Eric Bailey's Big 12 Insider
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
2/05/13 at 3:38 AM
Kansas: Despite Saturday's home loss to Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks remain the team to beat in the Big 12. It's possible that the defeat could be helpful. Kansas has lived on the edge during the latter part of its 18-game winning streak. The key is seeing if coach Bill Self can use the loss as a teaching tool for weeks to come, starting with a TCU-Oklahoma-Kansas State stretch in a six-day span.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have the league's longest winning streak (three games) following Saturday's victory at Kansas. There's little doubt that the road victory should be a good push-off for the second portion of league play. "That team is playing with a lot of confidence right now," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "They're playing as well as anybody in our league right now."
TCU: The Horned Frogs are still searching for their first conference victory. Up next is a tough home game against Kansas, which will be looking to rebound following a loss to Oklahoma State. How does coach Trent Johnson keep his team focused despite an eight-game losing streak? My approach has always been the same," Johnson said. "You still have to approach the game and compete to the best of your ability."
News and Notes
Reflecting on a loss: "We got outplayed," Kansas' Bill Self said of last weekend's 85-80 home loss to Oklahoma State during a Monday teleconference.
"I don't want to blame it just on us," he said. "They were definitely the more aggressive team on Saturday."
The loss snapped Kansas' 33-game home winning streak.
Self complimented OSU's Marcus Smart for his play not only against KU, but all season.
"He just knows how to compete. For a young kid, he knows how hard he has to get after it," Self said. "It sets the tone for your team on how you're going to play."
On the league: TCU coach Trent Johnson was asked how comparable Big 12 basketball is to other leagues where he has coached.
"The league, so far for me, is very comparable to the (Pac-12) during the last two years I was at Stanford, in terms of talented players and skill level," Johnson said. "From top to bottom, I've been very impressed. But I wasn't surprised."
Johnson is hoping his Frogs make improvements
"I'd like to see some guys step up with some confidence and shoot with some confidence and make some shots," he said. "Defense and rebounding and our ability to take care of the baseball at times, that's going to be hit and miss with our skill level.'"
Bouncing back: Baylor will be looking to rebound after back-to-back losses to Oklahoma and Iowa State. The Bears will travel to Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.
How important is it for the team to remain confident?
"Having veteran leadership and experience is very critical," coach Scott Drew said. "Every year in the conference race, there are highs and lows."
He knows the Stillwater test will be tough.
"I don't know if there's a hotter team in the conference," he said.
Weekly honors: Guards Marcus Smart (OSU) and Will Clyburn (Iowa State) have been named the Big 12 player and rookie of the week, respectively.
Smart averaged 23 points and 7.5 rebounds in victories over Iowa State and Kansas. He also added 10 assists and nine steals overall.
Clyburn averaged 21 points and seven rebounds in contests against OSU and Baylor. Clyburn leads active Big 12 players with 15 career double-doubles.
1. Kansas: Jayhawks showed their vulnerability with home loss to Oklahoma State. But this program still is on top of the Big 12.
2. Kansas State: Wildcats picked up an important road win at Oklahoma and have won 10 of their past 12 games.
3. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys' victory at Kansas will look solid in terms of NCAA Tournament selection and/or seeding.
4. Oklahoma: The Sooners have been up and down over the past two weeks. Before Monday's loss at Iowa State, their previous five games had been single-digit wins or losses.
5. Baylor: Bears coach Scott Drew is depending on his team's leadership and experience to help overcome a two-game losing streak.
6. Texas: Veteran coach Rick Barnes picked up his 500th career victory with Saturday's triumph over TCU. He has averaged 24 wins per season since his 1998 arrival.
7. Iowa State: Will Clyburn is one of the Big 12's most dominant players, as evidenced by his 28-point, 10-rebound game against Baylor.
8. West Virginia: Shooting the basketball continues to be an issue for the Mountaineers, with empty possessions hurting offensive momentum.
9. Texas Tech: Taking care of the basketball continues to be an issue for the Red Raiders, who are averaging nearly 16 turnovers a game.
10. TCU: It's possible that TCU fans are prepared to throw in the towel and concentrate on baseball and spring football in Fort Worth.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Kansas at Oklahoma, 3 p.m. Saturday
The Sooners have an opportunity to plant themselves in the heart of the Big 12 Conference race with a victory over the Jayhawks. Kansas has won 10 consecutive games against Oklahoma, including a 67-54 victory in Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 26.