It would not be a lie to say that this weekend was a complete disappointment in K-State athletics. The Wildcats lost in men's basketball, women's basketball, two baseball games, and had two baseball games rained out. Certainly, the highlight of my trip to Waco was Big O's (Shiner), Margarit-O's, and chips and queso at George's before the game. But the weekend wasn't a total loss for me, as I spent some time at Dealey Plaza on Friday taking in the sights of the area where John F. Kennedey was assassinated, then playing golf at the course, Tenison Glen, where Lee Trevino grew up playing. Then Friday night, I had dinner with my good friend, reader mystman and Seth C, the blogger over at Double T Nation. The three of us had a great time discussing sports and blogs and everything else.
Anyway, despite the disappointment of Saturday's loss to Baylor, and it was a serious disappointment, remember there is a silver lining in two ways. First, if you got to watch the game, you saw one of the great all-time individual performances in Big 12 history (hell, probably national history), and you saw two incredible athletes do everything to put a team on their back. Second, it showed that if we can just get somebody else to step up and make a few shots, we can beat any team that steps on the court with us.
What I liked...
...seeing a Big 12 conference record broken. Michael Beasley scored 44 points (28 in the first half, also a record), on 14-of-25 shooting and 15-of-15 free throws. The credit for a few of his points goes to Baylor and its idiotic belief that Josh Lomers, Mamadou Diene or Mark Shepherd could defend Beasley one-on-one. But mostly Beasley scored because he's the best player in the country, making jump shots, driving to the hoop, and getting rebounds. He had 13 rebounds for his 23rd double-double of the season, which passed Carmelo Anthony for the freshman national record.
...seeing Bill Walker step up big-time. Walker had 31 points on 13-of-21 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds. He played with the same passion and fire we always see out of him without the frustration that led to a technical foul against Nebraska.
...getting a fairly officiated game on the road. Hard to cite stats to back that up, but I felt like that was the best-officiated game I've watched this year.
...watching pre-game warmups. For about five minutes during the early shootaround, the players had an informal dunk contest, and it was quite impressive. Jamar Samuels probably had the best dunks and his athleticism will be an exciting addition next year. The best individual dunk probably went to Blake Young, who tossed the ball in the air, caught it on the bounce, and spun a 360 before slamming it home.
What I didn't like...
...being unable to find the rest of our team. As a "team" last night, K-State made 30 field goals. Beasley made 14 and Walker made 13, so I'll let you do the math. Also, Beasley and Walker scored 75 points combined, and we scored 86 as a "team." Again, I'll let you do the math. We also saw Blake Young score four points, Jacob Pullen score one, and Clent Stewart score one, for a grand total of six among the three of them. Ordinarily, those guys score a combined 23 points per game. Needless to say, even a merely below-average night by these guys would have resulted in a win.
...another poor defensive effort, especially in the second half. Baylor shot 58 percent from the field and 60 percent from three-point range in the second half. Granted, some of that was due to some incredible shots by Curtis Jerrells, but some of them were due to defensive breakdowns that left Jerrells, Aaron Bruce and Tweety Carter wide open.
...looking at Baylor's scoring balance next to our two-man show. The Bears had five players score in double-figures, led by Jerrells' 24. Dammit.
What it means and where we're going...
Even though we technically still have a chance to win the regular-season conference crown, any practical chance has gone out the window. We would have to win out, which would require winning on the road twice, and have Texas lose a game in addition to the one tomorrow. Texas has a relatively easy finishing stretch, traveling to Texas Tech and then getting Nebraska and Oklahoma State at home.
But all is not lost. I would have loved to win the Big 12 regular-season championship as much as anyone, but it looks like that won't happen. On the other hand, we are still in commanding position for a first-round bye in Kansas City. We currently lead four teams (Texas A&M, Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma) by two games for third place in conference. We hold the tiebreaker over two of those teams and, if we can get to 10 wins, are all-but-guaranteed to start play on Friday in KC.
On top of that, we have the privilege and pleasure of watching two great players in Beasley and Walker compete every night. Enjoy that and get out to Bramlage for the last two home games, starting tomorrow night against Texas. That game is crucial to setting the tone for the rest of the season.
I probably shouldn't do this, because I didn't catch a whole lot of games at the bar yesterday, but I feel it's my civic duty to give you some thoughts on yesterday's games.
Texas 62, Oklahoma 45
The Sooners turned in a putrid effort in Austin Saturday. This game was played on three different TVs at George's yesterday, but it barely deserved one. Oklahoma shot approximately three percent from the field. Texas point guard D.J. Augustin had a great game, scoring 19 points in the win. Clent Stewart and Jacob Pullen had better be ready to go tomorrow night, or Augustin will make things nightmarish for the Cats in Bramlage.
Nebraska 65, Texas A&M 59
This one took me completely by surprise. I didn't see a single play of it, but really couldn't believe that A&M was trailing at home, again, to a mediocre conference foe. The party puck called and informed me A&M had gone on a run and that he hated Doc Sadler. Somehow that jinxed the Aggies, who dropped to 6-6 in league play and are probably a bubble team now.
Texas Tech 76, Iowa State 64
Oklahoma State 61, KU 60
What has gotten into Oklahoma State? Since a 21-point blowout loss to K-State in Manhattan, the Pokes are 3-0, beating Baylor at home and Texas A&M on the road before this win. I should send BOTC's condolences to KU players Darnell Jackson and Rodrick Stewart, who lost family members this week in senseless killings. The 'beakers are at a real crossroads in this season and have probably lost their hold on a #1 seed in the Big Dance, although I still live each day in fear of the game in Lawrence.
Missouri 60, Colorado 53
Don't know, don't care. See Rock'M Nation if you want to know more.
Texas 10-2 (@ K-State, @ Texas Tech)
KU 9-3 (@ Iowa State, K-State)
K-State 8-4 (Texas Monday, @ KU)
Texas A&M 6-6 (Texas Tech, @ Oklahoma)
Baylor 6-6 (@ Colorado, Missouri)
Texas Tech 6-6 (@ Texas A&M, Texas)
Oklahoma 6-6 (@ Nebraska, Texas A&M)
Nebraska 5-7 (Oklahoma, @ Oklahoma State)
Missouri 5-7 (Oklahoma State Tuesday, @ Baylor)
Oklahoma State 5-7 (@ Missouri, Nebraska)
Iowa State 4-8 (KU, @ Colorado)
Colorado 2-10 (Baylor, Iowa State)
We'll be back with more on Texas tonight or tomorrow morning.