With Big 12 conference basketball play opening Saturday, let’s get caught up on the season’s first two months:
1. Kansas State downs Florida 67-61 in Kansas City
In what was essentially a home game, the Wildcats pulled out a gritty victory over the Gators (RPI No. 17), a team that should win the SEC. Bruce Weber and K-State badly needed this one after getting crunched in their only two previous marquee games against Michigan (71-57) and Gonzaga (68-52).
2. Oklahoma State beats N.C. State 76-56 for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off title
The Cowboys punished RPI No. 13 N.C. State by limiting All-American candidate C.J. Leslie to two points before fouling out. “You could tell when we first scored, they didn’t have a feeling of intensity by the looks on their faces,” said OSU freshman guard Marcus Smart, whom we’ll hear more about further down the story.
3. Kansas buries Colorado 90-54 in Lawrence
Few believe the Buffs actually measure up to their current No. 4 RPI ranking, but this 36-point beatdown shows why the Jayhawks might be Final Four material yet again. “It’s not like our guys wanted to roll over and die. Kansas just came out and took our heart,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “That was an old-fashioned (butt) whipping right there.”
• Kansas wins 74-66 at Ohio State
• Baylor ends Kentucky’s 55-game home win streak, 64-55
• Texas beats North Carolina 85-67
1. Texas falls to Chaminade, 86-73
Not even the ominous sight of Ralph Sampson standing courtside prepared the Longhorns for this stunner, during which they trailed the D-II Silverswords by 19 in the second half. “I don’t think the score is even indicative of how much better they played than we played,” said Texas coach Rick Barnes.
2. West Virginia blows 15-point lead at Duquesne in 60-56
The Dukes, currently No. 117 in the RPI, accomplished their largest comeback since 1997. Said WVU forward Deniz Kilicli: “This is just embarrassing for the fans and everybody.” Guard Matt Humphrey on the Mountaineers turning complacent in the second half: “Up 15? You don’t lose games like that.”
3. College of Charleston pulls a stunner at Baylor, 63-59
The Cougars earned only their second road win ever against a ranked team, snapping the Bears’ 29-game nonleague home winning streak. Said Baylor coach Scott Drew: “It just hurts you the rest of the year because a lot of people coin it as a bad loss even though they’re a good team.”
• Northwestern shoots down Baylor 74-70 in Waco
• Northwestern chokes TCU 55-31 in Fort Worth
• Texas falls to USC 59-53 in Maui
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES
1. Marcus Smart rules the island against then-No. 6 N.C. State.
The freshman guard looked every bit like a one-and-done supertalent, recording 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and four steals in a 76-56 win. “Marcus (Smart) just got hot and got into a rhythm,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. “He can do so many different things on the court to help us win.
2. Jeff Withey records only the second “official” triple-double in Kansas history.
Typically, this would be the hands-down No. 1, but Withey got his 16 points, 12 rebounds and 12 blocks against a San Jose State team that presently sits No. 161 in the RPI. “I thought Jeff was great,” said Jayhawks coach coach Bill Self. “ He won the game for us almost single-handedly.” (Wilt Chamberlain had two unofficial triple-doubles before the NCAA charted blocks, assists and steals.)
• Kansas guard Ben McLemore puts up 22 points and six rebounds at Ohio State
• OSU’s Le’Bryan Nash goes for 23 points and eight boards vs. N.C. State
• Iowa State’s Will Clyburn’s pours in 32 against BYU
Where the Big 12 teams stand in the RPI as of Thursday (according to realtimerpi.com), along with won-loss records and strength-of-schedule ranking out of 347 Division I teams.
2. Kansas 11-1 (3rd)
22. Oklahoma State 10-2 (49th)
32. Oklahoma 9-3 (46th)
34. Baylor 8-4 (9th)
55. Kansas State 11-2 (202nd)
65. Iowa State 10-3 (145th)
107. West Virginia 7-5 (54th)
160. Texas 8-5 (186th)
210. TCU 9-4 (306th)
279. Texas Tech 7-4 (333rd)