Big 12: Locking
Horns with UT

Mar 7, 2006 3:35 AM

College basketball tournament play runs wild this week!

The Big 12 tournament is one of many major conference events going this weekend that will help whittle the field. Here’s a look at some of the league’s top teams.

Texas: The run and gun Longhorns average more than 76 points per game, second in the Big 12. Texas is loaded behind- junior P.J. Tucker (16 ppg, 9 rpg), 6-foot-10 sophomore LaMarcus Aldridge and 6-8 senior Brad Buckman. The Horns are not always sharp or predictable, collapsing as a 9-point favorite in an 81-60 loss at Oklahoma State. Then last week, Texas committed 18 turnovers in a 46-43 loss at Texas A&M. Still, the talent is undeniable, with impressive non-conference victories over West Virginia, Iowa and Memphis. Texas also smashed young and talented Kansas, 80-55!

Kansas: The young Jayhawks keep getting better. The freshman backcourt features 6-6 Brandon Rush along with guard Mario Chalmers, who leads the Big 12 in steals with 2.8 per game. Throw in sophomore point guard Russell Robinson, who leads the team in assists, and it’s a fascinating up and coming young group. Up front, 6-11 sophomore Sasha Kaun is a major reason Texas ranks third in the Big 12 in rebounds and second in blocks. Kansas has early season losses to Arizona, Arkansas and Nevada, the latter two by a combined three points.

Oklahoma: It’s no secret that a Kelvin Sampson-coached team plays tough defense (allowing 62 ppg) and pounds the ball down low. The Sooners have an outstanding frontcourt punch of 6-9 senior Taj Gray (14 ppg, 8 rpg) and 6-8 senior Kevin Bookout (11 ppg, 7 rpg). Senior guard Terrell Everett leads the Big 12 in assists with nearly seven a game — a large number for a squad that mostly plays halfcourt. They have an 82-72 win over Texas, but non-conference losses to Villanova and West Virginia.

Colorado: The Buffaloes are all about running the court, leading the Big 12 in scoring (78 ppg). Colorado has a dynamite offense behind 6-6 sophomore guard Richard Roby (17 ppg) and 6-8 senior Chris Copeland (12 ppg). The Buffs top the Big 12 in rebounds (41 a game), but don’t always play defense. That was most evident in back-to-back losses to Texas (89-64) and Kansas (75-63). They just lost again to Kansas last week, 75-54! Colorado has been great at home, but starting 4-7 SU and 5-6 ATS on the road could hurt in the tourney.

Texas A&M: The Aggies rely on tough defense, evident in last week’s 46-43 upset of Texas. They’re not afraid to slow the pace down, stay close and hope for a shot at the end to win. The quick Aggies are third in the Big 12 in both steals and assists. A&M has two big guns in 6-3 junior guard Acie Law IV, who averages 16 points per game, and 6-foot-9 sophomore Joe Jones (15 ppg, 6.7 rpg). During a six-game Big 12 win streak that culminated in the upset of Texas, the Aggies topped Baylor by 4, Oklahoma State by 2, Missouri by 3, Colorado by 3, Nebraska by 11, and Texas by 3!

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers have a frontcourt of 6-9 senior Wes Wilkinson and 6-11 sophomore center Aleks Maric. They like to play tough defense, but only average 58 ppg on the road (7-2 ”˜under’ the total away from home). Senior guard Jason Dourisseau leads the backcourt, but Nebraska is just 2-5 SU and 3-4 down the stretch. Nebraska’s toughest non-conference games were all losses to Florida State, Creighton and UAB. The Huskers also fell at home as a favorite against Texas Tech and Kansas State, which hurts their bubble chances.