Top Five Takeaways (Feb. 10 2024)

Heartland College Sports – An Independent Big 12 Today Blog

Here are five thoughts on the Big 12 Conference men’s and women’s basketball games on Saturday, as nearly every team was in action across the country.

So what happened? Kansas and Baylor was the big game, but it wasn’t exactly a classic. The big women’s game of the day went to Baylor, while the Kansas State women pulled out a big win over Oklahoma State. And, a pair of former conference rivals renewed acquaintances.

 

Here are five thoughts on the day.

A Sloppy Finish

Look at the final score and you see a compelling game right to the end, with Kansas beating Baylor, 64-61.

But then you dig into that finish and, well, it was more about Kansas hanging on at the end.

The Jayhawks made one of their final 10 shots. A run like that in a close game tends to lead to a loss. But, when your opponent, in this case Baylor, doesn’t make a field goal in the final 4:32 of the game, you get what you saw on Saturday.

With 4:32 left Jayden Nunn’s basket drew Baylor within five points, 62-57. Baylor scored four points from there, all on free throws. So, Kansas didn’t need to make a basket. But the Jayhawks made one, a DaJuan Harris Jr. jumper with 1:37 left.

It was enough in a game where Kanas led for nearly the entire contest (Baylor held the lead for a grand total of 17 seconds).

It was a sloppy end to a game that had all the earmarks of compelling basketball. Yves Missi led Baylor with 21 points and eight rebounds, while Ja’Kobe Walter added 17 points. Langston Love was out for Baylor.

Without Kevin McCullar Jr., Kansas got 15 points from Hunter Dickinson, 14 points from Harris, K.J. Adams scored 13 and Johnny Furphy added 11 points.

Baylor missed a golden opportunity here. The Bears walked away with a loss in a game where they had every opportunity was there to win.

But that’s life in the Big 12 these days.

Bears Bounce Back

The women’s game I was most interested in on Saturday was Baylor’s game at home against West Virginia. The Mountaineers had won seven straight and the Bears were coming off a loss to BYU in Provo, a game in which the Bears really weren’t in it.

 

Baylor needed a win or else it would fall out of the Top 25. West Virginia’s only two losses entering the game were against Texas and Iowa State. A road win like this would be proof that their brand of basketball travels against Top 25 teams.

Baylor won, 65-58. Baylor overcame 19 turnovers by shooing 48%, dropping seven 3-pointers and outrebounded the Mountaineers by nine. Balanced scoring did the trick, too. Four Bears were in double figures, with Darianna Littlepage-Buggs leading the way with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Forcing 19 turnovers doesn’t matter much when you shoot 32%, as the Mountaineers did on Saturday. Kyah Watson had a great game, as she had a double-double — 12 points and 15 rebounds. But JJ Quinerly was human, by her recent standards, and scored 13 points.

The balanced scoring is good news for Baylor, as guard Sarah Andrews had another rough game, scoring seven points with two field goals.

But the win was what mattered for Baylor on Saturday. Hopefully Andrews gets back on track soon.

Saturday Was The Last Day (For The Men)

Iowa State made its final appearance on the Longhorn Network on Tuesday. But West Virginia shut it down, at least from a men’s basketball standpoint, as noted by the Austin American-Statesman’s Cedric Golden.

If you didn’t notice that West Virginia lost to Texas, 94-58, on Saturday, you can be forgiven. Unless you had a second-tier cable subscription in Texas, you had little chance of seeing it.

As a concept, it didn’t work. I’ve lived in Texas nearly all my life and I’ve never had LHN. But as a revenue generator for Texas, it was a massive success. And, frankly, that’s all Texas was concerned about when they struck the deal. Making sure that other fans of Big 12 teams could see their teams’ games when they were in Austin was of no concern.

K-State Figures It Out

After a week off, the Kansas State women returned to the floor and hosted Oklahoma State. Things got dramatic before the Wildcats won, 69-68.

Kansas State guard Serena Sundell drained a lay-up with 26 seconds left to give the Wildcats the lead, while Oklahoma State’s Hannah Gusters missed the potential game-winner with a second left.

 

The Wildcats were not only off for a week, but they lost their last two games to Oklahoma and Texas. So it had been more than two weeks since Kansas State won a game.

Sundell had 16 points, but it was Brylee Glenn who had the big game, as she finished with 23 points. Gabby Gregory scored 11 points and Zyanna Walker added 10 points and eight rebounds. K-State also forced 20 Oklahoma State turnovers and scored 15 points off them.

The Cowgirls nearly overcame that with 52% shooting from 3 and a plus-12 edge on the glass. Quincy Noble and Stailee Heard scored 19 points each, while Lior Garzon scored 14 points and Gusters added 13 points. Heard also had 12 points.

Kansas State stayed in the race for the regular-season title, as Oklahoma beat Iowa State, 86-72. With a split of the season series between OU and K-State, the Wildcats will have to keep winning and hope for some help to get at least a share of the lead.

American Renewal

The men’s game I was most intrigued by was Houston’s trip to Cincinnati. These are two teams that are quite familiar with one another from their days in the American Athletic Conference. Houston’s last road game didn’t go well (Kansas) and Cincinnati is truly in NCAA bubble territory.

The Cougars managed the win, 67-62, and down the stretch Houston was exceptional. The Cougars made four of their final five shots to pull away with the victory. J’Wan Roberts continued his fine play inside with 20 points while Jamal Shead added 16 points.

Cincinnati got what it usually gets out of sixth-man Dan Skillings Jr. — 13 points and three rebounds. But the big news for Cincinnati was that guard C.J. Fredrick played. He only played two minutes and didn’t score. But he played, and that was his first game action since Dec. 22 against Stetson.

A healthy Fredrick would be a huge shot in the arm for the Bearcats in the final few weeks of the season. He averaged more than seven points before the injury. He’s a quality outside shooter. Cincinnati has needed him for a while.  

The trip to Houston on Feb. 27 will be an interesting one for Cincinnati, especially if Fredrick is back in basketball shape by then.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.