January 24, 2008

Fritch's Big 12 Tour: Rising powers

Kansas remains one of only two unbeatens this season, but the Jayhawks have company in the Big 12. No. 25 Baylor and fast-rising Kansas State enter this weekend unblemished in league play as well. Meanwhile, when will No. 12 Texas earn a convincing league win? And what happened to No. 18 Texas A&M? And when will Nebraska get its first league victory? D. Scott Fritchen reveals his power rankings heading into this weekend's action.

Big 12 Power Rankings > > >

A look at the Big 12 teams heading into Saturday.





(19-0, 4-0)
Streak: Won 19

We'll go ahead and pencil-in the No. 2 Jayhawks with a win against the Huskers. Kansas is tied for its third best start in school history and has won its last eight against Nebraska. Two unbeatens in the Big 12 could take the court Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum, where the Jayhawks have never lost. Kansas has shot at least 50 percent in nine of its last 11 games and Darnell Jackson (21 pts, 11 reb against Iowa State) continues to heat up.

Coming up: Nebraska, at Kansas State, at Colorado, Missouri, Baylor, at Texas


(16-2, 4-0)
Streak: Won 5

The No. 25 Bears get Oklahoma at home and are off to their best start in 62 years. Behind a career-high 36 points from Curtis Jerrells, Baylor did some major damage to struggling Texas A&M in the first 5-OT game in Big 12 history, snapping a 29-game losing streak to ranked teams. Scott Drew has used the same starting lineup in all 18 games for the Bears, who are 6-0 when trailing at the half. They have lost 20 straight to Texas, but no streak seems safe against this squad.

Coming up: Oklahoma, at Texas, Texas Tech, at Kansas, at Oklahoma State, Texas


Kansas State
(13-4, 3-0)
Streak: Won 4

The No. 5-ranked one-two scoring punch in the NCAA in freshmen Michael Beasley and Bill Walker (40.8 ppg) has led the Wildcats to their best league start in 20 seasons. They followed up their best game of the season in a 21-point win against No. 10 Texas A&M with a sluggish road game at Colorado. And it still resulted in a 16-point victory. K-State won't say it publicly, but who wouldn't lick their chops at the prospect of facing in-state rival Kansas with the possibility of snapping a home series losing streak that has spanned four Presidential administrations? This quick-maturing young bunch could have the tools.

Coming up: Iowa State, Kansas, at Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech


(15-3, 2-1)
Streak: Won 2

The No. 12 Longhorns had to climb out of a double-digit hole to beat Colorado by two points, then saw their own double-digit lead evaporate before they held on for a 63-61 win at Oklahoma State. D.J. Augustin continues to be one of the most exciting players in the league (he had 26 points against the Cowboys) for Texas, which faces all three of its in-state foes in a row. The Longhorns have bounced back since a Big 12-opening 98-84 loss at Missouri, their first loss to the Tigers since 1999, but still seek their first convincing win of the league season. They are 70-4 against unranked opponents at home under Rick Barnes.

Coming up: Texas Tech, at Texas A&M, Baylor, at Oklahoma, at Iowa State, Kansas


Texas Tech
(11-7, 2-2)
Streak: Won 1

Martin Zeno had a career-high 33 points in a 92-84 win against Missouri and has averaged 22.0 points in his last six games and the Red Raiders bounced back nicely from a two-point loss at Oklahoma. Still, a 19-point loss at Oklahoma State to open the Big 12 stung and Texas Tech, winless on the road in the league, faces two toughies on the road in No. 12 Texas and impressive No. 25 Baylor. The Red Raiders have lost their last five against the Longhorns.

Coming up: at Texas, Oklahoma State, at Baylor, at Nebraska, Kansas State, Oklahoma


Iowa State
(12-7, 2-2)
Streak: Lost 1

Sophomore forward Wesley Johnson followed up a career-high 24-point performance against Oklahoma State with 21 against No. 2 Kansas but the Cyclones were walloped early in a 24-point loss to the Jayhawks. Iowa State had reached 70 points in eight of the last 10 games but fell twice when unable to do so, including a 74-67 loss at Baylor to start the Big 12. The Cyclones, who topped Missouri by five and Oklahoma State by seven, will seek just their second true road victory this season at Kansas State. They must shoot better from the floor than they did at Kansas (31.1 percent) to make it competitive.

Coming up: at Kansas State, Colorado, at Nebraska, Texas A&M, Texas, at Oklahoma


(13-5, 1-2)
Streak: Won 1

Coming off a seven-day break since it outlasted Texas Tech by two points, Oklahoma will need to be well-rested in visiting Baylor. With injured freshman Blake Griffin on the bench, forward Taylor Griffin had 16 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double against the Red Raiders. Oklahoma is shooting its second-highest percentage from the floor (47.2) in 19 years but must stiffen in scoring defense as it's giving up 76.6 points in the Big 12. Stopping the hot No. 25 Bears would be ideal to start a challenging four-game stretch.

Coming up: at Baylor, Oklahoma State, at Texas A&M, Texas, at Colorado, Iowa State


Texas A&M
(15-4, 1-3)
Streak: Lost 3

Question to Mark Turgeon: What happened? If back-to-back losses at Texas Tech and Kansas State were daggers, dropping an exhaustive, 5-OT thriller to No. 25 Baylor was like sticking the heads of the 18th-ranked emotionally-drained Aggies in a guillotine, ending a string of 15 straight home wins. Bryan Davis had a career-high 30 points in the loss for the Aggies, who will look for their first true road win of the season at Oklahoma State. Their stock dropping mightily, the Aggies are badly in need of a lift.

Coming up: at Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma, at Iowa State, at Missouri, Oklahoma State


Oklahoma State
(10-8, 1-3)
Streak: Lost 3

It's not that the Cowboys aren't competitive, they just can't seal the deal. Since thumping Texas Tech by 19, they have lost three straight by single digits and will try to avoid their worst league start since 1995-96 when they face angry No. 18 Texas A&M. The good news? Oklahoma State is 9-1 at home. The bad news? This thing isn't looking any easier. Freshman guard James Anderson scored 17 in a two-point loss at home to Texas and entered the week eighth in the league in scoring (15.6 points), but Sean Sutton must bring his guys back to life.

Coming up: Texas A&M, at Oklahoma, at Texas Tech, Colorado, at Kansas State, Baylor


(11-8, 1-3)
Streak: Lost 3

Go figure. Missouri opens the Big 12 with a huge win against Texas then loses its next three, including an eight-point loss at Texas Tech. Now the Tigers, who have lost their last five on the road, travel for a big game at Colorado. Road games won't be kind to the Tigers this season (they also travel to Kansas, Nebraska, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma) so beating teams like Nebraska at home (Jan. 30) will be critical to have a shot at hovering around .500.

Coming up: at Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas State, at Kansas, Texas A&M, at Nebraska


(9-9, 1-3)
Streak: Lost 2

Richard Roby scored 27 points in a loss to Kansas State, but the Buffaloes need to find the basket more in averaging just 61.8 points in the Big 12 - 11th in the league. Although few points were enough to put away Nebraska 55-51, other opponents won't be so kind. Colorado has won four of its last five at home against Missouri but gets no favors in taking on the two Oklahoma schools and facing No. 2 Kansas twice in four outings.

Coming up: Missouri, at Iowa State, Kansas, at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, at Kansas


(11-5, 0-3)
Streak: Lost 3

Hey, somebody has to be ranked 12th and although the Huskers have 11 wins, none have been against the Big 12. It's been a week since Nebraska suffered a two-point home loss to Baylor. Welcome back: No. 2 Kansas has won eight straight over the Big Red. Welcome back, part 2: Three of the next four are on the road. Unfortunately, it could be mid-February before this team gets its first Big 12 win.

Coming up: at Kansas, at Missouri, Iowa State, at Kansas State, Texas Tech, Missouri

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