No. 5 Kansas to visit Iowa State in Big 12’s opening weekend
A look at the upcoming week around the Big 12 Conference.
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 5 Kansas at Iowa State. The Jayhawks are the heavy favorites to win the league for a mind-boggling 15th year in a row. But the Cyclones might be the Big 12’s biggest sleeper. Iowa State only stumbled twice in non-league play, losing to Arizona and Iowa without star Lindell Wigginton and center Solomon Young, each of whom has returned to the lineup. It wouldn’t be a knock on the Jayhawks if they lost Saturday at Hilton Coliseum — in fact, that’s what most teams do — but a win would cement their status as the team to beat in 2019.
LOOKING AHEAD: No. 11 Texas Tech hosts Kansas State on Saturday. The Red Raiders‘ only loss came against Duke at Madison Square Garden. K-State dropped back-to-back games to Marquette and Tulsa to open last month, and it recently lost star forward Dean Wade to a foot injury — leaving guard Barry Brown Jr. to shoulder a bigger burden than ever. … West Virginia travels to Texas this weekend in a key early test for the Mountaineers and Longhorns. West Virginia dropped four games outside of league play, and star Sagaba Konate’s status is uncertain because of a knee injury. Texas has had one of the nation’s toughest defenses, but the Longhorns haven’t shot the ball very well so far in 2018-19. Their field-goal percentage of 42.5 ahead of Big 12 play was the worst in the league.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Thomas Dziagwa, Oklahoma State. The Cowboys had the worst non-conference showing of anybody in the league, finishing just 6-6. But Dziagwa, a 6-foot-4 guard who barely played in his first two seasons in Stillwater, hit 38 of his first 81 3s to lead the Big 12 in shooting percentage beyond the arc. Dziagwa’s 22 turnovers to 22 assists were a bit high to say the least, but if the junior can keep making 3s it might help the Cowboys stay competitive in what’s shaping up to be a down year.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Iowa State’s Marial Shayok, a transfer from Virginia, was the only Big 12 player to average at least 20 points a game in the non-conference portion of the season. Shayok was at 20.4 points through 12 games. … Dedric Lawson of Kansas has proved to be worthy of the hype that surrounded his transfer from Memphis, averaging 19.6 points and 10.8 rebounds through 12 games. Lawson also shot 80.3 percent from the line. … West Virginia led the league in made 3s (106), free throws (222) and offensive rebounds (15 per game) heading into Big 12 play. But the frenetic Mountaineers also led the league with 15.8 turnovers a game.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE: Baylor was the highest-ranked team in the league on Monday at No. 8 — with No. 1 Connecticut set to visit Waco on Thursday. Texas was 13th and Iowa State was 25th. … Kansas and TCU both went 10-1 in non-conference play. … Texas Tech’s Chrislyn Carr (20.1) and Brittany Brewer (19.4) started this week ranked 1-2 in the Big 12 in points per game, and teammate Zuri Sanders had a league-best 12.4 rebounds per game.