KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Devin Williams had 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead a balanced West Virginia attack, and the ninth-ranked Mountaineers never trailed in an 86-66 victory over TCU in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament Thursday night.
The plucky Horned Frogs gave them a tussle most of the way, though.
They trailed just 63-55 midway through the second half before a spree of 3-pointers allowed the second-seeded Mountaineers (25-7) to seize control. They pulled away in the final minutes to give coach Bob Huggins his first victory in the Big 12 Tournament since taking over his alma mater.
Jevon Carter added 15 points, Tarik Phillip had 13 and Jaysean Paige scored 12 as West Virginia moved on to the semifinals Friday against the winner of No. 6 Oklahoma and No. 21 Iowa State.
Chauncey Collins had 18 points to lead the No. 10 seed Horned Frogs (12-21), who bumped off NCAA Tournament bubble team Texas Tech in the opening round. Malique Trent added 15 points and J.D. Miller had 12.
The game amounted to a contrast in styles: West Virginia tried to play fast, TCU tried to play slow.
Early on, it was the Mountaineers who had the most success. They got hot from beyond the arc, racing to a 20-8 lead, and used all those made shots to slap on their exasperating pressure defense.
TCU did a solid job most of the game of breaking it.
The Mountaineers eventually fell into an offensive lull, and that allowed coach Trent Johnson’s team to claw back into the game. The Horned Frogs got within 29-23 late in the first half, then cut the lead to single digits again on a dunk by Miller that made it 56-47 with 14 1/2 minutes left in the game.
It took the Mountaineers heating up from the arc again to pull away.
It was 63-55 when Daxter Miles Jr. connected from right in front of West Virginia’s bench. Paige knocked down his second of the game moments later, and Miles buried another to make it 72-59 with 6:34 to go.
The Mountaineers drew away from there to wrap up their fifth consecutive win.
TCU: Brandon Parrish was held to two points on 0-for-5 shooting. … Johnson fell to 0-9 in his career against West Virginia. … The Horned Frogs shot just 35 percent from the field.
West Virginia: Huggins improved to 12-0 against the Horned Frogs. … The Mountaineers finished 11 of 24 from beyond the arc. … Won despite committing 17 turnovers.
TCU begins preparing for next season.
Ellis double-double for No. 7 Kansas in 75-56 win at TCU
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Perry Ellis had 23 points and 10 rebounds as No. 7 Kansas started the second half of the Big 12 Conference schedule with a 75-56 victory at TCU on Saturday.
Kansas (19-4, 7-3 Big 12), which had lost its previous three conference road games, never trailed after scoring the game’s first seven points.
With the quick start and in a road arena about half-filled with their own fans, the Jayhawks rebounded from an underwhelming victory three days earlier against Kansas State. They also won for the 12th time in 13 games against TCU, which exactly three years earlier got its only win in the series.
Devonte Graham added 15 points and Frank Mason III 12 for the Jayhawks, who shot 50 percent from the field (29 of 58) and had a 46-25 rebounding advantage. Ellis was 11-of-14 shooting.
Brandon Parrish and JD Miller had 13 points each for TCU (10-13, 1-9), whose only win in its last eight games was last weekend at home when overcoming a 14-point halftime lead for a 75-63 victory over Tennessee in the Big 12-SEC Challenge. Chauncey Collins had 10 points.
The Frogs shot 29 percent (14 of 49).
Ellis had a three-point play after a wild scramble to get the ball to put the Jayhawks up 34-14, giving them a 20-point lead for the first time. His tip-in with 2:31 left made it 38-14 before TCU scored the last six points of the first half.
Kansas also had its first double-digit lead after consecutive baskets by Ellis, when he was on the receiving end of an alley-oop pass from Wayne Selden Jr. for a dunk and then had a strong layup to make it 21-11.
After the Jayhawks’ 77-59 victory over Kansas State on Wednesday night, coach Bill Self said his team had been outplayed and was “about as soft as I can remember one of our teams playing.”
The closest the Frogs got after Kansas’ 7-0 spurt in the first 2 minutes was at 10-7 after Parrish made a long jumper, then followed a Jayhawks turnover with a nifty spin move for a layup off the glass.
Kansas: It was Ellis’ third double-double this season, all in Big 12 games, and 15th of his career. … The Jayhawks have won by at least 10 points in 13 of their 19 wins. …. Kansas played the first of four times on the road in a six-game span.
TCU: When the Frogs upset Kansas 62-55 in 2013, it was their first Big 12 win – coming in their first season after joining the conference. TCU is now 7-57 in Big 12 games. … TCU had as many turnovers (6) as field goals in the first half.
Kansas: Hosts No. 14 West Virginia on Tuesday night.
TCU: Hosts Oklahoma State on Monday night.
BIG 12 CONFERENCE RESET: Is this the year that Kansas gets picked off?
College basketball’s non-conference season is coming to a close, and to help you shake off post-holiday haze and the hangover of losing in your fantasy football playoffs, we’ll be providing you with some midseason primers to get you caught up on all the nation’s most important conferences.
Today, we’re taking a look at the Big 12.
BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
A serious threat for National Player of the Year, Hield is playing magnificent basketball in his senior season as he’s become more of a well-rounded threat while maintaining great percentages from the floor. The 6-foot-4 guard is averaging 24.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game while shooting ridiculous splits (51.5% FG/52.9% 3PT/90.0% FT). Not only is he a two-way threat, but he’s also become a more versatile scorer who is more comfortable off the dribble. On a loaded Oklahoma offense, Hield is getting a lot of room to operate.
Once again, the Big 12 top-to-bottom looks deep and tough: The Big 12 looks like a conference with not a lot of easy outs in 2015-16 as most teams look tough. Depending on how the rest of the country shakes out, the league will get anywhere from 5-7 bids and even some future NIT teams are off to positive starts.
Kansas and Oklahoma are major title contenders: As of this writing, KenPom’s top two teams are Kansas and Oklahoma, who will likely battle for the Big 12 regular season crown. The Jayhawks are at full strength now that Cheick Diallo has been cleared and Wayne Selden is playing very good ball. Hield leads an Oklahoma team that can space the floor from four positions and that experienced quartet is making half of their 3-pointers. Oh, and they just might square off on Monday as the No. 1 and 2 teams in the country.
Iowa State has adjusted just fine under Steve Prohm: Even though Steve Prohm is in his first season in Ames, the Cyclones have won some tough games and generally adjusted well to their new coach. Georges Niang and Monte Morris are off to fast starts and the emergence of Jameel McKay has been a ton of fun to watch. The question with the Cyclones becomes depth. Do they have enough contributors after the loss of Naz Long?
How does Texas play with Shaka Smart?: The Big 12 gets its first taste of Shaka Smart and his Austin version of Havoc and the loss of Cameron Ridley to a broken foot means the Longhorns could be smaller and more athletic. This team can knock down three pointers, but some talented young guards like Tevin Mack, Eric Davis and Kerwin Roach have been inconsistent.
Where does West Virginia fit into things?: West Virginia currently sits in the national polls, but they’ve only beaten San Diego State and Richmond this season while pressing their way to a 10-1 start. Bob Huggins has most of his 2015 NCAA tournament core back outside of Juwan Staten. This team can defend but nobody knows how good they are.
Is this finally the year someone dethrones Kansas?: It’s well documented that Kansas has won 11 consecutive Big 12 regular season titles as the Jayhawks have long been the class of the Big 12. But this season, Oklahoma and Iowa State are again legitimate top 15 teams. The Sooners in particular look like a major threat. Will Kansas falter just enough for one of them to win the title?
BETTER THAN THEIR RECORD: Texas picked off North Carolina with Marcus Paige at home so it showed that they can earn big wins in their arena. They’ll need a few more of those against the Big 12’s elite, but they’ll have plenty of chances with three top-10 caliber Big 12 teams. Ridley’s health — he broke his foot earlier this week — and how well they can replace his presence — he averaged a double-double — is going to be key.
BEAT SOMEONE AND WE’LL TALK: Texas Tech is off to a promising 10-1 start to the season, but they have a cupcake non-conference schedule that is ranked 215th in the nation by KenPom. Some look like okay wins — Arkansas-Little Rock, for example — but there is no at-large NCAA tournament win for the Red Raiders at the moment.
COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford has needed to receive public support from his bosses and the Cowboys’ biggest donor before and he needs to play well in the Big 12 in order to have that support continue. With some key pieces who have never played in the conference, they’ll be interesting to track.
POWER RANKINGS, POSTSEASON PREDICTIONS
1. Kansas (11-1): Deep and talented, senior Perry Ellis is having another strong season and the backcourt of Frank Mason and Devonte’ Graham remains very good. The Jayhawks have front court depth that can’t be matched in the Big 12, although it will be interesting to see if Cheick Diallo and Carlton Bragg can be more than just role players.
2. Oklahoma (12-0): Ryan Spangler is averaging a double-double while shooting 47 percent from three while Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard remain one of the country’s most underrated backcourts. Oh, and they got that Buddy Hield guy, too. He’s been OK.
3. Iowa State (11-1): Transfer wing Deonte Burton has given Iowa State a nice boost the last two games, but is that enough to give the Cyclones a shot at the league title? Their lack of depth in the paint is a major concern given how good Oklahoma and Kansas are.
4. Baylor (10-2): Rico Gathers is a consistent double-double machine and Taurean Prince is a talented all-around forward. How their back court handle the Big 12’s best guards is the key to Baylor’s conference success.
5. West Virginia(10-1): Once again flying around the floor and forcing turnovers, West Virginia needs to beat somebody better than San Diego State and Richmond. They will once Big 12 play gets rolling. Devin Williams has been a stud.
6. Texas (8-4): With Cameron Ridley going down with injury, it leaves a huge hole inside. The only strong victory Texas has is over North Carolina. Texas needs more quality wins to make the tournament, and that will be tough without Ridley, who was having an all-league kind of season.
7. Texas Tech (10-1): The Red Raiders are playing good defense but their perimeter shooting leaves a lot to be desired. It remains to be seen if Texas Tech can win conference games after winning three last season.
8. Kansas State (10-2): Another Big 12 team with a cupcake schedule, the Wildcats struggle to shoot (29% 3PT) and don’t have any meaningful wins.
Autobid or bust
9. Oklahoma State (8-4)
10. TCU (8-4)
TCU announces addition of former A&M guard Alex Robinson
TCU announced on Wednesday morning the addition of former Texas A&M point guard Alex Robinson.
“Alex is an explosive point guard,” said head coach Trent Johnson. “He plays with good speed and is capable of making plays for himself as well as his teammates. He was one of the top players in the country his senior year in high school. We are very fortunate to be able to add a player with his talent to our roster at this time of year.”
Robinson was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. As a freshman with the Aggies, he averaged 5.2 points and 2.6 assists and seemed to have a promising future. But head coach Billy Kennedy brought in graduate transfer Anthony Collins this summer which left Robinson in a reserve role.
Big 12 Preview: Death, taxes, Kansas atop the Big 12
Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Today, we are previewing the Big 12.
The Big 12 has been arguably the best conference in the country the last few seasons but their play in the postseason last year leaves a lot to be desired. While 70 percent of the league’s membership made the NCAA tournament last season, nobody in that group of seven advanced past the Sweet 16.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
1. Kansas remains atop the league until proven otherwise, with or without Cheick Diallo: Kansas has won at least a share of 11 consecutive Big 12 regular season conference titles, and they return plenty of talent from last year’s team. While one-and-done freshmen Kelly Oubre and Cliff Alexander are gone, experienced players like Frank Mason, Wayne Selden and Perry Ellis return as the Jayhawks appear to be even deeper this season. One thing to monitor in terms of Kansas potentially being an elite team: the NCAA situation with freshman big man Cheick Diallo. The McDonald’s All-American was one of the best players during the senior all-star games last spring and his high motor and ability to defend the rim could put the Jayhawks over the top. He has yet to be cleared to play this season as the NCAA is looking into his high school, Our Savior New American in New York.
2. Iowa State is transitioning from Fred Hoiberg to Steve Prohm, but they still have title aspirations: Fred Hoiberg and his innovative offensive attack has moved on to the Chicago Bulls, but Iowa State is returning nearly its entire roster from a team that was a No. 3 seed last season. Now enters former Murray State head coach Steve Prohm, who is letting an experienced group do a lot of what they were doing before while also adding some of his own new wrinkles. Senior forward Georges Niang is an All-American candidate and point guard Monte Morris remains as steady as any floor leader in the nation. If the Cyclones have enough depth and their defense improves, they are also potentially an elite team.
3. Texas is moving from Rick Barnes to Shaka Smart. Can they adjust to “Havoc”?: Texas has moved on from the Rick Barnes era as they made the decision to pursue VCU’s Shaka Smart instead of Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall. Now that the popular Smart is in the fold, Texas is hoping to become a perennial power in basketball, and the most intriguing part of Shaka taking the job is how he’ll incorporate his “Havoc” style of play into the equation. Many believe that “Havoc” can’t work at the highest level of college basketball, but at the same time Smart hasn’t had this kind of talent at his disposal. Junior point guard Isaiah Taylor is back and the Longhorns have plenty of size and senior leadership.
4. Oklahoma returns Buddy Hield and plenty of talent: Reigning Big 12 Player of the Year Buddy Hield returned for his senior season and gives the Sooners a chance to be in the Big 12 title picture. While the Sooners will miss the play of TaShawn Thomas inside, they return most of the roster. Dependable big man Ryan Spangler is back along with the backcourt of upperclassmen Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard. Cousins has drawn rave reviews from scouts and coaches this fall and could be poised for a big senior season as Hield’s second banana.
5. Baylor and West Virginia are still lurking: Baylor and West Virginia both took some lumps this offseason with key losses, but they both still have plenty of talent to win a lot of games and potentially make the NCAA tournament. The Bears still have the tremendously talented duo of Taurean Prince and Rico Gathers to work with and a team that has a lot of length on the defensive end. West Virginia has to replace Juwan Staten, but Bob Huggins has a roster that completely bought into the press that he was selling last season as they made the Sweet 16.
Favorite: “You can certainly make a strong case for a few teams, but until proven otherwise, it’s probably Kansas.”
“West Virginia lost Juwan Staten but they’ll have just another chip on their shoulder. Their style of play will help them with the shorter shot clock.”
“Most of the guys in our office believe that Baylor has the length and talent to be a factor.”
Best player: “It’s close between Buddy Hield and Georges Niang but Hield gets it done on both ends of the floor. Plus, Buddy is more of an emotional leader and his big plays seem to lift his teammates.”
Most underrated player:
“Isaiah Cousins seems to be getting a lot of attention this fall — and deservedly so. He can really play.”
“I haven’t seen Johnathan Motley’s name in a lot of preseason stuff, but he could be a problem.”
PRESEASON BIG 12 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
He won this award for real last season, so it’s only right that Hield starts the season atop this list as well. A dynamic scorer, Hield can hit 3-pointers in bunches and also got to the free-throw line 130 times last season. In addition to his scoring, Hield also led Big 12 guards in rebounding last season.
THE REST OF THE BIG 12 FIRST TEAM:
Georges Niang, Iowa State: As versatile as any forward in the country, Niang is looking to close out his career by knocking Kansas out of the top spot. Watching Niang play for Prohm should be a fascinating early-season study.
Monte Morris, Iowa State: The nation’s leader in assist-to-turnover ratio the last two seasons, now Morris gets to work with a new head coach who put Isaiah Canaan and Cameron Payne in the NBA.
Taurean Prince, Baylor: Arguably the nation’s best sixth man a year ago, Prince is incredibly versatile on both ends of the floor. Not many forwards around can knock down nearly 40 percent of 3-pointers and defend multiple positions the way Prince can.
Perry Ellis, Kansas: Before getting hurt during the tail end of Big 12 play, Ellis was playing at an incredibly high level. The Jayhawks are hoping that version of their senior forward comes to play every night this season.
FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
Rico Gathers, Baylor
Frank Mason, Kansas
Isaiah Taylor, Texas
Devin Williams, West Virginia
Phil Forte, Oklahoma State
BREAKOUT STAR: Jevon Carter, West Virginia
With the departure of Juwan Staten, the sophomore will be tasked with taking over full-time point guard responsibilities. After leading West Virginia in both steals and 3-pointers as a freshman, Carter is ready to be one of the focal points for the Mountaineers.
COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Travis Ford needs to have a solid year at Oklahoma State in order to keep the heat off of him from fans. You know things are getting a little testy when both the athletic director and the school’s largest donor, T. Boone Pickens, have to publicly show signs of support.
ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : The Big 12 regular season was exciting, but did these teams beat each other up too much for big tournament runs?
I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT: Seeing how “Havoc” is going to work with the Texas players and against Big 12 defenses. This debate has been raging among college basketball types for a long time and now Shaka gets to see if his system can translate to the highest level.
FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:
1. Kansas: This won’t be like the Kansas team we’ve seen the past two seasons with jumbo wings in Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre. The Jayhawks plan to go smaller with Frank Mason and Devonte Graham in the backcourt while Wayne Selden will likely slide over to the three.
2. Iowa State: We already know Iowa State can put points on the board but how will they look defensively during the final year this core group is together?
3. Oklahoma: Oklahoma seems to be flying a bit under-the-radar nationally this preseason. Remember when TaShawn Thomas became eligible and the Sooners turned into a darkhorse national title contender last preseason? Essentially the same team is back, minus Thomas, and college basketball is weaker this season.
4. Baylor: Baylor’s imposing frontline is well-established but the backcourt is the key question for the Bears this season. With the loss of Kenny Chery, who does Drew pair with Lester Medford?
5. West Virginia: This West Virginia roster perfectly fits what Huggins wants to do — especially with toughness and defense — but without Juwan Staten, scoring is going to be a major concern. The new focus on officiating could also hurt the way the Mountaineers like to defend, but the 30-second shot clock should help them.
6. Texas: The (multi) million dollar question is whether Havoc works against the likes of Monte Morris and Frank Mason? How do big men like Cameron Ridley and Shaquille Cleare fit in Shaka Smart’s system? One thing will be certain: Texas will play hard and bring a lot of energy under its new coach and there’s a lot of upperclass leadership on the roster.
7. Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State’s backcourt will be among the Big 12’s most talented, as Phil Forte returns and McDonald’s All-American point guard Jawun Evans enters Stillwater. Replacing the front court of LeBryan Nash and Michael Cobbins is the bigger issue. The Cowboys have size on the roster, but not many have produced highly at the Big 12 level.
8. Texas Tech: There weren’t a lot of positives from last season’s 3-15 Big 12 showing, but the Red Raiders return 85 percent of its scoring and 86 percent of its rebounding. With some of the other teams in the league adding a lot of new pieces, Texas Tech should be more cohesive out of the gate.
9. Kansas State: Kansas State’s roster was gutted this offseason and it’s hard to say if it will be a good or a bad thing entering this season. While a lot of talent left the Wildcats, a lot of bad apples walked out the door as well. Can improved chemistry lead to a better season for Bruce Weber’s ballclub? Almost the entire roster is unproven.
10. TCU: TCU started 13-0 last season, but played a cupcake schedule, as a 4-14 conference mark brought them back down to Earth. After losing Kyan Anderson, Trey Zeigler and Amric Fields, it’s difficult to say that the Horned Frogs will be much better.