Jan 20, 2014; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Andrew Wiggins (22) shoots during the second half against the Baylor Bears at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won 78-68. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 Basketball Notes & Quotes: Kansas Evolving From Good To Great

With a lineup that included the nation’s best recruiting class in the country, there wasn’t much question among college basketball experts that the Kansas was going to be good in the 2013-14 season. The only real question facing the Jayhawks coming into the season was whether their highly talented but young and inexperienced freshman group could get by on sheer talent and athleticism while they were going through the a baptism-under-fire learning curve at the college level.

The answer to that question is an emphatic yes, they can. With Kansas State’s heartbreaking loss to Texas at the buzzer Tuesday night, Kansas (14-4, 5-0) now finds itselt two games up on the other title contenders in the Big 12 this season. And those five Jayhawk wins in league play are against the teams in the top half of the conference, which can’t be a good sign for the rest of the league.

And speaking of teams on a roll right now, don’t take your eyes off of Texas. Left for dead several weeks ago after suffering back to back losses to open their conference schedule, the Longhorns (15-4, 4-2) have reeled off four straight victories, including wins over two ranked teams in a three-day period: then eighth-ranked Iowa State  on Saturday and No. 22 K-State on Tuesday, both at Texas.

It wasn’t that long ago – at the beginning of this month, actually – that five Big 12 teams had only six losses between them to go along with  a combined 60 wins. And Kansas, by the way, now up to No. 8 in the national polls, was not one of  them. Since Big 12 play began earlier this month, the five teams previously memtioned have put together an aggregate record of  15-12 through Tuesday night’s games. The reason: competitve parity in the Big 12 throughout the conference. We’re talking about the No. 1 conference rpi in major college basketball.

A quick glimpse at the opening three weeks of Big 12 action, in which 11 games so far have been decided by six points or less, underscores the highly competitive nature of the Big 12 in men’s basketball this season.

Here are some more fun facts and figures pertaining to Big 12 men’s basketball in Week 12 of the season:

  • Seventeen of 24 Big 12 games in January (71 percent) have been decided by 11 points or less.
  • Five Big 12 teams are ranked in the AP top 25 this week: 8. Kansas, 11. Oklahoma State, 16. Iowa State, 22. Kansas State, 25. Oklahoma.
  • The Big 12 is one of three conferences with three teams in the top 12 of the ESPN Basketball Power Index .
  • The Big 12 has seven teams with an overall winning percentagte of .765 or better. No other conference can make that claim.
  • Big 12 teams have eight wins against top-25-ranked teams this season. That is the most wins of any conference  this season against the AP top 25.
  • Baylor had a season-high 13 three-pointers in a loss at Kansas on Monday. Senior guard Brady Heslip made six of the 13 Baylor three-point shots iu nine attempts.

Kansas head coach Bill Self on sensational freshman Joel Embiid and on having to play Oklahoma State one more time, in Stillwater:

“If we would just remember to throw it to him, he is pretty good.” “I think when we go down to Stillwater, we will see a better team. I am not predicting anything, but our guys will see a better team than we played (Saturday).”

Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber on his team’s loss to Texas on a game-winning shot at the buzzer:

“They (Texas) had us on the first timeout. They did a back screen…(and) could have thrown it to (Jonathan) Holmes and got a layup, but they got a little impatient. You have to give coach Barnes credit. They got a quick timeout and another opportunity. then they ran the same play, but this time with Holmes. He popped out and made a good shot.”

Travis Ford, head coach of Oklahoma State on Kansas this season:

“I don’t know of a team that’s more talented in the country (or) as deep as they are.”

Big 12 Men’s Basketball Wednesday Game Picks

TCU 68 @ Oklahoma 83 - Even though TCU is winless in Big 12 action, it would be a big mistake for the Sooners to take this game lightly, even if it is in Norman.

Texas Tech 64 @ West Virginia 72 - The Red Raiders have some momentum going, but the Mountaineer are a different team at home and should win this one fairly handily.

 

Tags: Big 12 Basketball Big 12 Mid-week Game Picks Bill Self Bruce Weber College Basketball Kansas Jayhawks Oklahoma State Cowboys Texas Longhorns Travis Ford

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