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CBB: K-State and Mizzou Falter, While KU Notches Big Win to Propel Them into Conf. 1st Place Tie

An eventful night of college hoops was upon us last night with all three local schools in action for Super Tuesday. All three teams had big time road tests, Kansas State vs. Oklahoma, Missouri vs. Auburn, and KU vs. Oklahoma State. All three opponents unranked, however, not to be trifled with. Oklahoma has a few impressive wins, one being over then #2 ranked Alabama 93-69, Auburn has been ranked a few weeks and has the resume of a low to mid seed dark horse (much like Missouri including in mascot), and Oklahoma State is fighting tooth and nail to make the tournament with a few nice showings throughout the season so far. Just because they weren't ranked, doesn't mean they weren't going to be any trouble, especially in their own house. Let's analyze.

Starting with Kansas State, they allowed Oklahoma to stick around, make shots (specifically dagger 3s all night, 47.8% is really impressive from beyond the arc and as a KU fan, Tanner Groves gives me PTSD) and allowed just too many mistakes throughout the game. Their stars like Keyontae Johnson and Marquise Nowell were quiet and it showed with a 65-79 loss that felt a lot less close once the second half got rolling. In the grand scope of March and staying ranked, this loss isn't super detrimental. They just need to make sure they don't take a tumble and win the next one...where they go on to face a really good 19th ranked Iowa State team at home. After that doesn't get any easier, 9th ranked Baylor is next and that scrappy Oklahoma State squad to wrap up February. In March you at least get two bottom tier Big 12 teams though in...OU again and then West Virginia, who you barely beat at home. Perhaps I spoke too soon. This loss was pretty unwelcome, it all but dooms K-State's hopes of being regular season Big 12 champs and if they're not careful, could set the tone for the rest of the regular season. K-State is in a must-win situation when they come back to Bramlage on Saturday, because if they don't we may see the start of an epic slide that could affect their tournament chances even.

Next, Mizzou. Oh, my lord, Mizzou, you can't decide which type of team you want to be can you? One game, you're beating top 10 teams handily and performing like a team deserving to be ranked highly in the polls. The next, you completely fall flat on your face and look like the same old dumpster fire Dennis Gates is trying to dig you out of. The latter Mizzou was shown here against Auburn. When your top scorer only has 14 points, and the rest of your team is in single digits excluding DeAndre Gholston who mustered up 10? There is a big problem. Top that with allowing Auburn to be 50% from 3, dominate you on the glass with 48 REBOUNDS to your 26, and to overall just trample you both offensively and defensively, and you have a rout on your hands. Missouri got stomped 56-89, and while again, much like K-State, this doesn't do too much damage to your tournament chances, it certainly doesn't look good on paper and could lead to a very, very bad precedent being set for these last few regular season games. This is another case of first year head coaches needing to show their resolve and their bounce-back ability, because if they don't, it could spell trouble for both programs. I'm rooting for both to make the tournament and be great, but if that is to happen neither team can have a performance like what we saw last night again.

As for Kansas, they were the exception to the local team norm last night. Facing a challenge against an Oklahoma State team that is chomping at the bit for key wins to help their tourney resume, they needed to come into Gallagher-Iba and make a statement. They did just that, and arguably played their hardest we've seen them play all year. Granted, there were still some mistakes. The foul trouble certainly wasn't welcome, the injuries weren't either, and there's still slight work to be done on perimeter and post defense (Kalib Boone and Bryce Thompson kept OSU in it because of this), but that's about it. The transitions were masterful, Gradey Dick had a career high 26 points, the defense caused turnovers, and overall the shot selection was solid throughout. They didn't exactly cruise as that first half could have gone better, but an 87-76 victory over a team that is by all accounts a March Madness level team is pretty good. This puts Kansas in a three-way tie for first place in the Big 12 between Texas, Baylor, and themselves, and with Baylor coming to town for College Gameday (A game that I will be at, come say hi!) on Saturday Allen will be arguably the most electric it's been all season. A KU win and a Texas loss against Oklahoma could give the Jayhawks sole possession of the Big 12 come Saturday, and while that is unlikely on paper anything can happen in this year's Big 12. This KU team is a far cry than what we saw in the doldrums of January, and the fact that they're getting hot now could mean really good things for everyone that talked about a potential National Title repeat. Stay the course, play Jayhawk basketball, and this team could be set to make a deep run in March.

This past Tuesday was the epitome of February college basketball. Detrimental games are being played that could make or break seasons, everyone is trying to win and win big to keep their tourney hopes intact, and teams are playing out the stretch with the momentum they have. We're in the meat and potatoes of the college basketball season and it only makes me that much more excited for March. Be wary folks, we could see more fireworks in the coming weeks...

Burn Notice: 10/10 I know I've already mentioned this in the past, but dang Allen is going to be a sauna come Saturday. No matter though, the electric factory will be in full throat nonetheless...

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