The best conference in the land provided us with the best game in recent memory last week as Kansas and Oklahoma battled into triple overtime before the Jayhawks claimed a razor-thin 109-106 victory. The opening week and a half of Big 12 play has provided basketball fans with some great games. In fact, 11 of the first 15 league games have been decided by 10 points or less, including three one-possession contests. As we enter the second full week of conference play, we debut our inaugural Big 12 Power Rankings!
#1 Kansas Jayhawks: 14-1 (3-0), #1 in AP Poll
Last Week: vs #23 Baylor W 102-74, vs #2 Oklahoma W 109-106 (3OT), at Texas Tech W 69-59
This Week: 1/12 at #11 West Virginia, 1/16 vs TCU
There's not much of an argument against Kansas being the best team in the Big 12 right now. The nation's top-ranked team opened league play by dominating Baylor for 40 minutes before edging Oklahoma in Monday's triple-overtime instant classic. The Jayhawks then picked up a big road win against a surging Texas Tech team this weekend. Kansas' balanced scoring attack and lockdown defense has many believing that KU is perhaps the deepest team in the nation. With four players averaging in double figures, led by Perry Ellis' 16.0 points per game, the Jayhawks have the depth to survive the Big 12 gauntlet and make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. A KU offense averaging 88.4 points per game will have a major test this week as the ‘Hawks travel to Morgantown for a showdown with 11th-ranked West Virginia.
#2 Oklahoma Sooners: 13-1 (2-1), #2 in AP Poll
Last Week: vs #11 Iowa State W 87-83, at #1 Kansas L 109-106 (3OT), vs Kansas State W 86-76
This Week: 1/13 at Oklahoma State, 1/16 vs #11 West Virginia
Oklahoma's Buddy Hield might have already locked up national Player of the Year honors. The senior guard is averaging 26.6 points per game this season and has scored 99 total points in OU's first three Big 12 games. Hield put up one of the greatest individual performances in league history in Monday, scoring 46 points on 56.5% shooting from the field in Oklahoma's 109-106 triple overtime loss to Kansas. Hield leads a Sooners team that benefits from a loaded starting lineup as Jordan Woodard, Isaish Cousins, and Ryan Spangler are all scoring in double-figures. Kansas State tested OU's depth on Saturday, and the Sooners will need a relatively inexperienced bench to step up with Bedlam and West Virginia coming up.
#3 West Virginia Mountaineers: 14-1 (3-0), #11 in AP Poll
Last Week: at Kansas State W 87-83 (2OT), at TCU W 95-87, vs Oklahoma State W 77-60
This Week: 1/12 vs #1 Kansas, 1/16 at #2 Oklahoma
West Virginia enters the second full week of Big 12 action as one of just two teams still unbeaten in league play. The Mountaineers outlasted Kansas State on the road in double-overtime before overcoming major foul issues to top TCU in Fort Worth. WVU's third win came in convincing fashion over Oklahoma State on Saturday. Much like Kansas and Oklahoma, West Virginia relies on a balanced scoring attack to get things done. Devin Williams, Jevon Carter, Jaysean Paige, and Daxter Miles are all averaging in double-figures while Jonathan Holton is just outside with 9.7 per game. Paige has been the spark plug for West Virginia in league play, as he has scored 54 points through the first three games, including a 25-point performance in Manhattan that gave WVU the win. The Mountaineers are about to embark on a ridiculously difficult week as they host #1 Kansas before traveling to #2 Oklahoma.
#4 Baylor Bears: 12-3 (2-1), #22 in AP Poll
Last Week: at #2 Kansas L 102-74, vs Oklahoma State W 79-62, at #13 Iowa State W 94-89
This Week: 1/13 vs TCU, 1/16 at Texas Tech
Baylor checks in at #4 in our Power Rankings after a big win over 13th-ranked Iowa State in Ames. The Bears have successfully rebounded from their 28-point loss at Kansas with a blowout victory over Oklahoma State and the upset win over ISU. After bouncing in and out of the top 25, Baylor made a statement that they can hang with the league's top teams through their performance in Ames. Double-double machine Rico Gathers led the charge for the Bears this week, highlighted by a 17-point, 17-rebound effort against the Cowboys. Also the team's leading rebounder, Gathers is one of four Bears knocking in double-digit point totals each night. Taurean Prince is lighting up the scoreboard with over 16 points per game in league play. BU will face another tough test on Saturday as they travel to Lubbock.
#5 Iowa State Cyclones: 12-3 (1-2), #17 in AP Poll
Last Week: at #3 Oklahoma L 87-83, vs Texas Tech W 76-69, vs Baylor L 94-89
This Week: 1/12 at Texas, 1/16 at Kansas State
Iowa State has dropped two of their first three Big 12 games after starting the year 11-1. The Cyclones nearly snagged a big road win in Norman before returning home to hold off Texas Tech. The biggest surprise this season came in Ames on Saturday as Baylor knocked off Iowa State. As maybe the second best scorer in the Big 12 behind Hield, Georges Niang is putting together a career year of his own. The senior forward leads the Cyclones with 19.4 points per game, including an average of nearly 22 per game so far in league play. Niang and his fellow Cyclones have been forced to fill the scoring void left by Naz Long's departure following a back injury. First year head coach Steve Prohm will rely on that scoring as the Cyclones look to avoid a disastrous start to league play on the road this week.
#6 Texas Tech Red Raiders: 11-3 (1-2), RV in AP Poll
Last Week: vs Texas W 82-74, at #13 Iowa State L 76-69, vs #1 Kansas L 69-59
This Week: 1/12 at Kansas State, 1/16 vs #22 Baylor
Texas Tech is arguably the most-improved team in the Big 12 this season. After finishing 13-19 a year ago, the Red Raiders are off to an 11-3 start to the season. Tech's only three losses have each come by 10 points or less, at the hands of #16 Utah, #13 Iowa State, and #1 Kansas. Senior guard Devaugntah Williams' 23-point outburst last week helped the Red Raiders to a home win over Texas. Williams continues to be the leading scorer on this year's team with 14.0 points per game. Toddrick Gotcher and Norense Odiase are each contributing significantly as well. Tubby Smith's recruiting successes have started to translate to on-the-court victories, and the Red Raiders look like they're going to compete in league play this season. Tech can take another big step forward this week with wins over Kansas State and/or Baylor.
#7 Oklahoma State Cowboys: 9-6 (1-2)
Last Week: vs TCU W 69-48, at Baylor L 79-62, at #17 West Virginia L 77-60
This Week: 1/13 vs #2 Oklahoma, 1/16 at Texas
There isn't much separation between the bottom four teams in the Big 12. Oklahoma State gets the nod at #7 with their dominating win over TCU earlier this month. Following the Pokes' 21-point victory over the Frogs, the team dropped difficult road contests at Baylor and West Virginia. The Cowboys continue to struggle offensively without Phil Forte, and with his odds of returning this season diminishing by the day, OSU will have to figure out how to score consistently. Jeff Newberry has been a bright spot for Oklahoma State during league play, as he is averaging 15.0 points per game. Jawun Evans has rounded into form as well and is now averaging 11.9 points and 5.4 rebounds this season. Things don't get any easier for the Pokes this week as they host #2 Oklahoma before traveling to Austin to face the Longhorns.
#8 TCU Horned Frogs: 9-6 (1-2)
Last Week: at Oklahoma State L 69-49, vs #17 West Virginia L 95-87, vs Texas W 58-57
This Week: 1/13 at #22 Baylor, 1/16 at #1 Kansas
The Horned Frogs come in at #8 in our inaugural Big 12 Power Rankings. The Frogs picked up a huge win over Texas on Saturday to avoid their fourth straight 0-3 start in league play. Prior to the victory, TCU stayed within striking distance of 17th-ranked West Virginia. The Frogs have benefitted from the return of Chris Washburn, now back in the starting lineup after missing the first 11 games of the year due to a broken finger. Washburn knocked in 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and secured the game-winning block in TCU's win over Texas on Saturday. Chauncey Collins has been another bright spot, as he is averaging nearly 13 points per game in league play. The Frogs have a brutally tough week ahead with road contests against Baylor and Kansas.
#9 Texas Longhorns: 9-6 (1-2)
Last Week: at Texas Tech L 82-74, vs Kansas State W 60-57, at TCU L 58-57
This Week: 1/12 vs #17 Iowa State, 1/16 vs Oklahoma State
Realistically, one could slot the bottom four Big 12 teams in any order and it would sound legitimate. By virtue of their loss to TCU and win over Kansas State, the Longhorns fall to the #9 spot. UT has really struggled since Cameron Ridley was sidelined with a fractured foot. Before Ridley's injury, Texas was 8-3 and outscoring their opponents by an average of 76.9-67.9. However, since Ridley's departure, the ‘Horns are 1-3 and have been outscored 67.0-64.3. Isaiah Taylor and Javan Felix have been the only consistent scorers in that span, as the duo have combined to score 108 of Texas' 191 points in Big 12 play. First year head coach Shaka Smart is faced with more questions than answers as the 1-2 Longhorns host Iowa State and Oklahoma State this week.
#10 Kansas State Wildcats: 10-5 (0-3)
Last Week: vs #19 West Virginia L 87-83 (2OT), at Texas L 60-57, at #2 Oklahoma L 86-76
This Week: 1/12 vs Texas Tech, 1/16 vs #17 Iowa State
Kansas State enters our Power Rankings at #10, but only because of a slight technicality. The Wildcats are the league's lone 0-3 team, however K-State has far exceeded expectations during the first week and a half of Big 12 play. KSU opened the year with a narrow double overtime loss to #19 West Virginia before a game-tying buzzer-beater fell short in Austin. On Saturday, Kansas State stayed within striking distance of #2 Oklahoma for much of the second half. Wesley Iwundu and Justin Edwards have been consistent performers for Bruce Weber's squad so far this season. One surprise has been the performance of Dean Wade - the true freshman is averaging 11.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in Big 12 play. K-State will have two chances to pick up their first league win of the year as both Texas Tech and Iowa State pay a visit to the Octagon of Doom.