Early warning: The way Oklahoma State is playing, I’m not sure putting a lid on the basket would help. The Cowboys aren’t just winning in early Big 12 basketball returns; their prevailing by massive margins.
The 2013-14 Big 12 men’s basketball race is supposed to be a two-team battle between a more veteran Oklahoma State team and the super talented young bucks from Kansas. Baylor is also expected to be part of that conversation, and Iowa State looks like it might surprise some people based on early returns, but in reality, it’s the Cowboys and Jayhawks that are the class of the league, a full step ahead of all the rest.
Both OSU and KU are undefeated, as you might expect this early, with the season a little over a week old.
The facts may not lie, but they certainly can be misleading, especially this early in the season when most of the big schools are getting their season going by matching up with schools many of us have barely heard of, if at all.
Putting that thought aside for the moment, though, consider the scoring margins by which Oklahoma State and Kansas are winning after seven combined games. The Cowboys have beaten their four opponents – Mississippi Valley State, Utah Valley, Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Memphis – by a combined total of 163 points, or an average scoring margin of 40.7. Granted, this combination of opponents doesn’t particularly strike fear in your psyche, but Memphis, which the Cowboys defeated by 21 points Tuesday night as part of the Old Spice Classic, was ranked 11th in both the AP and USA Today polls this week.
In two of the Oklahoma State victories, the Cowboys bettered the century mark, including 101 points in a 21-point win over Memphis.
The Kansas diaper dandies, led by the country’s No. 1 recruit Andrew Wiggins, has a huge win over then-fourth-ranked Duke a week ago in Chicago in the Jayhawks second game of the season. Their two other wins are over University of Louisiana-Monroe (80-63) and Tuesday night against overmatched Iona (86-66).
Kansas’ margin of victory in its three games is almost 26 points per game, still very impressive regardless of when it the season it occurs. Incidentally, Baylor’s average scoring margin in its three season-opening wins is just 11 points.
As I said previously, it is almost ludicrous to draw generalizations from any data points this early in the season. We all know from historical experience that aforementioned comparisons will normalize – or should we say, marginalize – as the season progresses and the level of competition naturally increases.
It’s hard to overlook how impressive the Oklahoma State wins have been so far, though. The smallest margin of victory in OSU’s four wins has been 21 points – naturally against the more evenly matched team in Memphis. The Cowboys’ Marcus Smart, the Big 12 Player of the Year last season, scored a career-high 39 points in the win over Memphis.
The three other Oklahoma State victories have been by 55, 53 and 54 points. That’s difficult enough to achieve against the most overmatched teams.
It appears the head coach Travis Ford and his Oklahoma State team are serving up a message to the rest of the Big 12: The Cowboys are a team to be recokoned with this season, and they aren’t going to go down easily. Next up for the Cowboys: South Florida, out of the new American Athletic Conference, next Monday. Like the Cowboys, South Florida is 4-0 with an average scoring margin of 22 points.