The Big 12 race looked over just two weeks ago, but now another big week looms as Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State fight for the conference title. The big game this week sees Kansas travel to Stillwater in a clash of first place teams while Bob Huggins returns to Manhattan.
Monday Feb. 18, 2013
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Kansas State Wildcats
8:00 p.m. CDT
The first place Kansas State Wildcats host former coach Bob Huggins in his first trip to Manhattan since leaving after one season in 2008. The Mountaineers, who have won four of five games and sit at 6-6 in the league, will face the Big 12’s best defense in a game that could be key in determining the Big 12 title race. Angel Rodriguez and Rodney McGruder have been great during conference play for the Wildcats but look for another big game from Jordan Henriquez who recorded his first double-double of the season in Saturday’s win against Baylor. West Virginia has struggled all season and despite the recent run of wins the Mountaineers just don’t have the fire power to stay with Kansas State in Manhattan.
Tuesday Feb. 19, 2013
TCU Horned Frogs vs. Texas Longhorns
7:00 p.m. CDT
TV: Big 12 Network
Texas is having a miserable season, 11-14 overall and 3-9 in the Big 12, and will host last place TCU in a game that few will attend. This unattractive matchup features a team who just got crushed by Kansas and another who has recorded their one and only conference win against Kansas. Myck Kabongo will play his third game for the Longhorns since his suspension ended a week ago. While Texas is not very good at all, the Longhorns should beat TCU who averages just 50 points per game. Texas should have a size advantage against the Horned Frogs and this could open up more room for Kabongo, who had no assists against Kansas on Saturday, work and help the Longhorns get better looks on offense . Texas should take care of business in this game but, as we have seen this season, if you don’t show up against TCU they can win.
Wednesday Feb. 20, 2013
Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders
6:00 p.m. CDT
Oklahoma will head to Lubbock on Wednesday night hoping improve on a 2-4 away record in conference play. Texas Tech sits in ninth place with just 2 wins in conference play. The Sooners can earn an at-large birth in the tournament and know the remaining schedule is favorable for a late run at a tournament spot. Texas Tech on the other hand has lost 6 games in a row and have just one player, Jaye Crockett, who averages more than 10 points per game. For Oklahoma, Romero Osby has been a great player this season averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds per game. His excellent performance against Kansas caught my eye and made Osby a player to watch. Oklahoma will hope to use this game as a springboard for a late season winning streak.
Iowa State vs. Baylor Bears
8:00 p.m. CDT
Iowa State and Baylor are also playing for a tournament spot. They are both 7-5 in the league this season and both have great resume wins throughout the season. Iowa State’s Will Clyburn scored 28 points and had 10 rebounds in the 79-71 win against Baylor on February 2. Both teams can score at will and this could be one of the better games of this weeks slate. If Iowa State loses though their road to a tournament birth gets harder but a win could go a long way in March. Scott Drew’s team relies on Pierre Jackson to get the offense going and hit outside shots. Pierre Jackson is the Bears best offensive player and if Iowa State can limit his points then they can to walk out of Waco with a much-needed win.
Kansas Jayhawks vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
8:00 p.m. CDT
The best game of the week and a matchup of two first place teams will take place in Stillwater, Oklahoma on Wednesday night. Kansas is coming off a week of good news after losing three straight and Oklahoma State beat rival Oklahoma on Saturday. Both teams are playing good but the Cowboys will have an advantage knowing they have already beaten Kansas this season. In that game, the Cowboys played lights out knocking down eight three pointers in the 85-80 win. Kansas’ Ben McLemore is back to playing like an NBA player again and is the reason Kansas can bring back a win from Gallagher Iba Arena. This game obviously has huge implications on the Big 12 title race and if Kansas wants to win its ninth straight Big 12 title they have to win this game.