from the bench after coming down awkwardly on his left leg against Kansas. The injury could be a big hit to his chances of winning Rookie of the Year in the Big 12, as well as squashing any hopes Oklahoma had of making the tournament.

4. Bill Walker, F (Kansas State): 22 points against Oklahoma is a great way to kickoff your first game in the Big 12.

5. LaceDarius Dunn, G (Baylor): Was miserable from the field (1-6 FG, two points) in a home win against Iowa State.

Top 5 teams in the Big 12 (rankings will be updated every Tuesday):

1. Kansas (17-0, 2-0 Big 12): Smoked Oklahoma at home on Monday night, 85-55. The win was a notice to the Big 12 that Kansas isn’t going to take anyone lightly this year.

Tournament bound? Locking up their place in the tournament with every big win.

2. Texas A&M (15-1, 1-0): Topped Colorado at home, 86-69. The Aggies have the most legitimate shot to take down Kansas this season,

Tournament bound? Road games this week against Texas Tech and Kansas State will go a long way to clearing up the picture of where A&M should be seeded.

3. Texas (13-3, 0-1): Lost to Missouri on the road by 13, but shouldn’t have a problem bouncing back this week with a home game against Colorado.

Tournament bound? Need to keep the road losses to a minimum if the Longhorns expect to grab a good seed in the tournament.

4. Baylor (13-2, 1-0): Defeated Iowa State at home to start conference play off on the right foot. The bears need to beat Nebraksa on the road to gain some much needed respect.

Tournament bound? Starting the season 1-0 in conference does wonders for a team’s psyche. Now can they go to Nebraska this weekend and come away with a victory?

5. Kansas State (11-4, 1-0): The win against Oklahoma on the road is just the type of win the Wildcats needed to make an early splash in the rankings. But after Oklahoma’s loss last night to Kansas (85-55) will that road win really matter in the end?

Tournament bound? This weekends home game against Texas A&M is the perfect springboard for a team in need of a win against a ranked opponent.

Best of the Rest: Missouri (11-5, 1-0), Nebraska (11-3, 0-1), Oklahoma (12-5, 0-2)

Game(s) of the week:

Texas A&M (15-1, 1-0) at Texas Tech (9-6, 0-1) — Wednesday, 9:30 pm EST (ESPN2)
Mention the name Texas A&M to a Tech alum, and chances are pretty good that there face will turn a bright shade of Red Raider red. The same could be said when mentioning Tech to a A&M former student. The bottom line? You really don’t know the hatred between these two teams until you see it up close.

A&M will need a huge game from point guard Dominique Kirk, and forward Joseph Jones if the Aggies expect to leave Lubbock with the victory. The win would go a long way to proving that the Aggies can win on the road; while for Texas Tech, the win would mean that they are back in the Big 12 picture.

Look for emerging Aggie freshman DeAndre Jordan to have a monster game against Texas Tech.
Final Score Prediction: Texas A&M 78 Texas Tech 68

Texas A&M (15-1, 1-0) at Kansas State (11-4, 1-0) — Saturday, 3:00 pm EST (ESPN)
Michael Beasley and Bill Walker have been giving opposing forwards fits all season long, but they’ll get their biggest test of the season so far when they face Aggie duo, Joseph Jones and DeAndre Jordan on Saturday.

You can almost cancel out the post play in this game since both teams are so physically gifted at the position. With that in mind, you have to give the Aggies the edge from the perimeter with Donald Sloan, Derrick Roland and Dominique Kirk, making up one of the best backcourts in the nation.

The biggest question for the Aggies is if they can win a second game on the road against an impressive Kansas State team after playing a tough game in Lubbock on Wednesday. Conventional wisdom says the Aggies have enough to get by Beasley and the Wildcats.
Final Score Prediction: Texas A&M 67 Kansas State 63

Kansas (17-0, 2-0) at Missouri (11-5, 1-0) — Saturday, 8:00 pm EST (ESPNU)
They call this rivalry between Kansas and Missouri, “The Border War,” due to the fact that the two states border each other (go figure!). However, this year the game should probably be called, “The perimeter war.”

When Kansas and Missouri tango on Saturday, both teams will walk onto the court boasting two of the most high-powered offenses in the country. The Jayhawks have been averaging 83.7 points per game, while the Tigers have been averaging 83. If you have a slow-mo button on your television, I would strongly suggest you put it to good use during this game since the play should be a blur for most of the night.

Kansas boasts one of the most intimidating backcourts in the country in guards Mario Chalmers, Russell Robinson, Brandon Rush and Sharon Collins. The group has been nothing short of perfect while leading the Jayhawks to a spotless record.

The Tigers’ trio of Keon Lawerence, Stefhon Hannah and Matt Lawerence better be ready to put on another 12-27 performance from behind the arc if they expect to duplicate their big win last weekend against Texas.

Kansas gets it done with speed and senior leadership.
Final Score Prediction: Kansas 82 Missouri 77

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