Big games, noisy crowds and the Sunflower Showdown highlighted week nine of Big 12 play.
Sunflower Showdown Part II: lived up to the hype. There were a ton of storylines, but one stood out in the Kansas-Kansas State matchup: the Wildcats have owned their home court, winning the last two against the Jayhawks. The first five minutes did not go the Wildcats way, as they struggled early, piling up fouls on nearly every possession.
The Jayhawks took advantage by building a 15-point cushion at 50-35, in the second half. While scrambling for a rebound forward Perry Ellis was smacked and had to go to the locker room to receive medical attention. While Ellis was away, the Wildcats clawed their way back slicing the 14 point lead to four. Ellis would return only to be clocked in the eye by teammate Wayne Selden while going for a rebound. Despite Ellis being hampered by teammate-inflicted wounds, the Kansas Jayhawks displayed resiliency and swept the Sunflower Showdown for the first time since 2013, defeating the Wildcats 72-63.
1. Kansas Jayhawks (23-4) (11-3): With seven straight wins, the Jayhawks are clicking on all cylinders. The emergence of forward Landen Lucas, guard Frank Mason and guard Brannen Greene paired has changed this team. Kansas has become a nightmare for its opponents presenting matchup problems at each level. I mean, ask K-State who had trouble containing every guard Kansas threw out there, especially Frank Mason (16 points-five assists). The Jayhawks proved to be too much for the out-matched K-State Wildcats, as Kansas edged out a 72-63 victory.
Game Notes: Big plays were made by sophomore Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, quietly hit nine points off the bench, including a barrage of dagger three’s in the Jayhawks victory.
Next Up: @ Baylor Bears
2. Oklahoma Sooners (21-5) (9-5): Oklahoma picked up a huge road win defeating the West Virginia Mountaineers, 76-62. In a defensive battle, Oklahoma displayed the defense (held WVU to 33% shooting) and offense (Buddy Hield-29 points) to come out winners.
Game Notes: Forward Khadeem Latin was an absolute BEAST in this contest. Latin’s numbers were dominant posting nine points-13 rebounds and six blocks.
Next Up: V. Oklahoma State Cowboys
3. Baylor Bears (20-7) (9-5): Back-to-back victories have the Baylor Bears in a prime spot heading into their home matchup against the Kansas Jayhawks. Speaking of victories, Baylor picked up a blowout 78-64 win over the Texas Longhorns in Austin. The Bears shoot 63% and were defensively sound holding the Longhorns to 22% from three.
Game Notes: Jonathan Motely has seriously made a name for himself, developing into a well-rounded player that can fill it up offensively. Fill it up he did, as Motley shot nearly perfect (12-13), posting 24 points and four rebounds in a Bears win.
Next Up: No. 2 Kansas Jayhawks
4. West Virginia Mountaineers (20-7) (9-5): Losers of their last three of four, the Mountaineers reeling in reverse. West Virginia’s biggest sore has been on offense as only one starter has scored in double figures in each loss. That’s a recipe for disaster and you guessed it, the Mountaineers lost another, 76-62 to the Oklahoma Sooners.
Game Notes: Health has been the Mountaineers Achilles’s heal. Especially, guard Jaysean Paige’s ankle. Paige has been hampered with ankle problems for at least five games: WVU’s record? 2-3.
Next Up: V. No. Iowa State Cyclones
5. Iowa State Cyclones (19-8) (8-6): Iowa State has been on a six-week sea-saw for almost a month. After losing a tough one to the Baylor Bears, the Cyclones encored that with a 92-83 victory over the TCU Horned Frogs.
Game Notes: Three Cyclones combined for 74 point in the team’s victory. (Georges Niang-27 points/Abdel Nadar-24 points/Deonte Burton-23 points-14 rebounds)
Next Up: @ West Virginia Mountaineers
6. Texas Longhorns (17-10) (8-6): The Longhorns received a Texas-sized smack down in their 78-64 defeat to the Baylor Bears in Austin. Texas arrived on Saturday with no offense as only one starter reached double-figures. One Longhorn stood out among the rest, forward Shaquille Cleare. Cleare, a junior from the Bahamas, scored a career-high 14 points in 27 minutes for Texas.
Game Notes: Speaking off bad, Texas did not play any defense either as they allowed the Bears to shot 62% from the field.
Next Up: @ Kansas State Wildcats
7. Texas Tech Red Raiders (17-9) (7-7): Four straight wins, three against Top-25 team has Tech and Tubby Smith flexing a bit. The Red Raiders took care of business on the road, defeating the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 71-61. Texas Tech was lead by senior guard Toddrick Gotcher, who hit five three’s and finished the matchup with 24 points.
Game Notes: Tech clamped down defensively holding the Cowboys to 39% shooting. Oh yeah, the Red Raiders hot 52%.
Next Up: TCU Horned Frogs
8. Kansas State Wildcats (15-12) (4-10): Foul trouble killed them early and bad defense sealed the loss as the K-State Wildcats loss 72-63 to the Kansas Jayhawks. Within the first seven minutes of play, forward Dean Wade, D.J. Johnson and Austin Budke all found themselves in foul trouble, from then on, bad defensed doomed the octagon and its players.
Game Notes: Kansas State allowed the Jayhawks to shot 50% from the field and let Kansas’s big three (Ellis, Mason III and Selden Jr. to combine for 42 points).
Next Up: No. Texas Longhorns
9. Oklahoma State Cowboys (12-15) (3-11): Started from the bottom and we are still here. The Cowboys lost again, this time at home 71-61 to the Texas Tech Red Raider. Oklahoma State’s defense was porous surrendering 51% Red Raider shooting percentage.
Game Notes: Injuries at guard have made life a nightmare for Coach Travis Ford. With Phil Forte and Juwan Evans, both sidelined for most the season, the Cowboys have had little to no chance to be winners in Big 12 play.
Next Up: @ No. Oklahoma Sooners
10. TCU Horned Frogs (11-16) (2-12): If there was good news within losing, it would be that TCU really can score. The Horned Frogs showed that in their 92-83 loss to the Iowa State Cyclones. TCU’s defense was generous allowing the Cyclones to connect on 54% of their field goals.
Game Notes: Five starters score in double figures for Trent Johnson’s squad, led by freshman JD Miller’s 19 points.