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Taking Flight

Andrew Wiggins - Kansas

Andrew WigginsAndrew WigginsAs the Big 12’s most prolific freshman scorer, Andrew Wiggins showed his ability to produce in two very different types of games this week. In a knockdown, drag out, grinding game in Lubbock, Wiggins produced steadily, and in the process hit the game winning layup with two seconds left. In a drastically different matchup against Texas on Saturday, he came out of the gate firing and went for 15 points early as KU blew the game open before the halftime.

Wiggins really was a well rounded performer this week. In Kansas’ two games, he averaged 20 points per game to go with 6 rebounds, but also blocked 4 shots and stole the ball 3 times in that same span. Andrew’s efficiency was also phenomenal as he shot 56% from the field, 44% from downtown, and 83% from the foul line. Over the course of this season, Wiggins has slowly shown more comfort driving to the basket and showcasing his length and athleticism. These past two games he continued to make strides in this department, which I feel was a major catalyst behind his great play versus Texas Tech and Texas.

Who’s Hot

Isaiah Austin - Baylor

Baylor has recently come back from the dead by winning 4 conference games in a row, and the play of sophomore big man, Isaiah Austin, especially protecting the rim, has proved extremely valuable during this stretch. In the past 4 games, Austin has blocked an elite 6.25 shots per game, and this includes 7 and 9 block performances against West Virginia and Kansas State. In fact, Isaiah hasn’t blocked fewer than 4 shots since a two swat outing against Oklahoma, February 8th. Austin now leads the conference in blocked shots, and has also put up 15.75 ppg and 6.25 rpg during his past 4 games.

Georges Niang - Iowa State

Georges Niang has been one of the conference’s most prolific stat stuffers during his second season at Iowa State, and his versatility has been on full display as of late. This past week, Niang has averaged 19.5 ppg 6 rpg 5 apg and even chipped in an uncharacteristic one block per game in two contests versus Texas and TCU. Three Cyclones find themselves among the top 10 conference scorers, and Niang has risen to 2nd on his team (16.5 ppg) and the 8th in the Big 12. Georges’ 3.8 assists per game also place him 8th on the conference’s assists per game leaders.

Who’s Not

Brandon Parrish - TCU

The Horned Frog’s freshman swingman, Brandon Parrish, has put together a nice freshman campaign in Fort Worth this season. He averages 8.8 points per game, is good on D and in the open court, and has proven to be a guy who is able to knock down a three pointer when needed. Recently Parrish has seen his scoring drop and lay stagnant for the better part of a month. Over his last 5 conference games, Brandon has only averaged 3 points per game on 17% shooting, and his normally efficient 3 point stroke has left him with only a 15% clip in this same stretch. TCU has had a rough year, but in my opinion are a more talented team than their record indicates. With their season winding down, the Horned Frogs only have 4 more chances to win a conference game, and they’ll need Parrish to be back to his old form to stand a chance in one of the toughest four game spans they’ve seen all year.

Remi Dibo - West Virginia

West Virginia has put together a very solid season thus far, and the sharp shooting of transfer Remi Dibo has been a factor in their success. The Mountaineers struggle to score points outside of their top 3 guards, but Dibo, a former 6th man, has stepped into their starting lineup to give them points at the forward spot. Remi has seen his production drop a bit in the last two games has he managed only 4 ppg and .5 rpg in two losses against Baylor and Texas. Dibo is a dangerous long range shooter, and a player who WVU (15-12, 7-7) needs down the stretch. With his team lacking a lot of supplementary scoring, finding his shot again could very well be the difference between an NIT birth and the Big Dance.

Top 5 Remaining Regular Season Games

With the regular season winding down, here are a look at the biggest games heading down the stretch.

1.Texas vs Oklahoma - March 1st

With three teams tied for 2nd place in the Big 12, and Texas and Oklahoma being two of them, their early March matchup has a lot of implications. Oklahoma won the first matchup in Austin, and with Texas having the easier schedule down the stretch, both teams could gain major ground in the conference standings by taking this game.

2.Iowa State vs Baylor - March 4th

Iowa State is the 3rd team tied for 2nd place in the Big 12, and Baylor has won 4 in a row and looks to finish strong and make the NCAA tournament. The Bears (18-9, 6-8) will stand a good chance if they finish the regular season with a 500 conference record, and a victory over the Cylcones would give them not only a signature victory, but help them get one step closer to that 8-8 conference record that I think would seal their birth.

3.Kansas vs. West Virginia - March 8th

The Jayhawks (21-6,12-2) have a fairly commanding lead in the conference standings, but still haven’t mathematically locked their 10th consecutive Big 12 regular season crown. The Mountaineers (15-12, 7-7) are toeing the line between a NIT birth and a spot in the NCAA tournament. A win for WVU could give them that last emphatic win before the Big 12 tournament that would vastly help their cause, and even if Kansas drops their next 3 games, a win over WVU would secure at least a share of the Big 12 championship.

4.Oklahoma State vs. Iowa State - March 8th

Oklahoma State has stumbled mightily in Big 12 play this season, but isn’t as far on the periphery as one might think. At 17-10 overall, and 5-9 in the conference, with wins over Memphis, Colorado, another key win and a 20 win regular season could put them in a place where a Big 12 tournament run could get them in the Big Dance. Iowa State will most likely be vying for a high seed in the conference tournament, and trying to bolster their NCAA resume for seeding purposes. The last game in both team’s regular season, the Cowboys have a lot to gain, and the Cyclones are still looking for conference bragging rights and a better NCAA seed.

5.Baylor vs Kansas State - March 8th

Another March 8th showdown, this time in Manhattan, the steady Wildcats (18-9,8-6) and surging Bears could have a lot riding on this game for Big 12 tournament seedings. K-State has all but punched their ticket to the Big Dance, and the Bears are still clawing to make their case. A win for the Wildcats could be a punctuation mark on their regular season, and a separation game among a strong group of teams in the middle of the Big 12 pack. A win for Baylor could have many of the same implications, but could also mean a much needed resume booster, especially considering that Kansas State has not lost at home this season.