Baylor’s Stay at No. 1 Likely to be Short. Will Jayhawks supplant Bears?
(AP) – A look at things to watch this week in the Big 12:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: Baylor’s stay at No. 1 will likely only last a week — even if the Bears (15-1, 3-1 Big 12) can topple No. 25 Kansas State (13-3, 2-2) on the road on Saturday. West Virginia’s suffocating defense forced the Bears into committing 29 turnovers in an 89-68 loss on Tuesday. But the Wildcats will have plenty to prove as well after falling to Texas Tech 66-65 on a Keenan Evans layup with 15 seconds left Tuesday.
LOOKING AHEAD: Will No. 2 Kansas ascend to the top spot in the wake of Baylor’s loss? The Jayhawks (15-1, 4-0), who rallied to beat Oklahoma 81-70 on Tuesday for their 15th straight win, host Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Mountaineers (14-2, 3-1) travel to Texas, which has struggled for weeks but has enough athletes to give them a scare — and perhaps more. Texas Tech (13-3, 2-2) will play at reeling Oklahoma (6-9, 0-4) on Saturday, while TCU will host Iowa State.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Big 12 has had four different schools reach No. 1 since 2010 — the most of any conference in the country — and the league’s .822 non-conference winning percentage would rank 14th in NCAA history. … Oklahoma State’s Phil Forte missed just two free throws in his first 49 attempts. Forte is also second to Iowa State’s Naz Mitrou-Long in 3s made per game. … Fellow Cyclone Monte Morris, the AP’s preseason first-team All-America pick at point guard, entered Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma State leading the league in both assists per game (5.7) and assist-to-turnover ratio (5-to-1).
PLAYER TO WATCH: Kansas freshman Josh Jackson has really come along of late. Jackson is averaging 18.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his last three games. Jackson’s progression should continue to help take the scoring load off of Frank Mason III (20.4 points per game) — who has taken more shots than anyone else in the league.
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.