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.

Pressure is on new coach Steve Prohm at Iowa State

Steve Prohm
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AMES, Iowa (AP) Five months ago, Iowa State’s Steve Prohm was the coach at mid-major Murray State. Now he’s in charge of one of the big favorites in the Big 12.

Prohm officially began his first season in charge of the Cyclones on Tuesday with the team’s annual media day.

Iowa State has all the pieces to make a run at the league title and more – provided that Prohm can handle coaching college basketball at the highest level, of course.

In the minds of Prohm’s players, the Cyclones have nothing to worry about.

“Coach (Prohm) is in here earning our trust and our respect every day,” said senior forward Georges Niang. “Even though he’s not trying to cross any of our toes, he puts his foot down when he needs to and lets us know that stuff needs to get done. I think he has a great combination of how to keep us motivated…and still be stern and be able to get the most out of us.”

Fred Hoiberg’s departure for the Chicago Bulls after five mostly successful seasons gave Prohm a shot at a national title. The roster Hoiberg left behind for Prohm is loaded.

Niang, a likely preseason first-team All-American, second-team All-Big 12 point guard Monte Morris and league defensive player of the year Jameel McKay headline one of the nation’s most talented starting units. Throw in veterans like Naz Long, Matt Thomas, Abdel Nader and transfer Deonte Burton, and Prohm might just have the best roster a new Power Five coach has inherited since Bill Guthridge took over for Dean Smith at North Carolina in 1997.

Guthridge reached the Final Four with his first team.

Prohm isn’t shying away from the notion that Iowa State is among the handful of teams with serious national title aspirations.

“Yeah, they’re realistic,” Prohm said when asked about the sky-high expectations for this year’s team. “I think we have the opportunity to have a very special season.”

The similarities between what type of styles Prohm and Hoiberg use was cited as a big reason why Iowa State hired him. Hoiberg even lobbied for Prohm to athletic director Jamie Pollard during the hiring process.

To that end, Prohm is going to let his players have a ton of input on how they play. Prohm doesn’t plan many changes, just tweaks that mostly involve techniques to improve Iowa State’s somewhat inconsistent rebounding and defense.

“I don’t need to say, `This is the way we’re doing things guys because this is the way I did it.’ That’s stupid,” Prohm said. “I need to meet these guys halfway.”

Prohm also acknowledged that he’ll be doing quite a bit of learning himself this season. But Prohm said he intends to embrace the unique opportunity he’s been afforded.

“This is a great situation to walk into. No question,” Prohm said. “Is there pressure? Yeah. But who wants a job with no pressure?”

Lawyer: Pierre suspended due to ‘unfair and defective process’

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Dayton forward Dyshawn Pierre, who is suspended from school for the fall semester stemming from a sexual assault allegation, has sued the university over what his lawyer calls an “unfair and defective internal process”.

Peter R. Ginsberg, Pierre’s lawyer, released a statement to NBCSports.com on Wednesday stating that his client intends to file suit over the ruling, saying that the school arrived at a suspension through “fundamentally unfair and defective internal process that deprived him of vital rights and protections and has resulted in a disruption in his education, a drastic blow to his reputation, and a potentially fatal interference” with basketball.

Pierre was suspended due to an incident that allegedly took place in mid-April and was reported in May, according to the Dayton Daily News. The prosecutor declined to press charges in the case due to a lack of evidence, the paper reported.

Pierre, a 6-foot-6 wing that averaged 12.7 points last season, is not currently enrolled at the school.

“What has been done to me has been grossly unfair. The allegations against me are false,” he said. “And now I find myself with my reputation tarnished, my schooling interrupted and my dream of helping the basketball team win a national championship being threatened. I want justice, and I want a return to my normal life.”

Ginsberg represented Dez Wells in a similar case. Wells, then at Xavier, was expelled by the university in 2012 following a sexual assault allegation, but he won a settlement from the school in 2014. The crux of Ginsberg’s claims regarding Pierre’s case is that the process by which Dayton reached this conclusion is fundamentally flawed.