February 22, 2008

Texas looks to stay perfect on Mondays

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

Kansas at Oklahoma State
Kansas State at Baylor
Oklahoma at Texas
Nebraska at Texas A&M
Iowa State at Texas Tech
Colorado at Missouri
Texas at Kansas State
Oklahoma State at Missouri
Texas Tech at Texas A&M
Texas at Nebraska
Kansas at Iowa State
Baylor at Colorado

Best matchup: Texas at Kansas State. Texas loves Mondays. The Longhorns are 4-0 on Monday nights, including their two best conference wins. In the past two weeks, Texas defeated Kansas 72-69 and rival Texas A&M 77-50 on Mondays. Look for a battle on the glass between the Big 12's top two rebounders Kansas State's Michael Beasley (12.5 per game) and Texas' Damion James (10.6).

The pressure is on: Baylor. The Bears were the feel-good story of the season after a 16-2 start, including 4-0 in the Big 12. But Baylor hasn't been the same since a five-overtime win over Texas A&M in College Station on Jan. 23. Since then, Baylor is 1-6 and has fallen to 5-6 in conference play. The Bears must turn this slump around to ensure their first NCAA bid since 1988. The rest of the games are winnable, starting with a home game against Kansas State, which has lost its past three road games. Of its five remaining opponents, only the Wildcats and Texas A&M have winning records in conference play. Baylor plays both teams in Waco.

Upset alert: Texas Tech over Texas A&M. The Aggies again have fallen on hard times, falling to Oklahoma State at home on Saturday (the Cowboys' first road win in league play) and losing by 27 to Texas on Monday. Texas Tech is 2-3 under Pat Knight but has played solid basketball. Look for the Red Raiders to try to capitalize on the Aggies' struggles.

RPI watch: The Big 12 inched past the Pac-10 in RPI conference rankings. The Big 12 ranks second behind the ACC and is .0002 points ahead of the Pac-10.

Key stat: Kansas State forward Michael Beasley tied an NCAA freshman record in the Wildcats' loss to Nebraska with his 22nd double-double of the season. He scored 22 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. He needs one more to break the tie with Syracuse's Carmelo Anthony, set in 2002-03.

Freshman to watch: Nebraska 5-foot-7 point guard Cookie Miller isn't quite filling up the scoring column yet, but he's helping in several other areas. In the 71-64 upset of Kansas State on Wednesday, he had six assists and five steals. He had another five-steal game earlier in the week at Iowa State. He appears to be finding his shooting touch, too. Miller scored only three points against the Wildcats, but has been in double-digits three times in the past five games. He accomplished that only twice in the first 19 games.

Who's hot: Beasley was the first player in Big 12 history to win a weekly award in four consecutive weeks when he was named the league's Rookie of the Week on Feb. 18. Oklahoma State guard Byron Eaton averaged 21 points last week in wins over Baylor and at Texas A&M. He was 11 of 18 from the field and 16 of 18 from the line in those games. Oklahomaguard Austin Johnson is averaging 17.3 points over the past three games. The Sooners have won all three games. Texas Tech guard Alan Voskuil is averaging 18.2 points in five games since Pat Knight became coach.

Who's not: Kansas State has lost three in a row on the road to teams that were a combined 8-16 in the Big 12 at tip-off. Colorado has allowed its past two opponents to shoot 54 percent (59-of-109) from the field. Missouri forward DeMarre Carroll is averaging 8.3 points and four rebounds over his past three games. Those marks are 5.4 points and 3.4 rebounds fewer than his previous season averages.

Worth noting: Commenting on rumors that Oklahoma State would come after him to replaceSean Sutton, Kansas coach Bill Self, an Oklahoma State alum, said, "It's not going to happen, so to be honest with you, it is a disservice to everybody involved to call attention to it." Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin said he will not be a one-and-done player. He told The Oklahoman he will not enter the NBA draft after his freshman season. Kansas guard Sherron Collins is questionable for Saturday's game against Oklahoma State with a deep bruise on his right knee. Saying his team needed a change, Baylor coach Scott Drew started guard Tweety Carter and forward Mark Shepherd in place of guard Aaron Bruce and center Josh Lomers against Oklahoma State. Carter scored 17 points, but Shepherd went scoreless in 14 minutes. Iowa State's 11 points in the first half against Nebraska on Saturday were the fewest scored in a Big 12 game. The Cyclones still won 60-52.

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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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