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May 2009

 

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.

Sunday, May 31

Big (and long) day for the Big 12
Another eight NCAA regional games for the Big 12 and the one that finished last was the most remarkable.

In the Austin Regional, No. 1 seed Texas beat Boston College, 3-2 in a game that took 25 innings. It was the longest game in NCAA history - regular season or postseason. The victory means the Longhorns will wait to play the winner of Army-Boston College, an elimination game that will start at noon Sunday. For the Eagles, it will be less than 11 hours after they walked off the field.

Texas scored two runs in the second inning and then were scoreless for 23 innings. In the top of the 25th, Connor Rowe drew a lead-off walk. He was bunted to second and moved to third on a wild pitch. With infield drawn in, Travis Tucker forced a ground-ball single through the right side to score Rowe.

UT's Austin Wood relieved starter Chance Ruffin and pitched 13 scoreless innings. He threw 169 pitches and allowed two hits while striking out 14.

Texas A&M and Baylor also went to extra innings with the Aggies winning in 11 and Baylor losing in 10.

The three teams that lost Friday - Texas A&M, Missouri and Kansas - came through with victories to avoid elimination.

Oklahoma State and Kansas State both won - beating the No. 1 seed in their regionals on their home fields.

Baylor went extra innings before losing to LSU in the 10th inning in Baton Rouge. Oklahoma's pitching staff got raked for 20 hits and lost to Arkansas in the Norman Regional. Both teams face elimination games Sunday.

The Big 12 is now 11-5 in regional play.

Sunday's regional schedule
Austin:
Texas has two victories and will face the winner of Sunday's Boston College-Army game at noon. If the Longhorns win that game, they advance to the super regional.

Baton Rouge: Baylor vs. Minnesota, 1 p.m. The loser goes home. The winner will face LSU at 6 p.m. Sunday.

Chapel Hill: Kansas vs. Coastal Carolina, noon. The loser goes home. The winner will face North Carolina at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Clemson: Oklahoma State has two victories and will face the winner of the Clemson-Tennessee Tech game at 6 p.m. Sunday. If the Cowboys win that game, they advance to the super regional.

Fort Worth: Texas A&M vs. Oregon State, 2 p.m. The loser goes home. The winner will face TCU at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Houston: Kansas State has two victories and will face the winner of the Rice-Xavier game at 6 p.m. Sunday. If the Wildcats win that game, they'll advance to the super regional.

Norman: Oklahoma will face Washington State at 1 p.m. The loser goes home. The winner will face Arkansas at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Oxford: Missouri vs. Western Kentucky, 1 p.m. The loser goes home. The winner will face Ole Miss at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Saturday, May 30

Fly over fame
The Texas A&M-Wright State game NCAA game Saturday in the Fort Worth Regional got some national exposure on CBS. The Colonial golf tournament's third round was being held on the famed course that is a couple of Tiger Woods drives from the TCU campus. The Met Life blimp did a fly over of Lupton Stadium and CBS golf anchor Jim Nantz provided a score update on the Aggies and the Raiders.

Texas A&M wins NCAA men's golf title on final hole
Texas A&M senior Bronson Burgoon birdied the final hole in dramatic fashion on Saturday to lift the Aggies to a 3-2 win against Arkansas for their first NCAA men's golf championship at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.

Burgoon let a big lead slip away against Arkansas' Andrew Landry, losing four straight holes to square the final match of the day going into the 18th hole.

Landry hit a perfect drive down the middle of the par-4, but Burgoon pushed his tee shot into the right rough. Landry's approach came to rest on the front fringe about 30 feet from the hole.

Burgoon slashed his second shot out of the rough, the ball landed on the green and trickled toward the hole. It nearly went in the hole before stopping inches from the cup. Landry had a chance to force a sudden death playoff, but pulled his long birdie putt left.

Junior Andrea Pavan (7 and 6) and sophomore John Hurley (6 and 4) won their matches at the second and third positions. The Razorbacks answered at the four and five spots, to even the score at 2-2. That put the national championship on the line in the Burgoon-Landy match.

The championship is the Aggies first NCAA team title in any sport since the women's softball team won the NCAA crown in 1987. It is the first national title in the history of the Aggies' men's golf program. A&M is the second Big 12 school to win a NCAA men’s golf championship (Oklahoma State 2000, 2002).

Friday, May 29

NCAA Regional baseball, Day One
The Big 12's eight teams went 5-3 Friday in the first day of NCAA Regional action. Baylor and Oklahoma State - two teams whose inclusion in the bracket caused controversy and criticsim - recorded two impressive victories. Texas and Oklahoma, the two Big 12 teams hosting regionals, won their openers but both triumphs were hard earned. Texas A&M, Missouri and Kansas both face elimination games Saturday.

Here's a capsule look at Friday's games:

Texas 3, Army 1: The top-seeded Longhorns had to work to get past the Black Knights (34-20). Starter Cole Green (5-2) went seven innings, allowing four hits, three walks and Army's only run. Austin Wood closed it out for his 15th save. Cameron Rupp had two RBI, one on a single and another on a squeeze bunt. Texas (42-13-1) first baseman Brandon Belt was hit by a pitch in the first inning and had to leave the game. DH Preston Clark had to take over at first, meaning Texas lost its DH for the game. Green made two plate appearances, singling once and executing a sacrifice bunt in his other chance.

Oklahoma State 10, Alabama 6: The Cowboys proved their worthiness by thumping the Crimson Tide (37-20) in the Clemson Regional. Sophomore shortstop Tom Belza tied a school record with three home runs and had a career-high six RBI to spark the Oklahoma State (33-22) attack. Belza entered the game with four career homers. Starter Tyler Lyons provided a solid outing and Randy McCurry tied a school single-season record with his 10th save.

Baylor 5, Minnesota 0: The Bears (30-24) got a two-run first inning homer from Shaver Hansen and six shutout innings from starter Willie Kempf in the Baton Rouge Regional. Baylor has won six times in their last seven NCAA openers. Kempf threw 76 pitches, allowed three hits and struck out six. Relievers Craig Fritsch and Logan Verrett continued to shackle Minnesota (38-18). Dustin Dickerson extended his hitting streak to 14 games. He has hit safely in 38 of the last 39 contests.

Kansas State 16, Xavier 8: In a game matching two teams making their NCAA tournament debuts, the Wildcats prevailed in the Houston Regional. Kansas State's Justin Bloxom went 5-for-5 with two home runs. The Wildcats (42-16-1) had 17 hits against the Musketeers (38-20). Jordan Cruz (3-for-4), Carter Jurica (2-for-4) and Jason King (2-for-3) supported Bloxom's career-high five hits. In addition to the two homers, Bloxom added two doubles. Lance Hoge got the victory, allowing Kansas State to save All-American ace A.J. Morris to face Rice, the Houston Regional's top seed.

Western Kentucky 11, Missouri 5: The Hilltoppers' first six hitters in the first inning reached base, producing a six-run inning that the Tigers (34-26) were unable to overcome in Game One of the Oxford Regional. Wade Gaynor's three-run homer was the biggest blow of the opening frame. Western Kentucky (40-18) scored two more in the third to take an 8-0 lead. The last time Missouri lost its opening game of an NCAA regional was in 2006 and the Tigers came back to win the regional.

Oklahoma 5, Wichita State 4: The Sooners (42-18) needed a three-run sixth inning to rally past the stubborn Shockers in the Norman Regional. Oklahoma, playing before a capacity crowd of 3,176 on its home field, got a two-run single from Big 12 Freshman Of The Year Garrett Buechele to tie the game in the sixth. Buechele then scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Ross Hubbard. Wichita State (30-26) built a 4-1 lead, overcoming Jamie Johnson's lead-off homer in the OU first.

Coastal Carolina 11, Kansas 3: The Jayhawks' losing streak reached a season-worst four as the Chanticleers were dominant at the plate and on the mound in the Chapel Hill Regional. Coastal Carolina (47-14) had two three-run innings. The first came in the opening inning as David Anderson hit a three-run homer, his 20th. Shortstop David Narodowski was the only offensive threat for Kanas (37-23); he hit two solo home runs. Kansas sophomore third baseman Tony Thompson extended his hitting streak to 17 games.

Oregon State 9, Texas A&M 8: The Beavers, who won consecutive national championships in 2006 and 2007, jumped to a 9-1 lead and then held off the Aggies' rally in Game One of the Fort Worth Regional. Oregon State (36-17) had 13 hits - with seven coming from the bottom three hitters in its lineup - and scored seven runs after two were out. Texas A&M (36-23) got four runs in the seventh and Caleb Shofner's two-out, three-run homer in the ninth cut the margin to a single run.

NCAA Regional baseball, Day Two
Saturday's Big 12 schedule
(All times Central)
At Chapel Hill:
     Kansas vs. Dartmouth, noon
At Oxford:            Missouri vs. Monmouth, 1 p.m.
At Fort Worth:     Texas A&M vs. Wright State, 2 p.m.
At Baton Rouge:  Baylor vs. LSU, 6 p.m.
At Austin:             Texas vs. Boston College, 6 p.m.
At Clemson:        Oklahoma State vs. Clemson, 6 p.m.
At Houston:          Kansas State vs. Rice, 6 p.m.
At Norman:           Oklahoma vs. Arkansas, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, May 26

Four Big 12 players Golden Spikes semifinalists
Four Big 12 players have made the semifinal list for the Golden Spikes Award, which is presented annual to the nation's top amateur player. The 30-player list includes Missouri pitcher Kyle Gibson, Kansas State pitcher A.J. Morris, Texas A&M outfielder/pitcher Brooks Raley and Oklahoma catcher J.T. Wise.

Opinions from the World-Wide Headquarters (ESPN)
Bruce Feldman writes about his 10 teams most likely to make significant improvements in their won-loss records. Two Big 12 teams make this list.

Baylor (4-8 in 2008): Art Briles' team has 16 starters back including QB Robert Griffin, a dynamic talent who has made this program relevant again. Briles has surrounded Griffin with some speedy playmakers and now they have 350-pound Penn State transfer Phil Taylor to anchor the defense. To say Briles has big expectations for Taylor would be an understatement. When I spoke to the coach a few months ago he said he'd be disappointed if Taylor didn't make first-team All-Big 12 this year. My hunch is Baylor matches last season's win total by mid-October.

Colorado (5-7): I'm not ready to go as far as coach Dan Hawkins did in December when he predicted 10 wins this season, but CU does have a lot of impressive athletes on both sides of the ball. You would think the Buffs, which were 100th in the country in scoring would be due for a major leap in production. (Wait, a Big 12 team was that far down in the country in scoring last season?!?) Special teams also needs to make a big improvement too. The best news on the schedule front is they don't have to face Oklahoma, but they do have to go to Texas and Oklahoma State. They have a good chance to be favored in all six of their home games although the season finale against Nebraska is very iffy. It should be noted that the home team has won the previous three meetings between NU-CU.

Doug Gottlieb has three Big 12 players among the 10 freshmen he can't wait to see.

Avery Bradley, Texas: Combine his shot-making with the talent of fellow frosh Jordan Hamilton and Florida transfer Jai Lucas, and the Horns will have at least three potential NBA lottery picks. And if Damion James returns, they might be able to get to a Final Four. Bradley is a rare blend of offensive and defense. He blew up on the scene as a defensive stopper in Seattle-area AAU hoops and then developed one of the best and most athletic midrange games to enter college hoops in quite a while.

Wally Judge, Kansas State: Judge and Rodney McGruder form a fierce tandem of recruits for Frank Martin in Manhattan. Judge is a wiry 6-8 and can carry a team offensively. While I do not expect a Michael Beasley-like season, KSU does have Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen in the backcourt to make the Wildcats worthy of the Dance.

Marquis Gilstrap, Iowa State: Not a freshman, and not even close. He was a juco stud who dropped out of school to work for two years, came back and was fantastic last season at Gulf Coast, averaging a double-double as a small forward. ISU finally has a bit of continuity, and Gilstrap gives them age and athleticism to go with an already solid lineup, including the best returning big man in the college game, Craig Brackins. Gilstrap has just one year to play in Ames - and I think he'll make the most of it. He'll have a great deal of impact on a program desperate to become relevant again in the Big 12.

Andy Katz on Texas A&M's three NBA early entrants: Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon expects the school to make an announcement next week on the decisions of early entrants Donald Sloan, Bryan Davis and Chinemelu Elonu. But the odds are in Turgeon's favor that all three will return to College Station for next season and give the Aggies a chance to go to three straight NCAA tournaments under Turgeon (Billy Gillispie had the Aggies in the NCAA prior to Turgeon's arrival, too). The Aggies do lose top scorer Josh Carter, but would have no chance to get back to the NCAAs without Sloan, Davis and Elonu, the Nos. 2-4 scorers on last season's team. None of the three were invited to the Chicago pre-draft combine. At least one of the three has one more NBA team workout scheduled and that is apparently holding up the final announcement.

 

Links to start a short work week
A preview of the NCAA men's golf championship that starts today at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Top-ranked Oklahoma State hopes to prevail in the tournament, which debuts a new format.

Nice story by Andrea Cohen of the Oklahoman on the verbal and non-verbal language of college baseball.

Baylor had to wait until the last four-team regional bracket was announced before finding out they'd earned an invitation to the NCAA baseball championship.

Oklahoma State players took different approaches to Selection Monday as they waited word on whether the Cowboys made the 64-team bracket.

Dave Matter covers Missouri football for the Columbia Daily Tribune and his work is a must-read. He's offering a weekly Big 12 summer countdown. This week's topic is who will fill the shoes of departed stars.

Monday, May 25

Big 12 places record eight teams in NCAA bracket
Big 12 baseball has justified its power by placing eight teams in the 64-team NCAA baseball bracket that was announced Monday. The Big 12 placed seven teams in the bracket in 2006, which was the best for the conference.

Regular-season and tournament champion Texas was made the overall No. 1 seed while Oklahoma, which finished second to the Longhorns in the regular season, was made the No. 7 overall seed. Both teams will host regionals this week. Texas will open play against Army while Oklahoma will start against Wichita State.

Texas A&M hits the road to the Fort Worth (TCU) Regional and will open by playing Oregon state. Missouri will head to the Oxford (Miss.) Regional and will face Western Kentucky.
Kansas is heading to the North Carolina Regional and will face Coastal Carolina. Kansas State is assigned to the Houston Regional (Rice) and will face Xavier.

Baylor, which stumbled late in the season, earned an invitation despite losing 12 of its last 16. The Bears head to the Baton Rouge Regional (LSU) and will face Minnesota.

Oklahoma State finished ninth in the Big 12 standings and failed to qualify for the eight-team Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship tournament. However, the Cowboys (32-22) earned a bid and will travel to the Clemson Regional and will face Alabama.

The 16 regionals have four teams that will battle in a double-elimination format. The 16 teams that survive the regionals will advance to eight super regional sites. The hosts for the eight super regionals will be announced after the field is trimmed to 16 teams.

Sunday, May 23

Overcoming 'adversity'
Missouri's baseball program has become a regular NCAA participant under coach Tim Jamieson's guidance. The Tigers reached the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship for the second time when Texas A&M defeated Texas Tech in Saturday night's rain-delayed game.

Jamieson's Tigers faced top-seeded Texas in Sunday's championship game. Few know how much Jamieson has had to overcome to become a successful baseball coach.

In the summer of 1972 in Columbia, Mo., Jamieson and his brother were teammates on a team in the Daniel Boone Little League. The team was coached by Your Humble Correspondent. Tim Jamieson, who was supposed to be the catcher, suffered a broken hand and missed most of the season. Either that inactivity or Jamieson's persaverance helped him overcome that summer of "coaching" to become a big-time college baseball coach.

Saturday, May 23

TV conflicts for Big 12 championship game
Sunday's Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship game at 1 p.m. on FSN will be preempted on FSN Kansas City because of the Kansas City Royals-St. Louis Cardinals game.

Viewers in Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois will see the Big 12 game on FOX Sports Midwest (no conflict). Viewers in Indiana will join the Big 12 game in progress at approximately 3 p.m. CT following Cincinnati Reds baseball. Viewers in our Royals territory will see the Royals on FOX Sports Kansas City or FOX Sports Midwest and the Big 12 game on alternate channels.

Viewers in the effected areas (Royals territory - Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and central and western Missouri) can view the Big 12 game on the following alternate channel numbers:

Time Warner/Kansas City    30
Comcast/Independence     261
Media Com/Springfield         22
Media Com/Columbia            22
Media Com/Des Moines        22
Cable One/Joplin                  78
Sunflower/Lawrence            6
Time Warner Lincoln          102
Cox/Wichita                          22
Cox/Omaha                        122
AT&T U-Verse                   748
(Fox Sports Midwest main channel)
DirecTV                              671
(Fox Sports Midwest main channel)
Dish                                    418
(Fox Sports Midwest main channel)

Holiday links
Courtesy of the Dallas Morning News, here's a look at the video board at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, which will be home to three Big 12 regular-season games plus the Big 12 Championship.

Anthony Kim, the PGA player who played collegiately at Oklahoma, was in a pro-am pairing with Texas coach Mack Brown. Kim was prepared to talk smack but was disarmed by Brown's charm. (This link includes a video clip.)

Columnist John Rohde of the Oklahoman writes that the Big 12 is starting to produce pitchers coveted by the big leagues.

Washington Wizards center Etan Thomas, a native of Tulsa, offers this tribute to his boyhood hero, the late Wayman Tisdale.

Tim Griffin, who blanket covers the Big 12 for ESPN.com, writes that Iowa State running back Alexander Robinson is adjusting to the third offensive philosophy the Cyclones have used in his time in Ames.

Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times lists 10 college football games for the upcoming season that will be worth watching. Three games involving Big 12 teams made the list.

Nice story by Courtney Linehan of the Ames Tribune on Iowa State football players volunteering with Special Olympics Iowa. Special Olympics is the official charity of the Big 12.

Big 12 discusses cost containment
The Big 12 wrapped up its annual spring meetings Thursday by announcing a record revenue distribution. The conference will distribute $130 million to its member schools; last year, the Big 12 set a record by distributing $113.5 million.

The main agenda item discussed during the meetings - which included school presidents, athletic directors and faculty representatives - in Colorado Springs, Colo., involved cost containment.

“Cost-containment is important because we want to drive as much revenue as possible back to the schools," commissioner Dan Beebe said. "We need to be cognizant of returning revenue to our schools so they can support their programs. The Conference itself is going to be stable, but we are trying to help schools make up for any losses.”

The Big 12 will support and pursue the following cost-cutting initiatives: elimination of non-traditional playing seasons, foreign travel, regional track and field championships and elimination of printed media guides.

“The non-traditional playing seasons would not allow them to have organized activities outside their traditional season," said Missouri athletic director Mike Alden, chair and spokesperson for the athletic directors. “There are a number of schools already doing some of these things. A lot of movement has already taken place - we just want to push for it at a higher level.”

Texas 9, Kansas 3
Top-seeded Texas bounced back from its loss on Wednesday with an impressive 9-3 victory over Kansas Thursday in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship.

Brandon Belt got the Longhorns off to a quick start with a two-run home run in the top of the first. It was Belt's second two-run homer in consecutive at bats; he also had a two-run dinger in his final at bat Wednesday.

The Longhorns got a four runs in the fourth inning, with catcher Cameron Rupp blasting a three-run homer to center field.

That was more than enough for sophomore right hander Chase Ruffin. He boosted his record to 9-2 with a complete-game effort. He allowed four hits and struck out six.

Wednesday, May 20

Game 2: Texas 5, Baylor 2
The Longhorns added two more runs on a two-out, bases-loaded singled by right fielder Kevin Keyes, who is two-for-two with three RBI. Texas has sent 17 batters to the plate in the first two innings and has knocked out Baylor starter Logan Verrett.

Game 2: Texas 3, Baylor 2
The Longhorns answered Baylor's two-spot with three of their own in the bottom of the first. Only two of Texas' four hits reached the outfield as it sent nine men to the plate. UT's first two runs scored on fielder's choices and the third run came in on Kevin Keyes' run-scoring single to center.

Game 2: Baylor 2, Texas 0
The Bears, who came into the Big 12 tournament struggling, needed four hitters to take a quick lead on the regular-season champions. With one out, Raynor Campbell doubled to right center and one out later Aaron Miller drilled a 92-mph fastball to deep right field for a two-run homer and a 2-0 Baylor lead. 

News and notes
ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz wrote about NBA early-entry candidates this week. Here's what he said about Texas junior forward Damion James:

Texas coach Rick Barnes said James hasn't signed with agent Andy Miller, despite rumors to the contrary. Miller said the same thing Monday afternoon. Both of them said that Miller is advising James, which is allowed under NCAA rules.

"He's allowed to advice - he hasn't signed anything,'' Barnes said of James. "Andy Miller has done everything right with us.''

Miller said he is helping James gather information for workouts. James is scheduled to go to the Chicago pre-draft combine next week.

"It will all come down to how he does in the workouts,'' Barnes said.

James is projected to be a late first- or early second-round pick.

"It's not 'Are you ready to play in the NBA?' but 'Are you ready to stick?' that's the key,'' Barnes said. "Can you stick?"

Barnes said, with or without James, the Longhorns will be a "really good" next season with Gary Johnson and Dexter Pittman up front, along with newcomer Shawn Williams. Barnes said Pittman has the potential to be a lottery pick. The perimeter would have a rotation of Justin Mason, Dogus Balbay and newcomers Avery Bradley and Florida transfer Jai Lucas, whom Barnes said is "better than I thought." Lucas will be eligible in mid-December.

* Texas has set the date for its home game with Michigan State. The Longhorns will face the Spartans on Dec. 22. That's one of three marquee games for Texas in December. UT will play host to USC on Dec. 3 and will face North Carolina on Dec. 19 in the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

* C.J. Henry, the older brother of Kansas signee Xavier Henry, has been admitted to school and will be eligible to play in the 2009-10 season. C.J., a 6-4, 210-pound guard, was a non-scholarship freshman at Memphis last season, but did not play due to injury. In 2005, he verbally committed to playing basketball at KU, but the New York Yankees then made him their first-round pick (overall No. 17) in the MLB Amateur Draft. He played three years of professional baseball in the minor leagues before heading to Memphis.

* The Big 12's Saturday men's basketball telecasts on the Big 12 Network this upcoming season will be shown in high definition. Also, ABC's college football telecasts for the 2009 season will be aired in HD.

Game 1 final: Kansas State 5, Kansas 4
Kansas State took the lead with two outs in the bottom of the eighth.

The Wildcats, who had tied the game with an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh, put together a two-out rally for the winning run. Jordan Cruz singled and then scored when Rob Vaughn's line drive to center got past a diving Jason Brunansky. Cruz came around to score on the double.

In the top of the ninth, Kansas' Tony Thompson singled with one out - his fourth hit of the game - but became the 12th Jayhawk to be left on base.

Kansas next faces top-seeded Texas at 3 p.m. Wednesday while Kansas State will play No. 8 seed Baylor at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Game 1: Kansas State 4, Kansas 4
The Wildcats evened the score with an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh. Two infield errors put runners at first and third. Second baseman Carter Jurica came through with the run-scoring hit, drilling an off-speed pitch to left for a single.

Game 1: Kansas 4, Kansas State 3
Kansas answered Kansas State's three-run inning with a three-spot of their own in the top of the seventh. Three pitchers were unable to execute the shut-down inning for the Wildcats as the Jayhawks collected four hits. Robby Price led off with a double to left that Nick Martini just missed chasing down. Buck Afenir drove in Price with a single. DH Zac Elgie had the big hit, a bases-loaded single through the right side that drove in two runs for the 4-3 edge.

Game 1: Kansas State 3, Kansas 1
The Wildcats scored three runs on four hits in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead. Adam Muenster had a run-scoring double while Nick Martini and Jason King delivered run-scoaring singles.

Game 1: Kansas State 2, Kansas 1
Nick Martini's hot shot got through Kansas first baseman Preston Land to drive in Adam Muenster from second baseman to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. K-State had three hard hits in four at bats against Kansas starter Shaeffer Hall to take the lead. Martini's single knocked Hall out of the game; he was replaced by Colton Murray.

Game 1: Kansas 1, Kansas State 1
The Wildcats tied the game with back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the sixth. Designated hitter Dane Yelovich led off the inning to a ground-rule double over the 415-foot mark in left-center field. Adam Muenster followed with a double that brought up the chalk behind third base.

Kansas has left nine runners on base through six innings.

Game 1: Kansas 1, Kansas State 0
The Wildcats are making a pitching change. Starter Lance Hoge went four and one-third innings. He gave up a lead-off homer to Kansas' David Narodowski, then gave up a single and walk. He was replaced by right hander Evan Marshall. He retired Tony Thompson - who had doubled in his first two at bats - and Casey Lytle to put out the fire.

Game 1: Kansas 1, Kansas State 0
The Jayhawks broke up a scoreless game with David Narodowski's lead-off home run to start the field. Narodowski, the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, hit a line shot to left that bounced off the back row of the bleachers to give Kansas a 1-0 lead.

Game 1, Kansas vs. Kansas State
The Jayhawks and the Wildcats, who just finished up a three-game series Sunday, are meeting in the first game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship at Brickyard Ballpark in Oklahoma City.

Game-time temperature was 59 degrees with a 10 mph breeze blowing from right to left. In case those facts are lost in translation: perfect weather.

Through three innings, the teams are scoreless. Kansas got a lead-off double from third baseman Tony Thompson to start the second then had back-to-back two-out singles in the third but catcher Buck Afenir struck out with runners at first and third.

In the bottom of the third, designated hitter Adam Muenster singled with two outs, then stole second and third. Second baseman Carter Jurica struck out.

Kansas had runners at first and third with no outs in the top of the fourth but Kansas State starter Lance Hoge got the next three Jayhawks hitters.

* You've heard the term "ducks on the pond," a euphemism for men on base? To start the game, there were two ducks on the field. They wandered in from right field and were on the infield dirt for the first pitch but scattered at the first sound of metal bat on all.

* About half a dozen fans took advantage of the hotel parking garage beyond the left-field wall at The Brick. They stood on the top level and watched the game.

Tuesday, May 19

Lunch and talkin' Big 12 baseball
The Big 12 media luncheon was held at Mickey Mantle's restaurant, across the street from the Bricktown. The 2009 individual awards  presented and each coach had the chance to speak about his team and the tournament.

Baylor coach Steve Smith,'s team has lost a school record 10 consecutive conference games and 12 of its last 14. The Bears are the No. 8 seed, finishing just ahead of Oklahoma State. Baylor and OSU split two games with the final game of the series rained out. Had that game been played and the Cowboys won, they would have earned the final spot.

Despite his team's recent woes, Smith was in stand-up comedy form.

"I feel like we ought to apologize since we're here and the Cowboys are not," Smith said. "It's not my fault it rained, regardless of what they're saying on the Internet. I didn't pray for rain. It just did."

The Bears ended the season by being swept by last-place Nebraska.

"I was in the Omaha airport Monday, we were coming back from our bi-annual sweep at Nebraska," he said. "I was looking for something to read at Hudson bookstore. I get to the second rack of books, second row of books, next-to-last book on the right. It's entitled 'Why We Suck.' I did not buy it. Maybe I should have, maybe the answers are in there.

"I think why we suck is sitting in this room - the players and the coaches and the teams in this conference. The league was so good."

In its second game Thursday, Baylor will face Kansas State. The Wildcats will start ace and Big 12 pitcher of the year A.J. Morris in that game instead of using him in their opener against Kansas Wedneday.

"A.J., I know you're really, really good and I wish you weren't gonna throw on Thursday," Smith said. "I just don't think that's right."

Smith complimented Texas coach Augie Garrido on its team play but still drew some chuckles.

"You got the big guys up there showing drag bunt ... gimme a break, all right. Swing the bat."

One last line from the Baylor coach: "I'm proud of our team. We did make really good grades. The answer to why we suck has nothing to do with grades."

Other notable comments made during the luncheon:

* Missouri coach Tim Jamieson: "Before we got on the bus to come here, I was reminded by our athletic administrators that the women's soccer team on the Big 12 championship in Oklahoma City, the men's basketball team won the Big 12 championship in Oklahoma City, the softball team won the Big 12 championship in Oklahoma City ... but don't feel any pressure this week."

* Texas coach Augie Garrido: "We were oh for Kansas this year and both Kansas teams are in our bracket."

* Garrido on the conference: "I don't know if we're champions or survivors. There should be a Big 12 reality show called Baseball Survivor. Any of the eight teams can win this tournament and that's pretty exciting."

* Oklahoma coach Sunny Galloway: "It's unforgiving conference. You can't stumble. We had one bad weekend (being swept at Texas). But this should pay off for all the Big 12 teams down the road."

* Kansas State's Brad Hill on being selected coach of the year: "We had a great group of seniors and I give them all the credit. What happened this year is I coached less. The players, the older kids, took ownership of the program and started coaching and reinforcing things. The kids realized it's all about the team."

* Smith on the Big 12's strength: "This is a special league this year. In five or years yeres, there are gonna be a bunch of Big 12 players in the big leagues. I think the rest of the country will find out how good the Big 12 is. I've had a chance to watch games from around the country and I haven't seen arms in other conferences like they are in this league. I really think the national championship team is in this room.

Big 12 baseball practice day notes
Greetings from the Brickyard Ballpark in Oklahoma City. Tuesday the eight teams in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship each had a one-hour batting practice scheduled at the facility so they could prepare for Wednesday's opening day.

* Kansas coach Ritch Price echoed the sentiments of his fellow coaches by praising the tournament format that has been in effect since 2006. In the first two years of the Big 12, the top six teams made the tournament, which was a double-elination format.

Starting in 1999, the Big 12 adopted an eight-team format with four teams in one "pool" and four in another. The teams in each pool face each other in a round-robin format with the winner of each pool playing in the championship game.

"(Texas coach) Augie Garrido came up with this format and it's great because it saves your pitching staff," Price said. "In double-elimination, you can burn up your bullpen. This way, you're setting your pitching up for the NCAA tournament."

The Atlantic Coast Conference has adopted a similar format.

* Allow Your Humble Correspondent a moment to praise the purity of baseball. During a batting practice, there's a rhythmic dance that takes place. Pitcher throws. Batter swings. Ping (metal bat; only lack of "purity"). A fungo grounder from either side of home plate before the next pitch. Rinse. Repeat.

* Nice product placement. On the left field foul pole, Big 12 corporate sponsor Chick-fil-A has a banner that reads "Eat More Fowl." Clever.

* Harrison Hill, Kansas State coach Brad Hill's 15-year-old son, shagged balls in the outfield and took some turns in the batting cage. Your Humble Correspondent, who had dreams of being the St. Louis Cardinals' next great shortstop when he was 15, was envious.

* There's a bit of Big 12 deja vu with Kansas facing Kansas State in Wednesday's first game. The teams just finished a three-game series to close out the regular season. In men's basketball, there was a similar repeat meet; Nebraska and Baylor played in the final regular-season game and then faced each other in the first game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Basketball Tournament.

Football news and notes
* The Sporting News 2009 college football preview issue has hit the stands. The magazine has three Big 12 teams in its pre-season top 10 and five total teams in the top 25. The TSN top 10: The top 10: 1, Florida; 2, Texas; 3, Oklahoma; 4, Southern California; 5, Mississippi; 6, Virginia Tech; 7, Oregon; 8, LSU; 9, Ohio State; 10, Oklahoma State. Texas Tech is ranked No. 20 and Kansas No. 25.

* Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com ranked the post spring top 25. His top 10: 1, Florida; 2, Texas; 3, Oklahoma; 4, USC; 5, Virginia Tech; 6, Ohio State; 7, Mississippi; 8, Alabama; 9, Penn State; 10, Oklahoma State. Nebraska is ranked No. 20 and Kansas No. 25.

* Kansas announced Tuesday it will install new FieldTurf at Memorial Stadium. The installation will take place in late spring and the new surface is expected to be ready for the Jayhawks' season opener with Northern Colorado on Sept. 5. There are five other Big 12 teams that have FieldTurf in their stadiums - Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Texas Tech.

NCAA softball super regionals
The two Big 12 softball teams heading to the NCAA super regionals will be playing this weekend. The winners of the two-out-of-three series will advance to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., starting May 28.

Missouri, the Big 12 tournament champions and winner of the Columbia Regional, will play at UCLA at 8:30 p.m. CT Saturday. The second game will be played at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. A third game, if necessary, will be played at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. All games of the series will be televised on ESPNU.

Baylor, which won the Waco Regional, travels to Ann Arbor to face Michigan. The first game will be at 7 p.m. CT Friday. The teams will play Game Two at 1:30 p.m. Saturday with a third game, if necessary, at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. All games of the series will be televised on ESPN.

Big 12 benefits from ESPU and ESPN.360 expansion
ESPN Media Networks announced Tuesday that it had reached distribution agreements with Comcast and DirectTV that will expand the cable universe for ESPNU and ESPN.360. ESPNU will have more than 46 million subscribers and ESPN360.com will be available to nearly 41 million homes, a majority of broadband homes in America.

The expanded cable universe for ESPNU and ESPN.360 in turn will increase the exposure of any Big 12 events televised on those two cable platforms.

"We're pleased with this next step in the expansion of ESPNU and share their confidence the network with continue to grow," Big 12 senior associtate commissioner Tim Allen said. "The Kansas-Missouri basketball game three years ago was one of first marquee events on ESPNU and we are glad we played a part in the growth."

Monday, May 17

Hot links
Texas A&M, the nation's top-ranked women's track and field team, finished with 126.5 points to beat Texas Tech by 15.5 points in the Big 12 Outdoor Championships.

Depth made the difference for Nebraska's track and field team, which captured the Big 12 men's title over the weekend at Texas Tech.

Depth also was a factor for Oklahoma State's men's golf team, which advanced to the NCAA championship by winning the NCAA South Central Regional on their home course.

Texas Tech continued its streak of winning the 110-meter hurdles and ended Baylor's winning streak in the 400 meters in the Big 12 men's outdoor track and field meet.

Texas Tech senior D’Andra Carter won the discus for the second year in a row at the Big 12 outdoor track and field championships, throwing 187 feet, 2 inches.

Jason Evans, a walk-on football player at Oklahoma State who also served time in Iraq as a Marine, has auditioned to be on MTV's "The Real World."

John Currie, who was officially introduced as Kansas State's athletic director Monday, was known for his hands-on approach while working in the athletic department at Tennessee.

Sunday, May 16

Big 12 tournament seeds, pairings set
The Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship starts Wednesday at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City. The seeds: 1, Texas; 2, Oklahoma; 3, Missouri; 4, Kansas State; 5, Kansas; 6, Texas A&M; 7, Texas Tech; 8, Baylor. Pool 1 is Texas, Kansas State, Kansas and Baylor. Pool 2 is Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

Wednesday's schedule: Kansas State vs. Kansas, 9 a.m.; Texas vs. Baylor, 12:30 p.m.; Missouri vs. Texas A&M, 4 p.m.; Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday's schedule: Texas vs. Kansas, 3 p.m.; Kansas State vs. Baylor, 7:30 p.m.

Friday's schedule: Missouri vs. Texas Tech, 3 p.m.; Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday's schedule: Kansas vs. Baylor, 9 a.m; Texas vs. Kansas State, 12:30 p.m.; Oklahoma vs. Missouri, 4 p.m.; Texas A&M vs. Texas Tech, 7:30 p.m.

The winner of each pool will meet in the championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday. That game will be televised on FSN. All of the preceding games will be streamed live at Big12sports.com.

Baylor wins Waco Regional
A five-run fifth inning boosted Baylor to a 6-1 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette Sunday for the championship of the Waco Regional. The Lady Bears (40-20) advance to the super regional for the third time in five years; they'll face fifth-seeded Michigan in Ann Arbor in a best-of-three series. Freshman pitcher Whitney Canion (27-16) retired the last 11 batters. She allowed three hits, one run, one walk while striking out five.

Missouri wins Columbia Regional
Rhea Taylor's sixth-inning home run and pitcher Chelsea Thomas kept DePaul off the scoreboard as Missouri triumphed, 1-0, Sunday to win the Columbia Regional. The Tigers (49-9) turned two double plays to support Thomas. Missouri set a school record for victories in a season in advancing to the super regional for the second consecutive season. The Tigers will face No. 2 seed UCLA in Los Angeles later this week in a best-of-three series.

3 Big 12 players finalists for USA team
Oklahoma's Whitney Hand and Danielle Robinson plus Danielle McCray of Kansas were among the 14 finalists invited to compete for a spot on the 12-member USA World University Games team. There were 30 players invited to try out in Colorado Springs, Colo., for the three-day trials that ended Sunday. The 14 players will return to Colorado Springs on June 18 for a week-long training camp that will help trim the roster to 12 players. The World University Games will take place in Belgrade, Serbia on July 1-11.

Saturday, May 16

Oklahoma eliminated from NCAA softball
Saturday will be a day long remembered in Oklahoma softball but not all the memories are enjoyable.

The Sooners, regular-season Big 12 champions, had never lost at home in an NCAA tournament game. But on Saturday, OU lost twice and was eliminated. The day started with North Dakota State completing a game suspended Friday night with a 1-0, 11-inning victory.

Oklahoma, which had been scoreless for 22 consecutive innings, scored 21 runs in the final three innings of a 21-2 romp over Arkansas. The Sooners tied school single-game records for most runs and most home runs (five); they finished with 23 hits.

Oklahoma was one out away from advancing to a championship rematch with North Dakota State Sunday. But with two outs and two on in the bottom of the seventh,
Tulsa pinch hitter Kelly Chapman - a .163 hitter - slammed a walk-off home run for a 5-3 victory.

“She had a chance to do something big and she stepped up and did it,” Okalhoma  coach Patty Gasso said of Chapman. “We had some opportunities throughout this game to do things and score more runs and we couldn’t get it done. During the postseason you need to be able to step up and we just didn’t quite have it.”

Oklahoma State stays alive
A second 1-0 victory over Florida State moved Oklahoma State into the championship round of the Tallahassee Regional. The Cowgirls edged the 16th-seeded Seminoles when Julie Ward scored from third on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 12th inning. Oklahoma State's Anna Whiddon pitched a complete game, striking nine and walking just one. The Cowgirls beat Florida State 1-0 in the first round on Friday. Oklahoma State needs to beat California twice on Sunday in order to advance to the super regional.

Missouri in championship game
Missouri scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth on Kathryn Poet's double, defeating Bradley 2-1 Saturday in the Columbia Regional. The victory puts the Tigers into Sunday's championship game against DePaul, which survived the loser's bracket. Missouri needs just one victory to reach the super regional.

Baylor advances to championship game
Baylor knocked off Texas State, 7-4, Saturday at Getterman Stadium in the Waco Regional. Baylor was outhit 12-5 but took advantage of four Texas State errors. The victory puts the Lady Bears into Sunday's championship round. They need one more victory to advance to the Super Regional. Baylor will face the winner of Sunday's Texas State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette loser's bracket game.

Rounding up the rest of Big 12 softball
Texas A&M lost to Lehigh, 3-2, Saturday. The Aggies' second loss - they fell to No. 1 seed Florida, 7-1, earlier Saturday - knocked them out of the Gainesville Regional.

Texas lost to Alabama, 10-1, Saturday in a game that included a three-hour rain delay. The Longhorns' loser's bracket game with Mississippi Valley State was postponed to Sunday morning.

Nebraska's loser's bracket game with Jacksonville State in the Knoxville Regional was postponed by rain. The teams will meet Sunday morning with the loser being eliminated.

Lopez medalist; Texas qualifies for NCAA golf championship
Texas finished third in the Southwest Regional held at the University of Texas Golf Club in Austin. The Longhorns, who were just three strokes behind first-place Florida, qualifed for the NCAA Championships set for May 26-30 at the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio. Since the NCAA started the regional qualifying format in 1989, Texas has qualified for 17 of 21 national champinships. Texas junior Lance Lopez shot a one-over 72 for a wire-to-wire performance to take medalist honors.

Oklahoma State wins golf regional
Oklahoma State's men's golf team earned its 63rd consecutive NCAA Championship berth Saturday by winning the NCAA South Central Regional at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla. The Cowboys won by 22 strokes over second-place Arkansas. Oklahoma State will advance to the NCAA national championship at Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio May 26-30.

Texas A&M reaches men's golf championship
Texas A&M advanced to the NCAA Championship by finishing third in the Men's Golf West Regional at Lake Merced Golf Club Saturday. Aggies senior Bronson Burgoon set a Texas A&M record with an eight-under-par 64 on Saturday as the No. 12-ranked Aggies finished third at the NCAA Men's Golf West Regional at Lake Merced Golf Club. he Aggies have made it to the national finals in six of the last seven years.

Weather delays NCAA men's and women's tennis
Inclement weather Saturday has forced changes to the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Tennis Championships being held at Texas A&M's George P. Mitchell Tennis Center. The men's quarterfinal matches between Virginia and Southern California plus Georgia vs. Texas resume at 9 a.m. Sunday. Quarterfinal matches in the women's tournament will play later Sunday afternoon.

Oklahoma drubs Arkansas to stay alive
After failing to score in 22 consecutive innings, Oklahoma's offense exploded for a 21-2 victory over Arkansas Saturday in the Norman Regional. The loss eliminated the Razorbacks. The Sooners, who had lost to North Dakota State earlier Saturday, will now face Tulsa in a loser's bracket elimination game.

Oklahoma finished with 23 hits and scored all of its runs over the last three innings. The Sooners scored 13 runs in the top of the seventh to blow it open.

Oklahoma's softball team stunned in NCAAs
Big 12 regular-season champion Oklahoma had never lost a home NCAA regional softball game until North Dakota State pinned the Sooners with a 1-0, 11-inning defeat Saturday. The game had been suspended because of weather Friday night tied 0-0 after nine innings.

North Dakota State's Jackie Currie hit a two-out home run in the 11th inning to provide the winning run. Five-foot-three pitcher Andi Padilla held the Sooners to two hits in recording the victory. Over its last 18 innings, Oklahoma has just four hits and has failed to score.

In order to advance to the NCAA super regional, the Sooners must win four consecutive games.

Baylor women win tennis match disguised as marathon
Baylor defeated Stanford, 4-3, in the women's tennis Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship.

That simple statement hardly does justice to a match that started at 7 p.m. Friday, required nearly seven hours and didn't finish until 2:12 a.m. Csilla Borsanyi clinched the victory for Baylor with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 singles victory victory that lasted three hours and 12 minutes.

A power outage at the George P. Mitchell Tennis Center on the campus of Texas A&M resulted in a suspension in play. When the power was restored, lighting was available on just a few courts which further slowed the pace of play.

“Stanford played a great match,” Baylor coach Joey Scrivano said. “I don’t think either team deserved to lose. We were fortunate to win, and I’m still a little in shock that we won it because it didn’t look good for a long time and everything looked like it was against us. It’s a huge win for us.”

The Lady Bears are scheduled to face Notre Dame in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Saturday.

Big 12 baseball tournament: Baylor's in, Oklahoma State's out
Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, Oklahoma State needed to sweep Texas Tech and have Nebraska sweep Baylor in order for the Cowboys to continue their streak of playing in 42 consecutive conference tournaments.

Final from Lincoln: Nebraska 10, Baylor.

Final from Lubbock: Texas Tech 9, Oklahoma State.

Those results mean that the Bears, despite having lost eight consecutive Big 12 games, clinched the final spot in next week's Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma State and Nebraska are the two teams left out of the eight-team tournament.

Baylor's loss to the last-place Cornhuskers dropped the Bears' record to 27-21 overall and 10-14 in conference play. Unless Baylor can pull out of its nose dive, there's a chance it could miss out on the NCAA tournament.

The last time Oklahoma State didn't participate in a conference tournament was 1977 when it was a member of the old Big Eight Conference.

Friday, May 15

NCAA softball roundup
Big 12 teams went 5-0 with two games delayed by rain until Saturday. It was far from easy as four of the five victories were by one run and two games went extra innings. Oklahoma State, one of the last at-large teams to make the bracket, proved its worth with a 1-0 victory over No. 16 seed Florida State on the Seminoles' home field. At two of the regionals hosted by Big 12 teams, the seeded team was upset. Bradley knocked off No. 15 seed DePaul in Columbia and Texas State shocked No. 13 seed Northwestern in Waco.

Missouri's game with Illinois was rained out and rescheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday. Oklahoma and North Dakota State were tied 0-0 after nine innings when the game was suspended because of rain. The game will resume at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Texas A&M 1, Lehigh 0: Senior Erin Glasco hit a full-count, two-out home run in the first inning to give the Aggies (32-20) all the runs they would need. Freshman pitcher Rebecca Arbino held the Mountain Hawks (36-17-1) to just four hits and struck out six without a walk to earn her fifth shutout this season. "The way we played defensively and in the circle really showed that we came prepared to play," A&M coach Jo Evans said. "Offensively, we didn't hit the ball quite as well as we had hoped to, but I tip my hat to Erin. To score in the first inning and get some momentum is always a huge help." The Aggies will face Florida, the NCAA tournament's No. 1 seed, in Saturday's winner's bracket.

Texas 1, Chattanooga 0: Sophomore Brittany Barnhill tossed a two-hitter and singled home the game-winning run in the ninth inning to lift the Longhorns (39-18) into the winner's bracket. Barnhill had a no-hitter through one out in the ninth inning. Freshman shortstop Lexy Bennett started Texas' two-out, game-winning rally with a single. After a walk, Barnhill's single to left scored pinch runner Raygan Feight. The Longhorns will face Alabama Saturday.

Oklahoma State 1, Florida State 0: Anna Whiddon's one-hitter helped the Cowgirls (35-20) stun the No. 16 Seminoles on their home field in the Tallahassee Regional. Whiddon struck out nine, including the last two outs. Oklahoma State scored the winning run in the top of the seventh playing small ball. The Cowgirls bunted four times; Megan Castle led off with a bunt single and moved to second when Julie Ward reached on her sacrifice bunt. Both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt and Castle scored on freshman Chelsea Garcia's suicide squeeze. "It was a great game," Oklahoma State coach Rich Wieligman said. "It was great pitching and good defense being played. We just happened to come on top." The Cowgirls will face California in Saturday's winner's bracket.

Nebraska 4, Jacksonville State 2: Seniors Darcy Rutherford and Amanda Duran came up with back-to-back run-scoring singles in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Cornhuskers (35-17) to the extra inning victory in the Knoxville Regional. Senior right-hander Molly Hill hurled a complete-game seven-hitter. She retired 12 of the final 13 batters she faced. The game took more than five hours to complete as the teams sat through a 3:08 weather delay.

Baylor 2, Louisiana-Lafayette 1: The Lady Bears' Bree Hanafin scored from second on a wild throw to first with two outs in the bottom of the sixth to provide the winning run. Baylor trailed 1-0 going into the bottom of the fifth. Freshman Whitney Canion earned the victory, allowing five hits, five walks and striking out nine. She has 402 strikeouts this season. Baylor (38-20) will face Texas State, which shocked No. 13 seed Northwestern, 8-0, in Saturday's winner's bracket.

News and notes
More good news for basketball: Iowa State guard Lucca Staiger announced this week that he'll return to the Cyclones for his junior season. Staiger, who has gone home to Germany, was considering turning pro and playing in Europe. His return, coupled with Craig Brackins' decision to wait a year for the NBA Draft, means that Iowa State coach Greg McDermott more stability and experience in his budding program.

Set the TiVo: ESPN's College Football Live (2:30 p.m. CT) next Thursday will have a roundtable discussion to address the question: Which is the tougher conference, the SEC or Big 12? Two of the panelists will be Kirk Herbstreit and Jesse Palmer.

Texas vs. Kentucky?: New Kentucky coach John Calipari said at a news conference this week that the Wildcats are talking about playing a neutral-site series with Texas that could begin in the 2010-11 series. One game would be played in Louisville and one in Houston. Calipari and Longhorns coach Rick Barnes are long-time friends. This season, Texas begins a neutral-site series with North Carolina when it faces the Tar Heels on Dec. 19 at the new Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Oklahoma State seeks Dallas-area game: In addition to the annual Oklahoma-Texas game, Texas A&M has a 10-game non-conference agreement to play Arkansas in Cowboys Stadium plus Baylor and Texas Tech will play their league games in the Dallas area each of the next two seasons. Oklahoma State is the only Big 12 South Division school not playing in the Dallas area. Cowboys athletic director Mike Holder said he will continue to pursue scheduling a non-conference game in the Dallas area.
 
Texas Tech's expansion plans: Texas Tech's regents gave final approval to expansion of AT&T Jones Stadium. The school will add about 6,000 seats - 3,000 each in the northwest and northeast corners of the stadium. Texas Tech athletic director Gerald Myers told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal that the added seating (raising capacity to 61,000) could generate $1 million to $1.5 million and be the difference in the athletic department breaking even or making a profit. Texas Tech also has a master plan in place that would allow for the stadium to expand to 85,000 seats.

Osborne's "lead balloon": Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne told the Omaha World Herald he'll ask the Big 12 to consider a policy that will allow coaches to ask that a football official "rest" because of repeated substandard work. The Big Eight Conference had that policy. "I thought it was effective," Osborne said of that Big Eight policy. "If you feel somebody has really not measured up you could request that he not work any of your games the next year." Osborne was asked how he anticipated his proposal will be received at next week's spring meetings. "It probably will go over like a lead balloon," he said. "They don't want to hear stuff like that."

Boss praises Kansas State's hire: Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton told the Topeka Capital Journal that Kansas State got the right guy in hiring Volunteers associate athletic director John Currie as its new AD. “I’m a huge John Currie fan," Hamilton told the newspaper. I was thinking this opportunity would come soon, and I’m just tremendously excited for him and for Kansas State, because I know what a great job he’ll do there. ... He has a tremendous work ethic. He’s highly, highly organized. He will be a guy that will come in there with a plan to try to do things the right way.” One of Currie's strengths is as a fundraiser. He was heavily involved in a $200 million renovation of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium. Kansas State is in the midst of a $70 million facilities upgrade.

Thursday, May 14

Kansas State hires John Currie as athletic director
John Currie, Executive Associate Athletic Director at the University of Tennessee, has been selected as Kansas State’s new Director of Athletics, incoming President Kirk Schulz announced Thursday evening.

Currie, a graduate of Wake Forest University and a 10-year veteran of the Tennessee athletics administration, will be officially introduced at 10:30 a.m., Monday, during a news conference in the Legends Room of Bramlage Coliseum.

"We wanted to fill this position with the best candidate possible, and with John we feel we have accomplished that," Schulz said in a statement. "He brings energy, integrity and experience to his new role at Kansas State and we are pleased to introduce him as our new Director of Athletics."

Linking up
Will Claye, a 17-year-old who should be a high school senior, graduated in December so he could enroll at Oklahoma. The top triple jumper in the NCAA heading into this weekend's Big 12 Outdoor Championships, the freshman's goal is to compete in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Oklahoma freshman third baseman Garrett Buechele, son of a former major-leaguer, is constantly asking questions to enhance his baseball knowledge.

Oklahoma State's men's golf "dream team" has its sights set on a national championship.

The Baylor men's and women's tennis teams head to Texas A&M for the NCAA Championships with the dual goal of national titles.

Colorado distance runner Jenny Barringer is discovering that her versatility in events can lead to confusion.

If you're jonesing for a football fix, check out ESPN.com Big 12 writer Tim Griffin's blog. He offers a team-by-team spring football wrapup.

Wednesday, May 13

Big 12 brainiacs for 100, Alex
Maybe this isn't exactly sports, but it is about a game show.

Two students from Big 12 schools - rival schools, no less - advanced to the semifinals of the "Jeopardy!" College Championship and one survived to reach the finals that will air over two episodes this Thursday and Friday.

Mark Petterson, a senior at Kansas, reached the semifinals. You can check out his thoughts about his experience at his blog.

 Missouri senior Laura Myers advanced to the finals when she nailed the Final Jeopardy question. She beat out competitors from Vassar and Tufts. You can read Laura's blog.

Hot links
Columbia Daily Tribune columnist Joe Waljasper claims that 2008-09 has been the greatest season in Missouri Tigers history.

Kansas sophomore third baseman Tony Thompson has emerged as one of the Big 12's top hitters. He leads the conference with 17 home runs and 71 RBI.

Big 12 deputy commissioner Tim Weiser is chair of the NCAA baseball committee that will select and seed the 64-team bracket that will be announced on May 25.

A number of Colorado fans are upset with the school's policy change regarding game-day parking pass assignments during home football games.

Oklahoma State hosts an NCAA men's golf regional this week and the Cowboys will be trying to earn their 63rd consecutive NCAA Championship appearance.

Sunday, May 10

7 Big 12 teams in NCAA women's softball bracket
The Big 12 placed seven teams in the 64-team NCAA women's softball tournament bracket and three of those schools will host regionals. All of the opening games involving Big 12 games will be Friday. The regionals are double-elimination.

No. 7 seed Oklahoma will be a regional host and will face North Dakota State in its opener. The Sooners are the only Big 12 team seeded in the top 16. The conference, though, still wound up with three teams hosting regionals

Missouri, the Big 12 tournament champion, will host a regional and will face Illinois in its opener.

Baylor is the other Big 12 team that will host a regional. The Bears will face Louisiana-Lafayette.

The other four Big 12 teams will be on the road. Texas will face Chattanooga and will play in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Oklahoma State will face host and No. 16 seed Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla. Nebraska will play Jacksonville State in Knoxville, Tenn. Texas A&M will face Lehigh and will play in Gainesville.

The Aggies are in the same regional with top-seeded Florida. Last season, Texas A&M advanced to the best-of-three championship by knocking the Gators out of the Women's College World Series.

Gainesville Regional
Friday-Sunday at Gainesville, Fla.
No. 1 Florida (55-3) vs. Florida A&M (30-30)
Lehigh (36-16-1) vs. Texas A&M (31-20)

Tallahassee Regional
Friday-Sunday at Tallahassee, Fla.
California (35-18) vs. Mississippi St. (28-26)
Oklahoma State (34-20) vs. No. 16 Florida State (41-14)

Waco Regional
Friday-Sunday at Waco, Texas
Louisiana-Lafayette (43-11) vs. Baylor (37-20)
Texas St. (39-16) vs. No. 12 Northwestern (31-13)

Knoxville Regional
Friday-Sunday at Knoxville, Tenn.
No. 13 Tennessee (38-16-1) vs. James Madison (35-14)
Nebraska (34-17) vs. Jacksonville St. (38-12)

Tuscaloosa Regional
Friday-Sunday at Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Texas (38-18) vs. Chattanooga (30-22)
Mississippi Val. (37-14) vs. No. 4 Alabama (47-9)

Norman Regional
Friday-Sunday, Norman, Okla.
No. 7 Oklahoma (40-14) vs. North Dakota St. (35-18)
Tulsa (38-15) vs. Arkansas (27-27)

Big 12 softball history lesson
The Big 12 has sent at least one team to the Women's College World Series every year since 2000. The conference placed three teams in the WCWS in 1998 and two each in 2002, 2003 and 2007.

In 13 previous seasons, the Big 12 has had 66 teams participate in the NCAA softball tournament. Those teams have compiled a 177-130 record (.577 winning percentage). The Big 12 has had a winning record in the NCAA tournament every year since 2000.

How the Big 12 has fared in the NCAA women's softball tournament:
Year Teams W-L    WCWS
1996   4          5-  8     None
1997   5          7-10     None
1998   4        14-  8    3-6
1999   7        14-14    None
2000   4        14-  6    4-0
2001   3          9-  6    1-2
2002   4        13-  8    1-4
2003   6        19-12    4-4
2004   5        11-10    1-2
2005   8        21-16    2-2
2006   6        15-12    1-2
2007   6        18-12    1-4
2008   4        17-  8    3-3

 

Texas clinches regular-season title
Thanks to Oklahoma State's 5-1 victory over Oklahoma Sunday in Oklahoma City, Texas has clinched the Big 12 regular-season baseball title. The Longhorns finished their conference schedule with a a 5-4 victory over rival Texas A&M. Texas finished with a 17-9-1 league record and a .648 winning percentage.

No team can finish with a better winning percentage than the Longhorns. Oklahoma, if it had defeated Oklahoma State and then swept Texas A&M next weekend, the Sooners would have finished with a .667 winning percentage and ahead of Texas. The Longhorns have won five Big 12 titles and three in the last four seasons.

Texas closes in on regular-season title
Texas finished Big 12 Conference play with a 5-4 victory over rival Texas A&M Sunday in Austin. The victory gives the first-place Longhorns a 17-9-1 league record and a .648 winning percentage.

Only Oklahoma is capable of compiling a better winning percentage and thus overtaking Texas in the standings. The Sooners need to win their last four Big 12 games to finish with a .667 winning percentage. Oklahoma, which is playing Oklahoma State Sunday afternoon, finishes Big 12 play by hosting Texas A&M next weekend.

Check back at Big 12 Insider for more baseball updates.

Saturday, May 9

Oklahoma vs. Missouri for softball title
The top two seeds - Oklahoma and Missouri - will meet for the Big 12 Softball Tournament championship at 11:30 a.m. Sunday on FSN.

No. 1 seed Oklahoma had capitalized on four Texas errors in a 6-2 semifinal victory over the Longhorns at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City. The Sooners also got home runs from sophomore Karolyne Long and junior Amber Flores. Oklahoma is 40-13 - the school's 16th consecutive season with at least 40 victories.

Missouri edged Baylor, 1-0. Tigers second baseman Andee Allen made consectuive field gems in the top of the sixth inning to keep the Lady Bears from scoring. In the bottom of the inning Allen tripled to the right-center field wall and then scored on Marla Schweisberger's single.

A bizarre Bedlam Series outcome
Bryant Hernandez and Aaron Baker scored on the final two of four ninth-inning passed balls by Oklahoma State catcher Kevin David, allowing Oklahoma to beat the Cowboys 7-5 on Saturday night. Three of David's passed balls came after two were out and allowed OU to score both its runs.

Oklahoma (37-15, 14-9 Big 12) clinched the annual Bedlam series for the first time since 2005 with its second straight win over Oklahoma State (29-21, 6-15). The win also keeps alive the Sooners' hopes for the regular-season conference title. Oklahoma is tied for second place with Texas A&M.

The loss dealt a serious blow to Oklahoma State's hopes of extending its streak of consecutive conference tournament appearances to 32. Oklahoma State would need to win its last four Big 12 games and get help to qualify for the eight-team Big 12 tournament.

Thursday, May 7

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Kansas' historic Allen Fieldhouse has been closed for over a month as the facility undergoes improvements. It will reopen in September.

Sam Keller, who was a quarterback at Arizona State and Nebraska, is filing a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and video game maker EA Sports for the "blatant and unlawful use" of student-athlete likenesses in video games.

Eric Sorrentino of the Lawerence Journal World compiled an all-NBA team made up of former Big 12 players.

Iowa State guard Lucca Staiger, a native of Germany, says it's "50-50" on whether he'll return to the Cyclones next season or decide to play professionally in Europe.

Mike Jones of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes about point guard Jai Lucas, who transferred from Florida to Texas and will be eligible after the first semester next season.
Eight Big 12 tennis teams - five men's teams and three women's teams - begin NCAA regional play this weekend. Baylor, the Big 12 men's champion  isn't pleased that it opens play in Tulsa instead of at home in Waco.

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