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Two Big 12 Freshmen Gaining National Attention
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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 25 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.

In his weekly Forde Minutes column on college basketball, Yahoo!Sports' Pat Forde highlighted the six freshmen who are making an impact this season. Here's what he had to say about the two Big 12 freshmen who made the list.

Ben McLemore, Kansas: He's a second-year guy after being ineligible to play last season, but still a freshman. There's not much the 6-foot-5 wing can't do, whether it's shooting from deep (6-of-6 on 3s against Iowa State), blocking shots (seven of them in the last four games), making free throws (25 of his last 27) or grabbing rebounds (12 in his first game). He's a prime reason why the Jayhawks are a strong threat to return to the Final Four after making the championship game last year.

Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: His scoring average is good (13.3 per game), but it only begins to tell the story of Smart's contributions to the Cowboys. He's second on the team in rebounding (5.4), first in assists (4.4) and first in steals (2.8). Smart doesn't shoot well (40 percent overall, 29 from 3), but he's got the clutch gene - his shots seem to go in more often at the end of close games.

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