Player of the Week
Marcus Foster - Kansas State
After a rough start, the Kansas State Wildcats have been on a tear as of late. They knocked off #21 Gonzaga in late December, and #6 Oklahoma State was their next ranked victim last Saturday afternoon. Freshman guard Marcus Foster has proved to be the alpha dog for K-State throughout this hot streak.
This past week he’s put up 16 ppg 5.5 rpg and 2 apg while shooting 52% from the field and only turning the ball over twice in two games. He put up 17 points and pulled down 8 rebounds in their upset victory over OSU. Foster is a fearless combo guard, but his elevated shooting numbers have been a noticeable improvement since early in his first college campaign, and he’s the second highest freshman scorer in the Big 12 (14 ppg) behind only some guy named Wiggins.
Terry Henderson - West Virginia
After starting out the season on the injured list, Terry Henderson has come up big in the Mountaineers’ 2-0 start in the Big 12 season. Henderson scored 16 points in West Virginia’s OT win against Texas Tech, including hitting a 3 pointer with 16 seconds left to force overtime. Terry went 4-6 from downtown on the game and also chipped in three rebounds, and four assists. West Virginia has a nice three guard rotation with Henderson joining Juwan Staten, and Eron Harris. After taking out two of the lower rated teams in the conference, a rejuvenated Terry Henderson could be a key factor as WVU hosts a vunerable Oklahoma State team at home Jan 11th.
Rico Gathers - Baylor
It was evident very early in Rico Gathers’ college career, that this is a man who can rebound. Hauling in 13.6 rpg per 40min as a frosh playing a small role, Gathers has continued his fervent pace on the glass in a larger role this season. In the 5 games since out rebounding Julius Randle on December 6th, he’s averaged a double double at 11.6 ppg and 10 rpg in only 24.4 mpg. He has risen to 6th in the Big 12 in rebounding on the year, despite playing at only an 18.7 mpg clip. Gathers is an unsung hero and big reason behind Baylor’s hot start, and going forward he looks to take advantage as many of the Big 12’s top teams lack players to match up against his bulk ( 270 lbs ) and tenacity on the glass.
Wayne Selden - Kansas
One of Kansas’ top 2013 recruits, Wayne Selden, has struggled to find his role for the Jayhawks this season. A talented all around guard, Selden has often looked to facilitate, but still shows flashes of that scoring ability that was so heralded coming out of high school. It’s coming up on a month since Wayne had a double digit scoring game, and his shooting numbers have plummeted as of late. Over his past two games he’s only putting up 7 ppg 1.5 rpg and 2 apg on an underwhelming 33% shooting and only hitting 50% of his free throws in this stretch. With guard play at the top of the list of Kansas’ inconsistencies, they’re going to need more out of Selden to live up to their lofty conference expectations.
Kamari Murphy - Oklahoma State
With Oklahoma State’s main rim protector and inside presence, Michael Cobbins, going down with a season ending achilles injury, the Cowboys are going to need a lot of help on the inside going forward. 6’8’’ post man, Kamari Murphy, looks to be the guy who is going to need to fill Cobbins’ shoes, but he was in for a rough night in OSU’s loss to KSU on Saturday. Managing only 2 points and 3 rebounds, but more importantly giving up a huge game to Thomas Gibson, as he out muscled Murphy on route to a double double. This was just the first game after Cobbins’ injury, but Kamari Murphy is going to need to up his play and do it quickly as they face a tough, big Texas team on Wednesday.
Top 5 Upcoming Big 12 Games
As conference play starts going full swing this week, here are a look my top 5 Big 12 games to mark on your calendar.
1.Kansas vs. Iowa State, Jan 13th
The first half of their two game game conference series gets started off early as Kansas goes to Ames in just over a week. Last season, both games were extremely close, including the Ben McLemore buzzer beater. Iowa State is the only undefeated Big 12 team and leaves the KU vs. Iowa State a premiere early season game.
2. Oklahoma State vs. Iowa State, Mar 8th
Two top 25 schools matching up in each teams’ final conference game. Both teams project to be in the running for not only the league title, but a high NCAA tournament seed. As the Cowboys go on the road to Iowa State, I suspect there is going to be a lot riding on this game.
3. Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State, Feb 15th
Both Oklahoma teams are sitting at 12-2 and the Sooners are surging after a road victory at Texas, as the Cowboys are trying to adjust to life after Michael Cobbins and the uncertain future of Stevie Clark. The Feb 15th matchup at OSU is the second half of their series, and late in the year it could be a big game in both conference standings and NCAA seeding implications.
4.Kansas State vs. Kansas, Jan 11th
Bruce Weber is doing a fantastic job with the Wildcats, who already have a conference win over a top #10 opponent. Kansas has taken some lumps, but is still very talented and all of their losses have come against teams currently in the top 25. The KU v K-State game has not only in state rivalry, but proves to be a big early season matchup for both Kansas schools. Taking place in Allen Fieldhouse, it’s the first half of the conference series, with the latter half taking place in mid February.
5. Baylor vs Texas, Feb 26th
The Big 12 is the #1 RPI conference in the country and looks to be very deep with no easy wins. This in state matchup between Baylor (12-1) and Texas (11-3) late in the season could have big implications for Baylor, who could be pushing for a top spot in the conference, and for Texas, who could be looking for another key victory to cement a spot in the NCAA tournament.