KJHK’s Mike Maicke is at the Sprint Center this week taking in the Big 12 Championship tournament. He will be providing kjhk.org with daily recaps and predictions through the event.
Hilton South has been closed for renovations. Oklahoma (or should I just say Buddy Hield) beat Iowa State 79-76 Thursday night in the Big 12 Conference Tournament quarterfinals, effectively ending Iowa State’s 6-game winning streak at the Sprint Center.
Hield dropped 39 points on the way to the Sooner victory, and Georges Niang had 35 in the losing effort. With the win, Oklahoma will move on to play West Virginia in the semifinals Friday night. The Mountaineers are coming off an 86-66 victory against TCU Thursday night.
On the other side of the bracket, Kansas rolled Kansas State for the third time this season, winning 85-63. The Jayhawks shot 57 percent from the field and had four players score in double-digits.
Kansas will face off against Baylor in the semifinals on Friday night who is fresh off of an impressive 75-61 victory against in-state rival Texas. Taurean Prince finished with a double-double scoring 24 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.
Let’s bring on the predictions.
It’s going to be a chalk-heavy semifinal Friday here in Kansas City. It’s worth saying that it is difficult to beat a good team three times in one season, but the Jayhawks are on another level right now.
Baylor has some of the best interior players in the country, lead by Rico Gathers and Johnathan Motley, however the backcourt is certainly going to have their hands full.
Don’t get me wrong, Lester Medford and Al Freeman are both quality, dynamic players, but you’d be hard pressed to find a better backcourt in the country right now than Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham.
If Landen Lucas can play like he has throughout the second half of the season, and Perry Ellis can hold his own against the likes of Gathers and Motley, I think the Jayhawks take this one by double digits.
Official prediction: 81-70 Kansas
It’s difficult to envision Oklahoma struggling against West Virginia. The Mountaineers excel against teams that have a lack of quality ball handlers (such as TCU), but I think that Oklahoma is one of the worst matchups for the Mountaineers in the entire conference.
West Virginia just doesn’t have the shooting ability that OU has. If they double-team Hield he can kick it out to Cousins. If Cousins is off he can swing it over to Woodard.
Too much fire power on Oklahoma, too little true talent on West Virginia.