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Player of the Week

Devonte Graham – PG, Kansas

Devonte GrahamDevonte GrahamGraham finally had his breakout week every Kansas, and college basketball, fan has been waiting for. As a leading candidate for Wooden Player of the Year as the start of the season, the 6’2” point guard had been struggling to score. This week he exploded for back to back 35-point performances. Not only did Graham score effectively, but he did it efficiently. He shot 67% from the field in his two games along with 57% from deep.

Graham has completely turned his season around in the past two weeks. Two weeks ago, Graham was 5th on the team in scoring, now he’s the team's leading scorer. He was shooting just 32% from the field, now the senior is over 47%. Graham was shooting an abysmal 25% from behind the arc, now he’s shooting threes at a 41% clip.

Graham seems to have hit his stride and found his shot. He’s also drawing more fouls than ever in his career and shooting a career-best .923 from the free throw line. Graham is finally starting to live up to the high expectations set for him at the season's start as he is on pace to set career bests in points, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals per game along with his best field goal percentage. Look for Graham to remain in the Player of the Year conversation for the duration of the year.

Who’s Hot

Trae Young – PG, Oklahoma

The freshman has continued to put up eye catching stat lines. Young added a 32 point and 10 assist performance against North Texas and a 28 point 8 assist game to his resume this week. The 6’2” point guard has no doubt been a high usage player for Oklahoma taking 18 shots a game but he’s shooting over 47% which is extremely impressive considering half his shots come from behind the arc.

It’s easy for Young’s offensive game to overlook his defense which has been quietly one of the best in the conference. Young has had multiple steals in every game this season and has even contributed 3.9 rebounds per game.

The Norman native has been absolutely electrifying to watch this year, drawing comparisons to Steph Curry just 7 games into his career. Young has been hitting shots from places we haven’t seen since Jimmer Fredette played at BYU. The pace he’s playing at may not be possible to maintain but nonetheless, he’s caught the eye of many people and will have a spotlight on him for the rest of the season.

Jevon Carter – PG, West Virginia

Jevon Carter has been one of the best players in conference this season. He has been every coach’s dream player, efficient on offense and relentlessness on defense. As the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, he’s actually been better on defense this year. Carter won the award with 2.5 steals a year ago and has upped that average to 4.5 steals this season.

The senior point guard has also had his best season in terms of scoring and playmaking. Carter is averaging 19.0 points and 5.5 assists per game. Carter is also having career bests in field goal percentage and free throw percentage shooting 40% and 91% respectively.

Carter has been especially good his last two games. He went for 29 points in a win over Missouri and dropped 25 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 steals in a win on Thursday. Carter has been able to thrive in Bob Huggins press defense as both an offensive and defensive threat. West Virginia is a scary team to play, especially when your season is on the line. Look for the Mountaineers to make a deep run anchored by Jevon Carter.

Who’s Not

Baylor Bears

Baylor had an opportunity to make a statement this week with two games against ranked opponents in Xavier and Wichita State. Unfortunately for the Bears, dropped both of those games, losing to Xavier 76-63 and to Wichita State 69-62.

Baylor’s dynamic duo played underwhelmingly in the losses. Senior guard and leading scorer, Manu Lecomte shot just 38% on his 26 attempts. Baylor’s senior big man Jo Lual Acuil grabbed just 8 rebounds in the two games which is concerning considering he averages over 9 per game.

What might be the most concerning area for Baylor is their late game mishaps. In the game against Wichita State it was a 62-62 game with about 3 minutes left. Wichita State then closed the game on a 7-0 run holding Baylor scoreless for the final 3 minutes of gameplay. Being unable to get buckets in crunch time is worrying for Baylor and their fanbase.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Coming off of a convincing win against then ranked Northwestern, Texas Tech went on to handle Wofford and Savannah State easily, earning them a spot in the AP Top 25. The Red Raiders then faced a respectable Seton Hall team as they looked to prove they deserved to be ranked.

Texas Tech fell to the Pirates 89-79 at Madison Square Garden losing their spot in the rankings. Keenan Evans’ team leading 21 points and 6 assists were not enough to grab a win against Seton Hall. Zach Smith is still struggling on the offensive end and is grabbing a career-low 4.4 rebounds.

If Texas Tech is going to live up to their potential and get back into the rankings, Smith will need to help out Evans in the scoring department and the team will need to find a reliable big man to help balance their attack.

Top Five Big 12 Sidekicks

1. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk - Kansas

Svi Mykhailiuk has been an extremely reliable player this year for Kansas. Devonte Graham is the star of the bunch for the Jayhawks but Mykhailiuk has been the glue in the middle for Bill Self. The senior is second on the team in scoring behind only Graham but has been debatably the most consistent scorer on the team.

Mykhailiuk has been lights out from deep this season shooting over 54% from behind the arc. The sharpshooter is one of the few players in the country who actually shoots better from three than he does from inside the perimeter; 54% from three, 51% overall.

The 6’8” wing has the potential to go off on any night as we’ve seen in a 27-point performance earlier in the year. Mykhailiuk fits Kansas’ team perfectly as there are many ball handlers to create open shots for him. Svi will play a key role in helping Kansas make a deep push into the NCAA Tournament.

2. Jo Lual Acuil - Baylor

Jo Lual-Acuil and Manu Lecomte have become one of the best duos in the Big 12. Lual-Acuil is second in scoring behind Lecomte and he leads the team in rebounding. The 7-footer is almost averaging a double-double with 13.3 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Lual-Acuil hasn’t been the difference maker Baylor was hoping for on defense with only 1.1 blocks per game but has been huge on the boards. The senior has brought down at least 10 rebounds in five of his eight games including a 15-rebound game in a win over Creighton.

As a big man, he compliments Lecomte well. Baylor has had its highs and lows already this season, but if they are going to make a serious push for the Big 12 title, Lual-Acuil will need to play his best basketball.

3. Kenrich Williams – TCU

Led by Preseason All-Big 12 selection Vladimir Brodziansky, TCU has started the season 8-0 and earned themselves a spot in the AP Top 25. However, it’s tough to say TCU would be having this level of success without Kenrich Williams. While he isn’t second on the team in scoring, he is the best all around player on the Horned Frog’s roster.

Williams is third on the team in scoring (12.4 ppg), leads the team in rebounding (10.1 rpg), third in assists (3.9 apg), and leads TCU in steals (2.9 spg). The 6’7” wing has the ability to fill every stat category in a given game. He has posted 23 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists throughout the year putting together an impressive resume.

Williams is an extremely valuable player for TCU. He will need to continue his strong play on both ends of the court if TCU wants to remain successful this season.

4. Daxter Miles – West Virginia

Jevon Carter is a serious candidate for Big 12 Player of the Year and is the favorite to be the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year but one man can only lead a team so far. That’s where Daxter Miles Jr. comes in. Dax is second on the team in points and assists per contest, averaging 14.9 ppg and 3.0 apg.

Between Carter, Miles, and 6th man James Bolden, West Virginia may have one of the best and deepest backcourts in the country. Coming into the season, Miles was criticized for his inconsistent play and this season has been slightly better, but still an issue. He has scored over 20 points in 3 games and scored under 10 points in 3 games as well.

The 6’3” senior has shown the ability to be a lethal weapon, scoring 32 points on 12-15 shooting in just 22 minutes. West Virginia is one of the most exciting team in the country due to their press defense and Dax will be a key piece to their success down the road.

5. Dylan Osetkowski – Texas

On a team with a top recruit like Mohamed Bamba, it is easy to be overlooked, especially at the same position. Osetkowski is averaging 13.6 points and 8.0 rebounds per game, good for second on the team in each category. He’s also been consistent, scoring over 10 points and grabbing at least 7 rebounds in all but one game this season in which he played just 13 minutes.

Osetkowski also played his best game of the year against their best opponent; Duke. The 6’9” forward posted 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. If Osetkowski continues to play well against challenging opponents Texas has a huge upside and once Bamba’s offense gets polished up a little, this could be a dangerous team.

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