A.J. Walton, Rodney McGruder

K-State keeps pace in tight Big 12 race with win over Baylor

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For Big 12 fans, this is one of those days that plays out perfectly.

Three teams are wrangling for the league lead, and all three play on the same day, evenly spaced so that nobody has to miss a minute of each crucial televised game.

Oklahoma State kicked things off this morning, taking a hard-fought overtime victory over Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series and moving to 9-3 in league play. They were alone atop the Big 12 standings for a few hours, then Kansas State tore up an already ragged Baylor team 81-61 in the Octagon of Doom to make it a two-way tie.

Guard play ruled the day for the Wildcats, with Angel Rodriguez breaking out for 22 points and 10 assists. Rodriguez has played second or third fiddle to Rodney McGruder much of the season, but tonight he showed the type of court vision and aggressiveness that makes K-State a favorite to wrest the Big 12 title from the Kansas Jayhawks.

Rodriguez wasn’t alone in playing well for K-State. Shane Southwell (18 points) and McGruder (10) did their part, and Jordan Henriquez (10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks) was huge.

Perhaps most encouraging for the long-term success of the Wildcats this season was the razor-sharp execution that was evident from start to finish against a talented if directionless Baylor team. Even backups Martavious Irving and Thomas Gipson got in on the action, teaming for a beautiful bounce pass and lay-in.

The Big 12 race can remain a three-way if Kansas beats Texas (with Myck Kabongo this time around) tonight. Should the Jayhawks – who have looked very vulnerable this year – lose, expect the Cowboys and Wildcats to go hard at it in hopes of leading the changing of the guard. The best news? K-State and Oklahoma State meet one another in each team’s final game of the regular season.

Should be a barn-burner. As a native Midwesterner, I use the term advisedly.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.