January 25, 2008

Jayhawks, Wildcats meet for more than pride

MORE BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

UPCOMING GAMES
Saturday
Nebraska at Kansas
Missouri at Colorado
Oklahoma at Baylor
Iowa State at Kansas State
Texas A&M at Oklahoma State
Texas Tech at Texas
Monday
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
Tuesday
Colorado at Iowa State
Wednesday
Kansas at Kansas State
Texas at Texas A&M
Nebraska at Missouri

Best matchup: Kansas (19-0 overall, 4-0 in the Big 12) at Kansas State (13-4, 3-0). Along with Baylor, these two Sunflower State rivals are the only teams undefeated in Big 12 play. They'll be favored to remain spotless in league play before they meet Wednesday in Manhattan. Kansas State recovered from an embarrassing loss to Xavier to win four in a row, including a 21-point win over struggling Texas A&M.

The pressure is on: Coach Mark Turgeon and Texas A&M. The Aggies were ranked as high as ninth in the country before their recent tailspin. Texas A&M has lost three Big 12 games in a row (at Texas Tech, at Kansas State and at home to Baylor in a five-overtime classic). Making matters a little more uncomfortable is this quote from Turgeon before the Baylor loss: "Have I gotten the most out of my team the last two games? No. But I know no matter what I do, if we win, (former coach Billy) Gillispie's getting the credit, and if we lose, it's my fault. I'm in a no-flippin'-win situation this year, and that puts me in a bad mood." His mood hasn't improved lately.

Upset alert: Oklahoma State over Texas A&M. The Cowboys play host to a Texas A&M team that will be physically and mentally battered by the time the Aggies reach Stillwater on Saturday. A loss here could send the Aggies into a genuine tailspin with Texas heading to College Station next week.

RPI watch: Baylor has skyrocketed up the ranking, to 22nd, thanks to its 4-0 start and the win in College Station on Wednesday.

Key stat: Wednesday's five-overtime thriller between Baylor and Texas A&M featured many memorable stat lines, but perhaps none is more impressive than Baylor's 6-0 record this season when trailing at halftime. The Bears trailed 35-29 at the half before defeating the Aggies 115-110 in five overtimes in College Station. The win was Baylor's first over a ranked team since the 2002-03 season.

Freshman to watch: Texas Tech guard John Roberson had one of his better games of the season in a 92-84 win over Missouri on Wednesday, with 25 points and six assists. He was 10-of-12 from the free-throw line. He'll have to continue that hot streak when Texas Tech goes to Texas on Saturday and Baylor on Feb. 6.

Who's hot: Kansas State freshman forward Michael Beasley has caught fire after slow starts. He scored 26 of his 29 points in the second half against Colorado and 21 points despite early foul trouble against Texas A&M. Iowa State sophomore guard Wesley Johnson has averaged 21.6 points over the past three games, including a career-high 24 against Oklahoma State on Sunday. Texas Tech senior guard Martin Zeno had a career day against Missouri on Wednesday with 33 points, five rebounds, three assists, three blocks and four steals.

Who's not: At 0-3 in league play, Nebraska ranks last in the league in scoring (59.7 points) and shooting (37.5 percent) in Big 12 games. Second-leading scorer Ade Dagunduro is averaging 2.3 points per game since Big 12 play began. Oklahoma State is 18-of-65 (27.7 percent) from 3-point range over the past three games, all losses. Oklahoma State freshman Ibrahima Thomas has fouled out of three of four Big 12 games. Missouri is 0-5 on the road.

Worth noting: After going 0-of-7 from 3-point range against Oklahoma State, Texas guard A.J. Abrams did not make a 3-pointer for the first time in 54 games. Texas guard Justin Mason returned to the starting lineup with eight points and six rebounds against Oklahoma State after coming off the bench the previous four games. No. 25 Baylor is ranked for the first time since Feb. 11, 1969, a standing that could improve following Wednesday's five-overtime win over Texas A&M. Kansas State senior forward David Hoskins will miss the season after having surgery on his left knee. Hoskins has not played this year but averaged 14.5 points last season. Kansas forward Darrell Arthur (calf) and guard Sherron Collins (ankle) played through injuries against Iowa State on Wednesday.

MORE BREAKDOWNS: ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-10 | SEC

David Fox is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dfox@rivals.com.



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