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January 12, 2007
Best matchup: No. 6 Kansas (14-2, 1-0) has put together an eight-game winning streak and is the class of the North Division. However, the Jayhawks must avoid any letdown after a big, emotional victory over Oklahoma State. Defeating Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum is never easy. The Cyclones (11-5) are 9-1 on their home court, including a 71-62 victory over Nebraska on Wednesday.
Worst matchup: Off to its best start in 47 years, No. 8 Texas A&M (14-2) opened Big 12 play with consecutive victories over Kansas State and Baylor. Another victory would put the Aggies 3-0 in league play for the first time since they were in the Southwest Conference. A&M allows 52.7 points per game to rank third nationally in team defense. Meanwhile, Colorado (4-8, 0-2) averages 69.5 points per game to rank 10th in the Big 12 in scoring.
The pressure is on: Missouri desperately needs to win on its home court against Kansas State on Saturday or it risks getting off to a 0-4 start in league play. The Tigers, who were projected to be one of the better teams in the North Division, lost to Iowa State in Columbia and then fell at Texas. Hello rock. On Monday night the Tigers travel to Lawrence to face Kansas, which is 9-1 at Allen Fieldhouse. Hello hard place.
Upset alert: Though 15-2, Oklahoma State is reeling after a 30-point loss at Kansas. The Cowboys hit the road again to face Nebraska (11-4), which is unbeaten at home. The Cowboys will be looking to redeem themselves after shooting just 32.1 percent from the floor in Lawrence. Nebraska is one of the Big 12's better defensive teams, limiting opponents to 42.7 percent shooting.
Who's hot: Actually, describing Texas' Kevin Durant as hot doesn't quite do him justice. Torrid would be a better adjective. The 6-foot-9 freshman has been named Big 12 Rookie of the Week four times, and last week the league declined to categorize him and just named him the top player. Durant has scored at least 20 points in all but two games and followed a 37-point, 16-rebound outing against Colorado with 34 points and 13 boards against Missouri.
Who's not: Oklahoma guard Michael Neal hit his first 3-point goal since Dec. 28 in a victory over Colorado on Wednesday night. He had missed 12 3-pointers in a row and 20 of his last 23 before going 2-for-4 against the Buffaloes. Neal, the Big 12 newcomer of the year last season, shot .424 percent from 3-point range and averaged 3.2 trifectas per game in 2005-06. He is shooting just 22.4 percent (15 of 67) this year.
Must see TV: It's always worth a look when Missouri and Kansas tangle - especially when the Tigers and Jayhawks square off on Big Monday. Despite stumbling out of the Big 12 gate, Missouri can be explosive. The Tigers have six victories with margins larger than 20 points. Meanwhile, Kansas has held 22 consecutive opponents below 50 percent shooting from the field. Turnover totals should be telling. Missouri has forced 91 turnovers in its last five games and at least 20 in 10 games. Kansas has had fewer turnovers than its opponent in every game this season and is second in the Big 12 in turnover margin.
Key stat: Texas A&M is the only team in the nation that has not allowed more than 65 points this season. The Aggies allow 52.7 points and rank third nationally in scoring defense. A&M has held opponents to 34.5 percent shooting, the best in the nation.
Bench bonus: Nate Carter of Oklahoma has come off the bench to score 28 points and grab 17 rebounds in the Sooners' two Big 12 games. He followed up a 13-point, nine-board performance in a 68-54 loss to Texas Tech with 15 points and eight rebounds in a 78-54 win over Colorado. Carter, who has not started this season, averages 5.8 points for the year. However, his 14-point average in conference games leads the team.
They said it: "It was one of the most embarrassing moments I've ever been a part of. It was an old-fashioned butt-kicking. -- Oklahoma State coach Sean Sutton after the Cowboys' 30-point loss to Kansas.
Injury update: Kansas State freshman Bill Walker, who was averaging 11.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in six games, ruptured the ACL in his left knee and will miss the remainder of the season.
Worth noting: Missouri is 9-2 all-time in Big 12 openers with both losses coming to Iowa State. However, the Tigers are 0-2 in Big 12 play for the first time since 1996-97, the league's first season. ? Adarius Bowman, an All-Big 12 wide receiver in football, has joined the Oklahoma State basketball team. He missed both shots he attempted against Kansas. ? Oklahoma State senior forward Mario Boggan, who was shooting 62.3 percent and averaging 21.9 points per game, shot 25 percent and scored just eight points in the Cowboys' 87-57 loss to Kansas on Wednesday night. ? Colorado junior guard Richard Roby has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games and scored at least 30 points for the fifth time in his career when he had 30 in a loss to Texas. ? Nebraska's 11 non-conference victories were its most since the 1994-95 season. ? Texas sophomore guard A.J. Abrams has hit at least three 3-pointers in 13 of 15 games. ? Texas Tech junior guard Martin Zeno has shot 50 percent or better in 13 games this season and has scored 11 points or more in 11 consecutive games.
Freshman to watch: Texas point guard D.J. Augustin scored 13 points and dished out six assists in an 88-68 victory over Missouri. He now has eight consecutive games in which he has scored in double figures.
Something you may have missed: The University of Kansas paid tribute to former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton, who retired after last season with 798 career victories. Sutton was presented with a plaque and a rocking chair prior to their game. Sutton was 0-12 at Allen Fieldhouse in his career.
RPI watch: Who cares at this point? The most recent postings show Appalachian State at No. 9. That put them ahead of every team in the Big 12. Kansas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State are all in the Associated Press top 10.