Texas Longhorns: Missouri Tigers


AUSTIN, Texas -- A few quick thoughts from Kansas’ 64-59 rally at Texas …

Overview: Kansas has rarely been tested this season. And when the Jayhawks have been, much more often than not they have proven to be up to the challenge. Saturday presented another of those challenges as No. 4 Kansas had to rally from 10-points down in the second half to beat lowly Texas at the Frank Erwin Center.

Kansas' win streak has been extended to 15. The Jayhawks are atop the Big 12 with a 3-0 record and are 16-1. Texas (8-9) has started the Big 12 with four straight conference losses for the first time in Rick Barnes' 15 seasons.

Turning point: For most of the game Naadir Tharpe remained silent. But he picked the right time to make some noise. The sophomore guard hit a crucial 3-pointer to pull Kansas within one, 53-52 with 4:35 left in the game. Feeding off that emotion, Kansas picked it up on the defensive end as Jeff Withey swatted away Javan Felix's next attempt. That led to a dunk by Ben McLemore and to a lead for the Jayhawks. Texas briefly regained that lead, but KU proved to have too much momentum and talent down the stretch.

Kansas key player: As he has done almost all season (save for the Michigan State game) McLemore provided a consistent scoring punch for the Jayhawks. The freshman, who is on pace to become to the highest scoring KU freshman, had 16 points. He averages 16.4 points per game.

Texas key player: When the Longhorns got on a roll, it was largely because of Jonathan Holmes. The sophomore forward was saddled with two early fouls, but he came back in the second half to key an 11-0 run. In that run, Holmes had seven points and created a steal that led to another Texas bucket. Holmes fouled out with 2 minutes to go and finished with 10 points.

Noteworthy number: Kansas did not climb to better than 40 percent shooting until there was 1:15 remaining in the game. The Jayhawks shot 28 percent in the first half. That's two straight games now for KU that the shooting percentage has been questionable. The Jayhawks shot 38 percent in a win against Baylor.

Etc...: Kansas game into the game leading the Big 12 in scoring margin at 17.4 per game. The Jayhaws didn't take more than a two-possession lead against Texas until there was 1:16 remaining.

Next up: The biggest game of the Big 12 season is next for Kansas. The Jayhawks, who have won 15 straight, will head to No. 16 Kansas State on Tuesday. Texas, 0-4 in the conference, will be at Oklahoma on Monday.

Devonta Pollard deciding on Friday 

May, 30, 2012
5/30/12
3:41
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Devonta Pollard (De Kalb, Miss./Kemper County), a McDonald’s All-American and the highest rated available player in the Class of 2012, will announce his college choice on Friday.

The soft-spoken small forward will pick from Alabama, Georgetown, Missouri and Texas, according to his mother. Missouri has the biggest recruiting class and biggest scholarship crunch so the school of thought here is that the other three are in better shape.

“He’s come to the conclusion where he wants to go,” Jessie Pollard, Devonta’s mom said on Wednesday.

Conference Power Rankings: Big 12

March, 5, 2012
3/05/12
1:15
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The Big 12 tournament is in Kansas City this week. Here’s hoping for a rubber match between Kansas and Missouri in Saturday's championship game at the Sprint Center. Of course, getting to the title game won’t be easy for either team. Here are this season’s final Big 12 Power Rankings.
  1. Kansas - The Jayhawks have now won eight straight league titles, which is the most by a team from a power conference since John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins won 13 in a row from 1967-79.
  2. Missouri - Frank Haith appears to have been an excellent hire for the Tigers, who are hoping to become the first team in school history to reach the Final Four. It’s certainly doable with this group.
  3. Iowa State - Saturday’s victory over Baylor at Hilton Coliseum forced a tie between the Cyclones and Bears for third place in the Big 12 standings. The Cyclones will be the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament. Baylor will be No. 4
  4. Baylor - Scott Drew’s squad will face Kansas State in the quarterfinals of this week’s Big 12 tournament. The teams split the season series, with the games being decided by a combined two points. Pierre Jackson had 35 points at Iowa State Wednesday.
  5. Kansas State - The Wildcats have won four of their last five games and are a lock to make the NCAA tournament. They could greatly improve their seed, however, by defeating Baylor in Thursday’s semifinals.
  6. Texas - With a 19-12 overall record and a 9-9 mark in the Big 12, the Longhorns are still on the NCAA tournament bubble. A victory over Iowa State in Thursday’s semifinals would certainly enhance their résumé. Two wins this week would secure a bid.
  7. Oklahoma State - The Cowboys have lost six of their last eight games, but they open Big 12 tournament play Wednesday night against Texas Tech, the Big 12’s worst team. Keiton Page is averaging 27 points in his last five games.
  8. Oklahoma - Wednesday’s game against Texas A&M will mark the second time these teams have played in less than a week. The Sooners defeated the Aggies 65-62 in the regular-season finale Saturday in Norman, Okla.
  9. Texas A&M - The Aggies have lost nine of their last 10 games, and six of those defeats have come by single digits. Khris Middleton has scored in double figures in four of his last five games.
  10. Texas Tech - The Red Raiders’ only Big 12 win came on Feb. 11 against Oklahoma. Billy Gillispie’s squad is improving, though, and could threaten to upset an Oklahoma State team that will be without star freshman Le'Bryan Nash.

Joe Lunardi's quick Bracketology update

February, 19, 2012
2/19/12
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Here's an abbreviated rundown of Joe Lunardi's Bracketology outlook after Saturday's games. Come back to ESPN.com on Monday morning for Joe's complete bracket.

TOP SEED PAIRINGS
EAST/Syracuse vs. WEST/Kansas (1 vs. 4)
SOUTH/Kentucky vs. MIDWEST/Missouri (2 vs. 3)

CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN (projected bids in parentheses)
Big East (9)
Big Ten (7)
Big 12 (6)
ACC (5)
SEC (5)
Atlantic 10 (3)
Mountain West (3)
Pac-12 (3)
West Coast (3)
Conference USA (2)
Missouri Valley (2)

BUBBLE BREAKDOWN (with odds to remain in field)

Last Four In
Seton Hall (55 percent)
Miami (Fla.) (50 percent)
Texas (50 percent)
Northwestern (40 percent)

First Four Out
NC State (45 percent)
Central Florida (30 percent)
Colorado State (30 percent)
Minnesota (30 percent)

Next Four Out
Oregon (30 percent)
Saint Joseph’s (25 percent)
VCU (25 percent)
Illinois (30 percent)

Conference Power Rankings: Big 12

February, 13, 2012
2/13/12
5:00
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The race for the Big 12 title appears to be a two-team affair between Missouri and Kansas. The rest of the league, however, is in a state of flux. Here are this week’s power rankings:

1. Missouri: Aided by Oklahoma's porous free throw shooting, the Tigers escaped Norman with a three-point victory last week before dismantling Baylor at home Saturday. On Wednesday they get to avenge last month’s loss to Oklahoma State when they take on the Cowboys in Columbia. Marcus Denmon has made 14 of his previous 26 attempts from 3-point range.

2. Kansas: The Jayhawks looked like a totally different team last week thanks to the emergence of Jeff Withey. The 7-foot center scored a career-high 25 points in Wednesday’s win at Baylor before erupting for 18 points, 20 rebounds and seven blocks Saturday against Oklahoma State. Kansas travels to Manhattan to play Kansas State on Big Monday. Bill Self’s squad defeated the Wildcats by 18 points on Jan. 4. Expect a closer game on the road.

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Conference Power Rankings: Big 12

February, 6, 2012
2/06/12
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Here are this week’s Big 12 power rankings:

1. Missouri: The Tigers have played the two toughest teams in the league (Kansas and Baylor) and defeated them both. Guard Marcus Denmon had made just five of his previous 31 attempts from 3-point range before going 6-for-9 from beyond the arc in Saturday’s win against Kansas.

2. Kansas: The Jayhawks blew an eight-point lead with just more than 2 minutes remaining in Saturday’s loss at Missouri, but with Baylor up next on Wednesday, there’s no time to mope about the loss. Kansas is 16-2 all-time against the Bears, who it defeated by 18 points last month at Allen Fieldhouse.

3. Baylor: The Bears’ Big 12 title hopes depend largely on what happens this week. Baylor hosts Kansas on Wednesday and travels to Missouri Saturday. Baylor’s only two losses are against those two teams. The Bears' offense looked sloppy and disorganized in last week’s victories over Texas A&M (63-60) and Oklahoma State (64-60).

4. Iowa State: The Cyclones won at Oklahoma Saturday despite getting just three points from leading scorer Royce White. Fred Hoiberg's squad has won five of its past six games overall and could continue that streak this week against Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.

5. Kansas State: The Wildcats got back on the winning track by defeating Texas A&M Saturday at home. And the good times should continue when Kansas State hosts Texas Tech on Tuesday. Leading scorer Rodney McGruder has made just four of his previous 20 3-point attempts.

6. Texas: Rick Barnes’ squad hasn’t caught many breaks in conference play. Texas’ six league losses have come by an average of five points. The Longhorns had lost five of their previous six games before defeating Texas Tech on Saturday. Monday’s road game against a beat up Texas A&M squad is winnable.

7. Texas A&M: The Aggies almost defeated Baylor without Khris Middleton and Dash Harris on Wednesday, and they led Kansas State at halftime before falling 64-53 Saturday in Manhattan. Considering all of the injuries, Texas A&M deserves credit for competing as well as it has.

8. Oklahoma: The Sooners have dropped four of their previous five games heading into Monday’s contest against Missouri. All of a sudden the team that got off to a 9-1 start is 3-7 in league play. Steven Pledger and Andrew Fitzgerald are averaging a combined 31.1 points.

9. Oklahoma State: Three weeks after losing to them by 41 points, Oklahoma State nearly upset the Baylor Bears before falling 64-60 Saturday in Stillwater. Freshman Brian Williams had 23 points in the loss. On Tuesday, Oklahoma State hosts the same Iowa State squad that it lost to on a buzzer-beater Jan. 18 in Ames.

10. Texas Tech: Last week’s home game against Oklahoma State appeared to be the Red Raiders’ best chance of picking up a Big 12 win. Instead, Billy Gillispie’s team was throttled 80-63. Jordan Tolbert leads Texas Tech in scoring with 11.9 points per contest. But he’s averaging just 6.3 points in his past three games.

Statistically, who needs Green-Beckham?

January, 31, 2012
1/31/12
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National Signing Day is a day away, and the nation’s top wide receiver recruit remains unsigned. Dorial Green-Beckham will announce his intentions at 10:15 A.M. ET on Wednesday, with many of the nation’s top programs looking on.

Green-Beckham has been described as a hybrid of Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones. At 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, he possesses the size and speed to be a significant deep threat and formidable red-zone target.

Any program in the nation would be happy to land Green-Beckham, but he has narrowed his list to five schools -- Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Alabama and Oklahoma –- all of which have significant holes at wide receiver.

(Read full post)

Statistically, who needs Green-Beckham?

January, 30, 2012
1/30/12
9:18
PM ET
National signing day is a day away, and the nation’s top wide receiver recruit remains unsigned. Dorial Green-Beckham will announce his intentions at 10:15 A.M. ET on Wednesday, with many of the nation’s top programs looking on.

Green-Beckham has been described as a hybrid of Calvin Johnson and Julio Jones. At 6-foot-6, 220 pounds, he possesses the size and speed to be a significant deep threat and formidable red-zone target.

Any program in the nation would be happy to land Green-Beckham, but he has narrowed his list to five schools -- Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Alabama and Oklahoma –- all of which have significant holes at wide receiver.

So the question becomes, who needs Dorial Green-Beckham most?

Alabama has stocked up on wide receiver recruits in its 2012 class with five 4-star or 5-star recruits listed as ATH/WR. The Tide could use all of the help that they can get after losing their top four pass catchers from 2011. Most importantly, Alabama needs to find a top wide receiver to fill the void left by Julio Jones and Marquis Maze leaving in consecutive years.

Jones and Maze were targeted on almost half of Alabama’s passes thrown 20 yards or more in the air since the start of 2010, resulting in 15 receptions and five touchdowns. Green-Beckham’s downfield prowess would benefit AJ McCarron who improved his deep passing in the second half of last season.

Arkansas is the predicted landing spot for Green-Beckham by all seven ESPN experts polled. If he chooses to sign with the Razorbacks, Green-Beckham would fill one of the greatest wide receiver voids in the nation.

Arkansas is losing three of its top four wide receivers, including the school’s top two players in career receptions, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams. Wright and Adams combined for more receiving yards (1,769) than any other set of receivers in the SEC last season.

In fact, no SEC team had three wide receivers combine for more yards, receptions and touchdowns than Wright and Adams.

Missouri needs a second wide-receiver option behind T.J. Moe next season with TE Michael Egnew and WR Wes Kemp graduating. Moe has the second-most receiving yards in the Big 12 since the start of 2010 among returning players, but he is not known for his deep-threat ability.

Of his 146 receptions in the past two seasons, only 13 have gone for 25 or more yards. Green-Beckham’s downfield speed would lead to more big plays for the Tigers and open up underneath routes for Moe and others.

Oklahoma must replace FBS’s all-time leader in receptions, Ryan Broyles. Broyles was Oklahoma’s top target downfield, in the red zone, on third down and when opponents brought the blitz over the last two years.

Landry Jones struggled after Broyles’ injury in 2011, and despite landing three 4-star wide receiver recruits, a talent like Green-Beckham could fill the void left by Broyles.

Broyles had some of the strongest hands in college football, dropping just two passes in 417 pass attempts since the start of 2009.

According to scouts, Green-Beckham also has strong hands and the ability to snatch balls in traffic, which will be valuable in an Oklahoma offense that throws a lot of quick slants. Oklahoma has focused on replacing Broyles with three 4-star recruits committed for next season, but the addition of Green-Beckham will have an immediate impact on a team with national title hopes.

Texas could use Green-Beckham’s size in the red zone. The Longhorns completed just 32 percent of their passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the red zone during conference play last season, which was the worst completion percentage by any Big 12 team in the last five seasons.

When throwing into the end zone, Texas completed just 5-of-17 passes with two interceptions. Beckham’s 6’6” size and leaping ability would give Texas a target to drastically improve its red-zone passing offense.

Conference power rankings: Big 12

January, 24, 2012
1/24/12
4:01
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Here are this week’s Big 12 power rankings:

1. Kansas: Bill Self said Saturday’s 69-66 victory at Texas was his team’s best win of the season. Not because the Jayhawks played particularly well against the struggling Longhorns, but because they found a way to grind out a victory in a tough road environment. Kansas is 36-7 in Big 12 road games in the past five-plus seasons.

2. Missouri: Ricardo Ratliffe scored 27 points in Saturday’s 89-88 win at Baylor, but many of those came on easy baskets against the Bears’ soft interior defense. The bigger story was the performance of point guard Phil Pressey, who had 18 points, seven assists and six steals in the Tigers’ most impressive victory of the season.

(Read full post)

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