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Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 23 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.    

February 2010

Sunday, February 28

 

Women' s basketball final week frenetic
No. 3 Nebraska has clinched the Big 12 women's title but there's plenty of drama remaining going into the last week of the regular season.

Iowa State and Oklahoma are tied for second with 10-4 records. Baylor, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas are in a four-way tie for third with 8-6 records. It's unlikely to happen but it would be possible for five of those six teams to wind up tied for second place with 10-6 records.

The top four teams in the standings earn first-round byes in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship. Assuming the Cyclones and the Sooners can remain in the top three, that means four teams will be battling for that final bye.

Here are the remaining games for the six teams:

Baylor: at Texas Tech Wednesday, Texas Sunday.

Iowa State: at Oklahoma State Wednesday, Colorado Saturday.

Oklahoma: at Texas A&M Tuesday, Oklahoma State Sunday.

Oklahoma State: Iowa State Wednesday, at Oklahoma Sunday.

Texas: Missouri Wednesday, at Baylor Sunday.

Texas A&M: Oklahoma Tuesday, at Kansas Saturday.

Reeling Longhorns leave their coach baffled
Texas coach Rick Barnes, who is 55, still has a full head of hair. That's surprising considering by this time in the Longhorns suddenly sad season, one would think his hair would have fallen out from the stress or he would have pulled it out himself.

Since starting the season 17-0 and spending a week at No. 1, Texas has been in a free fall. Every slight bit of progress (a blow out of Nebraska, a win over Oklahoma State) has been countered by staggering reversals of fortune. Saturday at Texas A&M, the Longhorns scored a season-low 58 points, they were pounded on the boards (40-29) and gave a record Reed Arena crowd plenty to crow about at Dixie Chicken.

Texas, a team with depth and talent, is playing like it has never practiced. Cohesion is lacking on offense and consistency is missing on defense. Too many times over the last dozen games, the Longhorns have gone into the final minutes frantically trying to press and scramble from behind.

Oklahoma (13-15 overall, 4-10 in the Big 12) visits the Erwin Center at 8 p.m. Monday. Not exactly the Big Monday ESPN programmers hoped for. The Sooners have lost six in a row, the Longhorns are 5-7 in their last 12. Texas has two more games to try and fix what appears to be unfixable.

"It's hard because it's my team," Barnes said after Saturday's game. "There is nobody to blame but me. I should say it's our team (but) I'm in charge of it. It's probably, for whatever reason, as poor a coaching job as I've ever done. I haven't gotten the message across consistently."

Barnes has been and will continue to get a lot of heat on the criticism front. He's enduring what UT football coach Mack Brown did before the Longhorns won the national championship in 2005.

And speaking of national titles, Barnes is quoted in an upcoming story in ESPN The Magazine as saying he would rather develop players for the NBA than win a championship. The statement is misleading and needs clarification. 

Barnes explained it this way to Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman: If you do it, national championships take care of themselves. We want to help (players) grow in every area, and if we do that, they will get to the point they help us win a national championship."

Few figured it at the time, but when Varez Ward ruptured a quadriceps tendon in the pre-game layup line in Game 4, the Longhorns were in trouble. Sure, they won 14 more games without Ward, the sophomore who had become the starting point guard. Sure, other teams (Texas A&M and Oklahoma State, for instance) have overcome losing starters. Sure, Texas should be better than  8-6 in the Big 12 standings.

"I'm disappointed," Barnes said. "I'm embarrassed, to be honest. We are better than we are playing. I can tell you I'm not going to quit trying, because I do think we can put some things together and do what we think can get done.

"I have been saying that for a while, but time is running out. We can be better, we just need somebody to flip the switch."

The calendar has flipped to March. Time's running out. Texas needs to find the switch. And prove they can flip it if they find it.

Oklahoma State coach credits crowd's help in upset of Kansas
It was officially a sellout at Gallagher-Iba Arena, a holler house that has had some empty seats this season. But with top-ranked Kansas in town, GIA was rockin' and helped Oklahoma State pull off an 85-77 upset.

"It was great," said Cowboys coach Travis Ford, who delivered pizzas Friday night to students camped out in some 25 tents. "We went out there and hung out with them, took them pizzas and just talking to them. You could feel it, just talking to them, what a big game this was and what it meant to the students who were camping out.

"And then to walk into a packed house and it got as loud as I've ever been in an arena - anywhere. And I've been in some loud ones as a coach and a player and I've never been in an atmosphere as loud as it was in our arena today on a couple of occasions."  

Oklahoma State shot over 60 percent and out-rebounded the taller Jayhawks. Ford had no problems connecting his team's performance to the crowd's energy.

"It makes the biggest different in the world for our team," he said. "It is a huge, huge lift. It gives our team confidence. It gives our team adrenaline. There's no question it's one of the top atmospheres in college basketball when it's like that."

Saturday, February 27

For the defense, Gary Blair
After his team's 95-61 victory at Colorado Saturday, Texas A&M coach Gary Blair spent part of his post-game press conference defending Buffs' coach Kathy McConnell-Miller. Blair said he was unhappy a story in Saturday's Boulder Daily Camera questioned the CU program's progress under McConnell-Miller.

"I want you Colorado writers and media to start thinking that Nebraska was 15-16 last year, and look at what they are doing now," Blair said. "It takes time, in this league, to build a program. Kathy is going to get it done.

"That (article) wasn't quite fair to the coach. She is class. She cares and she is developing her team. Give her some patience, instead of writing her off into the sunset. She will get the job done, I will guarantee you that."

McConnell-Miller is 65-85 at CU, including a 20-58 mark in Big 12 play. She is under contract through 2012-13.

Notes and more opinions from Saturday
* After the upset of No. 1 Kansas, the students at Gallagher-Iba Arena stormed the court. Sophomore guard Keiton Page, all 5-foot-9, 170 pounds of him, was nearly swallowed up before the exuberant fans hoisted him on their shoulders. "That was a great feeling," said Page, who scored 15 points and made all four of his 3-point attempts. "I was claustrophobic. I was getting hot, so when they picked me up, I got a little breather. I was pretty excited when they did that. I thought I was going to pass out there for a little while."

* It was a man's game in the Octagon Of Doom Saturday night. No. 6 Kansas State overcame a miserable shooting night to hold off Missouri, 63-53. Both teams crashed the boards with abandon and the defense was just short of misdemeanors. It was the kind of atmosphere and competition that will get both teams ready for the NCAA Tournament.

* Interesting factoid with which you can amaze your friends: With Kansas and Kentucky losing Saturday, it marks the first time No. 1 and No. 2 have lost on the same day in the regular season since Jan. 21, 2006, when No. 1 Duke lost at Georgetown and No. 2 Florida lost at Tennessee.

* Oklahoma State beat a No. 1 team for the first time since knocking off rival Oklahoma on Feb. 4, 1989. This season the Cowboys also recorded their first road victory over a top 10 team (Kansas State) for the first time in 52 years. Anyone who still questions if Travis Ford was the right coach at Oklahoma State, please stop following college basketball and start following curling.

* With Kansas (13-1) and Kansas State (10-3) now battling to see who can finish first in the standings, the next five teams are jumbled into quite a race. Baylor, Missouri and Texas A&M are all 9-5 in the Conference while Texas and Oklahoma State are both 8-6. The top four teams in the standings receive first-round byes in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship. Two of those teams will be the Jayhawks and the Wildcats. The other five teams have a week to sort out who the other two will be.

* Oklahoma's Nyeshia Stevenson made a career-high 11 field goals on 13 attempts and scored 28 points.  Stevenson was 6-of-8 from 3-point range. In Wednesday night's loss to No 3 Nebraska in Norman, Stevenson was 2-of-12 from the field and 1-of-4 on 3-pointers.

* During Oklahoma's six-game losing streak, opponents are averaging 80.0 points while shooting .507 from the field and .500 from the 3-point range (47-94). In Saturday's victory in Norman, Baylor shot .511 from the field and .500 from behind the arc (7-for-14).

Numbers game
1: Rebound for Texas' Damion James against Texas A&M Saturday.

3: Turnovers in the second half and two five-minute overtime periods by Nebraska. The Huskers had 13 turnovers in the game.

4-0: Nebraska's record in multiple overtime games in the Devaney Center.

5: Consecutive 20-win season for Texas A&M's women's team.

21: Consecutive losses to ranked teams by Colorado's women's team.

22: Double digit victories for Nebraska's women, who have won 27 games.

27-3: Kansas' record in its last 30 Big 12 games.

49: Combined miss shots on 64 attempts in the first half of the Missouri-Kansas State game. That's a combined 23.4 shooting percentage.

54: Blocks for Kansas State's Curtis Kelly. He needs six more to set the school single-season record.

58: Points for Texas, its lowest scoring output of the season.

60.4: Oklahoma State's shooting percentage against Kansas. The last time the Cowboys shot that well was a 63.8 percent effort on Jan. 2, 2007.

255: Career 3-pointers for Colorado senior Bianca Smith, the most in school history.

13,595: The school-record attendance at the Devaney Center for Saturday night's Nebraska women's game with Missouri. It was the first time a women's game was sold out.

13,717: The attendance at Texas A&M, a record for Reed Arena. It broke the record of 13,657 set on Feb. 15 for the Kansas game.

A tie at the top would mean draw for top seed
Kansas' loss to Oklahoma State set up an interesting situation regarding the top seed for the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship. The Jayhawks' loss gives them a 13-1 league record. Kansas State, if it wins its last three Big 12 games, can tie Kansas for first place if the Jayhawks lose twice.

If it winds up Kansas and Kansas State are tied with 13-3 records, none of the applicable tiebreakers will decide the No. 1 seed because the teams will have lost to the exact same opponents. The top seed would then be determined by a draw.

Basketball thoughts and opinions
*
Kansas' loss to Oklahoma State set up an interesting situation regarding the top seed for the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship. The loss gives the Jayhawks a 13-1 league record. Kansas State, if it wins its last two Big 12 games, can tie Kansas for first place assuming the Jayhawks lose twice. If it winds up Kansas and Kansas State tied with 13-3 records, none of the applicable tie breakers will decide the No. 1 seed so a drawing will be held to determine the top seed.

* Nebraska's 83-79 double overtime victory over visiting Texas Tech was a gut wrencher for the Red Raiders. Texas Tech is 16-12 overall, 4-10 in the Big 12 with five-game losing streak. Coach Pat Knight hopes that his team, which couldn't hold a 14-point lead late in the first half, will earn a bid in the 32-team National Invitation Tournament. A victory at Nebraska would have been a huge boost.

* File Oklahoma State's upset of top-ranked Kansas in the Erase All Doubt category. The Cowboys entered Saturday's game in Stillwater on the good side of the NCAA Tournament bubble but the victory over the Jayhawks probably assured Oklahoma State a place in the 65-team field.

* ESPN likes to tout its "rivalry week" when it matches teams that have a long-standing tradition of playing. Kansas will stage its own version of rivalry week when it plays host to in-state rival Kansas State Wednesday night and closes the regular season at border rival Missouri next Saturday.

* Kansas' upset loss at Oklahoma State Saturday leaves the KU program with 1,997 victories. Had the Jayhawks won at Stillwater and won both of its final regular-season games, the 2,000th victory in school history would have taken place at Missouri. Now, it appears the Jayhawks won't get to 2K victories until the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship.

Other opinions
*
Big 12 Network analyst Jon Sundvold said Saturday he thinks Kansas' loss at Oklahoma State is "good for the Big 12." It was the Jayhawks' first loss and means they won't go undefeated in Conference play. Sundvold's reasoning is that it makes the league look stronger when a team can't finish undefeated and win the title.

* National writers Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com and Jeff Goodman FoxSports.com both say that despite Kansas losing at Oklahoma State, the Jayhawks should remain ranked No. 1. (No. 2 Kentucky lost at Tennessee Saturday.) Both writers point out that Kansas has eight victories over teams projected to be in the NCAA Tournament.

* ESPN analyst Jimmy Dykes, who is one of the best at breaking down the game for the average viewer while not insulting hoop heads, had this to say about Oklahoma State's victory over Kansas. "I think James Anderson not only secured Oklahoma State in the NCAA Tournament, I think he locked up Big 12 player of the year."

Texas' J'Covan Brown suffers neck strain
Near the end of Saturday's Texas-Texas A&M game in College Station, Longhorns' freshman J'Covan Brown collided with the Aggies' B. J. Holmes during a drive in the lane. Brown hit his head and had to be carried off on a stretcher.

Here is the official statement from Texas athletic trainer Eric Fry that was issued Saturday night:

"J'Covan suffered a neck strain during the game earlier today. He was transported after the game to a hospital in College Station, where he was evaluated and later released. J'Covan will return to our athletic training room in the morning for another evaluation by our medical staff. His status now is listed as day-to-day."

Friday, February 26

News, notes and opinions
*
Rick Harman, one of 10 men's basketball players to earn All-American honors at Kansas State, has died. He was 82. A native of Hoisington, Kans., Harman was a four-year letterman who was the top player on two conference winners and heped the Wildcats make their first Final Four trip in 1948. As a senior in 1949-50, he was named a first-team All-American by The Sporting News.

* Texas started spring practice Friday and there will be some special visitors in Austin this week to observe the work outs. Boise State coach Chris Patterson and his assistants will be swapping thoughts and ideas with the UT staff. It's a common practice in college football for staffs to observe (by invitation) other teams in action. Texas coach Mack Brown hopes to find out how to spice up its offense. "I've not been happy with our trick plays," Brown said. "Of course, it's hard to have trick plays with the spread offense. Chris Petersen and Boise have done the best job with it. I want us to have more innovations."

* Baylor opened Big 12 play with a 91-60 romp over Oklahoma in Waco on Jan. 9. That ended the Bears' 30-game losing streak to the Sooners. Saturday in Norman, Baylor tries to end another streak. The Bears have lost their last 14 visits to Lloyd Noble Center; their last victory on OU's court came on Dec. 6, 1977.

* Texas Tech coach Pat Knight said this week that a spot in the National Invitation Tournament would be a sign of progress. The Red Raiders are 16-11 overall but 4-9 in the Big 12 Conference. They've lost four in a row and close the season at Nebraska Saturday, at home against Baylor and at Colorado. "I can't sit here and dwell on this game (Kansas State) with Nebraska, who we haven't beaten in three years, coming up," Knight said after Tuesday's 83-64 loss to No. 6 Kansas State. "We've got to go on to the next one."

* Texas might have its troubles playing as a team on the court but off the court the Longhorns appear to have each other's backs - particularly when it comes to uniform numbers. Junior forward Gary Johnson, who has worn No. 1 since his first game at UT, announced that he would switch to No. 4. That was the number worn by guard Dogus Balbay, whose season ended with a knee injury last Saturday. Earlier this season when sophomore Varez Ward ruptured his right quadriceps tendon, freshman J'Covan Brown switched from his No. 14 to Ward's No. 50.

* Texas senior forward Kristen Nash has been granted an extra year of eligibility and will return for the Longhorns next season. Nash, who will graduate in May, received a medical redshirt for her 2006-07 season, when she suffered a season-ending stress fracture on her foot.  She and her younger sister Kathleen will be seniors next season.

Friday linkage
Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star writes about the tough choice involving Big 12 men's player of the year. The paper is conducting a fan poll on its web site; as of mid-day Friday, Kansas State's Jacob Pullen was the leader with 31 percent of the vote (62 people had voted).

Along those lines, Eric Sorrentino of the Lawrence Journal World selects his all-conference first team.

Folks in the Sunflower State are starting to dream about a Final Four that includes Kansas and Kansas State.

Tyler Hansen, Colorado's presumptive starter at quarterback, hopes to become more of a vocal leader during spring practice.

Thursday, February 25

Big 12 players dominate 2 mock drafts
The NFL Draft is less than two months away but the NFL Combine is well underway in Indianapolis. That means the draft-nicks are busy speculating and projecting the first-round selections.

The Sporting News projects eight players from Big 12 Conference schools in the first round (ahead of seven from the Atlantic Coast Conference). Here are the Big 12 products TSN is projecting: 1, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh; 3, Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy; 4, Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford; 6, Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung; 9, Oklahoma OT Trent Williams; 10, Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant; 16, Texas LB/DE Sergio Kindle; 32, Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon.

SI.com is even more enamored with the Big 12 as it projects 10 players selected among the first 32 (it has no other conference with more than four). Here's what SI.Com predicts: 1, Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy; 2, Nebraska DT Ndamakong Suh; 4, Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford; 5, Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung; 9, Oklahoma OT Trent Williams; 10, Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant; 12, Texas DE/LB Sergio Kindle; 13, Texas S Earl Thomas; 21, Oklahoma TE Jermaine Gresham; 26, Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon.

SI.com projects eight of the first 13 selections to come from Big 12 schools while TSN projects six of the top 10 picks to be Big 12 products.

Big 12 spring football schedule
Believe it or not spring football starts at Texas Friday. The Longhorns are the only Big 12 school to start spring practice in February. The other 11 schools will start up at various times in March. Here's the schedule of start dates and spring games (Note: Baylor will holt a spring scrimmage instead of a spring game.)

School  Starts  Spring game
Baylor  March 15  April 10
Colorado  March 6  April 10
Iowa State  March 23  April 17
Kansas  March 27  April 24
Kansas State  March 21  April 24
Missouri  March 9  April 17
Nebraska  March 24  April 17
Oklahoma  March 8  April 17
Oklahoma State  March 8  April 17
Texas  Feb. 26  April 4
Texas A&M  March 23  April 17
Texas Tech  March 20  April 17

Basketball thoughts and opinions
*
Kansas State has won six consecutive road games in a conference with the nation's best RPI. The Wildcats' six consecutive victories away from Manhattan is a major reason why they're in contention for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Junior guard Jacob Pullen offers a reason for the road success: "If you're McDonald's, you don't want Wendy's selling more. We've got to make sure we stay in front. We handle stuff like a business, like a corporation, all these road trips."

* Your Humble Correspondent was tracking the Oklahoma State-Texas game on line while he was reporting from the Nebraska-Oklahoma women's game. YHC saw the name Jarred Shaw involved in the Cowboys play by play. Who? Apologies to Shaw and his family, but YHC had not observed Shaw (who averages less than 4 minutes a game)  playing for OSU this season. Upon further review, it was revealed that Oklahoma State was without its best inside player, Matt Pilgrim. He was suspended for violating unspecified team rules.

* Kudos to Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford and Nebraska coach Doc Sadler. Ford suspended Pilgrim for the Texas game while Sadler suspended freshman guard Eshaunte Jones and junior forward Quincy Hankins-Cole, two players who see significant time for the Huskers. Oklahoma State and Nebraska both lost road games Wednesday night. Either coach might have decided to punish the players in ways that might have allowed them to play. Neither coach took the easy way out. Good for them.

* YHC agrees with Mike Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram who wonders how much better Texas would be if sophomore point guard Varez Ward had not been lost for the season after playing three games.

* YHC was wondering how Mario Little was doing as he sits out this season at Kansas as a redshirt. Well, wouldn't you know it? The Lawrence Journal World had a story Thursday about Little's season as a practice player and observer from the bench.

* Oklahoma's women's basketball team has lost eight games, all to ranked teams - No. 1 Connecticut, No. 3 Nebraska, No. 4 Tennessee, No. 7 Notre Dame, No. 14 Texas, No. 15 Iowa State, No. 17 Baylor and No. 24 Georgia. The Sooners has three regular-season games remaining - Texas, No. 12 Texas A&M and No. 23 Oklahoma State.

* In seven Big 12 road games, No. 3 Nebraska has limited its foes to 18 3-pointers in 90 attempts (20 percent). In the Cornhuskers other 19 games, their opponents are shooting 38.6 percent on 3-pointers. Clamping down on defense is the best way to go 7-0 on the road, win the regular-season title and go 13-0 in conference games.

* Oklahoma State coach Kurt Budke on the Cowgirls' 73-72 overtime defeat of No. 14 Texas in Stillwater Wednesday night that ended a five-game losing streak: "This is one of the better (wins) considering the slide we were in, down 14; this is one we'll remember for a long time. We didn't beat a bad team, we beat Texas."

Missouri's Safford suffers torn ACL
Missouri's Justin Safford, a junior starting forward, suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the first half of the Tigers' 92-63 victory over Colorado Wednesday night.

Safford might be able to play again this season. Coach Mike Anderson, appearing on a Kansas City radio station Thursday morning, said, "We'll reevaluate it in the next week and then we'll make a determination of what's going to take place. We know eventually he's going to have to have surgery."

Safford, a 6-8, 230-pounder, is averaging 8.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He has started 23 of the Tigers' 28 games.

Wednesday, February 24

Texas likes its place in the Big 12
The University of Texas likes its position in the Big 12 Conference and has not talked with the Big Ten about its expansion plans, athletic director DeLoss Dodds said Wednesday.

Dodds spoke with The Associated Press on Wednesday after recent speculation that the Longhorns program could be courted by the Big Ten, which is considering expanding.

Dodds said Texas would be a natural target for any league because of the school's strong academics, athletics and the power to draw a large television audience. But Texas and the Big 12 are good for each other, Dodds said, adding "It's working. I like it."

The Big Ten announced in December it would explore options for expansion to add a 12th school. The Big Ten also looked at expansion in 1993, 1998 and 2003. Penn State was the last team to join in 1990, and Notre Dame rejected an offer in 1999.

Earlier this month, speculation on possible targets focused on Texas, which has one of the wealthiest athletic programs in the country and is a major research university with a huge alumni base surrounded by some of the larger television markets in the nation.

"We're always going to be looked at. I don't think that's a bad thing. That's a good thing," Dodds said.

He said there have been no talks between the Texas and the Big Ten. He said the Big 12 has been a good fit for the Longhorns since the conference started in 1996 with the members of the old Big Eight and four members of the old Southwest Conference.

"I think it's been a great conference for us and we've been good for the conference. Before the [Big 12], we were struggling with recruiting and struggling with all kinds of things. The Big 12 has brought us stability, kept Texas kids in Texas," he said.

"All the sports have been good to us. We've built up some good rivalries. It's been good for us," Dodds said.

Even if another school were to leave the Big 12, Dodds said he believes the remaining members would try to keep the conference intact by finding a replacement instead of seeing a domino effect of schools bolting for other leagues.

"I don't know who that would be," Dodds said.

If the league has a problem, it's that the Big 12 is not as old as the Big Ten or the Southeastern Conference, Dodds said.

"People around the country kind of pick on us because we don't have 'tradition.' I don't think we need that. I think we're pretty darn good. You don't have to be 100 years old to be good," Dodds said.

The Big 12 does not have the lucrative TV deals the Big Ten and SEC do, but its day will come, Dodds said. The league's contracts with ABC/ESPN and Fox Sports Net will be up for renewal in 2015.

"That's the year we've got the leverage," Dodds said. "It will be the Big 12's turn."

Big Monday start times
Your Humble Correspondent notes plenty of angst and a few web sites in Big 12-land concerning the unintentional blackouts that effect ESPN's Big Monday telecasts.

If you're familiar with the Monday schedule on ESPN, Big Monday starts with a Big East Conference game at 6 p.m. CT followed by a Big 12 Conference game at 8 p.m. CT. And if you're a fan of sitting down at 8 p.m. on Monday to watch a Big 12 game, you no doubt are familiar with the ending of several Big East games.

Just as a for instance: Monday night, the last five minutes on the game clock for West Virginia-Connecticut took 17 minutes, 16 seconds in real time. ESPN joined the Oklahoma-Kansas game at 8:13 p.m. when the scoreboard was still in single digits.

One web site is soliciting fans to sign a petition: "We, the fans of the Big 12 Conference are tired of missing the first 5 minutes of our game each Monday when Big East Games go late. We either need to delay the start time by 15 minutes or switch the games to ESPN2. The Fans of the Big 12 deserve better."

Your Humble Correspondent is all for power to the people and the voice of the fans. But is missing the first few minutes of ANY game that big a deal? Flip it around: Wouldn't fans be more upset if at 10 p.m. CT ESPN cut away from the Big 12 game because SportsCenter was supposed to start at 10 p.m.? (And no doubt fans of SportsCenter are miffed when games run long and truncate The Show.)

While ESPN is a Big Fat Target, the network isn't to blame. Games don't fit in neat windows. A Big Monday game is assigned a two-hour time slot but it's not like a sitcom with 22 minutes of laugh track and eight minutes of commercials.

ESPN also tries to do what it can. Last Wednesday, the Texas-Missouri game was scheduled to air on ESPN at 8 p.m. When the Notre Dame-Louisville game went double overtime, the network switched viewers in the Missouri and Texas footprint to the Longhorns and the Tigers; fans didn't miss a minute of that game. ESPN has informed the Conference that it will be more diligent in the effort to switch the local markets, especially when a game is a blowout.

The two-hour basketball game, for the most part, has gone the way of the three-hour football game. The networks try to budget three and a half hours for football telecasts but the games often don't cooperate.

In this information age, games can be tracked on the Internet (a viable option, especially when considering it's just the first few minutes of the game). Plus, ESPN's Big Monday games are also available on ESPN360.com, which offers game viewing via the Internet.

Tex Winter inducted into hall of fame
Former Kansas State coach Tex Winter will be one of eight individuals in the fifth class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

Winter coached the Wildcats from 1954-68 and led Kansas State to 261 victories, eight conference titles and two Final Fours.

Winter is considered one of the game's top innovators and is best known for inventing the triangle offense. He helped Phil Jackson use the triangle offense with the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers. Winter, who retired last spring, was an assistant coach on NBA championship teams with the Bulls (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998) and the Lakers (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2009).

The 2010 induction ceremonies will be held on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010, at the College Basketball Experience and the historic Midland Theatre in Kansas City, Mo.

Click. Read. Be informed.
Here's an interesting story by David Briggs of the Columbia Daily Tribune on the rash of ACL injuries in Big 12 women's basketball this season.

Former Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy has found peace coaching at Southern Mississippi according to this story by ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil.

Since switching to a zone defense in Game One of last year's Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Basketball Championship, Baylor has won 27 of its last 35 games.

Oklahoma State freshman guard Fred Gulley has been making an impact with his defense.

Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen was zoned in and scored 28 points to lead the Wildcats past Texas Tech Tuesday night.

Nebraska can clinch women's title at Oklahoma
No. 3 Nebraska can clinch the Big 12 Conference women's regular-season championship with a victory at No. 11 Oklahoma tonight in Norman. However, there are two interesting side stories in play.

The Huskers are 25-0 and can compare themselves to the other undefeated women's team, No. 1 Connecticut. The Huskies played at Oklahoma a week ago Monday and the Sooners threatened the defending national champions into the second half before Connecticut prevailed, 76-60.

Nebraska is trying to become the second women's team to go through Big 12 play undefeated. The Huskers are 12-0 and need four more victories. The other team to go 16-0 in Big 12 play was ... Oklahoma, in 2006.

Sooners coach Sherri Coale made sure her players were aware of the history.

"It's such a hard thing to do," OU's Danielle Robinson told the Oklahoman when asked about a team going undefeated in the Big 12. "They've done a great job going to places, not even playing their best games and still pulling out the victories. ... But on the other hand, we would like to keep it."

Will Nebraska vs. Oklahoma provide a measuring stick for those who want to compare the Huskers to the Huskies?

"I think you'll maybe be able to compare the two, but we are the moving target in the middle there," Coale told the Omaha World-Herald. "Until the two of them are on the floor playing one another, it's really hard to tell. ... I think that'd be a heck of a game - Nebraska vs. Connecticut."

Nebraska's last conference title came in 1988 when it was a member of the old Big Eight Conference. The Huskers' last victory in Norman came in 1998.

Basketball thoughts and opinions
*
Interesting game in Austin tonight when Oklahoma State visits No. 21 Texas. The Longhorns won in Stillwater thanks to a career-high 27 points from Jordan Hamilton. The Cowboys' James Anderson was on his way to a 40-point night until UT put Dogus Balbay on him in the second half. Tonight will be the Longhorns' first game without Balbay, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

* Texas coach Rick Barnes said Monday that he believes a lot of teams are still striving to get maximum effort from players in practices in games. The Longhorns, though, have played with perplexing inconsistency over the last six weeks. "Of course, at this time of year, everybody ... wants to know what you're going to get every night," Barnes said. "That's what we hoped to get. Are we at the point now where we have that? Obviously, the answer is no." And, obviously, that answer needs to change and change quickly.

* Nebraska will play at Iowa State Wednesday night without two players who are in the Huskers' rotation - freshman guard Eshaunte Jones and junior forward Quincy Hankins-Cole. Coach Doc Sadler said both were staying in Lincoln because they did not meet academic requirements. Nebraska is 1-11 in the Big 12 and is playing at Iowa State (2-10). Props to Sadler for making academics a priorty.

* Kansas State has won six consecutive Big 12 road games and its only loss was a cat fight at Missouri in the conference opener. The Wildcats play at Kansas next Wednesday. The Jayhawks, who won in overtime at Manhattan in late January,  have a nation's best 58-game home winning streak. Kansas State would love to end that run. Plus, a victory by the Wildcats would boost K-State's chances of snagging a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

* ESPN.com's Pat Forde in his weekly Forde Minutes column wrote about team chemistry and how Texas is flunking the course. Forde didn't put the blame on Longhorns freshmen Avery Bradley, J'Covan Brown and Jordan Hamilton but he made a compelling argument that the rookie trio might be shooting too much. Forde: "The hardest guy to coach in college basketball might be a five-star recruit with a three-star understanding of the game and a seven-star opinion of himself. The Minutes cannot say for sure that that's the case with the Texas freshmen, but at times you wonder."

* Kansas' Cole Aldrich, the Academic All-American of the Year, is a communications major. Your Humble Correspondent says that means there are three things that Aldrich can do: Post up YHC, block YHC's shot and, in a few years, probably replace YHC.

Monday, February 22

KU's Cole Aldrich named Academic All-American of the Year
Say this for Cole Aldrich: When he sets a goal, he's not content to simply reach that goal.

Coming into this season, Aldrich asked what he needed to do to become an Academic All-American. Not only did he accomplish that goal, he went one better. Monday it was announced that the 6-11 junior has been named ESPN The Magazine CoSIDA Basketball Academic All-American of the Year.

"As I have said one of my goals coming back to Kansas was to succeed academically," Aldrich said in a statement released by Kansas. "Making the academic all-district team and then the All-America team were both special. To be named the Academic All-American of the Year is incredible."

Aldrich is the third Big 12 men's basketball player in the last five years to earn Academic All-America honors and the ninth overall. Last season he was an Academic All-Big 12 Second Team selection.

"This is a young man who came back to school for all of the right reasons," Kansas head coach Bill Self said. "For him to accomplish this just proves how hard he has worked in the classroom. This is an honor he will cherish long after his playing days are through."

Going into Monday night's game with Oklahoma, Aldrich was averaging 11.6 points and 10.1 rebounds while starting all 27 games. He has recorded a school season-record 103 blocks this year, while shooting 55.8 percent from the field.

Big 12's Dru Hancock named to women's committee
Dru Hancock, Big 12 Conference senior associate commissioner, has been named to the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee. She'll start her five-year term on the 10-member committee on Sept. 1.

Big 12 Commissioner Dan Beebe is in his first year as a member of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee.

Typically, new committee members are assigned to "shadow" the committee member they're replacing to become acclimated to the role. Beebe did that last season in preparation for his committee work.

However, because the Big 12 is hosting a women's regional in Kansas City in March, Hancock has been excused from that task. She'll start her educational process at the women's Final Four in San Antonio.

Falling from No. 1
Texas is No. 21 in both polls. If the Longhorns had not held on to beat Texas Tech Saturday, it's possible they would have dropped out of the polls. Inquiring minds want to know: Has a team ever been ranked No. 1 and then fell into the dreaded "also receiving votes" category in the same season?

According to research by Mark Rosner of the Austin American-Statesman and Jim O'Connell, national college basketball writer for The Associated Press, three teams have been No. 1 and then dropped out of the AP rankings in the same season.

Loyola of Chicago was the first, holding the No. 1 ranking for the first five polls of the 1963-64 season. Loyola dropped out on Feb. 11, returned soon and finished at No. 8. Loyola, the defending NCAA champion, lost to Michigan in the second round of the NCAA tournament, which included 25 teams.

In 1965-66, UCLA was ranked No. 1 in the first two polls then was unranked on Dec. 21. Four weeks later, UCLA returned to the rankings for four weeks before dropping out for the rest of the season. The Bruins did not make the NCAA Tournament.

In 1979-80, Indiana topped the polls for the first three weeks, then dropped out on Feb. 12. The Hoosiers returned the next week and finished No. 7. Indiana lost to Purdue in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament (48 teams)

The AP didn't start ranking a top 25 until the 1989-90 season. Prior to that, the wire service either ranked a top 10 or a top 20.

From "Now What?" to "What Next?" for Texas
The last month has been full of losses and bad news for Texas, which a month ago was ranked No. 1. The Longhorns found out Sunday that starting point guard Dogus Balbay will miss the rest of the season.

The junior suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in the first half Saturday at Texas Tech. Balbay had started 22 of 27 games and leads Texas in assists. He was averaging 3.9 assists along with 3.8 points and 3.2 rebounds in 21.5 minutes per game. Balbay had recorded a 106-to-43 (2.5-to-1) assist-to-turnover ratio and ranked third on the team in steals (35).

The Longhorns had five point guards on their roster to start the season and now they're down to three. Sophomore Varez Ward, who started the first three games of the season, went down with a torn quad muscle suffered in pre-game warm ups in November. Texas now has senior Justin Mason, freshman J'Covan Brown and junior Jai Lucas at the point. Freshman Avery Bradley could play some at the point but he appears to be settling in more as a shooting guard.

Quite a few folks think that coach Rick Barnes should turn the team over to Brown. He started against Nebraska on Feb. 13 but then struggled in the Longhorns' loss at Missouri. At Texas Tech Saturday, Barnes started Mason and Brown played five minutes because of his defensive lapses against Missouri.

"You don't have to have a quote unquote point guard," Barnes said after winning in Lubbock. "We have three guards out there, and all of them can handle the ball. ... We're going to play the guys that on a day-to-day basis are going to compete and play as a basketball team."

Barnes says that players decide playing time. Mason played point guard last season but didn't seem comfortable at the position. Lucas has struggled defensively and with his decision making. Someone has to handle the ball and Texas will spend the rest of the regular season trying to solve the problem.

Fire drill
Oklahoma plays at Kansas in ESPN's Big 12 Big Monday game. The Sooners arrived in Lawrence Sunday and were spending the night in a hotel on campus. When the fire alarm went off Sunday night, it would have been easy for the OU traveling party to think that it was a prank designed to mess up a night's sleep for the visiting team.

The smoke in the hallways, though, made it pretty clear that it wasn't a prank.

A fire in the laundry room forced hotel guests to spend time in the lobby before returning to their rooms at about 1 a.m.

"It was exciting, yeah," Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel said. Around midnight, fire alarm started going off, it was relaly, really loud. We were in the lobby for maybe an hour and a half. Initially I thought it was a KU fan. When I played in the ACC and you played on the road, you were never surprised if something like that happened."

Wedding news
Your Humble Correspondent never thought he'd be quoting Page Six of the New York Post but here's a tidbit from the gossip page on former Texas athletes Sonya Richards (track and field) and Aaron Ross (football):

Track star Sanya Richards ran into Bridal Reflections on Fifth Avenue on Friday afternoon for her final fitting for her wedding gown. The Olympic gold medalist is getting hitched to (New York) Giants cornerback Aaron Ross next week in Texas. While trying on her custom-made gown, Richards remarked that she "loves the way the dress shows off her figure" and cooed that "she feels like a princess." Richards also had a camera crew in tow filming her for a WEtv show on over-the-top nuptials, "Platinum Weddings."

Quick hits
*
The Big 12 has five teams with 20 wins or more and seven with 19 victories or better.  Both totals are the most of any conference.  The Big 12 was the first league this season to have every team post a double-digit victory total. 

* The Big 12 has four teams in the top 15, five in the top 25, six in the top 30, seven in the top 40 and eight in the top 50 of the latest RPI.  The eight top 50 teams is the most of any conference.  The Big 12 is ranked as the No. 1 conference in both the RPI and Sagarin Ratings.

* Baylor coach Scott Drew on point guard Tweety Carter's improvement during his senior year. "It began this summer. He worked extremely hard. He wanted to have a great senior year. At the start of the year, he worked on his leadership. If we need assists, that's what he does. If we need points, he does that. He provides the team what we need."

* Missouri coach Mike Anderson thinks his team is starting to become a second-half team: "We're starting to develop more of a rhythm. We lost a lead and a game in the second half against Texas A&M because we stopped playing as a team. The verdict's still out there but you want to be playing your best basketball at this time of year."

* Brenda VanLengen, who is hosting a ground-breaking women's sports talk show on SportsRadioKC.com, is also in the blogosphere. Here's a link to one of her posts, a walk down memory lane in Big 12 women's basketball.

Sunday, February 21

Playing the respect card
It's all well and good when you're Colorado and you're searching for respect. But it turns out that being respected is a lot tougher than winning in the Big 12.

The Buffs had pushed No. 1 Kansas in the last two meetings - on Feb. 3 in Boulder and last season in Lawrence. The Jayhawks were gonna have none of that when Colorado visited Allen Fieldhouse Saturday. The result was a 94-74 Kansas victory that coach Bill Self said should have been a 35-point "knockout."

"I can't speak for them, but I think we had their attention," Buffs coach Jeff Bzdelik said after KU shot 54.7 percent from the field and 45 percent from behind the arc with five different players scoring in double figures. "The last game we played here was really a one-possession game with a few ticks on the clock. We had a very competitive game at our place.

"I think the combination of the two ... they respected us, let's put it that way."

Colorado has lost 15 consecutive games to Kansas and is now 0-14 against No. 1 teams.

The Buffaloes have:

* Lost 35 consecutive Big 12 road games. The streak started with an 80-78 overtime loss at Oklahoma State on Jan. 21, 2006.

* Lost 28 consecutive road games to ranked opponents. The last time Colorado beat a top 10 foe on the road was an 81-79 overtime win at No. 5 Missouri on Jan. 15, 1973).

* Lost 27 consecutive games in Lawrence. The Buffs' last victory in Allen Fieldhouse was Feb. 10, 1983.

* Lost 27 consecutive road games to Division I opponents.

Need to know
*
Iowa State's football team, which won the 2009 Insight Bowl, was recognized at halftime of Saturday's men's basketball game with Texas A&M. Cyclones football coach Paul Rhoads told the 13,031 in attendance that a goal for 2010 is to sell out Jack Trice Stadium for every home game.

* Colorado freshman Alec Burks has scored 421 points this season, third on the school's list of rookie scorers. Burks needs 60 to pass Richard Roby, who scored 480 points as a freshman in 2004-05.

* Iowa State's women's team won its 20th game, the 11th time in school history and 10th time in coach Bill Fennelly's 15-year career.

* Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley, the second-leading scorer in Big 12 history, needs 148 points to pass Oklahoma's Courtney Paris, the Conference's career scoring leader.

In quotes
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford on junior James Anderson, who had 31 points and 12 rebounds in the Cowboys' victory over No. 22 Baylor Saturday:
"I saw something that had the top10 player of the year candidates and he wasn't in it. Somebody has no clue about the game of basketball who puts a top 10 (list) together at this point and he's not in it, for what he is doing night in and night out. He's one of the best players in the country and he showed why tonight, period."

Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel on how he might keep his team motivated the rest of the season:
"Scholarships are not guaranteed for next year. There will be some decisions that will be made. So if guys aren't motivated, then they'll make that decision a little bit easier."

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey on freshman Kimetria "Nae-Nae" Hayden, who scored a career-high 27 points in the Lady Bears' 80-69 victory over Oklahoma State Saturday night:
"Nae-Nae has grown since she's been here. I hope she'll take this film and say, 'I want to do that every night, do that every day in practice.' When she does, she's going to make us better."

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly on the return of senior point guard Alison Lacey, who missed the Cyclones loss at Nebraska Wednesday because of a mild concussion:
"She's the Peyton Manning of our team. The Indianapolis Colts aren't in the Super Bowl without Peyton Manning. This team doesn't win 20 games without the way Alison Lacey has played."

Hot links
Here's the Austin American-Statesman's story on Saturday's Texas-Texas A&M game and here's the report in the Bryan-College Station Eagle along with a story about the scorekeeper whose bookkeeping error led to controversy late in the game.

John Rohde of the Oklahoman believes that Oklahoma State's victory over Baylor Saturday secured a place for the Cowboys in the NCAA Tournament.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that Kansas State athletic director John Currie plans to eliminate eight full-time jobs in the athletic department in order to meet an expected reduction in funding from the university and the state.

Saturday, February 20

Saturday basketball thoughts, Part 2
*
Your Humble Correspondent says that anyone who questions Frank Martin's coaching acumen be sentenced to a year watching Olympic ice dancing 24-7. Martin is in his third season as Kansas State's coach and the Wildcats have 12 road victories in Big 12 play under his watch. In K-State's 11 seasons before Martin, the Wildcats had a total of 14 road wins. Teams don't win road games in this league unless they're well-coached and tough-minded.

* Impressive road victories for No. 24 Texas A&M at Iowa State and Missouri at Nebraska. Critics/cynics will say, "Big deal, they beat teams that are a combined 3-21 in Big 12 play." To that, YHC asks, "Did you watch the games?" The Aggies had to overcome a late 9-0 run by the Cyclones that made it a one-point game. The Tigers had just a six-point lead with less than 12 minutes to play before pulling away. Neither Iowa State nor Nebraska is giving up and rolling over, especially at home.

* Texas A&M and Missouri are both 8-4 in the Big 12 and tied for third place, a game behind second-place Kansas State. The Aggies are 19-7 overall, the Tigers are 20-7. Even the most savvy basketball savants could have predicted those two teams would have those records on Feb. 20.

* Kansas coach Bill Self successfully tweaked his lineup in the Jayhawks' 94-74 victory over Colorado. He started Tyshawn Taylor in an effort to get the sophomore out of his slump. Taylor scored 17 and had six assists. He replaced Brady Morningstar, who can be effective as a starter or off the bench. If Taylor can regain the form he showed last year as a freshman, the Jayhawks will become even more potent.

* Kansas is approaching a program milestone and senior guard Sherron Collins is about to achieve a personal bench mark. KU has 1,996 victories in its history. If it finishes the Big 12 season undefeated, it will  reach 2K at Missouri on March 6. Collins, the only senior on the Jayhawks roster, has played in 123 victories. That ties him with Raef LaFrentz, C.B. McGrath and Billy Thomas who played from 1995-98.

* Kudos to the Big 12 schedule makers. There are nine games involving the top seven teams in the standings over the final two weeks of the season. Outside of first-place Kansas, the next six teams are separated by two games in the standings.

* Kansas State made 10-of-20 3-point field goal attempts at Oklahoma Saturday. That accuracy shouldn't be a surprise. During the Sooners' four-game losing streak, opponents are 36-of-70 (51.4 percent) from 3-point range.

* Here's why it is so difficult for teams at the bottom of the standings to move up even when they improve their talent level and how they play. Colorado has lost eight in a row and six of those losses have come to teams ranked in the top 15. The eight-game losing streak is the longest for the Buffs since the 2004-05 season. And Colorado is a better team this year and it was last year.

* No. 3 Nebraska ran its record to 25-0 and 12-0 in the Big 12 with an 89-73 victory over visiting Colorado Saturday. The Buffs were a sizzling 15-of-27 from 3-point range but that wasn't enough to counter the Huskers's balance. "Who would think your opponent makes 15 3s and you win by 16?" Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "That's pretty rare."

* Oklahoma State, after its 80-69 loss at Baylor Saturday night, has five consecutive games. The Cowgirls are 19-6 overall and 6-6 in the Big 12. The February swoon is costing Oklahoma State seeding in the NCAA Tournament. The farther the Cowgirls drop, the tougher their first-round game gets. And remember: Senior point guard Andrea Riley is ineligible for her team's first-round game. In August of 2008, the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee suspended Riley for Oklahoma State's next NCAA Tournament game because of a "fighting situation" that occurred two years ago in Oklahoma State's Sweet 16 loss to LSU. The Cowgirls did not participate in last year's NCAA Tournament.

* Baylor's 80 points against Oklahoma State is the highest point total for the Lady Bears since a 99-18 romp over Texas State before the start of Big 12 play. Melissa Jones missed another game but Baylor had five players score in double figures. It appears that coach Kim Mulkey's young perimeter players are starting to figure things out.

Scorebook correction costs UT women two points
With about four minutes to play in the Texas-Texas A&M game, game officials stopped the game after it was determining there had been an error in the number of fouls on the Aggies.

The Longhorns had made both ends of a one-and-one but Texas A&M only had six team fouls. UT's foul shots were voided and the Aggies went from a 47-42 lead to a 47-40 lead and went on to win, 58-44.

"The whole time we kept saying, 'We're down five, we're down five,'" Texas senior guard Brittainey Raven said. "They come and tell us that they are taking two points off. "

"The official's thing had nothing to do with the turning point of the game. We were playing well during that time and we had built it up to a five-point game," Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. "I hated it for (official scorer) Billy (Hodge). It's the first time he's made a mistake like that.

"Sometimes there are human errors that are made. As the rule book says, if a second possession has not been completed, you go back and can reverse the points and take the points out. I wasn't asking for anything. That was the first time for me in 30 years having been on the positive side of a situation like that. It's an unfortunate thing to happen."

Saturday basketball thoughts
*
If you wanted a perfect title to sum up this season for Texas, it would have to be: " Empty Possessions." Whether it's missed opportunities at the rim, push off fouls that negate offensive put backs or missed free throws (especially the front end of one-and-ones) or turnovers, the Longhorns have had too many unproductive possessions.

* Two perfect examples in Saturday's closer than it should have been 71-67 victory at Texas Tech: 1. Damion James makes steal and gets fouled. He misses the front end of a one-and-one and Dexter Pittman picks up his fourth foul trying to get the rebound. 2. Pittman picked up a loose ball and was five feet from the basket. He passed to an open Justin Mason, who missed a two-footer in the lane. Texas Tech went the other way and scored on a layup; four-point swing.

* Texas junior point guard Dogus Balbay injured his left knee and had to be helped off the court in the first half at Lubbock. He's scheduled to undergo an MRI Sunday in Austin. Balbay might be an imperfect point guard, but he's still crucial to the Longhorns.

* Here's what ESPN.com's Doug Gottlieb had to say about Texas' point guard situation: "Texas misevaluated three point guards. Dogus Balbay simply cannot help the Longhorns on offense. Jai Lucas doesn't penetrate and cannot guard well enough to help them on defense, and J'Covan Brown is more of a combo guard. Rick Barnes' staff has done a wonderful job of loading the Horns up with talent, but without T.J. Ford or D.J. Augustin, there is no purpose on offense."

* Your Humble Correspondent would like to add this thought: When Texas sophomore Varez Ward suffered a season-ending injury during pre-game warm ups in November, most regarded it a bizarre, but not a crucial, injury. "Texas has plenty of depth," everyone said. "No big deal." Those close to the team say that Ward, a 6-4 former high school quarterback, had vastly improved on last season's solid finish. If Ward was healthy, YHC believes that Texas would not be struggling with backcourt issues and offensive inefficiency.

* The listed attendance at Gallagher Iba Arena (listed capacity: 13,611) for Saturday's game with No. 22 Baylor was 11,722.

* Another crucial victory for Oklahoma State Saturday with its 82-75 defeat of No. 22 Baylor. The Cowboys, who face a challenging four-game stretch, are now 7-5 in Big 12 play. Oklahoma State needed to defend its home court and the victory enhanced the Cowboys' NCAA Tournament resume.

* Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford's offensive scheme against Baylor's zone Saturday was outstanding and his players executed it well. The Cowboys passed inside to make the Bears react to the ball but OSU didn't attempt many shots in the lane. Instead, the interior passing led to open perimeter shots. The Cowboys picked their spots on when to try and score inside.

* One of Baylor's strengths and improvements this season has been its ability to score on inbounds plays. Particularly when the Bears are inbounding under their own basket, they either get a lob pass for a dunk to one of their bigs or they get Tweety Carter or LaceDarius Dunn open for a 3-pointer.

* Baylor and Oklahoma State combined to make 26-of-47 3-pointers (55.3 percent). They were a combined 27-of-76 on 2-pointers (35.5 percent). The Bears had 10 assists on their 26 field goals while the Cowboys had 17 assists on 27 field goals.

Links, news and opinions
* Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe discussed the Conference's position in the midst of the current expansion talk with Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News (see more below in More Expansion "News")

* Kansas has five games remaining and has yet to lose in Big 12 play. Can the Jayhawks run the table and finish 16-0?

* ESPN.com's Doug Gottlieb reports that Kansas will change its starting lineup for Saturday's game with Colorado. Sophomore Tyshawn Taylor will start at guard in place of Brady Morningstar. Taylor has struggled this season after a solid freshman campaign. Morningstar can produce either as a starter or as a "reliever." If Taylor responds and starts performing like he did last year, coach Bill Self will have another weapon in his arsenal.

* ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel delves into why Texas' women's team has won six in a row going into Saturday's game at Texas A&M.

Charlie Crème, who does women's basketball bracketology for ESPN.com, has nine Big 12 teams in his latest bracket.

How about some women's gymnastics? No. 10 Missouri came close to upsetting No. 2 Oklahoma Friday night in Columbia.

Stanford's Toby Gerhart, the Doak Walker Award winner as the nation's top running back in 2009, says that Texas quarterback Colt McCoy has become like another brother.

Wedding date set
Colt McCoy, by the way, has set a July 17 wedding date with fiancee Rachel Glandorf.  That means McCoy will be a married man when he goes off to NFL training camp.

McCoy proposed to Rachel on the field at Royal Memorial Stadium. The jumbotron message board displayed "Rachel Will You Marry Me?" How did McCoy pull off the surprise?

"She always told me she had never been on the field," he said Monday night at the Davey O'Brien Award banquet. "One night I told her I had to go to my locker to get some work out gear. She was excited because she thought this was her chance to get on the field. I don't think she expected the proposal then."

More expansion "news"
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Saturday that the Big Ten Conference has hired a search firm to compile information on schools the Big Ten might consider adding. The paper said that 15 schools are being researched.

Neither Texas nor Notre Dame are on the list.

So, what does that mean? Your Humble Correspondent stresses in most vigorously that he has no inside knowledge and that what follows is purely analysis based on speculation and guess work.

1. Texas and Notre Dame not being on the list means nothing. It's pretty obvious what both schools would bring to the Big Ten and having them on the research list is a waste of time and money. If either school is interested in the Big Ten - that remains a very large if - not being on the list would not be an impediment to either joining the conference.

2. Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, who spent time as an assistant coach at Notre Dame, said that Notre Dame, "wants to be a national school, and they want to play a national schedule (in football)."

Alvarez also divulged what the search firm was gathering about the 15 schools on the expansion list. "They basically broke down what they (expansion candidates) would bring to the table,"  Alvarez told the Journal Sentinel. "They talked about academics. They talked about size. They talked about size of their arenas. They talked about attendance. They talked about the populace in that specific area."

3. In the last two months, the Big Ten announced it would study expansion over the next year to 18 months and the Pacific-10 Conference said it would "seriously" explore expansion. Since those pronouncements, there has been at least a story a week on who might go where and when.

Know this: Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany won't be ready to present any expansion details to his league's presidents until this summer at the earliest. Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn said this week that he didn't anticipate the Pac-10 making any serious moves until this summer.

4. Anything you read between now and then is just more speculation based on facts, semi-facts and half truths.

(YHC reminds you that two weeks ago a blog reported that Pitt would become a member of the Big Ten, with an announcement to come on Feb. 4. YHC assumed that meant Feb. 4, 2010. But I guess the blog writer is hoping that Feb. 4, 2011 and Feb. 4, 2012 are still in play.)

Friday, February 19

Oklahoma State's women struggling
A four-game losing streak in February is troubling enough. But is a crisis building Oklahoma State's women's team?

Visiting Texas A&M jumped to a 28-12 lead, held a 42-24 advantage at the break then went on to a 69-52 victory Wednesday night in Stillwater. Oklahoma State senior point guard Andrea Riley missed all 10 of her shots in the first half. She didn't play in the second half.

"It was a coach's decision," said OSU coach Kurt Budke, who added it didn't have anything to due with Riley feeling ill. "I didn't like how Andrea was playing and didn't like how she was leading the team. And I still have time to teach her how to become a better player. I didn't think she was helping the team tonight and I thought we'd be better off going with the young kids in the second half.
"There's lessons to be learned through every game. She'll recover from this and come back and probably play lights out in the next (game)."

Riley scored just two points. She had scored in double figures in 82 consecutive games.

But it was clear that Budke was more concerned about leadership than scoring. Freshman Toni Young made her first Big 12 start and scored 16 points with nine rebounds.

"I'm not so sure Tony Young is not the leader of this team," said Budke, whose team plays at Baylor Saturday. "This thing is a roller coaster, and you're looking for those people who can stay (level), and that's been Toni. Toni is great with her teammates on and off the floor."

Hot links
Brent Zwerneman of the San Antonio Express-News makes an interesting observation that Texas A&M is becoming better known for its basketball rather than its football.

When you tune in for ESPN's Big 12 Conference Big Monday telecasts at 8 p.m. each week, chances are you'll see the end of a Big East Conference Big Monday that's running over its two-hour time slot. Here's why there's not much that can be done about it.

Texas needs to define roles in its lineup if it hopes to break out of the five-week slump that has seen the Longhorns lose five of nine.

James Anderson an "unknown All-American
ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas has put together his "unknown All-American team. Here's what he had to say about Oklahoma State junior James Anderson:

"Anderson was always known as a shooter, but he is now a more complete player. Far more than a "catch-and-shoot" guy, he has improved his dribble game and his midrange pull-up, and he has gotten tougher in completing plays. His free throw rate is up significantly, and he is a topflight prospect for the next level. One of the most efficient scorers in the country, Anderson averages almost 23 points, six rebounds and 1.4 steals per game, and he hits 47 percent of his shots and 81 percent of his free throws."

Men's basketball notes
* According to research by Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World, Oklahoma has never played four consecutive ranked opponents during the regular season. The Cowboys' next four - Baylor, Texas, Kansas and Texas A&M - are all ranked. In the 2004 NCAA Tournament, Oklahoma State played No. 24 Memphis, No. 9 Pittsburgh, No. 5 St. Joseph's and No. 14 Georgia Tech in succession.

* Colorado freshman Alec Burks has scored 404 points. He is just the fourth Buffs freshman to surpass the 400-point plateau. The others: Richard Roby (2004-05, 480), Chauncey Billups (1995-96, 465) and Donnie Boyce (1991-92, 417).

* Oklahoma has lost all six of its Big 12 road games this season.

* Oklahoma State's Obi Muonelo scored a season-high 31 points in the Cowboys' 69-64 victory at Iowa State. He scored 21 straight points for Oklahoma State during the second half.

* Kansas has the nation's longest home court winning streak at 56 games. The Jayhawks also have won their last 26 games played on Senior Night in Allen Fieldhouse. This year's Senior Night (March 3) opponent is ... Kansas State.

* Kansas State made its last 14 free throw attempts and Nebraska made its last six 3-point tries in Wednesday night's game in Manhattan.

Women's basketball notes
* Texas has a six game Big 12 Conference winning streak, the longest under coach Gail Goestenkors. The Longhorns need one more victory for their third consecutive 20-win season under Goestenkors.

* Texas held Kansas State without a field goal from 12:37 to 5:04 in the second half, a 7:33 minute span. The Longhorns have held held 18 of its 25 opponents without a field goal for a span of at least four minutes during a game, and nine for a span of seven minutes or longer.

* Texas A&M has won its last six trips to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State.

Quote, unquote
Missouri governor Jay Nixon after the Tigers' 82-77 victory over No. 15 Texas Wednesday night:
"This gets us in the tournament doesn't it. Now, it's automatic, isn't it?"

Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly on the career-high 18 points scored by Nebraska freshman point guard Lindsey Moore in Wednesday night's 60-50 Huskers victory:
 "That's what great teams do. They have someone step up and make plays when they've got to make them. Every point she scored was my fault. I told them (the Cyclones) not to guard her."

Oklahoma State's Obi Muonelo on the Cowboys' 69-64 victory at Iowa State:
"As a senior, I've had a lot of stress. Getting to the NCAA Tournament has been on my mind. I wanted that stress to go away. With this game, it doesn't mean we're in it, but it takes a whole lot of stress off."

Oklahoma's Cade Davis on the Sooners' up and down season:
"We're all over the place. We're down and out about the losses, about the things that have gone on outside of the court; can't find chemistry and we're still having little problems. We just can't seem to completely come together and work things out."

Beating the best
Over the last two seasons, Missouri is 8-3 against Top 25 teams. Here's the list:

Opponent W/L Score Date
No. 15 Texas  W  82-77  02-17-10
No. 2 Kansas  L  84-65  01-25-10
No. 10 Kansas State  W  74-68  01-09-10
No. 5 Connecticut  L  82-75  03-28-09
No. 2 Memphis  W  102-91  03-26-09
No. 23 Marquette  W  83-79  03-22-09
No. 4 Oklahoma  W  73-64  03-04-09
No. 16 Kansas  L  90-65  03-01-09
No. 16 Kansas  W  62-60  02-09-09
No. 16 Texas  W  69-65  02-04-09
No. 19 USC  W  83-72  11-23-09

Thursday, February 18

Some random opinions
* Nothing against any other college basketball analysts, but Your Humble Correspondent loves hearing Bill Raftery working Big 12 Conference games. I'm willing to start a collection to rent a Midwest condo from January through February so Raftery could relocate from his New Jersey digs and work Conference contests.

* How many times have you seen a team retain possession late in the shot clock - say, under 10 seconds remaining - and fail to get a shot off because they lose track of the time?

* The month of February represents the "dog days" of the college basketball season. Teams get tired, good teams start thinking about the NCAA Tournament and struggling teams are tired of losing. The second month of the year is when you'll see some outcomes that are surprising.

* Andy Katz of ESPN.com pointed this out on a Tweet Thursday night. Who would have thought that on Feb. 17, the Big 12 standings would show Missouri a game ahead of Texas and Colorado a game behind Oklahoma.

* Missouri might not equal last year's Elite Eight run but the Tigers aren't gonna be fun for anyone to play on the first week of the NCAA Tournament.

* Is there such a thing as a triple quad? Texas' Dexter Pittman had four rebounds, four fouls and four turnovers against Missouri Wednesday night. Pittman scored two points and didn't attempt a field goal; a year ago in Austin, he had 25 against the Tigers.

* New Baylor president Ken Starr was introduced by Bears football coach at Tuesday night's basketball game with Texas Tech. Starr showed he was in the spirit of things by opening his jacket to reveal a yellow and green "Bear Pit" jersey that is favored by the student section in the Ferrell Center. It's hard to look dignified for a school president wearing such garb but Starr pulled it off.

* Here's something a coach doesn't want to hear: After Texas Tech's 88-70 loss at Baylor, senior Darko Cohadarevic said: "We just gave up in the second half. We had no passion whatsoever in the game. It's always sad when you have a coaching staff having more passion for the game of basketball than the players." After watching how the Red Raiders failed to guard the Bears, YHC has to agree with the opinion.

* Texas' women's team has won eight of their last nine games and have moved into a second-place tie with Oklahoma. The Longhorns and the Sooners each have 8-3 records. Texas plays at Texas A&M Saturday then at Oklahoma State before hosting Oklahoma on Feb. 27.

Break out the bunting
Not the move-the-runner-along strategy, the red, white and blue draping. College baseball season starts Friday.

And if you reside in the Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma or Texas, you know that this has been a hard winter. A year ago, Kansas State coach Brad Childress remembered practicing outdoors and that the temperature was in the 70s.

Not so much this year. Cold and snow - even in Texas - has made it difficult for Big 12 baseball teams to practice outside. But as long as the skies are clear, most teams bundle up and get after it.

"We can throw snowballs with the best of 'em," Oklahoma State coach Frank Anderson said this week. "Nebraska set the standard for us; a couple of years ago, we played up there with the temperature in the mid 20s and a wind chill in the single digits. We've decided we might have to play in that kind of weather so we've gone outside, moved snow and practiced."

Sunday, February 7

Condolences
Our thoughts and prayers go out to two Big 12 head coaches who lost parents over the last few days.

George Pinkel, the father of Missouri football coach Gary Pinkely, died Saturday morning at the age of 83 in Columbus, Ohio.

The mother of Colorado basketball coach Jeff Bzdelik died Thursday in Chicago. She had been hospitalized since November. After coaching his team against Missouri Saturday, Bzdelik  left immediately after the game to join his family.

"He knew it was coming and that's why he handled it like he did. He did a great job of not letting it be a distraction for anybody, and most people didn't even know," Colorado assistant coach Steve McClain said after Saturday's game. "It's one of those things all of us deal with in life."

Men's basketball notes from Saturday
* Kansas has 1,992 victories in its history and needs eight more to join Kentucky as the only program with 2,000 victories. North Carolina has 1,997 victories.

* Oklahoma freshman Tommy Mason-Griffin is shooting .519 from behind the arc (27-for-52) in eight Big 12 games.  He is 19-for-35 (.542) on 3-pointers in his last five games.

* Oklahoma's 80-71 victory over No. 9 Texas was the Sooners' first triumph over a ranked team this season. OU has won 11 consecutive games at Lloyd Noble Center and 31 of its last 32 at home.

* Oklahoma's Ryan Wright had his first career double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds. The rebound total is a career high.

* UT's Damion James, Dexter Pittman and Dogus Balbay combined to score 20 points against Oklahoma. Their combined scoring average coming into the game was 34.1.

* Texas is shooting 61 percent from the free throw line, which puts them near the bottom of Division I (344 teams). In their four losses, the Longhorns are 47-of-96 (48.9 percent) from the line.

* In his last two games - both road victories for Kansas State - guard Denis Clemente is 11 of 17 on 3-pointers. He made 6-of-8 Saturday at Iowa State and scored a season-high 30 points. Clemente has scored 20 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

* Oklahoma State has lost three consecutive games for the first time under coach Travis Ford. He is in his second season as the Cowboys' coach.

* In its three consecutive losses, Oklahoma State has been out-gunned from the 3-point line. The Cowboys are 13-of-53 on 3-pointers (24.5 percent) during the three-game skid while their three opponents are a combined 32-of-76 (42.1 percent).

* After going scoreless in Texas Tech's first game with Oklahoma State, Red Raiders junior point guard John Roberson scored a season-high 28 in Saturday's victory. Roberson also became Texas Tech's career assist leader with 436.

* Baylor, which lost in College Station Saturday, was attempting to win at Texas and at Texas A&M in the same season since 1971.

Women's basketball notes from the weekend
* Oklahoma's Danielle Robinson has made 35 straight free throws, a school record. Against Oklahoma State, her 16-of-16 outing from the line matched the best single-game free-throw shooting performance by percentage in Big 12 history. No one else on the conference list had done better than 14-of-14.

* Oklahoma State's Andrea Riley has scored in double figures in 81 consecutive games. She has 2,523 career points, which puts her second in Big 12 history behind Courtney Paris of Oklahoma, who scored 2,729 points. Riley needs 206 points to pass Paris.

* Colorado has lost 17 consecutive games to ranked opponents.

* At the 11:01 mark Saturday night in Waco, Baylor's Brittney Griner had scored 24 points while Colorado had scored 23. The Baylor band started chanting, "Brittney's winning!"

* Texas has made 156 3-pointers this season, the third-most in a season in school history.

* Kansas, playing its first game without injured senior Danielle McCray, evened its record in Lawrence against Kansas State to 24-24. It was Jayhawks coach Bonnie Henrickson's second victory over the Wildcats.

* Kansas had a season-high eight blocked shots and freshman Carolyn Davis had a career-high four rejections.

They said it
Iowa State coach Greg McDermott, whose team has lost five of its last six to fall to 13-10 overall, 2-6 in the Big 12:
"We just have lapses in concentration, that are really short lapses, but they can be devastating."

Kansas State Frank Martin on the defections and season-ending injuries that have contributed to Iowa State's woes:
"My heart goes out to (coach Greg McDermott) and those kids that are still wearing the uniform, because to deal with the injuries ... and then turn around and have some selfish guy quit on his team, and for them to still be playing as hard as they're playing and as well as they're playing, that's a credit to those guys."

Texas A&M coach Gary Blair on his team pushing undefeated Nebraska until the final minutes in Lincoln:
"When you've been to the Sweet 16 the last two years and played the Dukes and Tennessees and Oklahomas, there is no fear. I hope we came a little bit of age because we didn't let adversity get to us."

Texas A&M coach Gary Blair on undefeated Nebraska:
"This is a team that has a great chance of getting to that Final Four, Elite Eight, Sweet 16."

Kansas junior center Cole Aldrich after the Jayhawks struggled before pulling away in the second half to beat Nebraska Saturday:
"That might have been maybe the dumbest we've played in a while. ... You gotta find ways to win."

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey on Brittney Griner's second triple double of the season:
"Look how far Brittney Griner has come since she's been here. I can only imagine when she becomes a senior like Morghan Medlock. The thing that will always help Brittney Griner is that she has the most wonderful disposition to be coached. She doesn't think she's a prima donna or the next best thing to sliced bread. She just comes out here and wants to get better every day."

Texas Tech's Mike Singletary on the Red Raiders holding Oklahoma State's James Anderson to 10 points after he scored 28 points in the Cowboys' victory:
"We played him a little more physical this time. That kind of got in his head. When he went to the rack, he got fouled pretty hard. He's a good player. But whenever you get fouled like that, it gets in your mind."

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale on Danielle Robinson, who scored 36 points, made a Big 12 record 16-of-16 free throw attempts, had nine rebounds and six assists in the Sooners' Bedlam victory over Oklahoma State:
"I don't know that I've seen a finer performance from a point guard than what you saw from Danielle today. The numbers are gaudy - and they speak for themselves -  but it was her leadership, the way she ran our team, the decisions that she made. ... That's what great point guards do. If you want to talk about who's the best in the country, you've got to include her."

Colorado's Alec Burks, the Big 12's top freshman scorer, had a career-high 27 points against Missouri, his home state:
"It's just another team with another name on the jersey. I just happen to be from there. Nothing special for me, just a game."

Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry on Texas:
"They are playing their best basketball right now. When you go back and watch the film of them against Baylor and Oklahoma, their balance is incredible right now and they are playing really high level."

 

Friday, February 5

Kansas loses Danielle McCray to knee injury
Kansas' hopes of making the NCAA Tournament took a major blow when senior Danielle McCray suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice Thursday. Coach Bonnie Henrickson said Friday that McCray tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee.

"She's driving off an on-ball screen," Henrickson told the Topeka Capital-Journal. "We do it every day. Unfortunately, I've seen it before. At first I thought it could have been her ankle. The problem is, when it happens, they don't scream like that."

Earlier this season, the Jayhawks lost freshman point guard Angel Goodrich to a torn ACL in her right knee. Goodrich missed the 2008-09 campaign after tearing her left ACL in practice before last season.

McCray, selected as the preseason Big 12 Conference women's player of the year, was averaging 19.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Kansas is 13-7 overall and 3-4 in the Big 12.

After scoring 1,934 points in 116 career games, she ranks second in KU history in 3-point field goals made (205) and attempted (544), third in 3-point field goal percentage (37.7), fourth in field goals made (710) and attempted (1,654), fourth in free-throw percentage (78.8), eighth in minutes played (3,446) and 10th in free throws made (309).

will miss the rest of the season because of a knee injury.

Coach Bonnie Henrickson said Friday that McCray tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee in practice on Thursday. She's the second starter Kansas has lost for the year to a knee injury, joining point guard Angel Goodrich.

The 5-foot-11 McCray is among the best players in Kansas history, with 1,934 points ranking her third. Kansas is 13-7 overall and 3-4 in the Big 12.

Thursday, February 4

Links from Wednesday's games
ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel reports on No. 4 Nebraska's blow out defeat of No. 10 Oklahoma State Wednesday night and how the outcome left Cornhuskers' coach Connie Yori speechless.

In their first game after returning to the top spot in the polls, Kansas overcame horrid free throw shooting to win at Colorado.

Neil Woelk of the Boulder Daily Camera writes that the Colorado continues to learn one of the harshest lessons in life: battling from the bottom is the toughest task in sports.

When Missouri went cold for nearly 11 minutes in the second half, Texas A&M took advantage to end the Tigers' 32-game home winning streak.

After an Oklahoma rally cut the Texas lead to two points, the Longhorns responded with a 14-1 spurt to assure a huge road victory over the Sooners.

Griner has record-setting night
Baylor freshman Brittany Griner had 26 points Wednesday night as she helped the Lady Bears to a much-needed 65-47 victory at Kansas State. The victory was all the more impressive considering that junior Melissa Jones missed her fifth game in the last seven because of a stress reaction in her leg.

Griner, who had dunked earlier this season in non-conference play, recorded the first dunk in a Big 12 game with a one-handed jam with 4:53 remaining. She had missed a dunk earlier in the game. The 6-8 post also broke Oklahoma's Courtney Paris' single-season record for blocked shots. Griner has rejected 122 shots.

"With Brittney, it started in last night's practice," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said in her postgame radio interview. "It wasn't the fact that she dunked, wasn't that we won the game. She took a role in practice where she really showed a lot of leadership. She was vocal, she was talking to her teammates. She's realizing, freshman or not, it's OK to challenge my teammates, it's OK to be a leader."

Baylor had a season-low seven turnovers and shot 51 percent.

VanLengen to debut talk show on women's sports
Brenda VanLengen, who has been an analyst on Big 12 women's basketball telecasts since the Conference began competition, will debut a sports talk show Friday on Sportsradiokc.com. The show, which can be heard via the Internet, will air from 1-2 p.m. each Friday and will focus on women's sports in Kansas City, the Big 12 region, and beyond.

"Sports talk radio, in general, has virtually ignored women's sports.  I'm really impressed with the team at Sportsradiokc.com and their desire to reach out to fans who appreciate the athleticism, the skills, the strategies and star power of women's sports," VanLengen said.

One of the guests on Friday's debut show will be Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.

Wednesday, February 3

Kansas-Kansas State telecast a ratings success
Saturday was a record-setting day in Manhattan, Kans.

ESPN announced Wednesday that last Saturday's overtime game between Kansas and Kansas State averaged a 2.2 rating. That made the telecast the highest-rated and most-viewed Big 12 regular-season conference game on ESPN since 1997.  It was also the highest-rated and most-viewed Saturday game on the network since March 2008. 

"Kansas and Kansas State treated college basketball fans across the country to one of the best games of the year and the audience numbers certainly reflected that," Senior Manager of Programming for ESPN Nick Dawson said.  "The passion and atmosphere for GameDay and the game serve as an example of what makes college basketball exciting."

Earlier in the day, 8,159 fans jammed into Bramlage Coliseum for ESPN's College GameDay. That was a record attendance for the program. 

"I can't say enough about the passion our fans have shown this athletic season," said Athletics Director John Currie said.  "The atmosphere during Saturday's game was the best I have ever experienced at a college basketball game and I'm excited that the rest of the country was able to witness the enthusiasm our fan base has for the Wildcats."  

Kansas prevailed, 81-79, in the 268th meeting of the Sunshine State rivalry.

OU to honor Wayman Tisdale Saturday
The University of Oklahoma athletics department will honor the life and playing career of Wayman Tisdale when the Sooners play host to Texas at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Tisdale, a first-team All-American as a freshman, sophomore and junior, is regarded as Oklahoma's greatest player and he is the school's leading scorer and rebounder. He died of cancer last May at the age of 44.

Tisdale was a successful jazz bassist after his NBA career ended and the ceremonies will have a musical theme. His band will hold a pre-game concert from 1:30 p.m. to 2:45 p.m. in Lloyd Noble Center. The National Anthem will be performed by Tom Braxton, the saxophonist from Tisdale's band.

A special preview of the upcoming documentary "The Wayman Tisdale Story" will be shown on the LNC video board at halftime and will be followed by a special music tribute.

Tisdale's wife, Regina, and children, as well as other family members and former teammates and coaches, will be in attendance and recognized Saturday.

Tuesday, February 2

Hard to believe
The old saying goes "Believe none of what you read and half of what you see."

In this Internet, information-blasting-from-a-firehouse, that phrase is outdated. Your Humble Correspondent wonders if there's a stronger word for "none." Like "double-none" or "none to the 10th power." Because when you say, "believe none of what you read" it's hardly strong enough condemnation for what continues to pass as reporting.

Monday there were two "reports" posted on Internet sites. Web site stories that are "hot" and "newsy" get passed around like yearbooks at graduation. Both "reports" got far more attention than either deserved.

SportsByBrooks.com wrote that the NCAA Tournament expanding to 96 teams was a "done deal." SportsByBrooks' Twitter feed Monday also had this: "First ever smokin' hot photos Pete Rose girlfriend Kiana Kim."

Ms. Kim's photos apparently are legitimate. The NCAA Tournament expansion being a "done deal" - maybe not so much.

NCAA senior vice president Greg Shaheen told FOXSports.com that, "Nothing is a done deal."

On Jan. 6, SportsByBrooks reported that Art Briles would be Texas Tech's new coach. On Jan. 10, Texas Tech introduced its new football coach ... Tommy Tuberville. (FOXSports.com is a six touchdown favorite in a fantasy matchup with SportsByBrooks.com.)

Also, BenMaller.com reported that "University of Pittsburgh athletics are moving to the Big Ten Conference, according to sources close to the school. ... Some athletes were informed of the move over the weekend, a little birdie tells me. ... Pitt will become the 12th school in the Big Ten, with an official announcement expected by Thursday. This means you'll be seeing a Big Ten football title game. ... No word on who will replace Pitt in the Big East."

All that sounds incredibly legit. So, the official  announcement (supposedly) comes Thursday. Plus, according to the Mayans, the world ends in 2012. So enjoy the year or so as a Big Ten member, Pitt. Also, keep in mind that the Big Ten has never moved quickly regarding expansion and that if there's any announcement before the start of the next football season (if then), YHC will be stunned.

Ben Maller, by the way, is a Fox Sports Radio Network host. He works the 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. weekend time slot. That would seem to free him for plenty of source developing and reporting during the week. It could be his sources were found on Twitter.com; according to Tweets, "Pittsburgh athletic department officials held closed door meetings with all of the University's student athletes last week about the potential move."

E.J. Borghetti, associate athletic director/media relations for Pitt, has posted this Twitter message concerning speculation that Pitt had agreed to join the Big Ten Conference. "Now hear this: rumors on Internet message boards should be read for amusement purposes only, and not consumed as responsible journalism."

The new rule is that there are no rules. If it is written and posted somewhere on a web site, it can be read by anyone and taken as fact by anyone who is foolish enough to believe what they read ... at least until the post is removed.

If/when the NCAA Tournament expands to 96 teams, SportsByBrooks.com can take credit for breaking the story. If Pitt indeed joins the Big Ten, we all bow and praise BenMaller.com. If the reports are incorrect, no harm, no foul, right? It's only the Internet.

YHC, though, wishes an old newspaper adage still applied: Being first and correct with a story is worth 100 times more than being first and incorrect.

For the defense, Gary Blair

After his team's 95-61 victory at Colorado Saturday, Texas A&M coach Gary Blair spent part of his post-game press conference defending Buffs' coach Kathy McConnell-Miller. Blair said he was unhappy a story in Saturday's Boulder Daily Camera questioned the CU program's progress under McConnell-Miller.

"I want you Colorado writers and media to start thinking that Nebraska was 15-16 last year, and look at what they are doing now," Blair said. "It takes time, in this league, to build a program. Kathy is going to get it done.

"That (article) wasn't quite fair to the coach. She is class. She cares, and she is developing her team. Give her some patience, instead of writing her off into the sunset. She will get the job done, I will guarantee you that."

McConnell-Miller is 65-85 at CU, including a 20-58 mark in Big 12 play. She is under contract through 2012-13.

Texas freshman guard Lauren Flores will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL in her left knee during Monday's practice. Flores was a reserve who was averaging 2.4 points in 10.7 minutes per game.

Congratulations to the sports information departments at Nebraska and Texas. They were honored by the Football Writers Association of America as two of its first "Super 11" - the best media relations departments in NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision during the 2009 season. An FWAA committee, with representatives from each D-I conference, received input from the organization's membership. Criteria in determining the Super 11 included how press boxes/operations were run, accessibility of players and coaches, distribution of media materials plus how the departments went the extra mile in helping member of the media do their jobs.

Seeds set for Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship
The seeds and bracketing for this week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship wasn't set until the final game of the regular season - Oklahoma State at Oklahoma - was decided late Sunday afternoon.

Nebraska, 29-0 and 16-0 in league games, knew that it had clinched the top seed and a first-round bye. The other 11 teams had to wait until the weekend to know where they are bracketed. Iowa State is the No. 2 seed, Oklahoma is No. 3 and Texas A&M is No. 4. Like Nebraska, those three teams will receive first-round byes and won't start play at Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium until Friday.

Here are Thursday's first-round matchups:

11 a.m.: No. 9 Kansas State. vs. No. 8 Texas Tech

1:30 p.m.: No. 12 Missouri vs. No. 5 Texas

5 p.m.: No. 10 Kansas vs. No. 7 Oklahoma State

7:30 p.m.: No. 11 Colorado vs. No. 6 Baylor

All-session tickets are $90 for lower-level seating and $72 for upper level. Single-session tickets go on sale March 8. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster.com, by calling 800-745-3000 or at the Municipal Auditorium Box Office.

Extensive video coverage of the entire Championship can be found via the Big 12 Web site at Big12Sports.com.  The video available will include first round games, a pre-game show, links to every contest and live postgame press conferences.  In addition, exclusive postgame coverage of the Championship trophy ceremony can be found on Sunday, March 14.  The broadcast will include the annual showing of the Big 12's basketball highlight video, Live Your Dreams.

First round games will be televised by Metro Sports in Kansas City while the quarterfinals through the final will be aired on FSN.

Big 12 teams fare well on court, in class room
Kansas is the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and many basketball experts/analysts have picked the Jayhawks to cut down the nets at the Final Four in Indianapolis.

And while millions of bracket predictions are being filled out before the games begin, Kansas is the projected winner based on its class room work. Inside Higher Ed, for the fifth consecutive year, has projected the basketball champion in its Academic Performance Tournament . Winners are determined using the NCAA's Academic Progress Rule, a nationally comparable score that gives points to teams whose players stay in good academic standing and remain enrolled from semester to semester.

Based on the APR, Kansas beats Duke in the national championship game.

And the Jayhawks weren't the only Big 12 team to have success based on the books. Four Big12 teams made the Sweet 16 _ Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas A&M - with Texas advancing to the Final Four semifinals before losing to Duke.

Big 12 teams fare well on court, in class room
Kansas is the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and many basketball experts/analysts have picked the Jayhawks to cut down the nets at the Final Four in Indianapolis.

And while millions of bracket predictions are being filled out before the games begin, Kansas is the projected winner based on its class room work. Inside Higher Ed, for the fifth consecutive year, has projected the basketball champion in its Academic Performance Tournament . Winners are determined using the NCAA's Academic Progress Rule, a nationally comparable score that gives points to teams whose players stay in good academic standing and remain enrolled from semester to semester.

Based on the APR, Kansas beats Duke in the national championship game.

And the Jayhawks weren't the only Big 12 team to have success based on the books. Four Big12 teams made the Sweet 16 _ Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas A&M - with Texas advancing to the Final Four semifinals before losing to Duke.

Tournament tidbits
* Over the past five seasons, a total of 12 schools have made the NCAA Tournament each of those years.  The Big 12 has three schools among that group - tied for the most of any league in the nation. The three Big 12 schools with five consecutive NCAA appearances are Kansas, Texas and Texas A&M.

* The Big 12 went 6-0 in first-round games last year, the best opening-round record in Conference history. Over the last two seasons, the Big 12 is 11-1 in the first round and is a combined 14-2 over the last three seasons.

* Texas and Texas A&M are two of only three schools in the nation (Pittsburgh is the other) that have won four consecutive NCAA first-round games.

* Ten ESPN experts/analysts have made their Final Four predictions. All 10 have both Kansas and Kentucky making it to Indianapolis. Eamonn Brennan and Pat Forde both pick Baylor to make Final Four while Dick Vitale, Hubert Davis and Mark Schlabach say that Kansas State will make it to Indianapolis. So, that's half the ESPN folks predicting the Big 12 will have two teams at the Final Four.

* Texas A&M is meeting a team from the state of Utah for the third consecutive year in the first round. The last two NCAA Tournaments, the Aggies defeated BYU (located in Provo, Utah). Friday Texas A&M will face Utah State (located in Logan). Also, both teams are nicknamed Aggies.

* Utah State is making its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance since 2000 under coach Stew Morrill but the Aggies of the Western Athletic Conference have lost their last five first-round games. Texas A&m has won four consecutive first-round games.

* There's another double nickname matchup in the East Regional as No. 7 seed Clemson faces No. 10 seed Missouri. Both teams' mascots/nicknames are Tigers.

* Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech meet in the first round of the Midwest Regional Friday. Those two teams last met in the NCAA Tournament in the 2004 Final Four in San Antonio with the Yellow Jackets recording a 67-65 victory.

* Kansas is coached by Bill Self and UNLV by Lon Kruger. If those teams win their first-round games, it will match former Illinois coaches in the second round. Kruger, a former Kansas State player and coach, coached the Illini from 1996-2000. Self took over for Kruger and coached the Illini until taking the Kansas job in 2003.

* The last time Kansas played in an NCAA Tournament game in Oklahoma City, the Jayhawks were a No. 3 seed and were stunned by No. 14 Bucknell in the opener. Kansas, as a No. 1 seed, faces another Patriot League team Thursday in OKC when it plays No. 16 seed Lehigh in the first round.

* Seven of Texas' nine losses have come to teams that are in the NCAA Tournament.

* Jeff Goodman of FoxSports.com reports that two Big 12 assistant coaches - Kansas State's Dalonte Hill and Kansas' Joe Dooley - could be candidates for the vacancy at Charlotte. The school fired coach Bobby Lutz Monday.

Time to play "Who said it?"
The following quote came from a player who will play in Thursday's East Regional first-round game between Texas and Wake Forest.

"Our biggest thing isn't size, isn't talent, isn't Xs and Os. ... It's not any of those things. It's all about being mentally tough, mentally strong and playing with a lot of emotion and energy from the beginning. If we do that, we give ourselves a chance to win the game, no matter who we're playing."

Was the speaker:

A. Damion James of Texas

B. Gary Johnson of Texas

C. Dexter Pittman of Texas

D. None of the above.

The correct answer is D. Wake Forest's Ishmael Smith said it Wednesday in New Orleans. The Deacons have struggled as much as have the Longhorns.

What they said
*
Baylor's Epke Udoh on senior point guard Tweety Carter: "He's that man, he's that guy on our team. We go as he goes. If he's not here this year, we wouldn't have the success that we've had. He does a great job with his energy. He's been here the longest. When he talks to you, you have to listen because he's been through it."

* Baylor coach Scott Drew on how his team will handle being a trendy pick to reach the Final four:
"I think why we've been successful this year is we have great leadership. And I think each one of the players realized from those upperclassmen that if you don't bring your A-game and you're not ready to play, you're going to lose any given night. I think we're focused and determined to hopefully stay around a little bit longer than we did two years ago (first-round loss).

* Texas senior guard Justin Mason on why the Longhorns struggled after starting 17-0 and rising to No. 1 in the polls: "Playing in the Big 12, which is a really great conference. I don't know if many people understand how good that conference is. It's hard to get wins. We didn't do the things we needed to do night in and night out to get the win that's we needed. "

* Kansas coach Bill Self on the pressure of being the overall No. 1 seed: "You know, you work your tail off for six months and try to get the best seed as possible, and now that you get the best seed that you possibly can, everybody wants to know did you really want this, is it too much pressure? You know, whether you're the overall number 1 or not, that's irrelevant. That doesn't make any difference."

NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL UPDATES
Lending support
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -
Iowa State coach Greg McDermott was in the Ford Center supporting his former school. McDermott coached at Northern Iowa before becoming the Cyclones' coach. He was replaced by assistant Ben Jacobson. The No. 9 seeded Panthers edged No. 8 UNLV, 69-66, in Thursday's first round game in the Midwest Regional.

Jacobson was glad to have the support of his former boss.

"There's no bigger supporter or fan of this program can Mack," Jacobson said. "He's been on the recruiting trail but he was able to sneak away to be here. That means a lot to this program. He did a lot of things with this program in the five years he was here. Because of that, we're in the position that we're in today."

Would McDermott give advice to Jacobson on playing top seed Kansas? Or would McDermott remain loyal to his conference and go Switzerland (remain neutral)?

"We'll dig into the film," Jacobson said of Kansas. "I've seen them play throughout the course of the season. They're a terrific basketball team."

Reed for three

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Kansas junior guard Tyrell Reed scored all 12 of his points in the second half against Lehigh. All of his points came on 3-pointers. Over his last six games, Reed is 12-of-19 from behind the arc. Overall, he has made 15-of-27 shots so he's shooting worse on 2-point field goals (3-of-8) than on threes.

Through Thursday's 1st round, Big 12 is 9-1 in first-round NCAA games the last 2 seasons, 14-3 the last 3 seasons, 17-3 last four seasons.

"Basketball is not played just be at the 3-point line," Reed said. "That's what's been open for me lately. I'm sure other teams will start closing out on me and that's when you got to pump fake and take it to the basket or pull up. I'm not strictly a 3-point shooter, but those have been the shots I've been getting."

And making.

Dribbles

* Through Thursday's games, the Big 12 is 9-1 in NCAA first-round games going back to last season. Over the last three seasons, the Big 12 is now 14-2 in first-round games and over the last four seasons the league has a 17-3 record in first-round games.

*The Big 12 was 3-1 in Thursday's first-round games. That's more victories than any other conference.

* Northern Iowa's last NCAA victory came in 1990 when Maurice Newbie hit a 3-pointer to beat the buzzer and third-seeded Missouri. The Panthers were a No. 14 seed. UNI's second NCAA victory came on a similar shot. With the clock running out and Northern Iowa in a scramble situation, Kwadzo Ahelebe found Ali Farokhmanesh on the left wing. He drained the shot and held the shooter's pose after the shot found net for his team's 69-66 victory.

* Lehigh's mascot/nickname is Mountain Hawks. Midway through the second half against Kansas, the Lehigh band started chanting "Our hawk's better ... our hawk's better." Clever.

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