The Big 12 figures to once again be one of the top conferences in college basketball season. Here is how the conference fared in the opening week, including Monday’s games since I am a day late on getting this out.
The defending National Champions had no trouble in their first two games, trailing for just 27 seconds total against Omaha and North Dakota State. Jalen Wilson and Gradey Dick led the way, combining for 37.5 points and 14 rebounds in the two contests.
The Bears won their opener by a whopping 64 points before pulling away from Norfolk State in the second half of game number two. Monday night was another relative cakewalk, as an 18 point halftime lead ballooned into a 33 point win. They have four players scoring more than 14 points per game. Adam Flagler and Keyonte George are also combining for 14.5 assists a game.
After a close 30 minutes, the Longhorns were finally able to pull away from UTEP in their opener. They looked much better in their next game, beating Houston Christian by 51. Tyrese Hunter led the team, which had seven players score six or more points per game in the first week of play.
I’m starting to wonder if TCU is actually a top 20 team or if they were just hyped up after a strong finish to last season. They beat Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Lamar by a combined 12 points, before falling to Northwestern State. Yes, I know, Mike Miles didn’t play in that game, but they were playing a Northwestern State team that lost to Texas Tech by 24 points. They have just 14 made three pointers on the season (19 percent as a team) and are shooting an abysmal 39 percent from the field.
The Red Raiders had little trouble in their first two games, winning each game by 24 points. Monday night saw a much tougher contest, as Louisiana Tech gave them a fight from start to finish. The lead was never more than 15 and was as close as eight with four minutes left. Tech has had a very balanced attack, with the leading scorer at 12.3 points per game and the fifth leading scorer at 7.3 points per game.
The Cowboys had a shaky opening week, to say the least. A roller coaster game against UT Arlington in the opener ended up in an eleven point victory, but Southern Illinois got the better of them on a three pointer with just 22 seconds left. OKSU had a 13 point lead in the second half, but was unable to put SIU away. They bounced back with a 29 point win over Oakland in their third game. The Cowboys offense is always really well spread out, with their leading scorer at 13 points per game and their sixth leading scorer just under nine points per game.
The other Oklahoma team was also downed by a late three pointer after leading by double digits in the second half, with the Sooners losing by one to Sam Houston State in their opener. They bounced back with a dogfight win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, with neither team leading by more than eight points the entire game. It was a two point game with just over two minutes to play before Oklahoma finished the game on a 10-2 run. The Sooners have a 16:34 assist to turnover ratio. That is bad news for a team in a conference that boasts some of the best defensive teams in the country.
The Cyclones have looked impressive to start the season, winning their first two games by a combined 86 points. They held their two opponents to 38 combined first half points. They are clicking early in the season. Four players are scoring double digits, led by Jaren Holmes’ 18 points per game. Projected to finish near the bottom of the conference, the Cyclones look poised to surprise some people.
The early headline for the Wildcats is Keyontae Johnson. Nearly two years after his on-court collapse, Johnson returned to action. He also happens to be leading Kansas State in scoring at 14.5 points per game. An opening day thrashing of UT Rio Grande Valley was followed by an interesting affair with Cal. In a span of 12 minutes, a 20 point Wildcat lead was dwindled to just one. However, they would persevere with a 16-8 run to close the game. Johnson is complimented by five other players scoring seven or more points per game.
The Mountaineers had an interesting opening week, as their scores seem like they should have been flipped. They beat Mount St. Mary’s by 18 before annihilating Pitt by 25 in the Backyard Brawl. They have a whopping five players scoring in double figures. That sort of spread out offense can be trouble for defenses, because it doesn’t allow teams to focus on a couple of players.
Games to Watch in Week 2
Kansas vs Duke – 11/15 @ 8:30 PM
Texas vs Gonzaga – 11/16 @ 8:30 PM
Baylor vs Virginia – 11/18 @ 6:00 PM