Each week, KJHK Sports member C.J. Matson will break down each Saturday’s Big 12 men’s basketball games.
Baylor (21-3, 8-3) vs. Missouri (22-2, 9-2) (Tipoff at 12:30 CT)
Baylor started its biggest week of the season with a statement loss to Kansas at home. After starting the game with a 7-0 lead against the Jayhawks, the Bears spiraled downward, yielding a 34-5 run during a 12 minute stretch.
The Bears’ zone defense was torched by the Jayhawks’ offense, which doesn’t bode well for them when they take on the Tigers.
The Tigers’ up-tempo offense has scorched defenses this season. They lead the Big 12 in scoring at 80.5 points-per-game and are riding high since their enormous victory over the Jayhawks.
Marcus Denmon’s stellar offensive play has been the key. In the last two games, Denmon has averaged 27 points-per-game.
Missouri must get Ricardo Ratliffe involved early and often, just like Kansas did with Jeff Withey.
Perry Jones must get out of his recent funk. He scored only 5 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in their disappointing defeat to Kansas.
Baylor is a top 10 caliber team, but they certainly aren’t playing like it.
Prediction: Baylor 63, Missouri 78
Kansas State (17-6, 6-5) vs. Texas (15-9, 5-6) (Tipoff at 1:00 CT)
Texas concluded the Lone Star Showdown rivalry Monday with a huge victory over Texas A&M. The victory was instrumental not because it was against the Aggies, but because it was a tough, road win that gave the Longhorns confidence.
J’Covan Brown has been the heart and soul of the Longhorns’ offense. So far this season, Brown has scored 471 points, which is first in the Big 12. He is also averaging 19.6 points-per-game, which is also first in the Big 12.
Both Texas and Kansas State played and beat Texas Tech and Texas A&M in their last two games. Those are games that both teams needed to win because they’re in contention for an at-large spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Rodney McGruder needs to bolster a Kansas State offense that has been sluggish lately. In their last two games, the Wildcats have shot a combined average of 37.5 percent from the field. They shot 30 percent against hapless Texas Tech.
If Kansas State shoots 30 percent again against Texas, they won’t win the game.
Prediction: Kansas State 61, Texas 66
Texas A&M (12-11, 3-8) vs. Iowa State (17-7, 7-4) (Tipoff at 3:00 CT)
Iowa State’s 3-game winning streak was snapped at Oklahoma State Tuesday. Currently sitting fourth in the Big 12, Iowa State must win on their home game against an underachieving Texas A&M team before they travel to Waco for their game against Baylor Monday.
In their first meeting, Royce White recorded a triple-double in College Station. Iowa State dominated that matchup and won by 24 points.
White needs to do that once again. Even though the Aggies are a subpar team, they are stout defensively, holding opponents to 60.3 points-per-game and forcing them to shoot 38.9 percent from the field.
Fred Hoiberg has his team rolling. Even though they lost to Oklahoma State, they won in almost every facet of the game. Winning at Gallagher-Iba Arena is notoriously tough, regardless of the Cowboys’ record.
Texas A&M is reeling fast and has nowhere to go but down. Losing to Texas Monday and getting swept by them was the nail in the coffin for the Aggies who are eager to start life in the SEC.
Prediction: Texas A&M 60, Iowa State 72
Oklahoma State (12-12, 5-6) vs. Kansas (19-5, 9-2) (Tipoff at 3:00 CT)
Kansas went 1-1 in the most important two-game stretch of their season, losing at Missouri in heartbreaking fashion, but bouncing back to throttle Baylor Wednesday in Waco.
The Jayhawks return home to face the Cowboys. Oklahoma State is coming off an impressive victory over Iowa State, but Oklahoma State’s fortunes at home haven’t translated to the road.
Let’s face it, it’s basically impossible for any road team to win at Allen Fieldhouse. Markel Brown and LeBryan Nash are fully capable of exploding because Kansas struggles against versatile shooting guards and small forwards.
Jeff Withey tore up Baylor’s defense, scoring 25 points after not scoring at all against Missouri.
The Cowboys simply won’t be able to limited and contain Withey and Thomas Robinson in the paint. The lack of size that Oklahoma State possesses will force them into foul trouble because Kansas’s offense is predicated on their posts.
Look for Elijah Johnson to finally step up for the Jayhawks. Johnson hasn’t played up to his potential, settling for jump-shots instead of driving to the basket.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 57, Kansas 83
Oklahoma (13-10, 3-8) vs. Texas Tech (7-16, 0-11) (Tipoff at 7:00 CT)
I went on record saying that Texas Tech will not win a game the rest of the season. I stand by that statement.
Oklahoma played valiantly against Missouri Monday in Norman, but missed opportunities cost them the game. The Sooners won’t be going to the NCAA Tournament this season, but they’re certainly capable of making noise to disrupt other teams as well as gain momentum going into next season.
Oklahoma should and will win this game because they’re better than Texas Tech in every category.
You know that you’re a bad team if your opponent shoots 30 percent against you and you lose by 19 points. That’s what happened to the Red Raiders when they lost to the Wildcats.
Prediction: Oklahoma 79, Texas Tech 61