BETTER THAN THE CELLAR
When Iowa State snapped its 10-game losing streak with an overtime victory against Nebraska on Saturday, first-year coach Fred Hoiberg was in such a good mood that he decided to joke with the media in his postgame news conference.
"I was going to retire if we lost," he said. "I'd had it losing those close ones."
It's good to see Hoiberg is capable of having high spirits, because his Cyclones have had a rough go this season.
Despite being one of the most competitive teams in the bottom half of the Big 12 standings, Iowa State has played its worst at the end of winnable games. During its recent skid, six of its losses came by nine points or less. It lost to Kansas State on a last-second shot and to Oklahoma in overtime.
But ISU put those struggles behind it and found a way to stay positive.
"It was getting old," guard Diante Garrett said, "but it wasn't to the point where guys were getting mad at each other. We stayed together as a team."
That unity could end up helping the Cyclones in the Big 12 Tournament. Depth issues would prevent them from ever making it past the semifinal round, but behind the strong play of Garrett, and the competitive nature Hoiberg has instilled, Iowa State could pose problems in the early rounds.
It will finish the regular season in the Big 12 cellar, but it is playing better than Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State at the moment.
CALLING OUT THE FANS
It's been a rough season for Texas Tech and its senior-laden roster, but a narrow loss to Colorado felt like an all-time low for the Red Raiders. The game was played in front of an announced crowd of 8,085 fans, but that number seems generous considering the thousands of empty red seats. Looking for something to blame the loss on, Texas Tech players called out their fans.
"I haven't complained in four years, but the crowd was awful," John Roberson said afterward. "We didn't have anybody here cheering us. That's ridiculous for this to be a winnable game and for us to be playing another Big 12 school and for nobody to show up."
Mounting losses are the main reason why. Texas Tech will finish with its fourth consecutive losing conference record this season.
Still, Mike Singletary said it would be easier to win games with better crowd support.
"You can look around the country and tell how some of the best teams have great fans and they come out and support, no matter who they're playing," Singletary said. "They could be playing a Division II school and they're still going to be out there supporting their team. It's hard whenever you look up in the stands and don't have anybody making noise."
K-State has played its way into the NCAA Tournament along with Kansas, Texas, Texas A&M and Missouri. Can anyone else join that group? Colorado and Baylor still have a chance. If the Buffaloes can close with wins against Iowa State and Nebraska, it will probably make the field. The Bears, lacking a marquee win, may need to beat Texas on Saturday.
A FEW STATS
The Big 12 has five teams with at least 20 victories for the 13th consecutive season. It is one of two conferences nationally in which every team has at least 12 victories. And it has eight teams with 18 victories, the second-highest total of any conference.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Alec Burks. The Colorado sophomore guard made his case for Big 12 Player of the Year by scoring 33 points to lead the Buffaloes to a come-from-behind victory over Texas.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Texas at Baylor, 8 p.m. Saturday (ESPN, Ch. 32). The Bears are in desperate need of a big win to improve their NCAA Tournament resume. With ESPN's "College Gameday" coming to Waco for the game, Baylor will throw everything it has at the Longhorns.
1. Kansas _ On its way to another league title
2. Texas _ Needs to regain mojo
3. Kansas State _ The team no one wants to play
4. Texas A&M _ Swept by Baylor and Texas
5. Missouri _ First-place KU visits on Saturday
6. Colorado _ Buffs have some great wins
7. Baylor _ Bears have some brutal losses
8. Nebraska _ Rough week for the Huskers
9. Oklahoma State _ Will Cowboys make the NIT?
10. Texas Tech _ Will any fans come out for senior day?
11. Iowa State _ Could win a game in Kansas City
12. Oklahoma _ May end season with 10 straight losses