February 1, 2008

Oklahoma State looks to end Big 12 slide

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UPCOMING GAMES
Saturday, Feb. 2
Baylor at Texas
Kansas State at Missouri
Oklahoma State at Texas Tech
Kansas at Colorado
Iowa State at Nebraska
Oklahoma at Texas A&M
Monday, Feb. 4
Missouri at Kansas
Wednesday, Feb. 5
Texas A&M at Iowa State
Wednesday, Feb. 6
Texas at Oklahoma
Texas Tech at Baylor
Colorado at Oklahoma State
Nebraska at Kansas State

Best matchup: Baylor (16-3 overall, 4-1 in the Big 12) at Texas (16-4, 3-2). Baylor's miracle season hit a speed bump with a loss to Oklahoma on Saturday. A week off should give the Bears a chance to regroup before going to Austin. Now, it's Texas that needs to regroup after a 17-point loss to Texas A&M. Baylor is 4-0 on the road this year, including a five-overtime win over the Aggies in College Station.

The pressure is on: Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton. With Eddie Sutton sitting on 799 career wins at San Francisco, there seems to be a race between father and son. Which will happen first Eddie Sutton's 800th win or Sean Sutton's next win for Oklahoma State? Sean Sutton is in the second year of a five-year contract, but the Cowboys' 10-10 record and 1-5 mark in the Big 12 is causing some concern. With games next week at Texas Tech and against Colorado, Sutton needs to pick up wins in a hurry to salvage the season.

Upset alert: Missouri over Kansas State. We'd feel a lot better about this if Missouri wasn't without five players, including its leading scorer, due to suspension. Missouri at least kept it close with Nebraska in its first game with a seven-man rotation with a 66-62 loss to the Cornhuskers. There may also be a let-down factor with Kansas State coming off a season-defining win over Kansas.

RPI watch: Kansas State's 5-0 start in the Big 12 has sent the Wildcats skyrocketing up the RPI rankings. Then 9-4, Kansas State was ranked 93rd before Big 12 play started. After an 84-75 win over undefeated Kansas on Wednesday, the Wildcats are ranked 26th in the RPI.

Key stat I: 24. The Streak ends. Kansas State beat Kansas in Manhattan for the first time in 24 years with an 81-73 win on Wednesday, ending Kansas' 20-1 start. The win leaves the Wildcats in sole possession of first place in the Big 12 with a 5-0 conference record.

Key stat II: Four. The streak continues. Texas A&M beat rival Texas in College Station for the fourth time in a row with an 80-63 win on Wednesday. The victory keeps the Aggies afloat in the conference race after they had lost three in a row.

Freshman to watch: Jacob Pullen certainly isn't the most heralded of Kansas State's freshmen, but he's stepping to the foreground. During the Wildcats' six-game winning streak, Pullen has 24 assists and just five turnovers. He has also found his scoring touch. He had 20 points (helped by going 10 of 10 on free throws) against Kansas and 13 points against Iowa State in his last two games.

Who's hot: Oklahoma freshman Blake Griffin returned from a left knee injury two weeks ahead of schedule. In his first game back, Griffin scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in 22 minutes off the bench in a win over Baylor on Saturday. Kansas State forward Michael Beasley is averaging 28 points and 9.8 rebounds in Big 12 play. He is 50 of 88 (56.8 percent) from the floor in five conference games. Iowa State freshman forward Craig Brackins has scored in double figures in all six Big 12 games. He's averaging 15.8 points in league play.

Who's not: Colorado starting guards Xavier Silas and Cory Higgins are a combined 3-for-22 from the field (13.6 percent) in the last two games. In three of its last four losses, Colorado has led in the second half: by eight against Iowa State, by 14 against Missouri and by 13 against Texas. Nebraska is 45 of 74 (60.8 percent) from the free-throw line in the last three games. Oklahoma State guard Terrel Harris is 1-for-13 from the field in the last three games.

Worth noting: Missouri suspended leading scorer Stefhon Hannah, guard Jason Horton, forwards Marshall Brown, Darryl Butterfield and Leo Lyons indefinitely due to a violation of team rules. All five were involved in an altercation during the weekend. Hannah, who was attacked outside a nightclub, could miss the remainder of the season with a broken jaw. The suspensions left Missouri with a seven-man rotation in a loss to Nebraska. Kansas State suspended junior forward Andre Gilbert indefinitely for a violation of team rules. The win over Kansas was the first game of Gilbert's suspension. Iowa State leading scorer Wesley Johnson left Saturday's game against Colorado after aggravating an ankle injury that caused him to miss the first four games of the season. He is out indefinitely. Kansas State associate head coach Dalonte Hill was arrested early Thursday on a DUI charge following the Wildcats' win over Kansas in Manhattan, Kan.

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




 

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