Big 12 Breakdown – November Edition

The first month of the season had some interesting moments for the Big 12, from major upsets to thrilling victories. Five teams leave November with zero or one losses, with all but one of the other five teams having just a pair of defeats. As far as the the early season goes, the Big 12 has shown that they are still arguably the best conference in the country. Here is how every team fared in November.

Baylor Bears

November went fairly well for the Bears up until the next to last day of the month. Through their first six games, they were 5-1. The one loss came against now third ranked Virginia, so no big deal. Then came a trip to Marquette to end the month. The Bears trailed by 26 at halftime, which also ended up being the final margin. While two early losses for a preseason top five team doesn’t sound good, only one of them is a real concern. They also have a win over a ranked UCLA team mixed in there.

LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler are leading the way, both scoring north of 16 points per game. Freshman Keyonte George looks almost as good as advertised, averaging 15 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Aside from the hiccup against Marquette, it was a pretty good opening month for Baylor.

Iowa State Cyclones

The Cyclones have been one of the biggest surprises in the entire country through the first month of the season. Although I did say their experience could carry them early, I also said they would lose a couple games in the Phil Knight Invitational Tournament. They lost just one, which was the championship against a red hot UConn team. They beat Villanova and, at the time, top seeded North Carolina in the first two rounds. If you can beat those two teams, you can hang with just about anyone in the country.

Jaren Holmes has been their top performer, averaging 15 points with just under four rebounds and assists. The real highlight is the defense, as they have held five of their seven opponents under 55 points, with the other two being under 70 (in regulation). Good defense will always give you a chance to win games.

Kansas Jayhawks

November was an interesting month for the Jayhawks. While they beat Duke and lost just one game (to an underrated Tennessee team), they also won three of their other games by a combined 13 points, including one on a putback layup as time expired. It certainly wasn’t an inspiring month for the defending champs. Nevertheless, they went 7-1 with wins over four major conference opponents.

Jalen Wilson is playing at an All-American level, putting up 22 points and nine rebounds a game. Freshman Gradey Dick is scorching nets, contributing 15 points on 45 percent shooting from deep. Dajuan Harris continues to be one of the steadiest point guards in the country, with a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio and over two steals a game.

Kansas State Wildcats

The Wildcats, like Iowa State, are off to an unexpectedly great start. Granted, they don’t have the high caliber wins that the Cyclones do, but they went 6-1 in November nonetheless. Their two biggest wins of the month came in the Cayman Islands Classic. They beat Nevada and LSU, both of which were undefeated coming into the tournament, in consecutive days.

Keyontae Johnson, playing for the first time since his on-court collapse in 2020, is having a comeback season for the ages. He is averaging 18 points and over six rebounds a game, with 58/50/82 shooting splits. Markquis Nowell is the catalyst for the offense, collecting over 14 points and just shy of eight assists per game.

Oklahoma Sooners

The Sooners went from “oh no” to “oh yes” real quick. A season opening loss to Sam Houston State was a less than ideal start to the season for Oklahoma. However, they would rattle off six straight to end November at 6-1. Wins over three Power 5 schools is a good sign for Oklahoma, as it means they should be able to at least compete in conference play.

Grant Sherfield leads the team with 16 points and just under five assists per game. The Groves brothers combine for 20 points and 10 rebounds a game, while Jalen Hill is adding another 8 points and four rebounds.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

The Cowboys have probably been the biggest disappointment so far, but even they only had two losses. A roller coaster of an opening month led to alternating wins and losses in their first four games, before winning three straight to close out November.

Their offense has been very balanced, with their leading scorer just shy of 13 points per game and their seventh leading scorer at seven points per game. They have 10 players getting double digit minutes a game, which could be a good or bad sign. All in all, they will need to become more consistent if they want to put together a conference performance worthy of an NCAA Tournament bid.

Texas Longhorns

The Longhorns have had the most impressive start of any Big 12 team. While they played just five games in the month, they absolutely dominated everyone they played. Their lowest margin of victory in the five games was 15, and beat then second ranked Gonzaga by 19. They won the five games by an average of 29 points. Aside from Gonzaga, no team was able to put up more than 57 points against the Longhorn defense.

The backcourt is leading the way for Texas, with Tyrese Hunter and Marcus Carr combining for nearly 32 points a game. They also have three other players scoring eight or more points per contest. This Texas team is looking like perhaps the early favorite to bring home the Big 12 title.

TCU Horned Frogs

The Horned Frogs have had one of the crazier starts of any team in the country. They won their first two games, both of which were against far inferior opponents, by just 12 total points before getting clipped by Northwestern State. They responded by winning their final four games of the month, including a 13 point win against then ranked Iowa. To say it was a scary start would be an understatement. However, it appears as if they have started to figure it out.

Mike Miles is looking like the preseason All-Big 12 player he was projected to be, pouring in 18 points a night, while his supporting cast of starters adds about 42 points between the four of them. I still have questions about their outside shooting, as they are shooting under 28 percent as a team from deep and don’t have a single player (averaging more than two attempts a game) shooting over 30 percent.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

The Red Raiders are a bit of a mystery so far this season. They have two losses, both of which were to respectable teams (Creighton and Ohio State). They have wins over Louisville and Georgetown, both of which aren’t very good. So they have no bad losses, but also not really any good wins.

They are a very well rounded team when it comes to the stat sheet. Their four leading scorers range from 13.1 points to 10.4 points per game, and have had three different players lead them in scoring. They also have three separate players averaging 5 or more rebounds per game. They are a tough team to game plan for, but they also don’t have a go to guy when they need one. December should give us a better idea of how good this team really is.

West Virginia Mountaineers

The Mountaineers have a couple impressive wins to their name after the first month of the season. With wins over Pittsburgh and Florida, they added a couple good resume boosters, should they need them come March. Plus, their lone loss in November came against a red hot Purdue team.

Erik Stevenson has been the top bucket getter for WVU, averaging a touch over 14 points per game on 47 percent shooting from behind the arc. They have three others scoring in double figures, as they have spread the scoring around pretty well thus far.

Overview

Aside from a few outliers, the conference fared how I thought they would in the non-conference. Baylor had a very unexpected loss. Iowa State had a very unexpected win. Texas looks dominant. Kansas is slowly finding their footing. This is looking like it will be a really fun conference to watch night in and night out.

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