Inside the Big 12 title race
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
2/13/13 at 4:50 AM
Related Story: Big 12 title chase suddenly picks up midseason drama
*RPIS SHOWN ARE AS OF MONDAY
Kansas | 20-4, 8-3 Big 12 | RPI: 10
How they got here: Two weeks ago, the Jayhawks looked unbeatable. Following a three-game losing streak, they sit in the middle of a six-team sprint to the finish.
Best player: Ben McLemore (right) (6-foot-5, 195 pounds) may play only four more games in Allen Fieldhouse. The ultra-talented freshman is averaging a team-high 16.8 points per game.
Prospects for rest of the season: Treacherous. The Jayhawks will have to earn a ninth consecutive Big 12 regular season title, with road games at Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Baylor.
Remaining schedule: Texas (2/16); at Oklahoma State (2/20); TCU (2/23); at Iowa State (2/25); West Virginia (3/2); Texas Tech (3/4); at Baylor (3/9).
NATE BILLINGS / The Oklahoman
Oklahoma | 16-7, 7-4 Big 12 | RPI: 18
How they got here: The Sooners have played one of the toughest strength of schedules nationally this season and do not have a "bad" loss. Lon Kruger has kept the team focused on a nightly basis, and OU seems to get better with each contest.
Best player: Romero Osby (right). The 6-8 senior forward is averaging a team-high 13.9 points and 6.6 rebounds a game.
Prospects for rest of the season: Very good. After Saturday's visit to Oklahoma State, the Sooners play only two top-six schools (Baylor and Iowa State), both at home.
Remaining schedule: at Oklahoma State (2/16); at Texas Tech (2/20); Baylor (2/23); at Texas (2/27); Iowa State (3/2); West Virginia (3/6); at TCU (3/9).
ORLIN WAGNER / AP
Kansas State | 19-5, 8-3 Big 12 | RPI: 22
How they got here: The Wildcats have been consistent all season. Kansas State has lost back-to-back games only once this season and has adjusted well to new coach Bruce Weber.
Best player: Senior Rodney McGruder (right), 6-4, 205, was one of three unanimous selections to the preseason All-Big 12 team and has lived up to the hype, averaging 15.2 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Prospects for rest of the season: Challenging. The Wildcats will play two games against Baylor and make a trip to Oklahoma State. It's difficult, but manageable.
Remaining schedule: Baylor (2/16); West Virginia (2/18); at Texas (2/23); Texas Tech (2/25); at Baylor (3/2); TCU (3/5); at Oklahoma State (3/9).
TONY GUTIERREZ / AP
Baylor | 15-8, 6-4 Big 12 | RPI: 54
How they got here: Defense has been the key component when the Bears have success in league play. The team is limiting conference foes to an average of only 60.8 points per contest.
Best player: Senior Pierre Jackson (right), 5-10, 180, leads the Big 12 in scoring (19.1 ppg) and assists (6.0). The last player in a major conference to accomplish that feat was Jason Terry at Arizona in 1998-99.
Prospects for rest of the season: Dangerous. Baylor, which snapped a three-game losing streak last weekend, will play five games against teams vying for the regular-season championship.
Remaining schedule: West Virginia (2/13); at Kansas State (2/16); Iowa State (2/20); at Oklahoma (2/23); at West Virginia (2/27); Kansas State (3/2); at Texas (3/4); Kansas (3/9).
BRODY SCHMIDT / AP
Oklahoma State | 17-5, 7-3 Big 12 | RPI: 26
How they got here: Scoring balance has been big. OSU is the only Big 12 school that has three players ranked among the league's top 10 in scoring and four among the top 20.
Best player: Marcus Smart (right), 6-4, 225, is doing it all for the Cowboys. While his offense is impressive (14.6 ppg), Smart will set the school's all-time freshman steals record. Smart already has 67 thefts.
Prospects for rest of the season: Pretty good. Outside of a trip to Iowa State (unbeaten at home this season), the Cowboys will get the major players in Gallagher-Iba the rest of the way.
Remaining schedule: at Texas Tech (2/13); Oklahoma (2/16); Kansas (2/20); at West Virginia (2/23); at TCU (2/27); Texas (3/2); at Iowa State (3/6); Kansas State (3/9).
JUSTIN HAYWORTH / AP
Iowa State | 16-7, 6-4 Big 12 | RPI: 37
How they got here: Coach Fred Hoiberg was a deadly 3-point shooter in his day, and his Cyclones are doing the same. Iowa State leads the Big 12 and ranks sixth nationally in 3-pointers per game (9.3).
Best player: Will Clyburn (right), a 6-7, 210-pound senior guard, is the only league player who is ranked in the top five in scoring (14.8 ppg) and rebounding (7.2 rpg).
Prospects for rest of the season: Fairly good. Iowa State owns a 20-game homecourt winning streak. If the Cyclones continue to win at home and steal some road victories, they can be a dark horse
Remaining schedule: at Texas (2/13); TCU (2/16); at Baylor (2/20); Texas Tech (2/23); Kansas (2/25); at Oklahoma (3/2); Oklahoma State (3/6); at West Virginia (3/9).
ORLIN WAGNER / AP