Finally, we’ve seen some growth from Texas. Especially from Jarrett Allen. This kid is unreal. He was one rebound shy of a 20/20 game on the road at Kansas, in Allen Fieldhouse. It’s not often opposing players go in there and put on that type of show. Even more than that, against archrival Oklahoma, Texas was hard pressed going down the stretch after giving up a lead late. Then, Andrew Jones, with ice in his veins, nails a game winner. Sure, it was against a struggling Oklahoma team, but when you are in desperate need of a win, not much else is better for momentum than a buzzer beater. Texas has a chance to notch a couple of big wins in the coming week.
NEXT GAME: @ Georgia 1/28
NEXT CONFERENCE GAME: vs. Texas Tech 2/1
9. Oklahoma (8-11, 2-6) [-1]
Just as we thought Oklahoma was going to heat up and get going after their back to back wins, they instead post back to back losses and blow a lead in each. They had a large advantage against Iowa State and choked it away in double overtime. Then, they overcame a deficit to grab a lead late in the game, only to have it slip away against the previously mentioned Texas. I’m not sure how Lon Kruger and his boys will respond, but they have a big task ahead of them coming in to Norman on Saturday, and if they’re looking for another fire-starter win, the opportunity is right in front of them.
NEXT GAME: 1/28 vs. Florida
NEXT CONFERENCE GAME: 1/30 vs. Oklahoma State
8. Oklahoma State (12-8, 2-6) [+2]
Heating up! The Cowboys have looked really nice in the last few games. They just took Texas Tech behind the woodshed in Lubbock, and then responded to that with a great win against TCU. We knew coming into conference play that the Pokes had potential, but we had to wait three weeks to see it all click. Coach Underwood has quite a few offensive options in his toolbox with Phil Forte, Jawun Evans, and Jeffrey Carroll. Now that they have figured some things out defensively, they have a real shot to go on a run and potentially get back into tournament consideration.
NEXT GAME: 1/28 vs. Arkansas
NEXT CONFERENCE GAME: 1/30 @ Oklahoma
7. Texas Tech (14-6, 3-5) [no change]
Texas Tech is one of those teams that I’m still struggling with, in terms of identifying who they really are. They’ve notched wins against West Virginia and Kansas State, but haven’t seemed to get into any rhthym. They have yet to complete a 2-0 week in conference play, and they will need to find a way to do that if they want to dance. They have an opportunity to get a few wins this week against a down LSU team at home and in-state rival Texas in Austin. This week is incredibly important for the Red Raiders, and their postseason hopes. We’ll just have to pay close attention to see if they can capitalize on this chance.
NEXT GAME: 1/28 vs. LSU
NEXT CONFERENCE GAME: 2/1 @ Texas
6. TCU (14-6, 3-5) [no change]
If I’m being totally honest, I think TCU has vastly overachieved thus far. I don’t think anyone would have expected a first year coach to come in and have this type of positive impact so quickly. Jamie Dixon has done a fantastic job, but after three straight losses, I think TCU may be coming back down to earth. I don’t want to say this team doesn’t have potential, because that could not be more inaccurate. I just don’t think they have the tools just yet to fully compete in this conference. Kenrich Williams and Vladimir Brodziansky provide a lot of tools, and they will return next year to continue this run. But as for now, I don’t think TCU is quite ready for the big time.
NEXT GAME: 1/28 vs. Auburn
NEXT CONFERENCE GAME: 2/1 @ Kansas State
5. Kansas State (15-5, 4-4) [no change]
K-State continues to have big moments, but can’t make the jump to a big time team. This week they got a big win at home against West Virginia, but couldn’t follow it up in Ames. Credit where it’s due, the Cats trailed by 20 in the first half and made a furious rally to come back, but were unable to hold off the Cyclones late. There is potential in this team. They have the right amount of veteran leadership in Wesley Iwundu and D.J. Johnson, combined with great underclassmen in Dean Wade and Kamau Stokes. This team has a future, but they have to find a way to win big games on the road, and their game on Saturday against a hot Tennessee team in Knoxville could go a long way in figuring out just how good K-State is.
NEXT GAME: 1/28 @ Tennessee
NEXT CONFERENCE GAME: 2/1 vs. TCU
4. Iowa State (13-6, 5-3) [no change]
Iowa State, congratulations, you are a good team. I want you to jump up and become a great team. This next week is your chance to do just that. The Cyclones will have a chance to grab a solid road win at Vanderbilt, and then a chance to return home and get an even better win against West Virginia. This is a golden opportunity to really get rolling into the second half of conference play. This conference is tough, and the big “mo” is a good friend to have on your side. Iowa State has a solid, angry home crowd behind them, so that will help. However, just like Kansas State, the road games will be increasingly important for Steve Prohm and his men.
NEXT GAME: 1/28 @ Vanderbilt
NEXT CONFERENCE GAME: 1/31 vs. West Virginia
3. West Virginia (16-4, 5-3) [no change]
West Virginia has officially made me scratch my head. They lost two straight games last week, but then rebounded for a big win against Kansas. Press Virginia obviously creates problems for a lot of teams, but I don’t know if that type of play is good enough against some of the better teams in the country. If you can find ways to limit turnovers against the Mountaineers’ tough defense, you set yourself up for a chance to beat them. Offensively, I have begun to take more notice in the West Virginia difference maker. Jevon Carter is the catalyst for this team, and he will be the difference maker if Huggins’ team looks to improve their tournament standing, and make a run for a Big 12 title.
NEXT GAME: 1/28 vs. Texas A&M
NEXT CONFERENCE GAME: 1/31 @ Iowa State
2. Kansas (18-2, 7-1) [-1]
You may be wondering why I dropped Kansas down a slot after just their first conference loss of the season. Well, here’s why: KU has not been able to generate the types of victories that I, and I imagine most of the country, thinks they should. They have narrowly escaped on countless occasions since league play started. Finally, West Virginia jumped up and made them pay. Defensively, Kansas has a large amount of issues. They lack depth inside, and that is a cause for concern moving forward. However, what they lack defensively, the Jayhawks more than make up for on offense. Frank Mason and company are a tall task for any team to stop, and I don’t envision it happening many more times this season. We’ll just have to see how KU handles this dangerous upcoming stretch.
NEXT GAME: 1/28 @ Kentucky
NEXT CONFERENCE GAME: 2/1 vs. Baylor
1. Baylor (19-1, 7-1) [+1]
Welcome back to the top, Baylor. I want to take a second to credit Johnathan Motley for being one of the biggest reasons why Baylor has seen so much success, aside from a full cast of supporting characters. Motley has been absolutely ridiculous. He’s averaging over 16 points and 9 rebounds a game, and continues to be the driving force behind Baylor’s big season. Moving forward, the Bears don’t have a cakewalk by any means. They’ll have a road game against an average Ole Miss team, which surely won’t be a simple task. But then, they take a definite challenge in Allen Fieldhouse against Kansas, for what will be first place in the Big 12. If the Bears can get that win in Lawrence, they put themselves in the drivers seat for dethroning the Jayhawks atop the Big 12 for the first time in a dozen years.