Player of the WeekKouat Noi
Sophomore Kouat Noi is by no means a house-hold name, but he’s certainly making his presence felt on offense of late. TCU was able to come out victorious against Florida in SEC-Big 12 Challenge last weekend. The Newcastle, Australia native put in work, to the tune of 22 points and six rebounds en route to a 55-50 win over the Gators. The Horned Frogs weren’t able to secure a win against No. 16 Texas Tech, but Noi still put forth a valient effort with 17 points. Noi has begun to put the pieces together, as he’s been able to stroke it from deep as well as earn his way to the charity stripe. TCU has a solid crop of talent on the roster, and Noi is perhaps the top dog.
After beginning to stumble in the Big 12 standings, No. 16 Texas Tech appears to be righting itself again, winning back-to-back games recently. The issue with the Red Raiders was the inconsistent play surrounding Jarrett Culver. Senior guard Matt Mooney has rung the bell and established himself as the No. 2 option on the team. The
Red Raiders were able to win the nail-biter over Arkansas, where Mooney scored an efficient 12 points. He was able to excel versus TCU, totaling 18 points to go along with five dimes in 35 minutes of action. For a player averaging 10.7 points per game on the season, Mooney is definitely making the most of his opportunities lately, and it has paid off in the win column for the Red Raiders.
The loss of Udoka Azubuike has been a huge blow to No. 11 Kansas. Senior guard Lagerald Vick was putting together a productive season year, but the injury has required him to step up even more than before. Not to say Vick isn’t ready to shoulder the load, but his struggles have be on par with the Jayhawks’ struggles. Kansas stumbled against No. 8 Kentucky, and Vick managed to score just 10 points. He followed the loss duplicating his scoring output of 10 points, and just like against the Wildcats, Texas was able to top Kansas. It’s worth noting that all five of Kansas’ losses have been away from Allen Fieldhouse, implying that this team is not very good on the road. It’s up to their leaders, like Vick, to help prepare the team to bring it every game, regardless of location.
Top 5 Teams in the Big 12
1) Texas Tech Red Raiders
After suffering a three-game skid, Texas Tech appears to be back on the horse, winning two straight contests. For one, the Red Raiders are arguably the best defensive team in the country, which will certainly be important come postseason. Jarrett Culver is a certified bucket-getter, and it seems he’s been getting help around him, particularly from teammates Matt Mooney and Tariq Owens. Kansas may be ranked higher, but Texas Tech stands as the best team in the Big 12 as of today.
2) Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State is creeping up the AP Rankings each passing week, and deservingly so. The Cyclones have three marquee wins, downing No. 5 Kansas, No. 8 Texas Tech, and most recently, No. 20 Ole Miss. Senior guard Marial Shayok is leading the conference in scoring, and is one of the front-runners to win Big 12 Player of the Year. And aside from
Shayok, this offense is lethal, featuring the likes of freshman phenom Talen Horton-Tucker and sophomore guard Lindell Wigginton to name a few.
3) Kansas Jayhawks
It feels strange not seeing the Jayhawks at the top of the rankings. After being rewarded the No. 1 spot in the preseason, Kansas has been coming up short of expectations. The losses of Udoke Azubuike and Silvio De Sousa are certainly deflating. Plus acquisitions such as Quentin Grimes and K.J. Lawson have been underwhelming. Yet there’s a reason Kansas has not been dethroned in the Big 12 in fourteen years. They have toughness, and Head coach Bill Self is amongst the elite in college basketball, which means this team will need to be beaten, they will not go down easily.
4) Kansas State Wildcats
Kansas State has been arguably the most impressive team during conference play in the Big 12. Defense is the name of the game for the Wildcats, which has them sitting pretty at the top of the conference standings. While the lack of offensive spurts is a rarity on this team,
players such as Barry Brown and Dean Wade can put the ball in the basket on a game-to-game basis. Don’t be surprised to see Kansas State appear in the AP Rankings soon.
5) Baylor Bears
Baylor has been a pleasant surprise in the Big 12, and has made it clear that this isn’t a team to be taken lightly. The Bears have continued to remain strong despite the loss of Tristan Clark for the remainder of the season. That could mainly be attributed to the recent surge of former Yale transfer Makai Mason. Baylor is perhaps the hottest team in the conference, with the team looking to build on its five-game winning streak.