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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. 

March 2011

Thursday, March 31

Barnes to receive Good Guy Award
Your Humble Correspondent believes that college basketball postseason awards are given to the correct recipient about 50 percent of the time. But that's just an opinion. Here's another: YHC says the United States Basketball Writers Association is 100 percent accurate.

Friday in Houston during the USBWA's annual college basketball awards breakfast, the organization will give Texas coach Rick Barnes its Good Guy Award. It honors both coaching excellence and cooperation with the media.

Barnes is a good guy and richly deserves the award. He joins Tom Brennan (former coach at Vermont), Gene Keady (former coach at Purdue, current special assistant/advisor at St. John's), Tom Izzo (Michigan State) and Ron Hunter (IUPUI) as past winners of the Good Guy Award given to media-friendly coaches.

Hoiberg in Shots From The Heart final
Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg has reached the championship of the Shots From the Heart free-throw contest. (Background on this story here.)

Hoiberg made all 25 of his free throw attempts and defeated Albany's Will Brown, who went 24-of-25, in a semifinal match. Hoiberg will face the winner of the semifinal between Buzz Peterson (North Carolina-Wilmington)-Sean Miller (Arizona).

The free throw among the four coaches was scheduled to be held in Houston this week during the Final Four but instead the coaches took their shots on their respective campuses.

The Shots From the Heart initiative was created to raise awareness for the growing problem of heart disease and to raise money to benefit the American Heart Association. Head coaches from 64 Division I schools participated in the tournament conducted during the 2010-11 season.

Links worth the click
Karen Crouse of the New York Times writes about how Texas A&M's Final Four berth shows how far the Aggies program has come.

New Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie vows that he won't let his new school and its fans down.

Graham Hays of ESPN.com says the women's Final Four has contrasts in team play and individual stars.

Some expected rematches won't be happening at the women's Final Four, writes ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel.

Texas A&M's victory in the Dallas Regional was a special moment for Aggies coach Gary Blair, a native of Dallas.

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale says next year's team needs to find a way to avoid the "bad games" that plagued this year's team.

Make or take the time to watch this tribute to Kansas State's Jacob Pullen. This took a lot of time, effort and is well-done.

Tuesday, March 29

Paying their respects
John Kadlec was known as Mr. Mizzou. He recently stepped down as the analyst on Missouri football broadcasts. He played for the Tigers, was an assistant coach with the legendary Dan Devine and worked in the athletic department.

(Side note: Peggy Kadlec, one of John's daughters, was in the class of 1972 at Columbia Hickman High School along with Your Humble Correspondent. YHC and Peggy once went on a date. Imagine the terror of an 18-year-old knocking on the door at the house where a Missouri assistant coach lived and picking up his daughter for a date.)

Dolly Kadlec, John's wife of 60 years, was buried Monday in Columbia. Missouri athletic director Mike Alden and former Missouri and current Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione were among those who attended.

YHC mentions this because both athletic directors are in the middle of hiring men's basketball coaches. That's a time-consuming and stressful time for any athletic director but both made their schedules work so they could pay their respects.

A particularly loud shout out to Castiglione, who had to travel from Norman to mid-Missouri, to attend the services. It is the people of the Big 12 Conference who make it a great league.

Monday, March 28

Guard the line, folks; guard the line
Before the NCAA Tournament, the most 3-pointers for VCU in a game was 11. In three of five NCAA games, the Rams have made 12. That's how you win. How you lose is failing to guard the 3-point line. Against Kansas, VCU had 12 3-pointers.

Two of those came when a Jayhawk left his man to help stop a drive by 5-10 point guard Joey Rodriguez and Rodriguez found an open teammate. Another came when Rodriguez's man left him wide open in the corner.

It's not just Kansas. Your Humble Correspondent has witnessed it countless times. A defender leaves his man on the wing to double the low post, the ball gets returned to the passer. 3-pointer. A player drives and dishes to the open teammate whose defender has tried to stop the penetrator. 3-pointer.

As Texas A&M women's coach Gary Blair told YHC Monday at the American Airlines Center. "Why leave a 3-point shooter to help inside? Let 'em make a play (a dunk) that winds up on SportsCenter. Guard the line."

It's simple math. 3-pointers are how "underdogs" pull upsets. VCU scored 36 of its 71 points from the arc, 18 points on 2-point field goals. YHC becomes WhyHC and asks why? Why? WHY? do players leave their assigned man who is camped behind the line that produces the most-valuable shot.

Deep thoughts and intelligent observations
* Before playing 12th-seeded Richmond, Kansas' Marcus Morris talked smack and (apparently) got in the Spiders' heads. Your Humble Correspondent mentioned to a couple of his peers that if the Jayhawks tried a similar tactic with VCU that the Rams would figuratively flick open a switch blade and say, "Oh, so you wanna talk?" (YHC means that in a totally complimentary way.)

After the national anthem Sunday as the teams and coaching staffs met at midcourt for handshakes, Marcus Morris told VCU point guard Joey Rodriguez, "You guys have had a good run, but now it's over." That didn't win or lose the game but it certainly didn't intimidate KU's 11th-seeded opponent. The Rams are not only a supremely confident team, they are tough-minded; talk doesn't get inside their heads.

* Steve Wieberg of USA Today, who has covered college basketball for a couple of decades, was sitting next to YHC at the Sprint Center during the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship. During one of Kansas' three games when the Jayhawks were missing free throws, Wieberg turned and said, "That's something that will bite 'em during the NCAA Tournament."

* Kansas' free throw accuracy went along with its sub-par field goal percentage (35.5 percent) and awful 3-point shooting (9.5 percent, 19 misses in 21 attempts-). The timing of the missed free throws was just as bad. It started in the first half when Tyshawn Taylor missed two when KU had a 6-2 lead. That was the first of six consecutive misses from the line during a VCU run that built a 31-17 lead.

* VCU's Final Four run has been fueled by the media "experts" who first doubted if the Rams belonged as an at-large pick and then kept picking VCU to lose. There's a 20-foot by 30-foot banner on VCU's campus that has a picture of Dick Vitale and the words "Eat Crow Baby." YHC would like to point out the punctuation error. Without the necessary comma, the banner urges Vitale to consume baby crows. Not. The. Same. Thing.

* Two Big 12 teams - Oklahoma and Missouri - need to hire basketball coaches. If either or both are interested in hiring VCU's Shaka Smart, there was good news in a 24-hour period. Two Big Six conference vacancies were filled with Tennessee hiring Cuonzo Martin and Georgia Tech hiring Brian Gregory. Only North Carolina State (for now) still has a vacancy. Hiring the 33-year-old VCU coach would be a Smart move (see what YHC did there?) for any athletic director. He is impressive.

* Both Kansas coach Bill Self and Texas coach Rick Barnes are going to be criticized and scrutinized for their teams' lack of NCAA Tournament success. That's fair; they're both big boys who are paid handsomely to coach. But any radical fans who think it's time for a change in Lawrence or Austin, remember the phrase "be careful what you wish for." College basketball's player turnover forces coaches to build year-to-year, not over a two to three year period. Because of that, the NCAA Tournament becomes a 40-minute game-to-game crucible where a bad break (Texas) or an off night (Kansas) can release the hounds.

* Another point about the NCAA Tournament: Teams like VCU and Butler have played and are playing with confidence. Both have been "coached up" (as Steve Spurrier likes to say). A top seed against a double-digit seed isn't like YHC, a 5-11 overweight guy in his 50s, trying to guard one of the Morris twins. Teams that reach the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight have talented players. It's the team that plays better for those 40 minutes that survives and advances. The line is so fine it is nearly invisible.

* This year's Final Four is the first without a No. 1 or a No. 2 seed (the first year the bracket was seeded was 1979). As Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star points out, over the last 10 years only 37 percent (15 of 40) of the tournament's No. 1 seeds have reached the Final Four. Kansas has been a No. 1 seed five times over the last decade and reached two Final Fours. Duke has been a top seed six times over the last 10 years and reached the Final Four ... twice. By the way, Mellinger's column on Kansas' loss offers some great perspective.

Saturday, March 26

Infestation
This is from VCU senior forward Jamie Skeen: "You know how you've got those gnats that won't leave you alone in the summer time, those flies and stuff like that? That's how we are on the court."

The 11th-seeded Rams make up for a lack of size by swarming on defense and on the boards. Coach Shaka Smart's team uses a variety of defenses but they all feature one constant: pressure. VCU starts four guards along with the 6-9 Skeen. In each of their four NCAA victories, the Rams have forced at least 15 turnvoers.

Kansas coach Bill Self says that VCU is similar to a Big 12 Conference team.

"They are more similar to Missouri than any team that I think we've played, at least off the top of my head," Self said. "I don't think it's one of those deals where they (press) every possession like Missouri can, but I certainly thought their pressure and the press has been very effective so far in the tournament."

Kansas junior forward Marcus Morris agrees with Skeen's description of how the Rams play.

"They're like little gnats that won't leave the kitchen when you leave the dishes in there," he said.

Counting to five
As Texas and Big 12 Conference are well aware, the five-second count on an in-bounds play can be crucial to a game's outcome. That's how it was for No. 11 seed VCU late in its overtime victory over Florida State Friday night.

The Rams trailed 71-70 and had possession underneath its own basket with 7.9 seconds remaining. VCU coach Shaka Smart told his point guard, Joey Rodriguez, to "take his time" when making the inbounds pass.

"I was counting in my head and when I got to four, I made the pass," Rodriguez said Saturday. "Coach and I watched it this morning and the ref was counting and (chopping) with his hand and he didn't get to five."

Rodriguez's bounce pass found Bradford Burgess, who slipped past a Florida State defender for the game-winning layup.

"That was probably the longest five seconds of my life," said Burgess, who had 147 text messages on his phone when he got back to the hotel.

Layups
*
A No. 11 seed has faced a No. 1 seed in the regional final four previous times, with the top seed winning twice. Here's the rundown: 1986, No. 11 LSU 59, No. 1 Kentucky 57; 1990, No. 1 UNLV 131, No. 11 Loyola Marymount 101; 2001, No. 1 Michigan State 69, No. 11 Temple 62; 2006, No. 11 George Mason 86, No. 1 Connecticut 84 (overtime).

* In 1990, UNLV set the record for the easiest road to the Final Four (based on seeds). The Runnin' Rebels defeated a No. 16, a No. 8, a No. 12 and a No. 11. If Kansas defeats No. 11 VCU Sunday, the Jayhawks will take over that record by virtue of the fact they defeated No. 9 Illinois in the third round.

* When UNLV reached the Final Four in 1990, its semifinal opponent was No. 4 seed Georgia Tech. If Kansas wins Sunday, its semifinal foe will be No. 8 Butler.

* Louisville coach Rick Pitino, working as a studio analyst for ESPN, picked Richmond to upset Kansas in the Southwest Regional semifinal. Here's what Markieff Morris had to say about that: "Not to be disrespectful to coach Pitino or anything, but we're still playing."

* Kansas senior Tyrel Reed has participated in 132 victories, the second most in NCAA history for an individual player. The record is 133 and held by Duke's Shane Battier.

* VCU coach Shaka Smart, 33, is on the fast track to stardom, regardless of what happens Sunday in the Southwest Regional final game with Kansas. He is personable, intelligent, honest and humorous. During his 30-minutes with the media Saturday, Smart was asked about a college basketball analyst who had given the Rams a 0.9 percent chance at winning the national championship. "So you're telling me there's a chance!" Pulling a quote from Dumb and Dumber impressed Your Humble Correspondent. 

Friday, March 25

Next up for Kansas: VCU
An overtime victory assured 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth its first-ever spot in a regional final. The Rams defeated 10th-seeded Florida State, 72-71, on a Bradford Burgess layup with 7.1 seconds remaining. Burgess scored on a baseline out-of-bounds play with the bounce pass coming from senior point guard Joey Rodriguez.

VCU (27-11) will face Kansas in the Southwest Regional final at 1:20 p.m. Sunday in the Alamodome. The Jayhawks have defeated a No. 16, a No. 9, and a No. 12 seed. If they knock off the Rams, KU will break Nevada-Las Vegas’ record of facing the easiest road (based on seeds) to reach the Final Four.

Burgess had 26 points for VCU, making 6-of-7 3-pointers. The Rams were 12-of-26 from 3-point range which helped the counter box score deficiencies. Florida State had a 47-32 rebounding edge, VCU was just 12 of 20 on free throws.
 
Going into the Colonial Athletic Association tournament, VCU had lost four of its last five and it lost in the CAA title game to Old Dominion. One of the last at-large teams selected, the Rams participated in the First Four and defeated USC 59-46. The victory over Florida State was VCU’s fourth NCAA Tournament victory … usually, that’s enough to reach the Final Four.

From Cyclone to the ‘new Ken'
In Year One of Your Humble Correspondent's work for the Big 12 Conference, he interviewed a football player from each school for a weekly feature story. In the fall of 2008, the Iowa State interviewee was defensive end Kurtis Taylor.

YHC was impressed by Taylor's intelligence and perspective. Little did YHC know that Taylor was destined to play a role in an iconic toy franchise.

Mattel is revamping its Barbie franchise – the doll celebrates her 52nd "birthday" this year – and as part of that is also redesigning her longtime boyfriend Ken.

The 25-year-old Taylor was one contestants in the "Genuine Ken" contest that featured a series of "Bachelorette"-style challenges designed to determine the "ultimate boyfriend for every occasion."

Taylor won over the judges in the "romantic gesture" category. He was given $500 to buy gifts for a significant other, but he gave each judge a penny and donated the rest of the money to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

As a Cyclone, he missed the 2006 season with a knee injury but earned the comeback player of the year in 2007 when he finished second in the Big 12 with 6.5 sacks. In 2008, he was honorable mention All-Big 12. He finished his career with 85 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss.

Toby Rowland named voice of Oklahoma sports
The University of Oklahoma has its new voice. Toby Rowland, who has been the sideline reporter for Sooners football games the last two years, moves upstairs to the booth and will take over for the venerable Bob Barry.

"From an early age, this has been the job, Rowland told the Oklahoman. "It has been the job. I thought it would be the pinnacle beyond all else. To follow in footsteps of Bob Barry, who I think the world of, and before him John Brooks, Walter Cronkite and Curt Gowdy. It's just an amazing legacy. I'm extremely humbled. I am really excited at the chance to make Sooner fans proud."

Rowland's versatility in radio and television was a selling point as Oklahoma works on launching its own television network; when that happens, Rowland is expected to have a big role.

"We know the tremendous work ethic he will expend carrying out the play-by-play duties, Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione said. "Outside our department, it has been encouraging to watch his expanding role in the marketplace. He is a talented broadcaster with a creative flare, and he has flourished in multiple media settings."

ESPN.com Previews the Dallas Regional
The World-Wide Leader broke down the NCAA Women's Tournament Sweet 16 regional semifinal matchups; here's what was written about the Dallas Regional:

No. 1 seed Baylor vs. No. 5 Green Bay
The Phoenix now have won 25 games in a row, defeating the Big Ten's regular-season champion, Michigan State, in the NCAA second round. Baylor is the Big 12's champ and the only other team besides UConn to spend time ranked No. 1 in the polls the last two years. So could Baylor be Green Bay's next big conquest?

Baylor has a weapon that neither Michigan State, nor any other team, really, has with 6-foot-8 center Brittney Griner, who averages 22.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg and 4.5 bpg. In Baylor's NCAA tournament victories over Prairie View and West Virginia, she had a combined 47 points, 12 rebounds and 14 blocked shots.

When she is in foul trouble, as she was a bit in the first half against West Virginia, Baylor's offense can struggle adjusting to her not being there. So Green Bay will certainly try to go at her and attempt to get her into foul trouble -- but she hasn't fouled out of a game all season.

Baylor is able to surround Griner with excellent rebounders like forward Destiny Williams (7.1 rpg) and guard Melissa Jones (7.0). That means Griner doesn't have to take chances on rebounds that could get her into foul trouble. Everything Baylor does is designed to maximize Griner's time on the court and her skills, which keep expanding.

But while Baylor has a unique weapon, a big part of Green Bay's strength is how often the Phoenix can have five players on the floor who are almost equally effective as scoring threats. Kayla Tetschlag (13.9 ppg), Julie Wojta (13.8), and Celeste Hoewisch (13.4) lead the way, with Wojta (127 assists) and Hannah Quilling (119) the top playmakers.

The Phoenix suffered their only loss at Marquette (63-60) in December. Seeing how well Marquette played Dayton No. 1 seed Tennessee in the NCAA second round was further proof that wasn't at all a bad loss by the Phoenix. Green Bay is in the Sweet 16 for the first time in program history, but the Phoenix are definitely not out of their element.

No. 2 seed Texas A&M vs. No. 6 Georgia
A&M's Gary Blair and Georgia's Andy Landers have been coaching since around the time James Naismith first hung up peach baskets. OK, maybe not that long; they started in the 1970s, when the AIAW was still governing women's sports.

Dallas is Blair's hometown, and he began by coaching high school girls' basketball there. Landers has been Georgia's women's coach since 1979.

The two went head to head in the SEC during Blair's time at Arkansas from 1993-2003, so they are very familiar with each other. Landers has taken Georgia to the Final Four five times, and Blair went once with Arkansas.

Texas A&M, which was upset by Gonzaga in the second round last year, had no problems in defeating McNeese State and Rutgers to move into the Sweet 16. Georgia, the sixth seed, had a controversial finish in its 61-59 second-round upset over No. 3 Florida State. Jasmine James got a putback of teammate Porsha Phillips' miss and then hit a free throw for the winning points. But the Seminoles thought they heard a whistle before Phillips' shot. Coach Sue Semrau protested to the officials, but to no avail.

So it was Georgia that moved on, and now the Bulldogs have to tangle with an Aggies attack led by senior Danielle Adams (22.7 ppg). Tyra White (13.7) and Sydney Carter (10.3) also average in double-figure scoring for Texas A&M.

Senior Sydney Colson is the Aggies' chief playmaker, with 202 assists to 88 turnovers this season. She also averages 7.8 points and anchors the stifling perimeter defense along with Carter.

They will be preoccupied with trying to contain James, a sophomore guard who leads Georgia with 12.3 points per game. Texas A&M is known for its defense, but the Aggies have become a much better offensive team in recent years. This season, they average 78.6 ppg, while Georgia is at 64.4. So you can figure out what kind of contest the Bulldogs want this to be. They hope to slow it down and make it more a defensive battle. Georgia (23-10) lost its last three games of the regular season, so making a Sweet 16 run definitely puts the Bulldogs' season in a much better light.

Thursday, March 24

One man's opinion
Here's what Seth Davis of SI.com and CBS/Turner Sports studio shows had to say about the Kansas-Richmond semifinal game in the Southwest Regional (he predicts a 74-63 KU victory):

"The reason Richmond is so hard to defend is that every player can dribble, pass and shoot. Six players made three-pointers in Richmond's two wins last week. That includes Justin Harper, a 6-10 senior forward whose 46.5 percentage from three-point range ranks 19th in the country. Most teams the Spiders play have two or three (and maybe even four) defenders who can extend to the three-point line and switch off ball screens, but somewhere down the line there is always a mismatch. Well, there won't be here. All of Kansas' big men, most notably the Morris twins, are quick and agile and will be able to bother Harper as he cuts and curls his way to open looks. Meanwhile, the Kansas offense is also a sight to behold. The Jayhawks lead the nation in field-goal percentage, and they're ranked 34th in assists per field goals made. The biggest question I had about this team was the stability of Tyshawn Taylor at the point, but Taylor was terrific in Tulsa, where he had a combined 11 assists and six turnovers and made eight of his 14 field-goal attempts."

Linkage
Mike Anderson leaves Missouri for Arkansas: Joe Walljasper of the Columbia Daily Tribune writes that the departure leaves a bad taste while Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star says that the Missouri basketball program will be better off without Anderson.

According to this story in the Wall Street Journal, experience is overrated in the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas senior guards Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed are the glue guys that hold the top-seeded Jayhawks together.

Who are those guys?
Richmond, a No. 12 seed, faces top-seeded Kansas Friday in a Southwest Regional semifinal game. Here is some need-to-know information about the Spiders and the school:

Location: Richmond, Va. (same city as Virginia Commonwealth, the No. 12 seed in the Southwest Regional.)

Founded: The University of Richmond was founded in 1830.

Enrollment: 2,750.

Famous alums: PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem, singer Bruce Hornsby, author Earl Hamner ("Spencer's Mountain," creator of the television series "The Waltons" and "Falcon Crest"), Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen.

Conference: Atlantic 10. Richmond previously has been in the NCAA Tournament as a member of the Eastern College Athletic Conference and the Colonial Athletic Association.

This season: 26-9 overall, 13-3 in Atlantic 10 Conference.

Signature wins: The Spiders defeated Purdue 65-54 on Nov. 27, defeated Virginia Commonwealth 72-60 on Dec. 11 and defeated Temple 58-54 in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament on March 12. All three of those teams made the NCAA Tournament field.

NCAA Tournament history: Richmond was a No. 7 seed last season in the NCAA Tournament and recorded a school-record 26 victories (surpassed this season). The Spiders have a history of NCAA Tournament upsets. In 1984, as a No. 12 seed, Richmond beat No. 5 seed Auburn (and Charles Barkley). In 1988, the Spiders reached the Sweet 16 by upsetting defending national champion Indiana and Georgia Tech. As a No. 15 seed in 1991, Richmond shocked second-seeded Syracuse. In 1998, the 14th-seeded Spiders knocked off third-seeded South Carolina.

Coach: Chris Mooney. The 38-year-old Philadelphia native is a Princeton graduate and a four-year starter at the Ivy League school. He was the coach at Air Force for one season in 2004-05. He has a 130-98 career record.

Top players: Kevin Anderson, a 6-foot senior guard, averages 16.7 points and 3.3 assists per game. Justin Harper, a 6-10 senior forward, averages 17.8 points and 6.1 rebounds a game. Anderson and Harper play the most minutes for the Spiders. Anderson leads the team in assists but senior forward Kevin Smith and senior center Dan Geriot both have more than 100 dimes this season.

Monday, March 21

Bill Self feels Texas' pain
While his team waiting to take the floor Sunday in Tulsa's BOK Center, Kansas coach Bill Self watched another Big 12 Conference team's season end in excruciating fashion.

"Unfortunately I did see the end of the game," he said. "There has been a lot of controversy in this tournament so far."

Texas had possession with a two-point lead and 14.5 seconds remaining. But after a timeout, the Longhorns couldn't inbound the ball before a controversial five-second call was made.

"I feel bad for (Texas coach Rick Barnes)," Self said. "On any given day this season, Texas was the best team in the country. I was shocked they were a No. 4 seed. We played Arizona and they're good, too. But Texas had a great season."

"You hate to see a game come down to a controversial ending."

A winning day for Jayhawks
Sunday was a day of victories for Kansas. The top-seeded Jayhawks advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament, the baseball team swept a Big 12 Conference double header with visiting Oklahoma State to take the season series, the softball team went 5-0 to win a tournament in South Carolina and KU grad Gary Woodland won the Transitions Championship, his first PGA Tour victory.

Kansas coach Bill Self, like most coaches, loves to play golf and hang with golfers. After his team dispatched Illinois Sunday in Tulsa, Self needed little prompting to talk about Woodland's victory.

"This was a big day for KU," Self said. "I heard he won it on the 18th hole. Moved to No. 3 in the Fed Ex standings, if I'm not mistaken (Self wasn't), and probably the top five in money (third with $1.85 million). Gary obviously is a great golfer, but what a great guy. And he's a ballplayer. That gives all of us guys who played ball hope that we can golf."

Planting seeds
If the bracket you filled out a week ago has been folded, spindled and mutilated by the upsets, don't feel bad. You're part of history.

Four double-digit seeds - No. 12 Richmond, No. 11 Marquette, No. 11 Virginia Commonwealth and No. 10 Florida State - have advanced to the Sweet 16. That's the second-most in NCAA history. Five double-digit seeds made the regional semifinals in 1999.

Kansas is the top seed in the Southwest Regional that has three of the double-digit seeds - Richmond, VCU and Florida State. Three double digits the semifinals in the same region has never happened.

In 2008, when Kansas won the national championship, the Jayhawks reached the Final Four by beating a No. 16, a No. 8, a No. 12 and a No. 10. This year, KU is facing a similar road that could produce history.

Kansas has beaten a 16 and a 9 and will play No. 12 seed Richmond Friday. If the Jayhawks win, they'll face the winner of No. 11 VCU vs. No. 10 Florida State. Kansas, if it advances out of San Antonio, will either tie or surpass UNLV for easiest path to the Final Four. In 1990, the Runnin' Rebels beat teams seeded 16, 8, 12 and 11.

Thoughts and observations
March Madness and perspective are mutually exclusive. The three weeks of the NCAA Tournament puts everything under a microscope and everything is dissected like a frog in a high school biology class.

For instance:

* Texas is being blamed for a collapse in its loss to Arizona and coach Rick Barnes is being criticized for not doing more with NBA level talent. If that's the case, level the same criticism at Barnes' good friend John Calipari. Also, the Longhorns were not projected as a top 25 team before the season. Certainly the ending was disappointing but isn't a 28-8 record an accomplishment for a team few expected to spend two months in the top 10?

* If a team should be blamed for a collapse, it would be Kansas State which was ranked No. 3 in the preseason. Your Humble Correspondent, though, would not place Kansas State in a collapse category. Voters in the media and the coaches polls failed to see what wasn't there. Failing to make the NCAA Tournament would be cause for criticism. Overcoming adversity, making the bracket and losing a heartbreaker in Game Two is cause for admiration.

* There's a rhythm to the reporting at the NCAA Tournament. A player has an impressive first game and the game stories and off-day stories focus on the player's impressive talent, his star qualities, etc. In the next game, that player often struggles. Case in point: Texas freshman Tristan Thompson.

* The NCAA Tournament elicits bragging and excuses from conferences. The Big East is being bashed because its 11 teams have been whittled to two after the first weekend. Does that mean the Big East didn't deserve 11 teams (it has 16)? Does it mean the Big East is overrated? Perhaps. The NCAA Tournament is all about determining a national champion. A team's conference affiliation has nothing to do with it. Every team is a free agent.

* The NCAA Tournament also creates sideline stars. Last year, it was Butler's Brad Stevens. This year it's Marquette's Buzz Williams, Richmond's Chris Mooney and VCU's Shaka Smart. All three have their teams in the Sweet 16 and have their names on the Hot Commodity List for any vacancies. No doubt all three can coach. But is a week or two of success in March a big enough sample size to embolden an athletic director at a major school to make an offer? Nothing is guaranteed in a coaching hire.

Links to start your week
Pat Forde of ESPN.com recaps the Texas- Arizona game which he said was played on Tulsa time.

George Schroeder, writing for ESPN.com, says that the controversial ending of the Texas-Arizona game continued to put the NCAA Tournament spotlight on officiating.

Calm during his interview session on the podium, Texas coach Rick Barnes was more upset in the locker room after he had more information about the controversial five-second call.

Thanks to upsets in the Southwest Regional, top-seeded Kansas has an apparently easy road to the Final Four.

Sunday, March 20

They made the (correct) calls
The ending to Saturday's Pitt-Butler game was an all-timer that will go down in NCAA Tournament history. Some will say that the officials calling two game-changing fouls should have "let the players decide the outcome." Well, the players did decide the outcome.

Your Humble Correspondent has done his share of questioning officiating. In this game, the officials called fouls that were fouls and ignored the game/clock situation. That's how John Adams, who is in charge of officiating for the NCAA, wants it. The officials know that, the coaches know that.

John Higgins, who works a lot of Big 12 Conference games, was the crew chief for Pitt-Butler. He was working with Terry Wymer (who called a foul at mid-court on Butler with 1.4 seconds remaining) and Antinio Petty (who called a foul on Pitt with 0.8 seconds remaining) discussed the calls with a pool reporter after the game.

"When we recognized the foul (on Shelvin Mack), we got the clock stopped, went to the monitor. (Wymer) was right at 1.4 so that's where we put the clock," Higgins said, adding that a foul call is not reviewable.

"When the second foul happened (on Nasir Robinson), we looked at it. We went to the monitor, checked when the foul occurred and the fist came up and then set the clock."

Higgins said he the controversial ending of the Rutgers-St. John's game last week at the Big East tournament did not affect the officials' decision-making.

"We do it every day," he said. "It just happened to be a crucial part of the game. You have to do what you have to do as an official. If we get it right, we're good. If we get it wrong, we're deadbeats and we're all over SportsCenter. We did what we think is correct."

Your Humble Correspondent read this paragraph in the New York Times game story: "In the pure sense of officiating, the referees made the right call each time. But in the spirit of letting the game be settled by the players, they appeared to fail."

YHC couldn't disagree more. Pitt's Gilbert Brown - who was fouled - missed his second free throw attempt that could have given his team the lead with less than two seconds remaining. Nasir Robinson, bless his heart, didn't need to scrap for a basically meaningless rebound. Butler's Matt Howard - who was fouled - made the game-deciding free throw with 0.8 seconds remaining.

On the final call, if Robinson's hack job had knocked the ball from Hayward, no foul was called and Pitt got possession for a buzzer-beating game winner ... well, that outrage would far outweigh what's been said and written about how the game ended.

Thoughts and observations
* Speaking of officiating, lots of folks Tweeting and chatting about the end of the Washington-North Carolina game. Officials didn't check a replay to decide how much time Huskies had for final possession. CBS studio crew looked at it and decided Washington should have had 1.2 seconds instead of 0.5 seconds. Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said officials were asked to check the time. They said the time was correct. No evidence the officials went to the monitor at court side. Another crazy finish.

* More on officiating: Good for the NCAA and its television partners (CBS/Turner Sports) for having John Adams, the NCAA's man in charge of officiating, in studio to answer questions. That's how you provide clarity and transparency.

* In 30 years of following and covering the NCAA Tournament, I don't think I can recall three days of action (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) with more end-game drama. Clutch shots, blocked shots, brain-lock decisions, crucial whistles, upsets, survivals ... pretty much your March Madness smorgasbord in 72 hours.

* Texas Tech said Sunday that Billy Gillispie has agreed to become the school's next basketball coach. Gillispie has been out of coaching two years after an ill-fated move to Kentucky. However, he built winning programs at UTEP and Texas A&M. His return to a Texas school makes the Big 12 Conference even more competitive. If Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione hits a home run with his coaching hire, the future of the 10-team league will be so bright, sales of sunglasses will go through the roof.

* Your Humble Correspondent has always thought that Billy Gillispie is a dead ringer for a young Jack Lemmon. Check this out for visual evidence. (And if you have no idea who Jack Lemmon is, YHC always says that Google is your friend.)

* YHC also can't wait to hear what former Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach will have to say about his former employers hiring Gillispie. Google if you want some background info.

* The team that eliminated Kansas State last season - Butler - reached the championship game. A number of basketball writers/experts believe that Wisconsin, which slipped past the Wildcats Saturday night, can follow the same path and at least reach the Final Four. The Badgers' offense is one of the most efficient in the nation.

* Now you know: San Diego State senior forward Malcolm Thomas, who had several key blocks in the Aztecs' double-overtime defeat of Temple, is the son of Malcolm Thomas who played at Missouri and was an honorable mention All-American  after averaging 17.4 points and 8.2 rebounds as a senior in 1984-85.

Salute to Big 12 wrestlers
March Madness and the sobering news of the world tend to overshadow everything. But let's give a standing ovation to the Big 12 Conference student-athletes who competed in the 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships that wrapped up Saturday.

Jordan Burroughs of Nebraska, Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State and Jon Reader of Iowa State won individual titles and Oklahoma State finished fourth in the final standings.

Burroughs became Nebraska's first-ever two-time national champion. He won the 2009 title at 157 pounds, missed most of last season with a knee injury and recovered to dominate the 165-pound class this season. He finished his senior season with a 36-0 record. Burroughs, who won his five matches by the composite score of 71-24, defeated Oklahoma's Tyler Caldwell in the championship match.

Oliver gave Oklahoma State its 34th individual title as he finished his sophomore season 29-0 in the 133-pound class.

Top-seeded and undefeated (39-0) Jon Reader became the 50th Iowa State wrestler to win an NCAA individual title as he captured the title at 174 pounds. Reader finished the championship match with a bandage under his head gear to staunch the bleeding from several cuts he had received.

Links worth the click
Great read from Jason King of Yahoo!Sports.com on Texas freshman Tristan Thompson's impact on the Longhorns.

Jacob Pullen played a great game in Kansas State's heartbreaking loss to Wisconsin Saturday night and Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star wrote a great column about it.

Jacob Pullen became Kansas State's career scoring leader but his 38 points weren't enough in the Wildcats' 65-60 loss to Wisconsin.

Iowa State couldn't overcome Marist's hot outside shooting in its first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament Saturday.

Texas couldn't hold a second half lead and didn't shoot a free throw in its first-round loss to Marquette.

Texas Tech's offense stalled in the second half of its first-round loss to St. John's.

Saturday, March 19

UT's Thompson, Hamilton say they'll return for 2011-12
The following must be consumed with a dump truck full of grains of salt. However, this is also reporting what was said.

Following Texas' media session Saturday to preview Sunday's NCAA Tournament game with Arizona, freshman Tristan Thompson and sophomore Jordan Hamilton were asked about their futures in Austin. Both said they planned to return to play next season.

(Here's where you can apply a healthy dose of salt: Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo - among others - are players who at some point during their freshman seasons said they'd be sophomores but then wound up being one and dones.)

Hamilton said that he has promised his mother he would get a college education and that "we could have a great team next season."

Thompson, in the course of a pleasant interview with about half a dozen reporters, was given several opportunities to wiggle out of a commitment/guarantee to play at Texas next season. He never wavered.

"I can use more time to develop myself with (UT strength coach Todd) Wright," Thompson said. "I love my Texas Longhorn fans and I don't want to be anywhere else. ... I'd rather be picked No. 22 in the (NBA) draft and play 10 years than be the top pick and play three years."

For what it's worth, Thompson said he is signed up for summer classes at Texas. He and fellow Canadian Cory Joseph have often said they want to play with good friend Myck Kabongo, a top prep point guard who will play for the Longhorns next season. Thompson also said that the Internet's mock drafts that might have him as a top five pick are not something he cares about.

"I'm not sure when that question gets asked what people expect these guys to say," Texas coach Rick Barnes said. "Either way, it's a headline. Tristan is the kind of guy who has never had an agenda. I know what he wants to do in basketball and the kind of player he wants to be. I think he loves where he is right now."

"At the end of the year, part of my job is to help these guys make these kinds of decisions. There will be plenty of time to figure it all out."

One man's opinions
Reid Gettys, who works as an analyst for the Big 12 Network, is working as an analyst for Westwood One's NCAA Tournament radio network. Gettys is assigned to work the games in Tulsa and offered these thoughts on Sunday's games.

Texas vs. Arizona: There are two great individual matchups - the post guys and the point guards. Arizona's Derrick Williams and Texas' Tristan Thompson should be a fascinating to watch and Arizona's Lamont "MoMo" Jones against Dogus Balbay and maybe Cory Josesh of Texas. I don't think it's a great situation for teams that play Texas when their best players are in the post and at point guard because that's where Texas is strong. I think teams that give Texas trouble have good to great players on the wing and at power forward.

Kansas vs. Illinois: The only consistent thing about Illinois has been its inconsistency. They shot 59.6 percent against UNLV and I don't see them doing that again against Kansas. Illinois' got two big guys (6-9 Mike Davis and 7-1 Mike Tisdale) who like to step out and shoot jumpers. I don't think that's gonna be an issue for the Morris twins; they're used to being away from the basket. One of the great matchups will be Illinois point guard Demetri McCamey against Brady Morningstar. And Kansas can - and probably will - run a lot of defenders at McCamey. I think Tyrel Reed, Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson could take turns guarding him.

Thoughts and observations
*
There will be lots of grousing about the late starts for Sunday's games. The last game in Chicago is scheduled to tip at 8:40 p.m. CT (and considering the length of games due to extended halftimes and longer media timeouts, figure an even later start). Credit/blame the new CBS/Turner Sports television deal. In the past, CBS wanted Sunday's games to wrap before 6 p.m. CST (to accommodate 60 Minutes). Turner Sports wants/gets the Sunday night prime-time games.

* Memphis coach Josh Pastner, 33, looks as young as the freshmen on his team. He was a walk on/psuedo assistant on Arizona's 1997 title team, then became a Wildcats assistant. In a previous life, Your Humble Correspondent wrote a column saying TCU should hire Pastner, even though he was in his late 20s and had no experience running a program. (TCU didn't listen to the suggestion; as a married man, YHC is accustomed to that.) YHC ran into Pastner outside the locker room before Memphis played Arizona Saturday. Pastner is a people person; he thanked YHC again for writing the column. Impressive.

* In the round of 32, add the seeds to find out which region has the "strongest" (based on seeds) remaining eight teams. The West Region has had no upsets and totals 36. The East and the Southeast each had a No. 11 seed knock off a No. 6 so their seeds total 41. The Southwest Region has the highest total with 61.

Oklahoma State's Toni Young out with arm injury
Coming off the best game of her career, Oklahoma State sophomore Toni Young will have to wait until next season for her next game. She injured her arm when she fell after a dunk during Friday's practice.

The Cowgirls (17-14) travel to Laramie Wyoming to take on the Wyoming Cowgirls (23-8) at 8 p.m. Monday in the second round of the WNIT.

In Wednesday night's WNIT opener against Pepperdine, Young scored a career high 34 points, 18 rebounds, four assists and a block in an 81-74 victory over the Waves.

Young had started in 30 of OSU's games this year and played in all 31. She averaged 15.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game. No other Cowgirl averages more than six rebound per game.

Baseball opening day
Take a break from March Madness, here are some highlights from league openers in Big 12 Conference baseball Friday:

Oklahoma 1, Texas A&M 0: This was about what one would expect from teams ranked third (Sooners) and 12th (Aggies). Oklahoma senior Michael Rocha (5-0) struck out a career-high 13 and allowed three hits in 8.2 innings. Garrett Buechele's two-out single in the bottom of the seventh produced the only run. Aggies ace John Stilson (1-1) allowed seven hits and struck out nine. "A pitching duel is what we live for," Rocha, whose ERA is 0.76, told the Norman Transcript. "It was all about pitching and that one run. It was just a great game."

Texas Tech 6, Baylor 5: The Red Raiders snapped Baylor's seven-game winning streak thanks to a spectacular diving catch by center fielder Barrett Barnes. After Texas Tech took the lead in the top of the ninth on Nick Popescu's sacrifice fly, the Bears loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth. Joey Hainsfurther drove a two-out, full-count pitch into left center that looked like a game winner before Barnes sprinted and made a full-extension catch to end the game.

Oklahoma State 3, Kansas 1: The Cowboys (14-3) won their eighth in a row. Cowboys Mark Ginther had the game's key hit, a  two-run double in the top of the fourth inning. The Jayhawks (7-10) got two runners on base in the ninth but Oklahoma State closer Chris Marlowe got the final three outs for the save.

Texas 3, Kansas State 0: Taylor Jungman did what aces, what Friday night pitchers, are supposed to do. The junior went eight scoreless innings, allowing five hits, walking one and striking out five, as the Longhorns opened Big 12 play with a victory over the Wildcats. Jungman is 5-0 on the season and 14-0 in his career at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Catcher Jacob Felts gave Texas an early edge with a two-run single in the first inning.

Kansas State upsets Baylor in women's tennis
Tenth-ranked Baylor's women's tennis team had its 57-match Big 12 Conference winning streak halted by Kansas State in a 4-3 loss Friday at the Baylor Tennis Center in Waco. The Wildcats (11-1, 2-0) won three-set matches in the last two singles matches to overcome a 3-2 deficit to win the match. 

Friday, March 18

No. 5 Arizona 77, No. 12 Memphis 75
The Wildcats (28-7) held on to win thanks to a game-saving blocked shot by sophomore forward Derrick Williams. The victory over the Tigers (25-10) sets up a West Regional third-round game with Texas Sunday.

Memphis trailed by three points with five seconds remaining. Joe Jackson made one of two free throws, with Wesley Witherspoon grabbing the offensive rebound. When he tried to score on the put back, Williams rejected it.

"At one point, he was wide open," Williams said of Witherspoon. "I knew he wasn't going to shot fake it because there wasn't enough time on the clock, so I just went up trying to make a hard play on the ball like coach always tells us to do.

"Good thing it wasn't a foul."

Witherspoon wasn't so sure. "It was a basketball play," he said. "You could say I got fouled, you could say I wasn't."

Williams finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Antonio Barton had 17 to led the Tigers.

Oakland's Greg Kampe endorses Texas
Consider Greg Kampe an expert witness. His Oakland team played a challenging nonconference schedule that included West Virginia, Purdue, Illinois, Michigan State, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio State - all NCAA Tournament teams.

"I know who is good, and I know who isn't," Kampe said. "That Texas team is as good as anybody. Texas can win a national championship, and I don't put that on Rick that way. I think Texas is good because of him. He's one of the best coaches there is. They defend like unbelievable.

"But we've played those teams ... they're right there neck and neck. And I think Ohio State is the No. 1 pick or seed in this tournament. We've played them both, and (Texas is) a great team."

Texas fast breaks
* Since the NCAA Tournament field expanded in 1985, Texas is 16-5 in opening games.

* Texas blocked nine shots, a school record for an NCAA Tournament game.

* Texas sophomore J'Covan Brown is averaging 20.5 points in the two NCAA Tournament games of his career. Brown made all 12 of his free throws, an NCAA Tournament record (Joey Wright went 10-of-10 against St. John's in 1991).

* Texas freshman Tristan Thompson's seven blocked shots against Oakland set a school record for NCAA Tournament game. LaMarcus Aldridge blocked five against LSU in 2006.

Layups
* Texas has been shooting 64 percent from the free throw line but against Oakland the Longhorns were 21-of-26 from the line with J'Covan Brown making all 12 of his attempts. Here's what Jordan Hamilton had to say about the Longhorns' accuracy: "I think after practice guys shoot free throws, and I think that's been helping us as of late. And J'Covan went 12 for 12, and that's a great thing for our team. If we can continue to knock them down, we can go really far."

* Utah State coach Stew Morrill on Kansas State senior guard Jacob Pullen after the Wildcats' 73-68 victory over the 12th-seeded Aggies: "He is a really special guard. Holy smokes. I mean, when you do things that you often do to a good player - when you double him, when you are helping - he is coming off screens, he immediately senses that. He's got a great feel for the game, makes plays for his teammates. He's just special."

* Texas sophomore Dean Melchionni was doing locker room interviews for the Longhorns Network. Here's the exchange between Melchionni and Johnson: "Did you attend the Dean Melchionni jump shot class, held Mondays and Wednesdays at 2 p.m.?" Johnson: "Yeah, but I just needed one session."

* Just so you know ... the BOK Center in Tulsa, the BOK is short for Bank Of Oklahoma, who bought the naming rights for the facility. The locals, though, call it the "B-O-K" center, not the "bock" (or, "balk") Center. Local knowledge.

Thursday, March 17

Tick, tick, tick
It appears to Your Humble Correspondent that NCAA Tournament games are taking longer than usual. YHC hasn't crunched any game times yet, but know this: Halftime has been lengthened from 15 to 20 minutes and the eight media timeouts during each game are three minutes each in length.

For you non-math majors, that's 44 minutes of breaks for a 40-minute game. The extra five minutes at halftime is probably because of more television voices needing air time (TNT, TBS and truTV are televising the games this season, joining CBS). The commercial breaks help pay the freight.

So, if it seems like there are games where the teams play, stop, play, stop, play ... well, you get the idea ... that's because of the built-in media timeouts.

"It is what it is. It's part of the tournament," Texas coach Rick Barnes said Thursday. "I've always believed that the timeouts are one of the reasons that sometimes it's hard to sustain runs and momentum."

And three minutes can become a long time for a coach to talk.

"If you've watched us play, my guys are up 30 seconds before the other team even comes out of the huddle," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "So I've run out of things to say 15 or 20 seconds into each timeout. So this will be a real challenge for me."

Rebounding like a dog
Your Humble Correspondent swears this was a compliment; you had to be there (or here in Tulsa).

Greg Kampe, coach of 13th-seeded Oakland, was asked about the rebounding abilities of Texas freshman Tristan Thompson.

"He's athletic and long, and he poses problems," Kampe said. "You know what he does, he offensive rebounds, and he's a machine doing that

"I have a dog, and every time my front doorbell rings, my dog runs to the front door. We open the door and it's never been for him. But every time that bell rings, he goes. That's how Tristan is on the offensive glass. Every time a shot goes up, he's going for it. That's why he's such a great offensive rebounder. I tell my players if I can get you to rebound like my dog goes to the door, we've got a chance to be good."

When asked, Kampe said the dog's name is G and that it's a soft-haired Wheaten Terrier.

"It's a great dog, too," he said. "Do you think there's ever been a press conference where they asked the coach what his dog's name was before?"

Return engagement
Before heading to open practice and media conferences at the BOK Center Thursday afternoon, Texas practiced at the Mabee Center, which is the home court for Oral Roberts. It was a trip down memory lane for coach Rick Barnes.

The Mabee Center was the site of Barnes' first victory at Texas, a defeat of Oral Roberts University - coached at the time by Barry Hinson, the current director of basketball operations at Kansas.

Texas, which went on to win the Big 12 Conference regular season title during the 1998-99 season, had lost its first four games before beating ORU

"I remember those losses," Barnes said of that 0-4 start. "You don't want to start your career anywhere 0-4."

Overheard
Oakland's Reggie Hamilton on how the Grizzlies need to guard Texas reserve guard J'Covan Brown, who helps provide a scoring spark:

"I know he'll be look to go score the ball. So we just have to stay to our principles all year that we had in our scouting reports when it comes to scorers. We just need to make sure all his shots are tough. He's a good player. We can't lose confidence if he makes a tough shot."

Oakland coach Greg Kampe on President Obama's bracket, which had Texas beating Kampe's team in the opening game:

I didn't vote for him either, so I guess we're even now. We're even. ... I don't think a lot of people are picking us.

Texas coach Rick Barnes, having a little fun with TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager, who is known for his colorful sport coats. (Sager asked a question from the back of the interview room and Barnes couldn't see because of the TV lights:

"I wish I could see how you were dressed. Are you dressed pretty good?"

Crowd helps Oklahoma State in NIT
Attendance - the lack of people - has been an ongoing topic at Oklahoma State during coach Travis Ford's tenure. A crowd of 5,342 for the Cowboys NIT opening-round defeat of Harvard could be cause for further discussion.

But Ford was pleased that Gallagher-Iba Arena was just over one third full.

There were several factors that limited attendance - spring break, short notice (Tuesday night game announced late Sunday night), the game was televised, the weather was perfect to be outside instead of inside and it was an NIT game.

The noise surpassed the numbers.

"We didn't know what to expect crowd-wise tonight," Ford siad. "To be honest with you, we didn't expect a lot. It was on national television. We walked out there and it was as loud as it has been ... The energy level in this building tonight was great. Our players felt that. When I walked out there, I felt it."

Oakland's Keith Benson one to watch
ESPN.com listed five mid-major players you should know and one who made the list will be facing Texas in Friday's first game in Tulsa.

Keith Benson, Oakland: He's won back-to-back Summit League Player of the Year awards for a reason. After nearly forgoing his senior year for the NBA draft, Benson is back in the NCAA tournament and looking to give Texas problems in the opening round with his 6-foot-11 presence. He averages a double-double (18 ppg, 10 rpg) and even added a 3-point shot to his game this year. Benson is a scary player for the Longhorns to face and has the ability to carry his team.

St. Patrick's Day links
Sophomore Alex Burks continued his outstanding play, scoring 27 points as Colorado defeated Texas Southern in the opening round of the NIT.

Wichita State dominated from start to finish, sending Nebraska to a 76-49 defeat and elimination from the NIT.

Kansas had little trouble dispatching Wichita State to win its first-round game in the WNIT.

Oklahoma State sophomore Toni Young scored a career-high 34 points to lead the Cowgirls to an 81-74 victory over Pepperdine in the first round of the WNIT.

Oklahoma State easily beat Harvard in the opening round of the NIT Tuesday ... even though during Monday's practice, Cowboys coach Travis Ford kicked the players out because of how poorly they were practicing.

Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com writes that it wouldn't be surprising for all four No. 1 seeds to reach the Final Four in the NCAA women's bracket.

Fourth-seeded Texas and Rick Barnes might have a chip on their shoulders headed into the NCAA Tournament.

Best case/worst case for Big 12 teams
Each year when March Madness rolls around, Pat Forde of ESPN.com takes on the Herculean task of writing a "best case/worst case" scenario for every team in the NCAA Tournament bracket. Some of what he writes is serious, some is more whimsicale. Here's what he had to say about the Big 12 Conference's five teams:

Kansas
Best Case: Every single ticket gets distributed legally as the Jayhawks march all the way to their fourth national title and second in the past four seasons. The Morris twins have defenses seeing double, hurting opponents inside and outside. Experienced guards hit key shots and play airtight defense. Deepest team in the country gets contributions from 10 players - even Josh Selby! - as Kansas rolls past Boston U, UNLV, Louisville and Notre Dame to Houston. Once there, the Jayhawks bounce Florida and then do what they did in 2008 -- rip Roy Williams and North Carolina. Bill Self signs a lifetime contract, Selby humbly acknowledges he's not ready for the NBA, the Morrises return as well, and Kansas is the prohibitive favorite to win it all again in 2012. Meanwhile, Missouri and Kansas State both get knocked out in the first round.
Worst Case: Emotionally immature team overlooks its round-of-32 game against UNLV and comes out flat. Marcus Morris is tossed for a flagrant elbow, Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar miss every perimeter jumper, and Tyshawn Taylor turns the ball over five times. Bill Self gets that familiar, Northern Iowa/Bucknell/Bradley sinking feeling again, watching his team unravel. Jayhawks are dismissed while Missouri makes an unlikely Sweet 16 run and Kansas State goes to the Final Four.

Texas A&M
Best Case:
Aggies continue their season-long overachieving by advancing to an improbable regional final. With just one significantly talented player in Khris Middleton, A&M is a team of hardworking role players who shut down offensively challenged Florida State, stun cold-shooting Notre Dame and topple Purdue. They finally tap out in the regional final against Kansas, but it's the deepest move in school history. Coach Mark Turgeon is given a new contract and his own personal Yell Leader to fetch coffee and lunch and wash his comp car. When Texas flames out against Oakland, Aggies fans still riding a high from beating the Longhorns in football nearly expire from happiness.
Worst Case: Lack of major talent catches up with the Aggies, who are broomed out by Florida State. Seminoles forward Chris Singleton is recovered from his broken foot and shuts down Middleton, and nobody else can score enough to pick up the slack. Turgeon decides he wants to coach at a school that likes basketball and relocates. Texas wins national title, and six more blue-chip recruits commit to Rick Barnes.

Texas
Best Case: Longhorns relocate the cohesion of mid-winter, ride homecourt advantage in Houston and roll impressively to the national title by beating Kansas in a rubber-match title game. As they did last week in Kansas City, Jordan Hamilton and J'Covan Brown shoot judiciously and accurately from all areas of the floor. Tristan Thompson leads the nation's best interior defense in shutting down the paint. Dogus Balbay runs the show with unerring precision. Nobody pouts. Rick Barnes gets King Kong off his back by cutting down the Reliant Stadium nets. Meanwhile, Texas A&M flames out in the first round, and Oklahoma inexplicably exumes Billy Tubbs to replace Jeff Capel.
Worst Case: Everybody pouts, and the Longhorns are punked by Oakland in the first round. After a listless start in an early Friday tipoff, Texas reverts to its worst tendencies. Hamilton and Brown go into gunner mode, and only Balbay will share the basketball. Barnes fails to calm the waters and watches another team with NBA talent lose well before its time. Texas team that squandered a No. 1 seed with late losses to Nebraska, Colorado and Kansas State fails to contain Oakland big man Keith Benson or point guard Reggie Hamilton, and the Horns become "that team" -- the most notable Round of 64 upset victim. Everyone goes pro, A&M goes on a run and Oklahoma hires Dave Rose.

Missouri
Best Case: Tigers play well away from home for the first time in months. They romp past Cincinnati, then press dead-legged Connecticut into distress to reach the Sweet 16. Once there, they upset San Diego State before falling to Duke in the regional final. Kim English shoots 50 percent from the field in successive games for the first time all season -- yes, all season. Go-go guards Marcus Denmon, Flip Pressey and Michael Dixon push the pace relentlessly and force turnovers. Big men Laurence Bowers and Ricardo Ratliffe get some rebounds. And when Kansas is beaten by Louisville in the Sweet 16, Mizzou has outlasted the Jayhawks by at least one day for the third straight season.
Worst Case: The team that hasn't beaten a member of the field of 68 since mid-January and hasn't won a big game all year outside the state of Missouri isn't going to start now. Tigers miss jump shots, give up easy baskets, get hammered on the glass and lose handily to Cincinnati in their opening game. Watching at home, Seth Greenberg fumes, "We could have done better than that!" Mike Anderson finally progresses past window shopping and takes an open job. Kansas wins another title.

Kansas State
Best Case:
Team that hasn't lost to anybody but Colorado since January rejoices to see the Buffaloes left out of the bracket and begins plotting a Final Four run. Jacob Pullen makes it reality by averaging 30 points per game, making his beard the most famous this side of Fidel Castro's. Season-long underachievers Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels return to active, disruptive form inside. The Wildcats whip past Utah State, Belmont, Pittsburgh and Florida to reach Houston. At a key juncture against the Gators, Kansas State misses a box-out and allows a putback basket -- but coach Frank Martin endures it without committing homicide. Reassured that their coach only looks like an ax-murdering madman, as opposed to being one, K-State settles down and wins the game. Loss in national semifinals to Notre Dame doesn't hurt because Kansas was eliminated earlier. Worst Case: After failed box-out in the first two minutes, Frank Martin's head explodes on the sideline, ruining his suit and hampering his team's ability to beat Utah State. Aggies coach Stew Morrill calls the Colorado staff to get the dope on beating the Wildcats and employs the same game plan to perfection. Under duress, K-State reverts to unintelligent offense and Pullen goes 4-for-23 from the field. Kelly and Samuels play in a fog. The Wildcats are forced to return to Manhattan, Kan., and watch Kansas win the national title.

President Obama picks Kansas ... again
A year ago, President Barack Obama picked Kansas to win the national championship but POTUS' bracket got fouled up when the top-seeded Jayhawks were upset in the second round by Northern Iowa.

This year, Kansas is again a No. 1 seed. This year, Obama is again picking Kansas to win the national championship.

"I'm picking Kansas, just because I think they're deeper. I think that Kansas has more firepower," Obama said of going with the Jayhawks to defeat overall No. 1 seed Ohio State in the title game. "(In 2008) I picked North Carolina, they lost. The next year they won for me. I think Kansas is going to do the same thing. They always feel bad about losing when the President picks them. They're going to go all the way."

Informed of Obama's endorsement of the Jayhawks, KU coach Bill Self said, "We're gonna prove him right this year."

For what it's worth, Obama picked Arizona to knock off No. 4 seed Texas in the second round and also picked Cincinnati to beat Missouri in the first round. News of that selection prompted Tigers junior Kim English to respond on his Twitter feed, "Why Im voting REPUBLICAN in 2012"

Two Big 12 teams make 'academic' Final Four
Inside Higher Education uses the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate to fill out an NCAA Tournament bracket each March. Click here to find out the two Big 12 teams that made the 'academic' Final Four.

Wednesday, March 16

Baylor's Melissa Jones: 'I can see.'
At 5:15 a.m. Monday, the day that Baylor found out it would a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Women's Tournament for the first time in school history, Lady Bears coach Kim Mulkey received a text message from senior forward Melissa Jones.

Just three little words: "I can see."

Fifteen days after losing sight in her right eye, Jones got up in the middle of the night and realized that her vision had returned.

"I actually woke up at 3:30," Jones told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "I don't know why I wake up in the middle of the night. But every time I do, I look (through my right eye). I thought, 'Whoa! There's actually something there.' "

Jones suffered an injury to her right optic nerve while diving for a loose ball against Oklahoma on Feb. 27. After missing one game, she returned to the court for the season finale and was named all-tournament at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship. She wore protective sunglasses during her last four games.

"As stealth as I look in them, I don't really enjoy wearing them," Jones said.

ESPN.com analyst discusses Dallas Regional
Charlie Crème of ESPN.com had this to say about Texas A&M being a No. 2 seed in the Dallas Regional along with No. 1 seed Baylor.

Let's just say I wouldn't want to be the desk in Texas A&M coach Gary Blair's office tonight, because he's going to be pounding it more than once. Not only did A&M get placed in the same region as Big 12 rival Baylor, but for the second straight year Blair's team has been sent to play in a subregional where the second-round game could be in his opponent's home territory (Louisiana Tech is about an hour away from Shreveport, La.). Repeats of this situation are supposed to be avoided, if possible.

And the committee needs to do everything possible to protect the highest seeds. Sometimes, with the predetermined host sites, it is unavoidable. This one was preventable. Moving teams a seed line is permissible. Do it here. Make the Lady Techsters a No. 11 seed. It's not that vital if La. Tech is a No. 10 or a No. 11. Put a No. 3 seed in that position. Certainly don't do it to the same No. 2 seed two years in a row.

Talk about it
Texas A&M senior point guard Sydney Colson: "We really wanted to end up as the same regional as Baylor. I'm not really sure we thought it was going to happen."

Marist has won 26 consecutive games going into its first-round NCAA Tournament game with Iowa State. "That kind of makes me think they know how to win," Cyclones point guard Lauren Mansfield said.

Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale: "I look at our 11 losses and the tendency is, you want to stand up and scream, 'Six of them were to the top five in the country!' We've really played a difficult schedule. While you may not be rewarded for it by the number of your seed, you're rewarded for it by the experience you get in those situations."

Texas junior guard Yvonne Anderson on the Longhorns being a No. 9 seed and an at-large selection: "We ended the season in a way we didn't want to be portrayed. This gives us a chance to once again show the nation that we can be the team we thought we could be."

Fast breaks
* Before the season, the McNeese State coaching staff visited College Station to observe how and why Texas A&M has created a program that has reached a school-record six consecutive NCAA Tournaments.

* Iowa State has won its first round game each of the last four seasons.

* Iowa State senior Kelsey Bolte, who has missed just one game in her career, will tie Heather Ezell for the school's career record for games played (134).

* Iowa State is one of just 20 teams to make the NCAA Championship field in each of the last five seasons and is one of just five teams to play in the NCAA Sweet 16 in each of the last two seasons. The other four teams are Oklahoma, Baylor, Connecticut and Stanford.

* Kristy Curry is making her first NCAA Tournament appearance as Texas Tech's coach. At Purdue, Curry had a 15-7 NCAA record including a runner-up finish in 2001, an elite eight appearance in 2003 and two Sweet 16 trips.

* Texas Tech and St. John's had one common opponent in 2010-11 - Kansas State. The Red Storm fell to the Wildcats, 64-53, on Nov. 13, in Manhattan, Kan., while the Lady Raiders defeated K-State, 68-66, in double overtime on Jan. 15 in Lubbock.

Tuesday, March 15

March Madness links to click
Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News writes that Rick Barnes and Mark Turgeon have made Texas and Texas A&M stable, nationally respected programs.

Many believe that Texas and Kentucky, both No. 4 seeds, should have been seeded higher. Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journal did some research that confirms that belief.

Top-seeded Kansas opens NCAA Tournament play in Tulsa, which is where Jayhawks coach Bill Self started his coaching career.

Now that Oklahoma has decided to change basketball coaches, Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman weighs in on what the program needs to do.

Baylor distance runner Logan Roberts serves as Big 12 Conference Student-Athlete Advisory Committee co-chair and helps his fellow student-athletes become involved in the Waco community.

For all you Hoop Heads filling out your NCAA Tournament brackets, here's a detailed statistical analysis from the New York Times. Don't click if numbers make you break out in a rash.

Colorado's exclusion and a lack of respect
When you invite people to your house for a party, they're expecting a good time, expecting to enjoy themselves. The NCAA Tournament bracket, though, can be a party pooper.

Sunday afternoon, first-year Colorado coach Tad Boyle had his players and members of the media at his house in Boulder. After winning two games and playing well against top-seeded Kansas in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship in Kansas City, most of the bracketologists had the Buffs off the bubble and in the bracket.

When the last team was announced and Colorado's wasn't called, the mute button was hit at Casa Boyle.

"I can't even get angry because I'm just in shock," Boyle said Monday. "It didn't even enter in my mind that we wouldn't be in the field."

Boyle is good friends with Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon, whose Aggies were given a No. 7 seed in the Southwest Region. The two talked Sunday night.

"I was probably more upset for Tad than I was happy for us," Turgeon said. "I was down. I was just stunned they weren't in. ... When I saw Texas as a four I knew we were all in trouble. I turned to my wife and said, 'Tad's not going to get in.'"

"I think every coach in our league is very disappointed for Colorado. Those guys, in my opinion without any hesitation, deserve to be in the tournament," Kansas head coach Bill Self said. "I'm hurting for Tad and his players because they deserved to be in without question. I didn't even think they were on the bubble."

The fact that Texas was a No. 4 seed when most expected the Longhorns to be a No. 2 seed plus getting just five teams - a year after placing a league record seven in the bracket - left Big 12 coaches asking why the Conference didn't get any respect.

"I think all of us in the Big 12 are probably shocked and disappointed," Nebraska head coach Doc Sadler, whose team is also in the NIT, said of the Buffs not making the NCAA Tournament. "I would think the Big 12 office is shaking its head. I know the coaches are."

Just so you know
Your Humble Correspondent wants to make this perfectly clear. Crystal clear. No doubt clear. No misunderstanding clear.

Just because Big 12 Conference commissioner Dan Beebe is a member of the NCAA men's tournament committee, he had no role, no say, no influence on Colorado not being selected as an at-large team.

The selection process states that when a committee member has ties - as an athletic director or a commissioner - to a school being discussed, he must leave the room. There is no politicking, no campaigning. The other committee members made the call on Colorado. By rule, Beebe was not involved in the process.

That's not always communicated. For instance, here's a sentence from a story on the Boulder Daily Camera's web site: "Even though Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, one of the 10 members, wasn't able to come up with a convincing enough argument for the Pac-12-bound Buffs."

With Colorado in its last season in the Big 12, there are those who could go grassy knoll and build a conspiracy theory. Nothing Oliver Stone-ish here.

OK, so we're clear on this, right?

That's a fact
*
Kansas has made 22 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (1990-2010) which is the nation's longest active list and ranks second-best all time. North Carolina had 27 straight from 1975-2001.

* Kansas has won at least 30 games in a season 10 times. Four of those have come under coach Bill Self.

* In Kansas State's 24 previous NCAA Tournament appearances, the Wildcats have advanced to the Sweet 16 a total of 16 times. The program has also reached the Elite Eight 11 times, made four Final Four appearances and played in one National Championship game (1951). 

* Utah State, Kansas State's first-round foe, had a 17-game winning streak during the season and has won 23 of its last 24 games.

* With its bid to this year's tournament, Texas has extended its school-record streak of consecutive NCAA appearances to 13.

* Texas A&M is one of 12 schools that have made the NCAA Tournament in each of the last six seasons. The other 11: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Marquette, Michigan State, Pittsburgh, Tennessee, Texas, Villanova, Wisconsin and Xavier.

* Texas A&M and Pittsburgh are the only schools in the country to win an NCAA Tournament game in each of the last 5 years.

* The coaches of the two Big 12 Conference teams playing Tulsa are among the active leaders in consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. Texas coach Rick Barnes is tied for first with Duke's Mike Krzyzewski with 16 consecutive appearances. Kansas' Bill Self is third with 13 consecutive NCAA appearances.

Tourney tidbits
* The eight-team Tulsa "pod" is a reunion for former Illinois coaches. UNLV, which meets Illinois in the first round, is coached by Lon Kruger. He was the Illini's coach before Kansas coach Bill Self held the job. When he left for Lawrence, current coach Bruce Weber took over. Also, Self's first job as a head coach came at Tulsa.

* Oakland sophomore guard Ledrick Eackles is one of the Grizzlies' top players off the bench. He's the son of former NBA player Ledell Eackles, who played collegiately at the University of New Orleans.

* In 2005, Oakland (located in Rochestser, Mich.) gained an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with a 12-19 record. The Grizzlies upset Oral Roberts (which is located in Tulsa) to win the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament title. Oakland's only NCAA victory came in the play-in game, a 79-69 decision over Alabama State. The Grizzlies lost to eventual national champion North Carolina, 96-68, in the first round.

* Kansas State faces Utah State in the first round. Last year, Texas A&M faced Utah State and defeated the Western Athletic Conference champions, 69-53.

* Last season: Oakland (26-8) entered the tournament as a No. 14 seed after winning the Summit League regular season and league tournament titles. After leading for much of the first half, the Grizzlies lost to Pitt, 89-66, in a West Region first-round game in Milwaukee.

* Despite the loss this was Oakland's best season. It finished the league season at 17-1. It ended the season with an RPI rating of 55, the highest for any team in league history.

Saturday, March 11

Women's All-Tournament team discussion
The 2011 Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team was made up of Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma), Tyra White (Texas A&M), Danielle Adams (Texas A&M) elissa Jones (Baylor) and the Most Outstanding Player was Baylor's Brittney Griner.

Neither Texas A&M coach Gary Blair nor Baylor coach Kim Mulkey were happy with the selections made by media who covered the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship.

"Carter is just a winner," he said. "The bottom line, she wasn't on the All-Tournament team. I don't know if you guys were voting or what, but my gosh. She's pretty damn good. And if she's the heart and soul of my team and guarding everybody else, where was your all's vote. I'd like to ask y'all."

Mulkey thought that sophomore Destiny Williams, who spent most of Saturday's championship game guarding Texas A&M's Danielle Adams, should have made the team.

"I don't know who votes on it, and it's why I hate awards," Mulkey said. "How can you explain Destiny Williams is not on the All-Tournament team? She plays three games and she goes 21 points and eight rebounds, 18 points and seven rebounds, and she has 11 big rebounds today and you're the champion and you only get the same number that A&M did, the same number of All-Tournament people?"

Full disclosure: Your Humble Correspondent voted for Sydney Carter and Sydney Colson of Texas A&M, Brittney Griner, Melissa Jones and Destiny Williams of Texas A&M.

Layups
* Baylor's 68-65 victory is the closest winning margin in a Big 12 Championship title game since Iowa State defeated Oklahoma, 68-65, in 2001.

* There were no upsets. The higher seeded team won every game in the 2011 Big 12 Championship, the first time in conference history that has happened.

* Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey improved to 295-78 in her career. She can reach 300 victories this season if the Lady Bears reach the national championship game.

* Baylor's 11 blocked shots vs. Texas A&M are a Big 12 Championship game record and rank second among all-time Big 12 Championships contests.

* Brittney Griner's seven blocked shots set the Big 12 Championship individual game record and are tied for second on the all-time Big 12 Championship single-game list. She set the single-game record with 10 in 2010 vs. Oklahoma. Griner's 14 total blocked shots for the tournament are a Big 12 Championship individual series record.

* Texas A&M's Sydney Carter had a career-high six steals. That tied the Big 12 Championship game record and rank tied for fifth on the all-time Big 12 Championship single-game record chart. Carter's 13 steals in three games set a Big 12 Championship record.

* Attendance for the 2011 Big 12 Championship game was 4,250. The total attendance for the tournament is 25,400.

* Texas A&M has forced 20 or more turnovers in its last three games, including 31 against Texas, 20 versus Oklahoma and 22 against Baylor.

Words before the game
Before Texas took the court for its Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship semifinal victory over Texas A&M, Kansas junior Markieff Morris made a "request." He told the second-seeded Longhorns that he wanted them to win so that they would meet the Jayhawks in the title game.

"We exchanged a few words," UT's Gary Johnson said. "Let's say it will be more than a basketball game tomorrow."

Johnson said that Morris' remarks were of a cutting nature. Kansas wants to avenge a 74-63 loss to Texas in January that ended the Jayhawks' school-record 69-game home court winning streak. Kansas, though, overcame a two-game deficit over the last three weeks and won its seventh consecutive regular-season title.

"He had some choice words," Texas senior guard Jai Lucas said of Morris. "I don't think you can put that in the newspaper. We felt like we kind of had the Big 12 title and gave it away. This is another chance to win a championship."

The long wait
Colorado is the Big 12's most bubbly team. The Buffaloes (21-13) lost in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship semifinals but their two victories - particularly the quarterfinal defeat of No. 4 seed Kansas State - might have been enough to secure an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The NCAA Tournament bracket will be announced at 5 p.m. Sunday.

"Until your name pops up there, we're not going to put the cart in front of the horse," Colorado first-year coach Tad Boyle said. "We're going to certainly hope and keep our fingers crossed. But a lot of things are still out of our control, but we know we're going to be playing (in the postseason).

"It's one of those things, when you're in our position, you don't have control, so you just hope for the best. But we're going to prepare for postseason play, which was our goal as we started this season back in October."

Before the season, few gave the Buffs much of a chance to be an NCAA Tournament team.

"I will say this with this group, we've come a long way this year and we've overcome a lot. These guys were faced with a new coach and coaching staff and they've adjusted and grown and really bonded together, and we've come a long way since mid-October. So I'm very, very proud of our young men and our program and where we are today."

KU's Bill Self on Colorado
Kansas coach Bill Self was asked for his assessment of how Colorado will fare if the Buffaloes and first-year coach Tad Boyle earn an NCAA Tournament invitation.

"Tad's done a great job. And they've got two terrific offensive players (Alec Burks and Cory Higgins) and the third (Levi Knutson) that can just shoot the lights out," Self said. "So obviously they could be very dangerous, because if those guys are hot on the right night, they can play with anybody and beat anybody.

"And I think they're definitely and certainly hope they are, but I definitely believe they are (in the bracket). But I don't think anybody will look forward to matching up with these guys. They're dangerous."

Jordan Hamilton's brother OK in Japan
Jordan Hamilton's oldest brother Gary played at Miami (Fla.) and is now playing professionally in one of the four Japanese leagues. With the news of the massive earthquake that hit that country reached the Hamilton family in Los Angeles, there was concern for Gary's safety.

Thanks to the "social network," Jordan found out Friday that his brother was OK.

"I actually found out from Facebook," Jordan said. "(The earthquake damage) happened in the north side of Japan. My brother lives I think in the south. So he's okay. And I had a chance to talk to him and he's doing fine."

Linked up
Oklahoma freshman Nicole Griffin is giving the Sooners the threat in the middle that the Sooners have been lacking.

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes that Tyshawn Taylor, who lost his starting job when he was suspended, needs to be Kansas' full-time point guard.

Freshman Tristan Thompson defied gravity and double teams in sparking Texas to its third victory over Texas A&M this season.
Colorado said goodbye to the Big 12 Championship with its semifinal loss to Kansas but hopes to be invited to the NCAA Tournament.

Missouri's Kim English says "we quit" in quarterfinal loss to Texas A&M; Tigers' NCAA Tournament profile is slipping.

Friday, March 10

Robinson joins exclusive club
With seven assists and one steal in Oklahoma's 81-68 semifinal loss to Texas A&M, senior point guard Danielle Robinson joined Nancy Lieberman and Dawn Staley as the third player in the history of top-level women's college basketball to total 2,000 points, 700 assists and 300 steals in a career. 

"Unbelievable," OU coach Sherri Coale said of Robinson's milestone. "Nancy Lieberman and Dawn Staley and Danielle Robinson. Whatever Robinson does for the rest of her life, she's a part of the club. None of the rest of us can even get an invite to a pre-party to that club."

Lieberman totaled 2,430 points, 961 assists and 512 steals from 1977-80 at Old Dominion and Staley recorded 2,135 points, 729 assists and 454 steals at Virginia from 1989-92.  Robinson has 2,085 points, 705 assists and 300 steals.

"To me, I look at it, I got to coach this kid. I got to coach this kid who is mentioned alongside Nancy Lieberman and Dawn Staley. Are you kidding me?" Coale said. "Special. Special stuff. And yet if you talk to her right now, she just wishes she had won that game. And that's what makes her unique.

Calling all fans
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair is never bashful when it comes to promoting women's basketball and the Big 12 Conference. With No. 1 seed Baylor facing Blair's second-seeded Aggies at 11 a.m. Saturday in the title game of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship, Blair asked for the locals to show up at Municipal Auditorium.

"I'd like to challenge Kansas City to come out and see two of the top teams in the country, not just in the Big 12," he said. "We've played the last three years in this championship in front of 3,100, in front of 4,000. We're better than that, Kansas City. We want you there. We want you out. We want you to meet our kids both on and off the court.

"They're selling out on the men's side. It's a great thing. You have two great ball clubs here and you have ten others that have earned the right to have the attendance improve over here. But the ones that are here, they're making the difference."

What's in store for Kansas State?
Kansas State's best inside player, Jalana Childs, played just three minutes in the Wildcat's loss to Baylor Friday. Coach Deb Patterson said that Childs' status shouldn't impact how the NCAA Tournament committee views her team's seed.

"This is a hip flexor strain," Patters said. "I feel that she's going to be okay. Today she didn't feel she could go, so we didn't utilize her. But I expect to have her in the

NCAA Tournament. I personally don't have any question about her."

Patterson was asked how she sees her team fitting in the NCAA Tournament.

"You might not believe this, but I can't even tell you where all of the regionals are, because I'm so focused on our team and I like not looking out there," she said. "I might be the only coach on the planet that way."

Fast breaks
* Texas A&M is the first school in Big 12 history with four straight Big 12 Championship finals appearances (2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011). A&M has won two of the last three Big 12 Championships, including last season's title game defeat of Oklahoma.

* The higher seeded team has won every game in the 2011 Big 12 Championship, marking the first time in history that has happened. It also marks the first time since 2006 the No. 1 and 2 seeds will meet in the Big 12 Championship game.

* Oklahoma freshman Aaryn Ellenberg was 1-for-4 from 3-point range, leaving her one shy of OU single season record of 88 treys set by Erin Higgins in 2005-06.

* Baylor has averaged a 34-point margin of victory, recording two of the top four margins of victory in Big 12 Championship history. BU's 33-point margin of victory today ranks fourth on the all-time championship record list and ranks second among Big 12 semifinal contests. Their 35-point margin Wednesday vs. Kansas is tied for second all-time in tournament history.

Thursday, March 9

For your viewing pleasure
The semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship at the Sprint Center Friday will be televised on the Big 12 Network. Here's a link of stations in the Big 12 area that will carry the games.

Texas A&M advances to semifinals by defeating Missouri
Playing the last game of the quarterfinal round, facing a team playing in front of its fans and starting postseason play ... No. 3 seed Texas A&M had concerns going into its game with Missouri in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship Thursday.

But any worries about the sixth-seeded Tigers, with most of the Sprint Center crowd of the black and gold persuasion, didn't last long. The Aggies came out making shots and Missouri kept missing shots. The result was an 86-71 victory that puts Texas A&M into Friday night's semifinal against No. 2 seed Texas.

The Aggies' David Loubeau, who has been a consistent scoring threat in the low post over the past two weeks, scored 13 of A&M's first 21 points. When Missouri tried to double Loubeau, the Aggies found the open man - which most often was B.J. Holmes. He made four of six 3-pointers and, like Loubeau, finished with 20 points.

"We were good from the beginning," Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon said. "I thought defensively we really played well. They were missing jump shots, and our whole thing was trying to make them shoot jump shots. They started cold and didn't do a very good job guarding the ball.

"Our defense was good. Our rebounding was pretty good and execution was at a pretty high level. We made shots. When you make shots, you look better."

The Aggies made 26-of-45 shots and their 57.8 percent shooting was a season best and a school record for the Big 12 Championship. A&M's 86 points also tied a school best in the Big 12 Championship.

Missouri, meanwhile, missed 17 of its first 19 shots. The Tigers finished making 19 of 56 attempts (33.9 percent).

"I thought they had more energy," Missouri's Laurence Bowers said. "And they punched us in the mouth, and we couldn't withstand it."

The Aggies' lead reached 22 points in the second half. That's the most Missouri has trailed in a game this season.

"As bad as we played in the first half, we were only 13 points down," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "We come out and got an opportunity to trim it, have some opportunities. And it just didn't take place."

Missouri's first nine possessions produced just three points (free throws) and that wasn't nearly enough as the Aggies pushed their lead to 57-36 in the first minutes after intermission.

Dribbles
* Colorado is the first Big 12 team to make its semifinal debut since Texas Tech in 2002. All 12 teams have now reached the semifinal round at least once.

* This is the third time the semifinals have featured a matchup of former Southwest Conference teams (Texas vs. Texas A&M) as well as a (Kansas vs. Colorado). That also has happened in 2006 and 2009.

* Texas A&M's Nathan Walkup and playing Texas, a team that has two victories over the Aggies, in the semifinals: "We're a little bit different team now. We're playing more physical. We just gotta get after it. We have to step up to the challenge and individually, the man you're guarding, and as a team. It's going to be a good game, I think."

Linkage
Mechelle Voepel of ESPN.com previews the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship semifinals and says that top-seeded Baylor will be difficult to beat because it's a complete team.

Jason King of Yahoo Sports! talked with Pat Knight after his last game as Texas Tech's coach.

Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News writes that the suspension of Baylor's Perry Jones III - allegedly for a series of short-term loans obtained by his mother from his summer coach - shows that college athletics is on a pathetic course.

Jumping for Jai
Texas got an unexpected scoring boost from senior point guard Jai Lucas. He came off the bench to score 11 points for the Longhorns in their 74-54 quarterfinal victory over Oklahoma.

How unexpected? Since scoring a season-high 13 points against Arkansas in early January, Lucas had scored 18 points in UT's last 16 games.

"He's a leader on the court, one of the veteran guys in big games," freshman Tristan Thompson said. "When he comes into the games, he calms everyone down. It's almost like Coach Barnes is on the court playing with us.  He brings that whole coaching aspect of the game to us."

In the season finale against Baylor, Lucas was the first guard off the bench. Coach Rick Barnes gave him credit for getting the offense running against the Bears. He had the same message after Thursday's game.

"Jai has worked, he stayed with it," Barnes said. "He comes in and he helps us run our offense, he keeps the ball moving. We've said all year, the strength of our team is in the numbers. And each guy has to play his role and go from there."

A senior's farewell
Say this about Cade Davis - the Oklahoma senior went down swinging. He had 17 points in the Sooners' 74-54 loss to No. 2 seed Texas in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship. The loss ends OU's season at 14-18.

Davis, a senior guard/forward, scored 145 points in his last seven games - 20.7 per game.

"I love being a Sooner," Davis said. "It's a sad day for me, this being my last game. But even out there, you know, the guys - coach always talks about this, these guys being able to control what they can control, working hard and competing.

"That's something that I'm very proud of, to say that hopefully I showed that and displayed that in every game this year."

Fast breaks
* Oklahoma, which didn't attempt a free throw in the first half, was a perfect 13-of-13 in the second half. The Sooners' accuracy from the line set Big 12 Championship record. It's also the best free throw shooting in the Big 12 championship by a Texas opponent (Colorado made 18-of-19 in 2009).

* Texas senior Jai Lucas: "I feel like we just came out - we wanted to play. It seems like we've been in Kansas City forever locked up in the hotel. So just getting a chance to play basketball was something exciting for us."

* Texas improved to 3-0 against Oklahoma this season and has won 11 of the last 13 meetings against the Sooners. The average score in the three games was 69-50.

* The game was also the last broadcast for Oklahoma play-by-play man Bob Barry. He retired after 50 seasons of doing television and radio coverage of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State sports.

Tough-minded Buffs
Instead of rallying in the final minutes as it did against Iowa State in the first round, fifth-seeded Colorado was trying to hang on Thursday against Kansas State.

Senior Cory Higgins gave the Buffs a 70-64 lead with 3:31 left but the Wildcats scratched their way back and closed to within 73-72 with 1:32 to play. Instead of folding, Colorado sealed the deal with a 14-2 run for an 87-75 victory.

The victory over the fourth-seeded Wildcats was Colorado's third over Kansas State and sends the Buffs into Friday's semifinals against No. 1 seed Kansas.

First-year coach Tad Boyle believes that his team's mental toughness was sharpened earlier in Big 12 play when the Buffs lost six of seven. Three of those losses came by four points and another was a three-point loss in overtime.

"The greatest thing about college athletics is teaches these young men to deal with adversity," Boyle said. "Whether it's the whistle's not going your way, whether it's being on the road and people cheering against you, whether you have a tough night shooting the ball or you're just not playing well that day, you gotta figure a way to overcome those things.

"I think we're trying to create that culture of every possession means something, and mental toughness is a big, big part of any team's success, especially this time of year."

Cheering for his former team
This is shaping up as a magical week in Kansas City for Tad Boyle. His fifth-seeded Colorado team reached the semifinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship game and will face Kansas, Boyle's alma mater.

Before taking over the Buffs, Boyle coached at Northern Colorado. Wednesday the Bears won the Big Sky Conference tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament - the school's first.

"We got our Kansas State scout done in time," Boyle said. "I was selfish as a coach; I wanted to watch it. I watched it from start to finish. I'm really proud of those young men, and I say they're my second favorite team in college basketball behind the Colorado Buffaloes."

Boyle coached Northern Colorado for four seasons. In Year One, the Bears were 4-24. His first season at Colorado has been much more successful. The Buffs are 21-12 after Thursday's 87-75 victory over No. 4 seed Kansas State. Colorado's two victories in Kansas City has improved its chance of an NCAA Tournament bid.

"I think that's the fifth time in 108 years of basketball at Colorado where they've won 20 games," Boyle said. "These young men are trying to make a statement and leave their footprints in the sands of time. I'm extremely proud of the Buffaloes.  I'm extremely proud of the Bears, and it would be a great day on Sunday if we both got in."

Fast breaks
* Colorado coach Tad Boyle, a Kansas grad, on his team's next game in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship: "We just talk about what's next and what's next is facing a really good Kansas team in Kansas City."

* Colorado has reached the Big 12 Championship semifinals for the first time. The last time the Buffs reached the semifinals of a conference tournament was 1990 when the school played in the Big Eight Conference.

* Guards Alec Burks (24 points) and Cory Higgins (28) combined for 52 of the Buffs' 87 points. Burks had 29 points in Colorado's first-round victory. Freshman Andre Roberson came off the bench to contribute 11 points, 14 rebounds and three blocked shots. Colorado shot 58 percent and was 23-of-27 (85.2 percent) from the foul line.

* Kansas State senior guard Jacob Pullen on what's next for the Wildcats: "We've got to understand that this is it. Every game now is your last game if you don't come out to play.  And hopefully as a team we can understand what we did wrong and try to build from it with this little bit of time we've got off to prepare for the NCAA Tournament."

Kansas survives Oklahoma State's upset bid
In the first half of its 63-62 loss to top-seeded Kansas, Oklahoma State was twice called for technical fouls for unsportsmanlike conduct. Jean-Paul Olukemi (after a dunk) and Markel Brown (after a blocked shot) woofed at Kansas players they had victimized.

The Jayhawks made two of the four free throws after the techs - important points in a one-point loss. The Cowboys' 92-65 loss at Kansas on Feb. 21 - the biggest loss in coach Travis Ford's tenure - contributed to Oklahoma State's swagger.

 "We went there and took a hard beating," Olukemi said. "Today, we weren't going to lay down. It wasn't going to be Round 2 of that. I think we let our intensity go when we made big plays."

Oklahoma State, ninth in the Big 12 in scoring and last in field goal percentage, scored 41 first-half points - its most against a conference foe this season - and shot 54.2 percent.

Kansas coach Bill Self admitted that he thought the Cowboys started the game with more emotion and energy.

"I told our guys before the game, the last five minutes of a game is far more important than the first five, because the mistakes are magnified and you don't have time to recover," Self said. "(Oklahoma State's) goal is to go to the NCAA Tournament. And so they're in the last five and we played like we were in the first five.

"They played like there was no tomorrow. And they had energy.  I thought they pumped us up early in the game. But I did think we responded pretty well."

Off the bench
In Kansas' previous 29 victories this season, its bench had always outscored the opponent's reserves. In the Jayhawks' 63-62  victory over Oklahoma State, the Cowboys' bench had a 22-18 scoring edge.

But one of the KU's reserves came up with two huge plays. With Oklahoma State playing an active 2-3 zone, senior Mario Little scored with an up-and-under move to give the Jayhawks a 60-56 lead with 3:18 - remaining. Little's three-point play with 1:11 left provided the winning points.

"When teams go zone, coach (Bill Self) likes to throw me in the middle.  I just like to turn and face and try to catch it and maybe hit a guy somewhere or drive," Little said.

Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford called Little's three-point play "a tough, tough shot."

"(Mario) is our off-the-bench spark, he scores off the bench," Marcus Morris said. "When he came in with about a minute and a half to go and he missed a couple of middle shots, I told him to just stay aggressive because they were small and they gave me a better chance of getting it off of the rebounds."

Layups
*
Kansas coach Bill Self: "They played well. They controlled the game, the majority of it. But we did guard and rebound the second half. And we really feel fortunate to have won considering how we shot the basketball."

* Marcus Morris' only basket of the second half was perhaps the biggest score in the last 20 minutes. With Kansas clinging to a one-point lead and the shot clock fading, Morris swished a 30 footer from the left wing with 4:09 left. "The Morris three from 35 feet was the biggest shot of the game," Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. "That was huge. That was bigger than the one we missed at the end. That was a big play."

* Kansas improved to 29-7 in the Big 12 Championship and 13-2 in quarterfinal games. The Jayhawks, who won three games en route to last year's title, have won four straight games in the Big 12 Championship.

* This was the second time in history that the Jayhawks defeated the Cowboys by the same score. Exactly five years ago to the date, No. 2-seeded Kansas defeated No. 7-seeded Oklahoma State 63-62. It was the last time the Jayhawks won a Big 12 Championship game by just a single point.

* During the first minute of the Kansas-Oklahoma State game, a fan yelled, "C'mon Cowboys ... remember Northern Iowa." The Jayhawks' upset loss in the second-round of the NCAA Tournament is hard to live down.

Wednesday, March 8

Good Knight, Pat
During his three-plus years as Texas Tech's coach, Pat Knight's game-day attire consisted of a Red Raider red golf shirt and slacks. Wednesday night for his team's first-round game in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship, Knight was a sharp-dressed man.

"If I was going out, I figured I'd go out in style," said Knight of his dark suit, white shirt and red tie.

Knight, who on Monday was dismissed as Texas Tech's coach, went out with the 11th-seeded Red Raiders' 88-84 loss to No. 6 seed Missouri. The loss ended his career in Lubbock with a 50-61 record but it didn't stop his sense of humor.

"If anybody's looking for a house in Lubbock, Texas, I know seven of them that are available," he said, referring to he and his displaced coaching staff. "If anybody is looking for any real estate in Lubbock, I know seven places available at a good price."

Knight replaced his father Bob. It was similar to what Pat Knight's good friend Sean Sutton went through replacing his father Eddie at Oklahoma State. Pat Knight expressed his displeasure in the fact that Sutton was fired in 2008.

 "Now that I'm fired I can talk about it," Knight said. "I think it's a travesty how they treated Sean there. And I feel good I can say that now. I've had to be quiet about it.  He's one of my best friends. It was wrong what happened to him.

"It's tough to follow two guys like our dads ... when they offer you a position you can't turn it down. ... They give you an opportunity to coach at two Big 12 places, you've got to take the opportunity.  And it's unfortunate we both ended up getting fired.  But at least we tried."

Layups
* The four first-round margins - Oklahoma State-Nebraska (one point), Colorado-Iowa State (two points), Missouri-Texas Tech (four points) and Oklahoma-Baylor (17 points) - constituted the closest opening round in Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship history. The 24 total points that decided the four games was less than the previous opening day for close scores. In 2006, the four games were decided by a total of 28 points.

* Over his last seven games, Baylor senior guard LaceDarius Dunn is in a serious shooting slump. The Big 12's career scoring leader (2,285 points) is 31-of-104 from the field (29.8 percent) and 13-of-57 on 3-pointers (22.8 percent).

* For the first time in the history of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship, the higher seeded team has won the first eight games of the tournament and for the sixth time in Big 12 Championship history the top four seeds have advanced to the semifinals.

Baylor, without Perry Jones III, loses to Oklahoma
No. 10 seed Oklahoma went on a 19-2 run during the last 10 minutes of the first half to take control in its 84-67 victory over No. 7 Baylor. The Sooners (14-17) shot 57.5 percent and made nine of their 18 3-pointers.

The Bears (18-13) have lost six of their last eight and they played in the first round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship without freshman forward Perry Jones III. Jones was declared ineligible for a pre-enrollment amateurism violation/preferential treatment.

 "Perry is like a brother to me," said Baylor's Quincy Acy, who scored a team-high 21 with a game-high 15 rebounds. "We room every trip. He's my little brother. And it's like somebody coming in your house and punching your little brother, you take that personally."

According to The New York Times, Jones' mother Terri accepted about $1,000 in loans from an AAU coach to cover her mortgage payment. The loans happened two years ago and were repaid.

"The easiest thing I can say to start out with is just I hope no other institution, no other team, no other family or player ever has to go through what we did the last couple of hours," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "The Jones family are unbelievable people, unbelievable people. (Perry's mother)  Terri Jones works I don't know how many jobs to take care of her family.  Big Perry has been there for his family, and little Perry is the type of guy that you would have marry your daughter.

"And, again, I just hope no one ever has to go through what we have gone through the last six hours, especially a family member like that. ... I will tell you as a coach it's very challenging to motivate a team in a situation like that." 

Not on the campaign trail
Iowa State's 56-53 loss to Kansas State in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship gives the Cyclones a 22-10 record. Coach Bill Fennelly was asked if he thought that would be enough to earn his team an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"I think if you look at our numbers, we probably are a team that should be considered," he said. "If you look at the strength of our league and the strength of our teams and what they've done all year long, I would be disappointed if the Big 12 doesn't get seven teams in the NCAA Tournament. I think we've earned that.

All we can do is we're 22-10, the numbers are there, and whatever they decide. I grew up in a political family. But I've never been someone to politic in front of the committee. I don't think that's my job. I think we've done what we can do now, and we'll wait until next Monday, and hopefully our name will come up. If not, we didn't do enough."

300 for Deb Patterson
Kansas State's 56-53 victory over Iowa State in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship Wednesday was the 300th of coach Deb Patterson's career. She is now 300-173 at Kansas State.

"It's a great feeling to know most of all that we won this game," said Patterson, whose team advanced to the semifinals and will face top seed Baylor on Friday. "The 300 to me is just a reflection of all the people that have been a part of Kansas State's women's basketball staff and teams during the course of those 300 wins.

"So to me, I don't take notice of it aside from when someone is says it. To me it's all about today and this victory, and that's what feels great."

Up next at Municipal: No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 4 Kansas State
Baylor was dominant and decisive in its 86-51 victory over Kansas Wednesday. Next up for the Lady Bears is fourth-seeded Kansas State. The Wildcats have won 10 of its last 14, including an upset of Texas A&M. One of the four losses was a 75-48 loss at Baylor on Feb. 23.

"It's definitely just a big challenge for us," Kansas State's Jalana Childs said. "We don't want to come out with how we did the first time we played them. I don't think there is anything we'll focus on differently. I think we have been playing well, and I like that about us. I want us to keep that mentality that we came with today (a 56-53 victory over Iowa State)."

Kansas State is in the semifinals for the first time since 2005.

Melissa Jones, the one-eyed kid
Baylor's Melissa Jones had eight points, making both her 3-point attempts, both her free throw tries, had nine rebounds, seven assists and four steals. That helped the Lady Bears to an 86-51 victory over Kansas in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship Wednesday.

Not bad for a player basically seeing out of one eye.

"I can see that there's like light," Jones said. "I don't know. It's still dark, but I can tell that there's light, if that makes sense?"

In Baylor's next-to-last regular season game, Jones hit her head on the floor at Oklahoma. For a time, she lost vision in her right eye due to a bruised optic nerve. Her sight is slowly returning but it's not 100 percent.

Jones is considered one of the best all-around players in college basketball and Kim Mulkey calls her the Lady Bears' "glue." But Wednesday's performance amazed the Baylor coach.

"Everybody in this room close your right eye and try to write on that pad of paper," Mulkey said in the postgame interview session. "Some of you can't write with two eyes, now try to do it with one eye. Can you believe what you just saw out of that kid

today?

"She hits the first three of the game, she gets rebounds, that's the story of the game. She

can't see. She's gone from completely black seven days later to fuzzy black. ... That's unbelievable."

For Iowa State, a familiar "flick"
Iowa State had seen this movie before. The Cyclones had watched too many close games, too many games when they had a slim lead in the final few minutes, turn into losses. In Wednesday's first round game in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship, it was like watching the end of "Shane" and expecting him to come back.

No. 5 seed Colorado, needing a victory to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, added to Iowa State's season of close losses. The Buffaloes, with sophomore Alec Burks having a homecoming celebration with 29 points and 15 rebounds, edged the Cyclones 77-75.

"A microcosm of our season," said Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team lost eight games by six or fewer points. "We're right there at the end, gave ourselves a chance. Unfortunately we just didn't make the plays down the stretch that we needed to make."

With 3:02 remaining, Iowa State had a 70-64 lead. But Burks, who is from nearby Grandville, Mo., capped off his 25-point second half by making the plays Colorado needed. His jumper with 1:13 left gave the Buffs the lead for good, 74-72. Prior to that, his three-point play had tied the game at 72.

"I felt like I wasn't really aggressive in the first half," said Burks, who was 11-of-14 from the line. "So I felt like I tried to come out with a different mindset, try to stay aggressive, get to the free-throw line, make some easy baskets."

Baylor declares freshman Perry Jones III ineligible
Baylor freshman forward Perry Jones III has been declared ineligible for a pre-enrollment amateurism violation/preferential treatment. The school made the announcement in a news release issued before No. 7 seeded Baylor was scheduled to face No. 10 seed Oklahoma in the opening round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.

Baylor University was informed of the NCAA's decision on Jones III this afternoon and immediately appealed to have his eligibility reinstated. This is not considered to be an institutional violation of NCAA rules.

"We are profoundly disappointed in the timing and determination in this matter," said Baylor Director of Athletics Ian McCaw. "This outcome appears to be inconsistent with other recent, widely discussed NCAA decisions."

Jones III had no knowledge of three, 15-day loans between his mother and an AAU coach that were provided while Jones III was in high school. The loans were repaid in a timely manner, according to interviews conducted by Baylor officials and the NCAA staff. Prior to his enrollment at Baylor, Jones' AAU coach also paid for Jones' travel to a professional pre-season football game in San Diego, Calif.

McCaw indicated that Baylor has been cooperative and transparent in working with the NCAA through this process, and that no Baylor representatives were involved or aware of any preferential treatment between the AAU coach and Jones' family, whose relationship dates to at least the sixth grade.

"Perry is to be commended for being cooperative and forthcoming during this unfortunate process," McCaw said

Oklahoma State wins in first round ... again
Based on history, it's not a surprise that Oklahoma State eked out a 53-52 victory over Nebraska in Game One of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship Wednesday. The Cowboys are now 9-0 in the first round. Both teams have 19-12 records.

No. 9 seed Oklahoma State blitzed to a 25-11 lead in the first 10 minutes then spent the rest of the game hanging on. The eighth-seeded Cornhuskers were fortunate to trail just 30-21 at halftime as they missed 18 of their final 20 shots. One of the shots that counted came courtesy of goal tending.

With the Cowboys struggling to score, Nebraska methodically forged ahead in the second half. Caleb Walker's follow with 5:58 remaining gave the Huskers a 48-44 edge. In a low-scoring game, that advantage seemed huge.

But Keiton Page hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give Oklahoma State a 50-48 lead at 3:59.

"We've been emphasizing setting screens to get guys open," said Page, who finished 16 points and made four-of-eight 3-pointers. "Marshall (Moses) and Matt (Prilgim) set up a couple of really good down screens and gave me room to get those two shots off."

Page, a 90 percent free throw shooter, missed the front end of a one-and-one with 16 seconds left and the Cowboys leading 53-52. On its last possession, Nebraska failed to get off a shot. Senior guard Lance Jeter (17 points, four rebounds, four assists) drove into the lane but lost control and the clock expired.

"Pretty much got tripped," Jeter said. "No call, which it shouldn't be, especially in the last second. You gotta make a play. And I didn't do that." 

Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford, whose team will face top-seeded Kansas in the quarterfinals Thursday, assigned Jean Paul Olukemi to guard Jeter.

"Jeter creates about half of their offense so we figured he'd have the ball and try to create," Ford said. "We wanted to switch all screens and from what I could tell we switched perfectly and held our ground."

Worth clicking
A third meeting and a chance for a three-game sweep of Texas is a perfect opening game for Texas A&M in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship.

Brady McCullough of the Kansas City Star chronicles the tribulations and tragedy that Kansas forward Thomas Robinson has endured this season.

Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman says that Texas women's team is starting to play like a team fulfilling its potential.

Pat Knight, who was dismissed from his job as Texas Tech's coach Monday, is maintaining a positive outlook.

Gil Lebreton of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes that Pat Knight faced an impossible job as Texas Tech's basketball coach and that the school faces a tough task in finding its next coach.

Marcus Denmon, Missouri's leading scorer, worked hard during the summer to improve his game.

Great read on Texas A&M track and field coach Pat Henry, who has a legacy of building championship programs.

Tuesday, March 8

Patience pays for Texas Tech
After the favored teams (based on seeds) won the first three games, the final game of the first round at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship was the only chance for an upset. No. 6 seed Texas Tech made sure that didn't happen.

The Lady Raiders (22-9) spotted No. 11 seed Oklahoma State an 8-0 lead but methodically played their way to a 75-52 victory. Texas Tech will now face No. 3 seed Oklahoma in Wednesday's quarterfinals. The Lady Raiders closed out their regular season Saturday with a 61-56 victory over the Sooners in Lubbock.

"Our defense, stopping penetration, defending 3-point shots is going to be really important against Oklahoma," said Monique Smalls, who scored a team-high 15 points and also had five assists.

The last time there were no upsets in the first round of the women's tournament was in 2002.

Oklahoma State's zone, featuring a sizable back line anchored by 6-2 Toni Young and 6-6 Vicky McIntyre, provided a challenge for the Lady Raiders' offense. But instead of panicking and launching 3-pointers, Texas Tech passed the ball and worked inside for good shots.

"Coaches have told us to look for the open area," said Kierra Mallard, who scored 13 points and was one of four Texas Tech players in double figures. "We got the ball to the high post, passed it inside and got good shots."

And when it was time for a 3-pointer, Chynna Brown hit a trey with 2:52 left in the first half to give Texas Tech a 22-18 lead. The Lady Raiders made 50 percent of their shots in the second half and continued to expand their lead. Leading 40-36 at the 14:14 mark, Texas Tech went on a 19-0 run. The Cowgirls (16-14), who shot 32.2 percent for the game, didn't have the firepower to respond.

"Our energy in the second half - defense, rebounding - was just outstanding," Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry said. "Our goal coming here was to win this tournament."

A little can mean a lot
Both coaches called it a "huge" play. Early in the second half of Tuesday's first round game in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship, Texas led Missouri 50-42. A five-point swing helped boost the Longhorns to a 79-66 victory.

The Tigers' Sydney Crafton drove to the basket from the right wing. Her layup hung on the rim before rolling off. Texas grabbed the rebound and transitioned to the offensive end. Senior Kathleen Nash was open near the top of the key and made the 3-pointer to give the Longhorns a 53-42 lead with 16:07 remaining. Missouri, which trailed 48-33 at halftime, never got closer than 10.

"Huge play," Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. "Give Texas credit, they made tough shots. They hit big shots when the needed to."

"That was huge for us," Texas coach Gail Goestenkors said. "Had (that Missouri layup) gone in, there might have been a little more pressure on us. This was one of our better transition games. (After that miss) we attacked and Kat was open on the break. When she's open like that, we're more surprised when she doesn't make it."

A senior's tears
Few players have given more for her team or stuffed the box score as well as Missouri senior RaeShara Brown. Tuesday's first-round loss to Texas in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship might have been her final game for the Tigers and that left her choking back tears.

"When you're talking potentially the last game of my season and you want it so bad and you know how important every possession is, and it's ... it's disappointing because you can't get those back," Brown said as she fought off sobs. "I always want to do more for these girls in the locker room.

"I put such a heavy weight on my shoulders, whether I'm making a mistake or thinking I can do something better. And these girls have done a tremendous job of having my back and helping me out through the course of this year. And you just want it so bad."

Brown finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the 79-66 loss.

Up next at Municipal: Texas A&M vs. Texas
The streak is at 10. Texas A&M, which once bowed at the feat of Texas in women's basketball, has won 10 consecutive games against the Longhorns. This season, the Aggies won 80-65 in College Station and 68-65 in Austin, giving them season sweeps for the fifth consecutive season.

"It's my last chance," Texas senior Kathleen Nash said. "We want to come out with everything we have, play with confidence and get a win."

The Aggies are the defending champions of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship and are the No. 2 seed. Last year's 77-64 victory in the quarterfinals was one of seven double-digit victories for A&M over UT in the last eight meetings.

 "We have to be in attack mode on offense and defense," Texas coach Gail Goestenkors said. "We can't let us be pushed around. Texas A&M is the most physical team in our league and we can't allow us to take our space."

Melissa Jones update
ESPN.com's Mechelle Voepel snagged this video interview with Baylor senior Melissa Jones. She suffered a head injury in the Lady Bears' next-to-last regular-season game and lost vision in her right eye. Jones played 24 minutes at Colorado Saturday but could only see out of her left eye. Jones says she "feels great" but her vision is "still a little fuzzy."

Up next at Municipal: Kansas vs. Baylor
No. 8 seed Kansas had an easy first-round victory Tuesday in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship. The Jayhawks (20-11) advanced to the quarterfinals with a 71-54 victory over ninth-seeded Colorado.

Obviously, it's better than a loss but the reward for Kansas is facing top-seeded Baylor (28-2). On Jan. 19, the Lady Bears won in Lawrence, 76-37. That one-sided loss was part of Kansas' 1-6 Big 12 start but it still stings the Jayhawks' psyches.

"We weren't very satisfied with our performance," said Kansa sophomore Monica Engelman, who scored a team-high 17 in Tuesday's first-round victory. "But I think we're more excited. It's the next game in the tournament, second round, so trying to survive and advance."

Kansas starts three sophomores, a redshirt freshman and a senior. Baylor also has a young starting lineup, with Melissa Jones the only senior. But the records and rankings indicate there's a big difference between the Lady Bears and the Jayhawks.

Coach Bonnie Henrickson's team might not be as talented as Baylor but after the 39-point loss to the Lady Bears, giving her team confidence will be a key factor.

"We're shocked that we just didn't have a pulse - just shocked and embarrassed, quite honestly," Henrickson said Tuesday when asked about the loss to Baylor. "And I don't think any of us have forgotten that. And that's important."

The long goodbye
Nebraska's 69-61 loss to Iowa State was the official end of Nebraska's women's basketball competition in the Big 12 Conference.

Huskers coach Connie Yori said she has "no idea" what's going on in the Big Ten Conference, the school's new home as of July 1. But ending Nebraska's time in the Big 12 leaves Yori wistful.

"I feel like the Big 12 has been a great league for us, and there's so many people in this league that I respect," she said. "(Iowa State coach) Bill Fennelly is one of them. I think it's interesting that we ended up playing our last game in the Big 12 against someone who I have great respect for.

"I'm just thankful that the Big 12 stuck together. I said that in the summer when it was going on. I'm sitting there from almost from an outsider's perspective ... I'm just saying, well, I just hope they stick together so these guys can continue to have a good league in the Big 12, people in the Big 12 office continue to have jobs. So we're just really thankful that everybody - that there's still a Big 12."

Spears sets Colorado scoring record
In what might have been her final game in a Colorado uniform, Brittany Spears scored 21 points to become the school's career scoring leader. She would have gladly traded those points for a victory.

"I would have rather got the 'W' and scored two points," she said after the Buffs' 71-45 loss to Kansas in the first round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship. "That doesn't matter; I just wanted the win."

Spears has scored, 2,075 points, passing the 2,067 scored by Lisa Van Goor, who played for Colorado from 1980-85. First-year coach Linda Lappe said it was "a huge accomplishment" for Colorado's leading scorer.

"That record has been standing for a very, very long time, since the beginning of our program," said Lappe, a former Colorado player. "What (Spears) has done in the last four years I think is pretty special. Looking back, she's going to be very proud of that record and I'm proud to have coached her for a year."

They said it
* Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly after his fifth-seeded team defeated No. 12 seed Nebraska in Tuesday's first round: "I've had two odd 5-12 games in this league. One was Ceal Barry's last game as the coach of Colorado and now Nebraska's last game in the Big 12. I really think the way they conducted themselves all year was amazing."

* Missouri junior guard Yvonne Anderson, who celebrated her 21st birthday and also got to play with her father, Missouri coach Mike Anderson, in the stands: "I don't think there is a better way to celebrate. We won but we also played the way that makes us feel the most successful."

* Texas coach Gail Goestenkors on her team's NCAA Tournament situation: "I feel like we're in but you never want to take it for granted. We're just talking about the Big 12 tournament, not the NCAA Tournament. Every moment is what matters to us."

Pat Knight stands tall
Your Humble Correspondent has been wrong about many things so when YHC says that Pat Knight is a good basketball coach, it's an opinion yet to be proved. But YHC knows this: Pat Knight is a good basketball coach, but he's a better man.

As his father's designated coach in waiting, Pat Knight was assigned a suicide mission. Bob Knight, the (for now) winningest coach in basketball history, didn't have the greatest success at Texas Tech. How could his son, as a rookie coach, do more? But if Pat Knight knew he was playing against a stacked deck, he never complained.

After meeting with the Texas Tech president Monday, Knight easily could have asked for the news to be withheld until after the Red Raiders are finished in Kansas City. But he knew that questions about his job status - escalated now that Texas Tech has a new athletic director - would be the focus. He agreed to have his dismissal announced and to continue as the team's coach.

"It's not an ugly situation," Knight told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "I mean, we left on good terms. I'm glad it ended like that. ... I just told them, when they told me, 'You're not going to get another year,' let's just get it out there now. It worked out for the best."

After losing 71-68 to Colorado at home on Feb. 23, Knight was quick to point out that any of his perceived troubles over his job status were minor compared to the struggles of people with real jobs.

"You shouldn't feel sorry for coaches," he said. We make a great living. It doesn't matter if you get hired -- you get fired, we all know that.

"I can't sit here and complain. Yeah, I'm upset we lost, but there are a lot more people worse off than I am. I'm not a fireman or a policeman or a doctor, who add something to this world. I'm just coaching basketball.

"People can write and say whatever they want about me, but the one thing they can't say is that I ever took the easy way out.

Knight leaves having earned the respect of his fellow coaches. They understand his circumstances.

"Obviously, he followed a legend, when you talk about Bob Knight, and that's kind of hard to do," Missouri coach Mike Anderson said. "But at the same time, Pat was himself, and that's one thing I applaud Pat about. He was true to who he was."

Indeed he was.

Deep (basketball) thoughts
*
Top-ranked Ohio State closed out its regular season with a 93-65 victory over No. 10 Wisconsin. In a season where many national experts have said there are no great teams, the Buckeyes changed some minds with a record-setting shooting performance. They made 14 of 15 3-pointers. Your Humble Correspondent would like to point out teams that make shots look great, teams that don't look mediocre. Had Ohio State missed 14 of 15 threes ... it still might have won but the praise would not be as lavish.

* All bubble teams, including those in the Big 12 Conference, should have rejoiced at Monday's results in college basketball. No bids were stolen. The Colonial Athletic Association championship and automatic bids went to Old Dominion, which beat Virginia Commonwealth. Had VCU won, the CAA might have earned three instead of two NCAA bids.

* Andy Katz of ESPN.com writes this about Texas Tech's search for a new coach: "I'll be surprised if Texas Tech doesn't choose from this list of five in its search for a new head coach: Billy Gillispie (former Kentucky, UTEP, Texas A&M coach), Buzz Williams (Marquette), Doc Sadler (Nebraska), Johnny Jones (North Texas) or Tony Benford (played at Texas Tech for Gerald Myers, been an assistant at New Mexico, Arizona State and is currently at Marquette). The Red Raiders must get a coach with Texas ties; if they decide to hire an assistant, Benford makes a lot of sense based on his connections in the state and his strong ties to the school. ... Gillispie is the obvious front-runner.

Monday, March 7

Wonderful weekend in baseball
The calendar says it's time for March Madness but Big 12 baseball and softball teams spent the first weekend of the month tearing it up on the diamond. Here are some of the highlights.

* No. 2 Oklahoma is the only undefeated team in Division I. The Sooners went to 14-0 with a 13-5 victory at San Diego State, the fifth road victory of the week for OU. The 14-game winning streak is the longest in coach Sunny Golloway's tenure and the longest for the Sooners since winning 19 in a row in 1985. In the five road games, OU outscored the opposition 33-12.

* Nebraska took the three-game series against No. 5 UCLA in dramatic fashion. After winning in extra innings Saturday, the Huskers beat the Bruins 5-4 in 11 innings Sunday on a walk-off home run from Bryan Peters (the first dinger of his career). Nebraska last won a series against a top-five team when it took two of three at Txas in 2006. The Huskers also set a school record with three consecutive extra inning games.

* Baylor also won in dramatic fashion. The Bears defeated No. 21 Rice, 12-8, Sunday on a walk-off grand slam by Max Muncy, who finished with six RBI. The last time the Bears won with a walk-off homer was Feb. 27, 2007 when Raynor Campbell went yard to defeat UT-Arlington.

* No. 9 Texas A&M defeated Houston 7-4 Sunday in the final game of the Houston College Classic at Minute Maid Park. The Aggies had a season-high 15 hits and sophomore right fielder Tyler Naquin hit for the cycle. He's the first Texas A&M player to do that since Blake Stouffer on June 3, 2007, against Ohio State during NCAA Regional play at Olsen Field.

* Sixth-ranked Texas defeated No. 9 Stanford 4-2 Sunday, taking two of three against the Cardinal in Austin. Starting pitcher Sam Stafford improved to 2-0, striking out seven and allowing three hits in 5.1 scoreless innings.

And a wonderful weekend in softball, also
The stellar play on the field was not confined to baseball. Two Big 12 softball teams also had attention-grabbing perfomrances.

* In women's softball, No. 19 Texas Tech (21-0) continued its school-record start and winning streak with a 10-0 victory over Dayton. The Lady Raiders' pitching staff has not allowed a run in the last 26.1 innings, another school record. Texas Tech's last eight games have ended in the fifth inning by run rule. The Red Raiders have 14 run-rule victories; the school record of 18 was set in 1997.

* Missouri got two stellar pitching performances. Sophomore Chelsea Thomas pitched her second perfect game of the week to complete the Tigers' double header sweep at the Missouri Breast Cancer Awareness Tournament Sunday. In Missouri's six-inning victory over Missouri State, Thomas struck out 15 of the 18 hitters she faced, setting a school record for Ks in a non-extra inning game. On Saturday, junior Kristin Nottlemann tossed a five-inning no hitter as Missouri beat Saint Louis, 12-0.

Hot links
The fallout continues with Kansas and Missouri fans over the interrupted telecast of Saturday's game.

Jimmie Tramel of the Tulsa World writes a great story about Oklahoma State freshman Markel Brown overcoming family tragedies.

Oklahoma State, even with a freshman-dominated lineup, won its 10th Big 12 wrestling championship Saturday in Ames, Iowa.

Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes that Kansas showed toughness in Saturday's victory at Missouri.

NCAA Tournament talk
With the Phillips 66 Big 12 Men's Championship starting Wednesday and the NCAA Tournament bracket to be announced Sunday, bracket projections are viewed with microscopic scrutiny.

ESPN.com's bracketologist Joe Lunardi has six Big 12 teams in his current bracket projection. He has Kansas as a No. 1 seed, Texas as a No. 2, Texas A&M as a No. 6, Kansas State as a No. 6, Missouri as a No. 8 and Colorado as a No. 11. Lunardi has the Buffs as one of the last four teams to make the bracket while Baylor and Nebraska are grouped with the "next four" teams to miss the cut after the "first four out."

(For a time Monday, ESPN.com's Bracketology listed Missouri as one of the "first four out." That was a mistake; it was supposed to be Missouri State. Your Humble Correspondent blames sun spots for the booboo.)

Jerry Palm, who crunches the numbers and projects the bracket for CBSSports.com, is tougher on the Big 12. He has just five teams in the bracket. Palm doesn't have Colorado in the field and he doesn't list the Buffs as one of the first four out.

Bottom lines: Colorado is firmly on the bubble and needs at least one and perhaps two wins to solidify its status ... Missouri is projected as a No. 8 seed. That means if the Tigers win their first round game, they'll face a No. 1 seed. ... Texas probably can't climb to a No. 1 seed but might need to win two games to nail down a No. 2 seed.

Reid Gettys: Former player, then analyst, now championship coach
Most know Reid Gettys as an analyst on Big 12 Network telecasts. Old hoop heads like Your Humble Correspondent remember his playing days at Houston on the Phi Slama Jama teams. Gettys now has another accomplishment.

The Woodlands Christian Acadamy, coached by Gettys, won the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Class 3A state championship Saturday in Mansfield, Texas. The Warriors defeated Waco Texas Christian Academy, 72-49, to win their third title in the last four years.

Gettys took over as the team's coach before district play started. TWCA won its last 15 games under his guidance. His son Stewart is a senior and scored 17 points in the championship game.

Big 12 players and coaches nominated for college football hall of fame
The National Football Foundation announced its list of nominees to the college football hall of fame. Here are the former Big 12 Conference players who are on the list:

Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma, Linebacker, 1984-86
Bobby Douglass, Kansas, Quarterback, 1966-68
Doug English, Texas, Defensive Tackle, 1972-74
Tony Franklin, Texas A&M, Placekicker, 1975-78
Jerry Gray, Texas, Defensive Back, 1981-84
Rod Shoate, Oklahoma, Linebacker, 1972-74
Don Trull, Baylor, Quarterback, 1961-63

Also, two coaches from Big 12 schools are nominees for the first time - Jimmy Johnson, who coached at Oklahoma State from 1979-83, and R.C. Slocum, who coached Texas A&M from 1989-2002.

One coach, one vote
The Big 12 Conference announced its men's and women's basketball awards over the last two days and Your Humble Correspondent noticed a lot of our Twitter followers (sorry, won't call him "Tweeps") Tweeting about who won what.

Let's make this perfectly clear: The men's and women's coaches vote for the awards in the various categories. Here's the last sentence of the news releases: The official All-Big 12 awards are selected by the league's head coaches, who are not allowed to vote for their own players.

OK, folks, are we clear on this? The Big 12 is in charge of tallying the votes and publicizing the results. The Conference administrators and those who handle publicity for men's and women's basketball - DO NOT VOTE.

If you've got a gripe with Kansas' Marcus Morris as player of the year, if you think that Baylor's Perry Jones III should have been the freshman of the year, or have other disagreements with the award winners, just remember that the COACHES were the ones who voted.

Saturday, March 5

UPDATE: CBS says sunspots, satellite issues caused TV switch
An unfortunate combination of natural and technical issues forced CBS to provide viewers in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma areas with a telecast feed other than end of the Kansas-Missouri game.

With less than four minutes to go, viewers in those three states were switched from the Jayhawks-Tigers to the Michigan-Michigan State game. (Viewers in New York City were switched from Kansas-Missouri to Oregon-Arizona.)

"It was a combination of sun spots and satellite transponder issues," CBS Sports spokes person Jerry Caraccioli said Saturday afternoon. "The Kansas-Missouri telecast was interrupted and we had to switch viewers in some of those markets to the other telecast. Some markets had their satellite feeds restored before the end of the game.

"It was an unfortunate and rare occurrence."

(UPDATE): KCTV-5 in kansas city will rebroadcast the second half of the Kansas-Missouri game after the late local news tonight.

Kansas took a 63-48 lead with 3:55 left on Thomas Robinson's tip-in. But No. 22 Missouri went on an 11-0 run to pull within 63-59 with 1:42 remaining. But the Jayhawks' Tyrel Reed countered with a 3-pointer and second-ranked Kansas held on for a 70-66 victory.

The victory clinched the outright Big 12 regular-season championship for the Jayhawks, the school's seventh consecutive season with at least a share of the title.

Friday, March 4

Former Kansas assistant Ed Manning dies
The Big 12 Conference passes along its condolences to the Manning family. Ed Manning, former Kansas assistant coach and father of All-American Danny Manning, died Friday at the age of 68.

"This is a huge loss for our family and the Jayhawk family," Danny Manning, currently an assistant coach for the Jayhawks, said in a statement released by the school. "Many people have already reached out to us in such a short period and we are very grateful for all the thoughts, well wishes and prayers for my father and for us."

Ed Manning had battled a long-standing heart condition and died Friday morning at Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas.

"Today, KU not only lost someone who was very instrumental to the success of Kansas basketball in the mid 1980s, but also a very good man who was thought of so highly  by everyone who came in contact with him," said Kansas head coach Bill Self, who was on staff at KU in 1985-86 when Ed Manning was an assistant at KU. "In my brief time here, every player and every coach had nothing but the utmost respect for Ed.  He was a coach who every player felt they could go talk to and he always had their best interest at heart. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Manning family."

Outstanding pitching performances in softball
Missouri's Chelsea Thomas threw the eighth perfect game in program history Thursday in Columbia. The 17th-ranked Tigers defeated Drake 5-0. Thomas struck out 11 while throwing 57 of her 77 pitches for strikes. Not a single ball left the infield. It was Missouri's first perfect game in nine years and the first seven-inning perfect outing since 1991.

Thomas, a sophomore, missed the final two-plus months of last season with a stress fracture in her right forearm and didn't pitch in any of the Tigers' fall exhibition games. A number of her pitches hit 70 mph on the radar gun and one was clocked at 75 mph.

"I've never seen that," Missouri coach Ehren Earleywine said. "I've seen that on TV. A girl from Japan hit 75 a couple times. But Chelsea threw a pitch 75 miles per hour. ... Your eyes fall out of your head. That would be like a baseball pitcher throwing 105 miles per hour."

No. 19 Texas Tech extended its school-record winning streak and start to the season to 18-0 as freshman Brittany Talley pitched her first career no-hitter to complete the Red Raiders' sweep of Dayton Friday in the Red Raider Classic. Talley's no-hitter was the sixth in program history and the first since 2001. Texas Tech won both games by 8-0 scores. In the first game, Kelsey Dennis allowed one hit.

Click and read
If you watch a lot of college basketball, you should be a fan of Bill Raftery's work. (And Your Humble Correspondent says if you're not a Raftery fan then you need to stop watching hoops and maybe try curling.) Here's a great profile of the CBS and ESPN analyst and here's hoping that a Big 12 team makes the regional Raftery works for CBS.

New Texas Tech athletic directory Kirby Hocutt appears to have what it takes to get the job done.

Texas senior point guard Dogus Balbay came to the United States from Turkey five years ago and could barely speak English.

Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman admits that it's a crazy thought, but he writes that Oklahoma State's NCAA Tournament hopes are still alive.

Tuesday, March 1

Links worth clicking
ESPN.com's Pat Forde writes about his choices for Big 12 player and coach of the year.

Reid Gettys, a familiar face and voice on Big 12 Network telecasts, is coaching a Texas high school team that has reached the championship semifinals.

In her final season at Texas, senior Kathleen Nash has absorbed as many bumps and bruises as have the Longhorns.

ESPN college basketball analyst, radio host and former Oklahoma State player Doug Gottlieb was on his way to Stillwater for Tuesday night's Baylor-Oklahoma State game when he was pulled over for speeding. Gottlieb was in the middle of being interviewed by a radio station so here's what transpired during the traffic stop.

Senior point guard Danielle Robinson has established herself as one of the top players in Oklahoma history.

Curtis Shaw, the Big 12's coordinator of men's basketball officiating, was inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Sports Hall of Fame Monday night.

Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com writes that Kansas State's Jacob Pullen, like the Wildcats, has overcome the problems that plagued them earlier in the season.

The chance to return to his home state was a big factor for new Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt.

Kelly Ringo of the Boulder Daily Camera writes that Colorado showed its mettle in rallying from a 22-point deficit to defeat Texas.

 

Women's All-Tournament team discussion

The 2011 Big 12 Championship All-Tournament Team was made up of Danielle Robinson (Oklahoma), Tyra White (Texas A&M), Danielle Adams (Texas A&M) elissa Jones (Baylor) and the Most Outstanding Player was Baylor's Brittney Griner.

Neither Texas A&M coach Gary Blair nor Baylor coach Kim Mulkey were happy with the selections made by media who covered the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Championship.

"Carter is just a winner," he said. "The bottom line, she wasn't on the All-Tournament

team. I don't know if you guys were voting or what, but my gosh. She's pretty damn good. And if she's the heart and soul of my team and guarding everybody else, where was your all's vote. I'd like to ask y'all."

Mulkey thought that sophomore Destiny Williams, who spent most of Saturday's championship game guarding Texas A&M's Danielle Adams, should have made the team.

"I don't know who votes on it, and it's why I hate awards," Mulkey said. "How can you explain Destiny Williams is not on the All-Tournament team? She plays three games and

she goes 21 points and eight rebounds, 18 points and seven rebounds, and she has 11 big rebounds today and you're the champion and you only get the same number that A&M did, the same number of All-Tournament people?"

Full disclosure: Your Humble Correspondent voted for Sydney Carter and Sydney Colson of Texas A&M, Brittney Griner, Melissa Jones and Destiny Williams of Texas A&M.

Layups

* Baylor's 68-65 victory is the closest winning margin in a Big 12 Championship title game since Iowa State defeated Oklahoma, 68-65, in 2001.

* There were no upsets. The higher seeded team won every game in the 2011 Big 12 Championship, the first time in conference history that has happened.

* Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey improved to 295-78 in her career. She can reach 300 victories this season if the Lady Bears reach the national championship game.

* Baylor's 11 blocked shots vs. Texas A&M are a Big 12 Championship game record and rank second among all-time Big 12 Championships contests.

* Brittney Griner's seven blocked shots set the Big 12 Championship individual game record and are tied for second on the all-time Big 12 Championship single-game list. She set the single-game record with 10 in 2010 vs. Oklahoma. Griner's 14 total blocked shots for the tournament are a Big 12 Championship individual series record.

* Texas A&M's Sydney Carter had a career-high six steals. That tied the Big 12 Championship game record and rank tied for fifth on the all-time Big 12 Championship single-game record chart. Carter's 13 steals in three games set a Big 12 Championship record.

* Attendance for the 2011 Big 12 Championship game was 4,250. The total attendance for the tournament is 25,400.

* Texas A&M has forced 20 or more turnovers in its last three games, including 31 against Texas, 20 versus Oklahoma and 22 against Baylor.

 

Infestation
This is from VCU senior forward Jamie Skeen: "You know how you've got those gnats that won't leave you alone in the summer time, those flies and stuff like that? That's how we are on the court."

The 11th-seeded Rams make up for a lack of size by swarming on defense and on the boards. Coach Shaka Smart's team uses a variety of defenses but they all feature one constant: pressure. VCU starts four guards along with the 6-9 Skeen. In each of their four NCAA victories, the Rams have forced at least 15 turnvoers.

Kansas coach Bill Self says that VCU is similar to a Big 12 Conference team.

"They are more similar to Missouri than any team that I think we've played, at least off the top of my head," Self said. "I don't think it's one of those deals where they (press) every possession like Missouri can, but I certainly thought their pressure and the press has been very effective so far in the tournament."

Kansas junior forward Marcus Morris agrees with Skeen's description of how the Rams play.

"They're like little gnats that won't leave the kitchen when you leave the dishes in there," he said.

Counting to five
As Texas and Big 12 Conference are well aware, the five-second count on an in-bounds play can be crucial to a game's outcome. That's how it was for No. 11 seed VCU late in its overtime victory over Florida State Friday night.

The Rams trailed 71-70 and had possession underneath its own basket with 7.9 seconds remaining. VCU coach Shaka Smart told his point guard, Joey Rodriguez, to "take his time" when making the inbounds pass.

"I was counting in my head and when I got to four, I made the pass," Rodriguez said Saturday. "Coach and I watched it this morning and the ref was counting and (chopping) with his hand and he didn't get to five."

Rodriguez's bounce pass found Bradford Burgess, who slipped past a Florida State defender for the game-winning layup.

"That was probably the longest five seconds of my life," said Burgess, who had 147 text messages on his phone when he got back to the hotel.

Layups
*
A No. 11 seed has faced a No. 1 seed in the regional final four previous times, with the top seed winning twice. Here's the rundown: 1986, No. 11 LSU 59, No. 1 Kentucky 57; 1990, No. 1 UNLV 131, No. 11 Loyola Marymount 101; 2001, No. 1 Michigan State 69, No. 11 Temple 62; 2006, No. 11 George Mason 86, No. 1 Connecticut 84 (overtime).

* In 1990, UNLV set the record for the easiest road to the Final Four (based on seeds). The Runnin' Rebels defeated a No. 16, a No. 8, a No. 12 and a No. 11. If Kansas defeats No. 11 VCU Sunday, the Jayhawks will take over that record by virtue of the fact they defeated No. 9 Illinois in the third round.

* When UNLV reached the Final Four in 1990, its semifinal opponent was No. 4 seed Georgia Tech. If Kansas wins Sunday, its semifinal foe will be No. 8 Butler.

* Louisville coach Rick Pitino, working as a studio analyst for ESPN, picked Richmond to upset Kansas in the Southwest Regional semifinal. Here's what Markieff Morris had to say about that: "Not to be disrespectful to coach Pitino or anything, but we're still playing."

* Kansas senior Tyrel Reed has participated in 132 victories, the second most in NCAA history for an individual player. The record is 133 and held by Duke's Shane Battier.

* VCU coach Shaka Smart, 33, is on the fast track to stardom, regardless of what happens Sunday in the Southwest Regional final game with Kansas. He is personable, intelligent, honest and humorous. During his 30-minutes with the media Saturday, Smart was asked about a college basketball analyst who had given the Rams a 0.9 percent chance at winning the national championship. "So you're telling me there's a chance!" Pulling a quote from Dumb and Dumber impressed Your Humble Correspondent.

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