Top Five Takeaways (Feb. 5 2024)

Heartland College Sports – An Independent Big 12 Today Blog

Here are five takeaways on the Big 12 Conference men’s and women’s basketball games on Tuesday, as the league features five games across the country.  

So what happened? Baylor and Texas Tech played a Top 25 matchup, Houston coach Kelvin Sampson played the “get out of the game early” card, it was a momentous night for Iowa State and the West Virginia women are putting on a defensive show you need to watch.

Here are five takeaways on the day.

 

The Bears Are Back

Every Big 12 game feels like there is so much riding on it. And, Tuesday’s game between Texas Tech and Baylor did have stakes.

The winner would be tied with Iowa State for a share of second place in the Big 12.

Entering the game the Red Raiders and Bears had identical 16-5 records with a 5-3 lead slate.

Baylor ended up with the victory, 79-73, winning its third straight game. It gave Baylor coach Scott Drew his first win over a former assistant in a Big 12 game. Since he can’t seem to beat Kansas State’s Jerome Tang (0-3), he’ll just have to settle for a win over Tech boss and his former assistant Grant McCasland.

Baylor just walked away with this one in the second half. By the time McCasland used his last time out with 6:35 left in the game his Red Raiders were down 64-51. Baylor was on a 15-2 run and Tech was on a 3:50 scoring drought.

The Red Raiders answered with a Darrion Williams 3-pointer out of the time out. But it didn’t matter.

And it really doesn’t matter when a team like Baylor is shooting 72% in the second half with less than four minutes left. With 3:20 left Baylor was up 15. No one’s catching that if the Bears are shooting like that. But the Red Raiders tried.

RayJ Dennis continues to excel for the Bears, as he finished with 21 points, four rebounds and five assists. Yves Missi had 17 points and seven rebounds while Jayden Nunn added 14 points. The Bears lost Langston Love in the final two minutes to a left leg injury that was significant enough for him to hop off the floor on his right leg.

It was interesting to hear that Baylor went back to its 1-3-1 zone defense due to deficiencies in man defense. The zone does have its benefits. It streamlines defensive assignments and allows players to pursue areas rather than players, which can be valuable to a team with two freshmen in the starting lineup.

The zone paid off late in the game against Texas Tech, especially during that scoring run. For a zone to truly work you have to force teams to shoot outside and not shoot well. In that regard, Baylor won. Entering the game Baylor’s last three opponents shot 45 percent from the arc. Texas Tech shot 40.9 percent from there, but they were below 40 percent for much of the game.

Joe Toussaint led with 18 points for the Red Raiders. Williams scored 17. Chance McMillian came off the bench for 13 points. The Bears held Pop Isaacs to 11 points. The Red Raiders did everything possible to make it a game down the stretch, cutting the lead to six points. But Toussaint fouled out on a drive down six with 35 seconds left and the Red Raiders’ last-ditch effort ended.

The Red Raiders have now lost three straight games and are now in danger of falling out of the AP Top 25 next week.

Oh, and if Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades needs some gas money, help a brother out. His pockets are a little lighter today.

 

Who Doesn’t Want to Get Fined? This Guy

On the heels of the Big 12 kindly asking Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades to cough up $25,000 for his “constructive criticism” of officiating after Baylor’s win over Iowa State (now forever known as the Scott Drew ejection game), someone asked Oklahoma coach Porter Moser ahead of Tuesday’s game with BYU if he, you wanted, wanted to enter the chat.

He did not.

“Next,” Moser said. “Sorry, I don’t mean not to answer your questions. I’m always available to answer, but that one’s a tough one for me to talk about.”

No, Porter, you TOTALLY meant to not answer the question. It’s cool. We get it. Money’s important.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma beat BYU, 82-66, behind 16 points from guard Milos Uzan. OU moved back to .500 in Big 12 play and beat its second Top 25 opponent this season. The first was USC.

With the game in Norman, OU paid its respects to the late country star Toby Keith, who died on Tuesday. He was a fixture courtside at OU basketball games and at many OU sporting events.

 

West Virginia’s Mind-Boggling Defense

‘Press Virginia’ is back at West Virginia. It’s just that it’s the women under new coach Mark Kellogg that are playing it to perfection.

Need proof? Entering Tuesday’s game with Texas Tech the Mountaineers led the conference in turnovers forced per game. There’s a good reason why.

That’s crazy stuff. It’s one thing to have a player leading your conference in steals. But each of the top four thieves in your conference are from the same school? No wonder WVU is forcing 24.67 turnovers per game, which is second in the country behind Niagara. Houston and Texas are the only other Big 12 teams with 20 or more per game.

As for the game, WVU dominated, winning 82-59. The Mountaineers forced their average, 24 turnovers, and they scored 30 points off those turnovers. Jordan Harrison had five steals, while JJ Quinerly and Kyah Watson each had three. Quinerly and Watson combined for 40 points.

Jasmine Shavers gave Tech 16 points and Jordyn Merritt added 13, but the Lady Raiders really didn’t have a shot in this one. And, when Tech is down at halftime — and they were down 12 in this game — they don’t win. Tech is 0-6 when behind at halftime in Big 12 play. But the Lady Raiders are 5-0 when they’re up.

WVU is now in a second-place tie with Kansas State, one-half game back of Oklahoma in the Big 12. The Mountaineers remain in play for one of the top four seeds at the Big 12 Tournament, along with the double-bye that goes with it.

Cougars and Cyclones Win

It was a big night for Iowa State. The Cyclones made their final appearance on the Longhorn Network. To celebrate, the Cyclones won, 70-65. Not that any of you saw it. But if you’re an ISU fan, you’re used to it. It always seems the Cyclones’ road game at Texas ends on up LHN. It’s tradition.

The Cyclones overcame 28 points and 10 rebounds from Texas forward Dylan Disu. Iowa State’s Tamin Lipsey had 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. That’s all you get. I didn’t watch the game, either. Yeah, I’m in Texas and I don’t get LHN, which should tell you everything about the network’s success.

 

Meanwhile, if Scott Drew ever needs lessons on how to truly get ejected from a game, he should call Houston’s Kelvin Sampson. This is how you do it. Leave no doubt.

Judge’s ruling is 10 out of 10, no notes. Perfection.

Sampson wasn’t around for the end of Houston’s 79-63 win over Oklahoma State. Jamal Shead hung in there until the end. He led the Cougars with 23 points.

Houston Chronicle beat writer Joseph Duarte tried to get they “why” out of Sampson. No dice. But Sampson knows what’s coming.

Rhoades, Drew and Sampson could have a support group after the season.

Book It

What Texas freshman Madison Booker is doing right now is fun to watch.

Booker is second in points per game in conference play, averaging more than 20 per game and behind only TCU’s Madison Conner.

But, as Danny Davis of the Austin American-Statesman pointed out, Booker got this national award the same week that USC’s JuJu Watkins dropped 51 points on Stanford and Notre Dame guard Hannah Hidalgo dropped 35 points on Georgia Tech. That’s just incredible.

With all apologies to Iowa State’s bumper crop of freshmen, I’m not sure there’s anything standing in the way of Booker being Big 12 Freshman of the Year. And it would be well-deserved.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.