By Cody Soto
The Big 12 is arguably the deepest and most competitive basketball conference this season. With six teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25, the conference title will be down to the wire at the end of the season. Conference play is underway and provides key matchups each weekend. This Saturday, the Big 12 features another competitive day of college basketball.
OKLAHOMA STATE AT KANSAS STATE
Records: Oklahoma State 13-5, 3-3 Big 12; Kansas State 11-8, 4-2
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kan.
Oklahoma State travels to Manhattan, Kan. on Saturday as it looks to win its first conference game on the road this season. The Cowboys have dropped games to then-No. 17 Iowa State, No. 9 Kansas and No. 18 Oklahoma since starting conference play. Senior Le’Bryan Nash leads all active Big 12 players with 1,590 career points and is averaging 17.6 points per contest. Oklahoma State defeated Texas Tech 63-43 on Wednesday night as Nash scored 16 points and added four rebounds and two blocks.
After posting a dismal 7-6 non-conference record, Kansas State has upset two Top 25 opponents in route to a 4-2 record in the Big 12. The Wildcats are 9-2 at home and most recently came back from a 14-point deficit to defeat No. 21 Baylor 63-61 last weekend. Most recently, Kansas State dropped a 77-71 decision to No. 9 Iowa State after pulling within one at halftime. Senior Nino Williams had 22 points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals in the loss.
Oklahoma State and Kansas State face off at Bramiage Coliseum on Saturday morning. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. on ESPN2.
NO. 11 KANSAS AT NO. 17 TEXAS
Records: Kansas 15-3, 4-1; Texas 14-4, 3-2
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Where: Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas
Kansas travel to Austin for one of two Top 25 matchups on Saturday. The defending conference champion has only dropped one conference road match this season to Iowa State and remains tied with the Cyclones at the top of the Big 12 standings. In a Monday night matchup, Kansas took down No. 19 Oklahoma 85-78 after blowing a big first half lead at home. Kelly Oubre Jr. had 19 points in the matchup to avoid dropping the team’s first home loss this season.
The Longhorns look to climb back into the AP Top 10 after starting out conference play with back-to-back losses after a blowout performance against Texas Tech. Texas stands in the middle of conference standings with wins over then-No. 17 West Virginia and TCU. In the 66-48 win over the Horned Frogs, Javan Felix scored 15 points and Isaiah Taylor contributed 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
TCU AT NO. 18 WEST VIRGINIA
Records: TCU 14-4, 1-4; West Virginia 15-3, 3-2
When: 1 p.m.
Where: WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, W.Va.
TCU will make its way up to Morgantown, W.Va., to face West Virginia Saturday night as the Horned Frogs look to take a step in the right direction. After posting an unbeaten non-conference record, TCU has lost for of its last five games in the Big 12. The team’s only win was a 62-42 dismantling win over Texas Tech on Jan. 17. Most recently, TCU dropped a 66-48 home loss to No. 17 Texas on Monday, as sophomore Kenrich Williams leading the team with 10 points.
The Mountaineers have kept in the mix with a 3-2 conference record so far. After only losing their first two games by a total of three points, West Virginia suffered a 77-50 loss to then-No. 20 Texas in Austin. Senior Gary Browne was the only Mountaineer in double digits with 14 points on 4-of-8 shooting. West Virginia was also severely outrebounded in the matchup as sophomore Devin Williams led the team with four rebounds.
NO. 9 IOWA STATE AT TEXAS TECH
Records: Iowa State 14-3, 4-1; Texas Tech 10-9, 0-6
When: 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: United Supermarkets Arena, Lubbock, Texas
Iowa State travels to Lubbock this weekend to extend its dominance in the Big 12. The Cyclones have had an outstanding season so far with big contributions from Georges Niang and Naz Long. Both add 14.8 and 12.8 points per game respectively. The Cyclones took a narrow 77-71 over Kansas State on Tuesday in Ames, Iowa where junior Jameel McKay had 15 points off the bench to move into a first place tie with Kansas.
Texas Tech currently sits at the bottom of conference standings as it has yet to win against a Big 12 opponent. The Red Raiders’ last win was on Dec. 29 against the University of North Texas in Lubbock. This week, the Oklahoma State Cowboys rolled over Texas Tech on Wednesday as freshman Keenan Evans posted a career-high 18 points in the loss.
No. 19 Oklahoma (12-6, 3-3) at No. 21 Baylor (14-4, 2-3)
NO. 19 OKLAHOMA AT NO. 21 BAYLOR
Records: Oklahoma 12-6, 3-3; Baylor 14-4, 2-3
When: 5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas
Oklahoma will make its way to Waco this weekend to rematch the Baylor Bears, hoping for the same outcome as the Jan. 3 matchup in Norman. The Sooners took a 73-63 win over the Bears at home after taking control in the second half. Since then, Oklahoma has dropped three of its last four games, including Top 25 contests against Kansas and West Virginia. In the 85-78 loss against the Jayhawks on Monday, Buddy Hield posted 26 points and Ryan Spangler had 10 rebounds as the Sooners’s comeback attempt fell just short.
The Bears took a break from conference play on Wednesday to host NAIA opponent Huston-Tillotson and will look to avenge its Jan. 3 loss against Oklahoma. In the last meeting between the two teams, freshman forward Johnathan Motley had a monstrous performance with 24 points in the loss. Junior forward Rico Gathers had 12 rebounds against the Sooners and is coming off a career game on Wednesday with 25 points and a Big 12 and Baylor record 28 rebounds. Seniors Kenny Chery and Royce O’Neale will need to contribute in this weekend’s matchup as both only accounted for eight points in Norman.