KJHK Sports member C.J. Matson will break down Saturday’s Big 12 men’s basketball games.
Oklahoma State (14-16, 7-10) vs. Kansas State (20-9, 9-8) (Tipoff at 12:30 CT)
Would you be surprised if I told you that Kansas State is 4-4 at home in conference play this season? Regardless of their record, I sure would be. Say what you want about Bramlage Coliseum, but it’s a tough environment for road teams.
Well, luckily for the Wildcats, they take on the Cowboys in Manhattan. Oklahoma State has won only one game this season.
Kansas State has all but assured themselves a spot in the NCAA Tournament, but losing to Iowa State last Saturday derailed the momentum that they built when they beat Baylor and Missouri on the road. Beating Texas A&M is a nice start, but beating Oklahoma State and winning at least a game or two in the Big 12 Tournament would give them an extra boost of confidence going into the NCAA Tournament.
At this point, the Cowboys are playing for pride. They have no postseason aspirations whatsoever. If LeBryan Nash is able to suit up for the Cowboys Saturday, they have a chance to upset the Cowboys, but without him in the lineup, too much pressure is placed on Keiton Page to score.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 56, Kansas State 71
Texas A&M (13-16, 4-13) vs. Oklahoma (14-15, 4-13) (Tipoff at 3:00 CT)
This will be the last time Texas A&M travels to Norman, Okla.
In what could have been a great season for the Aggies, they fell flat on their face and near the bottom of the Big 12 standings. In retrospect, voting the Aggies to win the Big 12 was not such a great idea.
How bad is Texas A&M offensively? Quite bad. Texas A&M is 9th in the Big 12 in scoring offense, two spots behind Oklahoma, but the disparity between the two teams is an astonishing 8.9 points.
That old cliché that defense wins championships doesn’t apply to the Aggies. Texas A&M is the best team in the Big 12 in scoring defense, so having an efficient or prolific offense is a must to win the Big 12.
For Oklahoma, they’re season is just about done. They too are playing for pride. If Steven Pledger, Romero Osby, Sam Grooms and Andrew Fitzgerald stick around next season, then the Sooners could win more than half their games in conference play. They’re future is bright under coach Lon Kruger.
Prediction: Texas A&M 64, Oklahoma 69
Missouri (26-4, 13-4) vs. Texas Tech (8-21, 1-16) (Tipoff at 3:00 CT)
The only way Texas Tech can beat Missouri is if they play like they did against Texas, but Texas Tech didn’t even play that well against them.
Missouri is a furious team right now, losing an epic game to Kansas last Saturday and narrowly beating a tough Iowa State team. Missouri is hungry for a weakling like Texas Tech.
Texas Tech has zero back court or front court presence that could thwart Missouri’s ability to score.
Missouri is stuck in second place in the Big 12 standings, but another win certainly couldn’t hurt them going forward as they prepare for postseason play and possibly a rematch with Kansas in the Big 12 Championship game.
Prediction: Missouri 83, Texas Tech 65
Baylor (25-5, 12-5) vs. Iowa State (21-9, 11-6) (Tipoff at 6:00 CT)
This is the biggest Big 12 game of the weekend. Even though there isn’t anything to gain in the standings because Kansas won the Big 12 Championship, both teams need that big win over a legitimate opponent to boost their morale and confidence. Baylor and Iowa State are 3rd and 4th respectively in the Big 12 standings.
Even though Baylor is ranked higher in the national polls and ahead of Iowa State in the Big 12 standings, I would argue that Iowa State has done a better job competing against the Big 12’s best teams.
Iowa State led Missouri for most of the game Wednesday night, but succumb to Missouri’s late-game pressure and failed to win.
In their earlier matchup with the Bears, the Cyclones lost 79-64. Two reasons as to why the Cyclones lost: They shot 30.8 percent from the 3-point line, and they allowed the Bears to shoot 60 percent from the floor. Baylor simply outshot Iowa State and scored more points.
I expect Iowa State, the second best 3-point shooting team in the Big 12, to shoot a much better percentage. Guards Chris Allen, Chris Babb and Scott Christopherson shot a combined 28 percent from the floor against the Bears. In an important game at home on senior night, expect the Cyclones to see more nylon and less rim.
Prediction: Baylor 76, Iowa State 80
Texas (19-11, 9-8) vs. Kansas (25-5, 15-2) (Tipoff at 8:00 CT)
Don’t think for one moment Kansas forgot about last season’s shocking loss to Texas at Allen Fieldhouse.
Even though Kansas has nothing to play for because they won the Big 12 Championship, they want revenge, and how sweet would it be for them if they got it on senior night.
Texas needs this game badly. They’re tentatively holding a spot on the proverbial bubble, and need wins to enhance their resume. Their best win is against Iowa State.
Kansas is riding at a season high, beating Missouri in an instant classic and defeating Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 Championship outright.
The Jayhawks are on a mission. They know that they cannot afford to play sloppy and risk the chance of losing games.
This is a perfect game for Jeff Withey to regain the confidence and swagger that he possessed during the stretch of time between the Missouri games. If Kansas has any shot of winning the Big 12 Tournament and advancing to the Final Four, Withey has to be more productive. Saturday night would be a great, opportunistic time to start performing at a higher level.
Prediction: Texas 63, Kansas 75