Big 12 Power Rankings: Feb. 3-8
FEB 02, 2014 10:19p ET
The champ is cut! The champ is cut!
Texas took it to the Jayhawks in Austin on Saturday in a somewhat predictable upset. The Longhorns were a good team with a lot to prove and Kansas was inevitably going to trip up on the road somewhere. Was it a mere speed bump? Or proof the Big 12 race is going to get more interesting in the second half of the season? My vote is the former.
Let's get to this week's power rankings.
1. Kansas 16-5, 7-1 Big 12. Last week: 1. The Jayhawks' seven-game winning streak is over, but they're going to need to endure a lot more damage to put the Big 12 title streak in jeopardy. The freshmen talent is just now shifting into high gear as it adjusts to the college game and develops more chemistry. Before Saturday 2-12 shooting day in the loss, Andrew Wiggins had 27 and 29 points to set career highs against TCU and Iowa State, respectively. Austin wasn't pretty, but I'm not setting off any alarms yet.
2. Texas 17-4, 6-2 Big 12. Last week: 3. Texas' bigs went toe-to-toe with KU and won. Prince Ibeh and Cameron Ridley were physical and limited the Jayhawks' effectiveness inside, where they've pounded much of the rest of the Big 12. Meanwhile, Isaiah Taylor's breakout season continues. He led all scorers with 23 against KU after putting up 27 against Baylor his last time out.
3. Iowa State 16-4, 4-4 Big 12. Last week: 4. How long before Melvin Ejim gets his due? If he keeps playing like he has since ISU picked itself up after a three-game losing streak, he'll be hard to ignore. Georges Niang had 27, including a few huge shots late, but Ejim dropped 22 with 16 boards. Ejim is averaging 20 points and 11 boards in his last three games, which includes wins over top 25 squads Kansas State and Oklahoma.
4. Oklahoma 17-5, 6-3 Big 12. Last week: 6. Buddy Hield's career-high 30 points came in a losing effort at Iowa State, but only Allen Fieldhouse is a tougher place to grab a win. Ryan Spangler's 15-point, 17-rebound performance in Monday night's Bedlam win was one of the best nights for a Sooner this year. He's going to be extremely valuable when buckets get hard to come by in March.
5. Oklahoma State 16-5, 4-4 Big 12. Last week: 2. Marcus Smart is 3-28 from 3-point range in his last four games. OSU went 1-3 in that stretch. Saturday's home loss to Baylor is the only bad loss in the bunch, but the Cowboys feel very shaky and Stevie Clark's most recent arrest isn't helping.
6. West Virginia 13-9, 5-4 Big 12. Last week: 9. Juwan Staten is your surprise name who would crash the All-Big 12 team if the season ended today. He's had at least 14 points in 14 consecutive games. That's incredible consistency at the college level. Even the league's big-name talents haven't had a run like that. Only Marcus Smart (39 vs. Memphis) has topped Staten's 35-point outburst in the win over Kansas State on Saturday. He only needed 13 shots to do it, too. Getting to the free-throw line 21 times (and making 18) helps.
7. Kansas State 15-7, 5-4 Big 12. Last week: 5. K-State has lost three of its last four games, all on the road. "Itâs Groundhog Day for us. We keep repeating the same actions," coach Bruce Weber said. The losses have all followed a familiar script: Fall behind early, rally, then lose late. The Big 12 is deep and K-State's got to be careful. There are enough weaknesses on this team to allow the slide to send them all the way out of the NCAA Tourney field if they don't fix the issues on the road.
8. Baylor 14-7, 2-6 Big 12. Last week: 7. Baylor got a nice win on Saturday, but I need to see more to move the Bears up and erase my memory of BU losing to West Virginia on its home floor during the week. Beating OSU in Stillwater without Kenny Chery is truly impressive, but if Baylor's going to get back off the bubble, it's going to need to play defense like it did against the Cowboys.
9. Texas Tech 11-11, 3-6 Big 12. Last week: 8. Tech avoided disaster at home with some nice defense to pull away from TCU in the final minute, despite troubles at the foul line. Only one of Tech's six losses in Big 12 play came by double digits, and that was just 11 points. Last year, Tech's first four losses in Big 12 play came by an average of 25 points. Just two of its 15 losses in Big 12 play last season came by single digits. This is progress. You don't build a program overnight.
10. TCU 9-11, 0-8 Big 12. Last week: 10. TCU will find itself in a few more games before the season ends, but the Frogs got two possessions down two in the final minute and change at Tech. They turned it over with a travel and missed a wide-open corner 3. Competent teams don't do that kind of thing when they get opportunities.