In this week’s Avalanche-Journal Big 12 power rankings: The Jayhawks hold on, Baylor rises and Texas suffers another gut punch. Again, this isn’t necessarily a reflection of where we think these teams will end the season, but rather the direction they are trending at this time.
1. Kansas (13-1, 1-0)
The Jayhawks held on to their top spot this week, but it took Ben McLemore’s game-tying 3-pointer off the glass — we don’t think he called ‘bank’ — to get Kansas into overtime at home against Iowa State. Kansas, of course, went on to win in the Big 12 opener for both teams. Chalk up another one to Allen Fieldhouse magic.
2. Baylor (10-4, 2-0)
For the attention that preseason player of the year Pierre Jackson and touted freshman Isaiah Austin receive — and rightfully so — its the improvement of junior Cory Jefferson who has allowed the Bears to absorb the loss of three major contributors in the front court without missing a beat.
3. Kansas State (12-2, 1-0)
It’s always been a question of “if” not “when” senior star Rodney McGruder would find his rhythm in new coach Bruce Weber’s motion offense. If his 28-point explosion against Oklahoma State in the season opener was any indication, he’s finding his legs — not to mention his jump shot — just fine.
4. Oklahoma State (11-3, 1-1)
Marcus Smart has been every bit as good as advertised and Markel Brown may be one of the most underrated players in the league. But the Cowboys are going to need better contribution from their front-line players if they are going to challenge the teams above them for conference supremacy.
5. Oklahoma (10-3, 1-1)
The Sooners head into the basketball Bedlam game on Saturday playing some of their best basketball of the season. Balance has helped. Seven different OU players are averaging at least six points per game. Romero Osby, who leads the team at 13.5, has blossomed in his senior season.
6. Iowa State (10-4, 0-1)
The Cyclones were inches away from handing Kansas an oh-so-rare home loss on Wednesday, but they just couldn’t stop KU’s Ben McLemore. Still, Fred Hoiberg has to like the resolve from his group in one of college basketball’s most intimidating venues.
7. West Virginia (8-6, 1-1)
This may not be Bob Huggins’ most talented team, but like almost all his others, it looks like it will be a tough out in this league. Just ask Texas, which had a 10-point lead on Wednesday night with less than four minutes remaining before the Mountaineers chugged their way back for an overtime win.
8. Texas (8-7, 0-2)
Texas shouldn’t be this low on paper, but the Longhorns have had major trouble closing games while they integrate a bevy of first-year players — albeit highly touted ones — into the rotation. An 0-2 start in the league is a bitter pill to swallow for a team that lost both games in overtime.
9. Texas Tech (8-5, 1-1)
Tech coach Chris Walker said his team would have to guard against overconfidence following a road win against TCU. He probably won’t have to worry about that now after his team suffered a 34-point loss to Baylor on Wednesday. The Red Raiders know playing Kansas on Saturday will present another monstrous challenge.
10. TCU (9-6, 0-2)
The Horned Frogs are 333rd out of 345 Division-I teams in scoring at 57 points per game. Garlon Green scored 21 points in an 18-point road loss to Oklahoma State on Wednesday, his third 20-point outing in five games, but TCU hasn’t provided enough consistent scoring punch around the senior guard.
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