Unlike their major conference brothers, the Big XII quarterfinals went as expected Thursday and held all the suspense of a gun battle on The A Team, with all four top seeds advancing to the semifinals. On Friday, the conference’s four ranked and already tournament bound teams will square off in games that matter only for seeding purposes. Here’s what you missed yesterday while you were threatening Elton John.
#1 Kansas 80, #9 Texas Tech 68
#4 Texas A & M 70, #12 Nebraska 64
#2 Kansas State 83, #7 Oklahoma State 64
#3 Baylor 86, #6 Texas 67
TEAM OF THE DAY
The Baylor Bears are for real. Thursday brought a change in repetitive college basketball phrase du jour from “passing the eye test” to some variation of how hard it is to beat a team three times in one season, thanks largely to Baylor’s attempt to beat Texas for the third time.
The Bears didn't make it look all that difficult. It might be time for a new phrase.
Baylor used the three-headed monster of Tweety Carter, LaceDarius Dunn and Ekpe Udoh, who nearly outscored Texas themselves. Udoh’s chipped in 25 and 8 and Carter, the team’s emotional leader, threw in 20 points of his own. The most important individual in the trio, however, was Dunn who put up near-triple-double numbers and combated Damion James’ pushing, mugging and chest-beating with a little trash talk and some old fashioned basketball plays.
James was already losing it early in the second half, already getting into confrontations with Dunn and Carter on two occasions, when Dunn took the ball to the hole and made the layup and got fouled by James. Already being smothered by a Bears’ run, James went into meltdown mode and got T’ed up, went to the bench and screamed at teammates and was never remotely useful again.
Baylor will now face Kansas State in the semifinals, a team that has a very similar makeup to their own. The battle between the backcourts of Carter and Dunn and Jacobham Lincoln and Denis Clemente has the potential for some March magic. Make sure you tune in.
STUD OF THE DAY
If history is the best predictor of the future, then Jamar Samuels didn’t have a shot against Oklahoma State Thursday. In a loss to the Cowboys on January 23rd, the Kansas State sophomore fouled out in only 13 minutes and contributed an anemic 5 points and one lonesome rebound. On Thursday, though, Samuels got sweet revenge in the Wildcats’ blowout of Travis Ford’s team, pouring in 27 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. In an 8-minute frenzy at the end of the first half, the Wildcats put the Cowboys away for good behind 13 ofSamuels’ 21 first half points. That’s what you call solid bench play.
DUD OF THE DAY
Needing a win to secure themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament and facing a highly ranked team that they had already defeated, Oklahoma State had every reason to look forward to their game with Kansas State. Somewhere at around the 8:30 mark of the first half, though, Travis Ford’s squad crapped after cutting the Wildcat lead to 27-23. Kansas State closed the half on a 24-3 run and the Oklahoma State bench hung their mohawks in disappointment. After about 200 misses from downtown by James Anderson and 20 more minutes of inconsequential basketball, it was time to head back to Stillwater, one of the few places that make Kansas City appear as the “Paris of the Plains”. I expect defections.
2000: AN AFTERTHOUGHT
Kentucky was the first NCAA team to race past 2,000 wins earlier this year and celebrated with t-shirts, speeches from Adolph Rupp’s son and a dancing DeMarcus Cousins. North Carolina got theirs and hoped no one would notice how far they’d fallen, barely making mention. Kansas? They were somewhere in between the two when they wrapped up Win2K in Kansas City. They talked about the historical significance of the win, but made sure that everyone knew their focus went far beyond any pomp and circumstance (if any) that comes with that magical number.
Damion James - Dude got bowed up on by a guy named Tweety and got punked a handful of times by a guy with “Lace” in his name. Add in an ill-timed technical, some screaming at teammates and an unnecessarily vicious high-five that left his teammate in paint and Damion James has earned some First Team All-Turd recognition.
STARS OF THE DAY
Jamar Samuels (Kansas State) - 27 points, 10 rebounds
LaceDarius Dunn (Baylor) - 19 points, 9 rebounds, 7 assists
Cole Aldrich (Kansas) - 12 points, 18 rebounds, 3 blocks
Ekpe Udoh (Baylor) – 25 points, 8 rebounds
James Anderson (Oklahoma State) - 27 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists
Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen (Kansas State) – combined for 31 points and 13 assists
Donald Sloan (Texas A&M) – 23 points
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I think it does speak volumes worth of history and tradition of the program. We’re very proud of it. It hasn’t been a big point of emphasis for this team, but I think the guys respect the past enough to know it’s a big deal.” – Kansas coach Bill Self on getting win number 2000
THE DAY AHEAD
#1 Kansas vs. #4 Texas A&M (7:30 pm)
#2 Kansas State vs. #3 Baylor (9:00 pm)