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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Big 12 men’s team-by-team outlook


Team-by-team breakdown

KANSAS (No. 1 seed)

Quarterfinal opponent: No. 8 Oklahoma or No. 9 Texas A&M

Season series: 2-0 vs. Sooners, 2-0 vs. Aggies

Rrecord: 26-5

National ranking: 3 AP, 3 USA Today/ESPN coaches

NCAA Tournament projection: No. 1 seed

The season: Despite four new starters, Kansas rolled to its eighth straight Big 12 championship. One of those new starters, Thomas Robinson, became conference player of the year and averages 18.0 points and league-best 11.9 rebounds. Point guard Tyshawn Taylor was superb over the season’s second half and is the team’s tops scorer in league play at 18.6 points.

MISSOURI (No. 2 seed)

Quarterfinal opponent: No. 7 Oklahoma State or No. 10 Texas Tech

Season series: 1-1 vs. Cowboys, 2-0 vs. Red Raiders

Record: 27-4

National ranking: 5 AP, USA Today/ESPN coaches

NCAA Tournament projection: No. 2 seed

This season: First-year Coach Frank Haith inherited plenty of veterans but the team had fallen apart at the end of last season. Then top returning big man Laurence Bower suffered a season ending ACL tear before practice. What happens? The Tigers have one of the great chemistry seasons in their history and run the Big 12’s top offense. Marcus Denmon (18.0 ppg) leads the way, but five players received some kind of postseason honor.

IOWA STATE (No. 3 seed)

Quarterfinal opponent: No. 6 Texas

Season series: 1-1

Record: 22-9

National ranking: No. 25 AP

NCAA Tournament projection: No. 7-10 seed

This season: The league’s biggest surprise. Second-year Coach Fred Hoiberg took three new starters and flipped the program. Royce White (12.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 5.2 apg) is the league’s top triple-double threat and one of the most difficult matchups. Guard Scott Christopherson (45.5 percent) is the Big 12’s top three-point shooter and nobody in the league takes and makes more from beyond the arc.

BAYLOR (No. 4 seed)

Quarterfinal opponent: No. 5 Kansas State

Season series: 1-1

Record: 25-6

National ranking: 12 AP, 11 USA Today/ESPN coaches

NCAA Tournament projection: No. 3-4 seed

This season: The Bears won their first 17 games for the past start in school history but had trouble with the league’s top teams (0-4 vs. Kansas and Missouri). Still, the addition of junior college point guard Pierre Jackson shored up the backcourt, and Perry Jones III (13.1 ppg) and Quincy Acy (12.1 ppg) provided the frontcourt punch.

KANSAS STATE (No. 5 seed)

Quarterfinal opponent: No. 4 Baylor

Season series: 1-1

Record: 21-9

National ranking: receiving votes

NCAA Tournament projection: No. 7-10 seed

This season: Kansas State did not parlay its non-conference success into a fast start in Big 12 play, dropping three of its first four. But the Wildcats finished fast, winning at top 10 opponents Missouri and Baylor late by playing the calling card, rebounding and rugged defense. Rodney McGruder (15.5 ppg) led the way offensively, and with center Jordan Henriquez and freshman point guard Angel Rodriguez coming on strong down the stretch.

TEXAS (No. 6 seed)

Quarterfinal opponent: No. 3 Iowa State

Season series: 1-1

Record: 19-12

National ranking: none

NCAA Tournament projection: On the bubble

This season: With its sixth-place finish, an RPI around 50 and not enough success against the top half of the league, the Longhorns are the definition of an NCAA Tournament fence-sitter. But Texas can hot, especially of league scoring leader J’Covan Brown (20.0) finds the range. The Longhorns took a hit last Saturday when forward Alexis Wangmene broke his wrist.

Oklahoma at Texas A&M

WHEN: 6 p.m. tonight

TV: KMCI, Ch. 38

P

Oklahoma

Ht.

Yr.

Ppg

Rpg

F

Andrew Fitzgerald

6-8

Jr.

12.2

x

F

Romero Osby

6-8

Jr.

12.7

x

G

Sam Grooms

6-1

Jr.

6.5

x

G

Steven Pledger

6-4

Jr.

16.6

x

G

Cameron Clark

6-6

So.

8.6

X

OKLAHOMA (15-15, 5-13 Big 12): Grooms leads the Big 12 in assist-turnover ratio at 3-1. In Saturday’s home victory over the Aggies, Osby had a season-high 24 points, going 11 for 15 from the floor. Finishing has been difficult for the Sooners, who have outscored just two of 18 league opponents in the second half. Oklahoma has a winning tradition in this event. The Sooners rank second in number of victories (20) and championships (three). Only Kansas has more.

P

Texas A&M

Ht.

Yr.

Ppg

Rpg

F

David Loubeau

6-8

Sr.

11.0

X

F

Khris Middleton

6-7

Jr.

12.4

X

F

Ray Turner

6-9

Jr.

9.0

X

G

Dash Harris

6-1

Sr.

6.0

X

G

Elston Turner

6-5

Jr.

14.0

X

TEXAS A&M (13-17, 4-14 Big 12): This marks the first time in nine years, dating back to the pre-Billy Gillispie days that the Aggies will wear the road uniform in its first Big 12 tournament game. A&M hasn’t been to a final, but after losing its first nine games has gone 5-6 since. It’s been an injury-plagued season for the Aggies, but the team is back at full strength with Middleton and Harris in the lineup.

RPI: Oklahoma 123, Texas A&M 171

Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech

WHEN: 8:30 p.m. tonight

TV: KMCI, Ch. 38

P

Oklahoma State

Ht.

Yr.

Ppg

Reb

F

Michael Cobbins

6-8

Fr.

5.3

5.7

G

Brian Williams

6-5

Fr.

8.9

3.1

G

Markel Brown

6-3

So.

10.5

5.2

G

Cezar Guerrero

6-0

Fr.

5.2

1.6

G

Keiton Page

5-9

Sr.

16.8

1.9

OKLAHOMA STATE (14-17, 7-11 Big 12): The seventh-seeded Cowboys will be without center Philip Jurick, who tore an Achilles tendon against Kansas State in the regular-season finale and is out for the season. He’s the sixth player who has missed games this season for an injury or leaving the team. Page is one of the hottest players in the conference, averaging 27 points in his last five games.

P

Texas Tech

Ht.

Yr.

Ppg

Reb

F

Robert Lewandowski

6-10

Sr.

6.7

3.6

F

Jordan Tolbert

6-7

Fr.

11.6

5.7

G

Ty Nurse

6-1

Jr.

8.9

1.8

G

Javarez Willis

5-11

So.

8.5

2.4

G

Luke Adams

5-9

Fr.

3.8

1.0

TEXAS TECH (8-22, 1-17 Big 12): Tech has lost six straight, but came close to weeks ago in an overtime loss to Texas. Only three current Tech players have participated in the Big 12 tournament, and Lewandowski, who played at Blue Valley West, is the most experienced with 28 career minutes. The 10th seed won its opening-round game last year when Oklahoma defeated Baylor.

RPI: Oklahoma State 120, Texas Tech 227

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