With 26 games remaining in the regular season, Kansas has the inside track in Big 12 men’s basketeball to claim its unprecedented 10th consecutive conference championship. How the rest of the c0nference teams will shake out when the 2013-14 regular season comes to a close on Saturday, March 8 is anybody’s guess at this point.
Five Big 12 teams (Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Kansas State and West Virginia) are within two games of each other through games of Wednesday night, and that does not include Baylor or Oklahoma State, both of which could heat things up over the final two weeks of the regular season.
Just imagine, how would you like to be the No. 1 or No.2 seed (which would be Kansas and Texas if the season were to end today) and have to play Oklahoma State or Baylor in your first game in the Big 12 Championship Tournament? That could very much be what happens, given all the craziness that has gone on this season in the best college basketball conference in America.
As crazy as things have been up to now, its likely to get even more so over the final 26 games. Just to whet your appetite a bit about some of the potentially impactful Big 12 matchups coming up: This weekend Kansas State is at Oklahoma, and an even bigger battle is set for Lawrence, Kan., where league-leading Kansas hosts Texas, now two games back of the Jayhawks in the loss column. Next week, Oklahoma is at Kansas on “Big Monday,” and Baylor is at Texas on Wednesday.
Looking at the conference schedule at the beginning of the season, no one would have thought much about Kansas State playing at Texas Tech in the final week of February. Those two teams get together next Tuesday in what now looms as a very dangerous game if you are Kansas State. The Red Raiders (13-13, 5-8) are playing at an extremely high level right now, and came within a couple of seconds of knocking off No. 8 Kansas on Tuesday night.
Other huge games still to be played: Texas at Oklahoma, Iowa State at Kansas State and Kansas at Oklahoma State, all on Saturday March 1. And in the final week of the regular season, Kansas State goes to Oklahoma State for “Big Monday,” then closes out the regular season at home on Saturday taking on Baylor. Before going to Kansas State, Baylor is at Iowa State earlier that week, with a chance to be a spoiler in the final week of Big 12 action. Another intriguing matchup on the final weekend of the regular season will be Texas at Texas Tech.
Here are some notable notes and quotes from Week 16 in 2013-14 Big 12 men’s basketball:
- The Iowa State Cyclones reached 20 wins for the season on Tuesday night, beating Texas, another Big 12 team with 20 wins in 2013-14. This is the third fastest Cyclone team in the Big 12 era to reach the 20-win category (20-5). The others were in 2000 (20-3) and 2001 (20-3).
- Three Iowa State players scored 20 or more points in the Cyclones’ 85-76 win over Texas (Melvin Ejim had 25 points, DeAndre Kans had 22 and Georges Niang scored 20)
- Speaking oif 20 win, Kansas also reached that win total on Tuesday, escaping with a last-second one-point win over Texas Tech. This is the 25th consecutive season Kansas has won 20 or more games in a season.
- Kansas is the only team to beat Texas Tech this season when trailing with less than five minutes to go in the game. Prior to Tuesday night’s game between the Jayhawks and the Red Raiders, Texas Tech was 12-0 when leading with under five minutes remaining on the game cloxk.
- Baylor has made at least one three-point shot in 720 consecutive games. That is the second longest active streak in the Big 12 next to Texas.
- Three days after going 1 for 10 from three-point range in a home loss to Texas Tech, Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield made five three-pointers in 13 attempts from beyond the arc, including one to tie the game and another one on the next Sooner possession to put OU out in front for good and win Saturday’s game against rival Oklahoma State.
- Texas shot a horrid 10 of 37 (21 percent) from the field in the first half in its nine-point loss at Iowa State.
- Texas Tech ranks first in the Big 12 and 27th in the nation in free-throw shooting. Yet the Red Raiders made just 64 percent of their free-throw attempts (9 of 14) in the one-point loss to Kansas.
- Kansas State has been living on dominant play in the paint. The Wildcats got 30 of its 65 total points againsyt TCU on scores at the rim. K-State has led that category in eight of its last nine games.
- I mentioned in my preview of the K-State TCU game that the Horned Frogs were not a good rebounding team. K-State almost doubled TCU on the boards on Wednesday night, bring down 47 rebounds to the Horned Frogs’ 24.
Texas Tech head coach Tubby Smith, on what he told his team in the locker room after their heart-wrencing last-second one point loss to Kansas:
“There wasn’t much to say. They’re down; they’re despondent tbecause they didn’t win. I knew they felt like they played well enough to win. But good teams like this (kansas) make plays in the end; great players make plays like that (Andrew Wiggins’ put back of a loose ball for the winning score).”
Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg, on the difference makers in his team’s home win Tuesday over Texas:
In his postgame press conference on Tueday, Hoiberg cited two big reasons for Iowa State’s victory over Texas in Ames, avenging the Cyclones’ earlier road loss to the Longhorns: Points in the paint (Iowa State outscored Texas 40-14 in the paint in the game at ISU; it was just the opposite at Texas) and turnovers (Iowa State committed just eight turnovers on Tuesday, 10 fewer than the 18 they committed in the game at Texas).
Kansas State head coach Bruce Weber, on K-State’s play in its home win over TCU on Wednesday:
“It is disappointing in some ways, but it is kind of what you expected. Obviously we had three emotional games in a row. Texas, Kansas and the loss Saturday to Baylor. No matter what we say, we probably are not going to come out with great emotion and focus.”