Eric Bailey's Big 12 Insider
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
2/12/13 at 3:52 AM
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have won five consecutive games in Big 12 play for the first time since the 2008-09 season. The run, which includes road wins at Kansas and Texas, has vaulted OSU into the heart of the regular-season championship race. "The only thing we've mentioned to our team, even going into the Texas game, is that we're near the top of the league. Let's try to stay up there," OSU coach Travis Ford said.
Kansas State: Kansas State entered Monday's trip to Allen Fieldhouse in sole possession of first place in the Big 12. Despite the outcome, the Wildcats remain in tied for first with a month to play. "We've been better offensively," Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said about his team's recent success. "Especially in getting some touches in the paint."
Kansas: Before Monday's win against Kansas State, the Jayhawks lost three consecutive games in Big 12 play for the first time since the 2004-05 season. "We do have four seniors and three have played a lot for us," KU coach Bill Self said. "We should be better in some way than what we are, without question. It's not from a lack of anything. We've hit a rough stretch."
New and notes
Getting over the hump: While Iowa State is perfect at home, the Cyclones are 1-4 in road league games. Each defeat has been by single digits.
Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said his team fought hard in an overtime loss at Kansas and in close setbacks at Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
"My big message to the guys is if we can go out and play hard and play the right way, things will take care of themselves," Hoiberg said. "We'll start getting some of these road wins."
Back to work: Texas guard Myck Kabongo, who served a 23-game NCAA suspension, is expected to start in Wednesday's home game against Iowa State.
Kabongo, a preseason Big 12 first-team pick, averaged 9.6 points and 5.2 assists last year. He was suspended for accepting airfare and personal instruction and then providing false and misleading information about the infractions.
"It's been really remarkable with how he's stayed in it the way he has," Longhorns coach Rick Barnes said. "He's been our hardest worker by far every single day. We're happy for him that he gets his shot now and gets to come back.
"I don't know a way that he's not going to help us."
Not dwelling on win: TCU coach Trent Johnson didn't dwell on the Frogs' 62-55 win over Kansas last week, especially since his team fell 71-50 at West Virginia on Saturday.
"Everyone talks about momentum and confidence, but it's about consistency and doing things the right way all the time," Johnson said.
Crunch time: West Virginia is trying to plow its way back into the league race.
The Mountaineers have won three consecutive Big 12 games, but the schedule toughens during their final eight games.
West Virginia has five league wins, but the victories came against Texas, Texas Tech and TCU, which are a combined 5-25 in conference play.
All eyes on Lawrence: ESPN College GameDay will be in Allen Fieldhouse for Saturday's 8 p.m. Texas-Kansas game.
Points could be at a premium in the contest. Entering Monday, Kansas and Texas were ranked first and second, respectively, in the nation in field-goal percentage defense.
Weekly honors: TCU senior Connell Crossland and Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart were named the Big 12 men's basketball player and rookie of the week, respectively, on Monday.
Crossland, a 6-7 forward, averaged 10.5 points and 12 rebounds in a win over then-No. 5 Kansas and a road loss at West Virginia.
Smart, a 6-4 guard, averaged 18.5 points and 7.5 rebounds while totaling 10 assists and nine steals in wins over Baylor and at Texas.
Befor Monday's games
1. Oklahoma State: Youthful Cowboys are led in scoring by three freshmen, two sophomores and a junior. The equation has led to a five-game win streak.
2. Kansas State: Defense has been special this season for the Wildcats, who have allowed only two of their last eight opponents score 60 points or more.
3. Oklahoma: The Sooners have the Big 12's second-best RPI according to NCAA.com, checking in at No. 18, following a win over Kansas (RPI: 10).
4. Kansas: Interesting stat via the Kansas City Star - Jayhawks have experienced only five losing streaks of three or more games since 1983-84 season.
5. Iowa State: Junior Melvin Ejim leads all active Big 12 players with 16 career double-doubles.
6. Baylor: The Bears can still make a large dent in the conference race with two games against Kansas State and another against Kansas remaining.
7. West Virginia: Mountaineers have won three consecutive games, exceeding the 50 percent shooting mark in each contest.
8. Texas: The Longhorns own only two conference victories this season, against cellar dwellers TCU and Texas Tech.
9. TCU: There may be no better way to win your first Big 12 basketball game than beating tradition-rich Kansas.
10. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders didn't have one player reach double figures in scoring during a 75-48 loss at Baylor.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Oklahoma at Oklahoma St., 12:30 p.m. Saturday
The Bedlam outcome means more than bragging rights. The winner will stay in the Big 12 title race, a key since the week began with the top six Big 12 teams separated by no more than two games. OSU has won its past three games against OU inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.