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Checking in on the Big 12 after one week of basketball

The first week of the season is finished. What do we know about the teams of the Big 12?

Le'Bryan Nash and Oklahoma State are off to a strong start.
Le'Bryan Nash and Oklahoma State are off to a strong start.
Patrick McDermott

With the first week of college basketball in the books, I thought it would be interesting to check in on each of the Big 12 teams and see how their seasons have started. It is still hard to get a read on most of these teams, other than to say that Oklahoma State has looked impressive to start, Kansas and Texas look to still be finding themselves, and West Virginia has hardly played.

Let's look team by team, to see what we can learn.


Beat SE Missouri State and Chattanooga. Lost to Michigan State.

I watched the Kansas - Michigan State game with great interest. Games like this so early in the season are always fun -- Kansas vs. Michigan State is a plausible Final Four match-up -- but these early season games often don't tell us very much about how the season will play out. This early in the season, every team is a work in progress, and that is particularly true for a team counting on as many freshman as Kansas. Jeff Withey has started off the season doing Jeff Withey things, and Kansas is currently the No. 5 ranked team in the nation in shot block percentage. Red-shirt freshman Ben McLemore has been tremendous in his first three games.

Kansas has been pretty ordinary so far shooting the ball, and the Jayhawks have struggled from three point range, only making 25 percent. That number will improve; it is just a small sample size fluke.


Beat Fresno State and Coppin State.

We will have a much clearer picture of how far along the young Longhorns are a week from now. Texas struggled on offense against feisty Fresno State and physically overwhelmed Coppin State. Like conference-mate Kansas, Texas has been dominating the paint against its early competition, although unlike Kansas that competition hasn't included Michigan State. Texas is the No. 8 ranked team in Division I in shot block percentage, the No. 5 ranked team in defensive effective field goal percentage, and the No. 7 ranked team in offensive rebounding percentage.

The turnovers are the biggest cause for concern; the Longhorns have turned the ball over in 30 percent of their possessions through the first two games. This week in Maui will tell us a lot, as Texas will either face USC or Illinois in the second game. Both of these teams match Texas' size inside.

Kansas State

Beat North Dakota, Lamar, Alabama Huntsville, and North Florida.

Kansas State has started off the season by destroying much weaker competition. For example, the Wildcats eviscerated Division II Alabama Huntsville 87-26. (And congratulations to Alabama Huntsville for their win over North Texas.) Kansas State has also administered beat-downs to a couple of Division I schools. Things won't really pick up for coach Bruce Weber's team until they face off against Gonzaga in a month.

The most interesting thing so far about Kansas State is the larger role that sophomore point guard Angel Rodriguez has taken in the offense. He is the Wildcat's leading scorer and assist man, and he has been very efficient through the first few games of the season.


Beat Lehigh, Jackson St., Boston College, and St. John's. Lost to Colorado.

Senior guard Pierre Jackson is off to a great start. He hasn't yet shown the turnover problems that plagued him during his first season at Baylor, but beyond that has picked up right where he left off; Jackson gets to the rim (34 percent of his FGAs are at the rim so far this season, which is equal to last season's rate) and he hits the outside shot. If he keeps his turnover numbers down, Jackson has a pretty reasonable chance to be an All-American. Isaiah Austin hasn't yet shown himself to be the defensive presence that most were expecting, but he has been good on the offensive end. His stat line so far is strange; he has gone 4-9 from three point range, but only 2-7 from the free throw line.

Baylor has a couple of winnable games coming up, before going to Lexington to face UK on December 1.

Iowa State

Beat Southern, Alabama A&M, and Campbell.

The Cyclones started off the year facing two SWAC teams, and predictably pounded the crap out of them. For those who are fans of funky early season statistics heavily influenced by poor competition and small sample sizes, I provide the following table, which presents information about the shot distribution of Iowa State's first two opponents.

Shot Type

% of shots


% of Shots Blocked

Unblocked FG%

At Rim





2pt Jumpers





3pt Shots





During the fall, I wrote a piece that detailed how Hoiberg's teams try to defend. The Cyclones work hard to eliminate penetration, and are about as good as anyone in Division I when it comes to preventing shots at the rim. But allowing teams to only take 10 percent of their shots at the rim? That is just crazy. That number will rise as Iowa State faces stiffer competition.

Iowa State has also been blocking some shots, turning away 19 percent of opponent two point jump shots. Hoiberg's team is the No. 14 ranked team in Division I in shot block percentage. This is something that the Cyclones have been missing over the last few seasons, and if it continues will make Iowa State a serious challenger in the Big 12. 6-9 sophomore Percy Gibson, 6-9 senior Anthony Booker, and 6-6 junior Melvin Ejim have all been turning shots away. Iowa State's first real test comes on Friday, when they face off against Cincinnati.

Oklahoma State

Beat UC Davis, Akron, Tennessee, and North Carolina State.

The Cowboys are off to a very good start. Akron and Tennessee are both solid teams. The 20 point OSU win against NC State is the most impressive non-conference win by any Big 12 team to date. Le'Bryan Nash has played great to start the season. Freshman guard Marcus Smart has also been effective, and fellow freshman Phil Forte is a dangerous outside shooter.

The Cowboys' still struggle to get defensive rebounds, and their strong two point field goal defense (No. 6 in Division I) during their first several games appears to be something of an illusion. In their first three games, OSU opponents have only made 53 percent of their unblocked shots at the rim. The NCAA average for this statistic in the 2011-2012 season was 68 percent. In the previous two seasons, the Cowboys' opponents have shot near average on unblocked shots at the rim. It is a similar story for unblocked two point jump shots, where OSU opponents have made 21 percent of their attempts, compared with last season's value of 40 percent.


Beat Louisiana Monroe and Texas Arlington.

Oklahoma has one of the softer non-conference schedules in the Big 12. But the Sooners do face a few challenges before the conference tips off. OU goes on the road in early December to face Arkansas, plays a non-conference game against Texas A&M, and gets the Ohio Bobcats at home in late December. OU has a number of good upperclassmen, including 6-9 transfer from Wyoming Amath M'Baye, who along with Romero Osby has made coach Lon Kruger's team the No. 8 defensive rebounding team in the country.

West Virginia

Lost to Gonzaga.

West Virginia started the season by traveling to Spokane and getting blasted by the Zags. The Mountaineers have not played since that one game on Monday November 12, and will not play until noon on Thanksgiving. What a strange schedule. While it is an ugly way to start the season, we should withhold judgment on West Virginia for a few more weeks. The Mountaineers play Michigan on December 15.

Texas Tech

Beat Prairie View A&M and Nebraska Omaha.

Texas Tech's non-conference schedule is stuffed to the gills with historically black colleges. The Red Raiders won't play a single road game until after the new year, when conference play starts against TCU. Don't be shocked if Tech runs up a gaudy non-conference record, although they probably won't beat either Arizona or Alabama.


Beat Cal Poly, Centenary, and Prairie View A&M. Lost to Southern Methodist.

TCU's 44 to 39 win over Prairie View A&M has to be the ugliest game involving a Big 12 team so far this season. In roughly 60 possessions, Prairie View turned the ball over 17 times, while TCU gave it up 12 times. Neither team cracked 27 percent from three point range. The Horned Frogs hit 32 percent of their two point attempts, which was better than the 28 percent made by the Panthers.

TCU plays Northwestern this Friday, plays Tulsa on the road in early December, and Rice on the road just before Christmas. Beyond that, most of their remaining non-conference games look to be likely wins.