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Big 12 Men's Basketball Tournament - 1st Round

Previews and predictions for the 1st round of the Big 12 basketball tourney. West Virginia vs Texas Tech, and Texas vs TCU tonight!

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Spo

Previews & Predictions – Big 12 Basketball Tournament 1st Round

#8 West Virginia (13-18, 6-12 Big 12) VS. #9 Texas Tech (10-19, 3-15 Big 12) | (Wednesday, March 13th at 6pm) We just lost a heartbreaker to the University of Texas on Saturday in overtime. The team looks like they might have just got the wind knocked out of them, but I don’t think that is the reality of the situation. This Big 12 tournament is Chris Walker’s last impression that will be left with Kirby Hocutt when a decision is made on keeping Walker as head coach or choosing to go down a different path in the process. The team is closest to this situation and I’m sure it is going to be an emotional game coming into Kansas City with Chris Walker thinking “this might be it”. Our squad will see it on his face and hear it in his voice. I believe they will fight hard for a win that will have a huge future impact on the guy that has mentored them through an ugly Billy Gillispie resignation. The team will be carrying a heavy load on their shoulders tonight.

The first game against West Virginia was lost 77-61. They beat us with the downtown shot on 10-18, where we were only 4-9. Other than the score we were pretty evenly matched with them getting 26-26 for points in the paint. We both had a high number of turnovers 22 (TTU) and 18 (WVU), whereas they scored 27 points off turnovers as to our 19 POTs. They outrebounded us 24-22. We held it together against their starting big guys Deniz Kilicli and Kevin Noreen keeping them to only 11 points and 6 rebounds combined for the game. Aaric Murray did come off the bench for them down low and had 12 points, but only had 3 rebounds. This is the only game that I remember we had Kader Tapsoba start alongside Jordan Tolbert, but Tapsoba only played 3 minutes. Jaye Crockett and Tolbert combined for 23 points and 7 rebounds down low. But as mentioned before, this game wasn’t lost down low. Their guards torched us from the outside to get the advantage in this one. And their freshman guard Eron Harris had 3 from behind the arc to go with 18 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. Two of their other guards had 3 three’s each as well. Ty Nurse started in this game for us, the only time I remember him starting too, and played 24 minutes with 14 points. Josh Gray was our better guard that day with 10 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals.

Our second meeting when we played at West Virginia was more memorable. It was the game that was frustrating because of the close officiating against our team. The calls seemed to always go against us and we ended with 30 fouls. Crockett, Tolbert, and Dejan Kravic all fouled out of the contest. We contained their downtown shots and only allowed them to make 4-12. We were outrebounded 29-39, but we gained the edge in turnovers 13-18. Points in the paint were close at 24 (TTU) to 20 (WVU). We didn’t contain Kilicli and that beast went off for 25 points with 8 rebounds for his frontcourt. Crockett turned it on in this one with 18 points and 10 rebounds. A HUGE thing to remember is that Tolbert fouled out in only 14 minutes of action, but yet still had 10 points and 3 rebounds. Their guard Harris had another good one with 15 points, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Dusty Hannahs hit for 12 points with 4 three-pointers. Gray added 8 assists, and 2 steals. We could’ve had this one as Gray missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer to win the game that was short off the front of the iron. I wanted Hannahs to take the last shot, because even though they were shadowing him in expectation of taking it he was our best chance from downtown. We had to go for the win because all our frontcourt, besides Tapsoba, were fouled out of the game.

Tech (RPI #227) does have a chance against West Virginia (RPI #120). They have some big guys down low that match up fairly evenly with our post players. We have already figured out that if the WVU guards get hot from behind the arc than we will get torched in the game. WVU might have 6 wins in the Big 12, but they are only against us, TCU, and UT. The games against the Longhorns went to OT once, and the other was a 2-point victory at the end. Our main problem has been the frosh guard Harris, so we need to put someone on him to contain his speed and penetration to the basket. The fouls are something that isn’t an easy thing to control, but we must recognize if the refs are calling a tight game then we have to give them a little space. I’m not saying to play less aggressive, just watch on the reach-ins and be moving our feet more to gain the advantage. I am ready for this game to get started and think that Tech will be playing with more heart than the other guys. Sometimes that is all you need when the game is evenly matched on both sides. Predicted Winner: Texas Tech

#7 Texas (15-16, 7-11 Big 12) VS. #10 TCU (11-20, 2-16 Big 12) | (Wednesday, March 13th at 8:30pm) Myck Kabongo has brought Texas to a new level. They are 5-3 with him back on their team. But, as Texas Tech showed last Saturday anybody that can make Kabongo have a bad day should be able to win the game. I know we lost in OT, but if we had let him start making points the game would not have even been close. We held him to 0-12 from the field. The Longhorns are all about their guard play as Kabongo (15.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.3 apg), Sheldon McClellan (14.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.8 apg), and Julien Lewis (10.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.2 apg) are all averaging double figures in scoring for the season. They can take the game over. UT puts up a lot of shots, and they actually do a fairly decent job of crashing the boards to get their rebounds. I think UT has a lot of talent besides just Kabongo and the guards, but they don’t seem to put it together all that well when they play on the court. The chemistry to me always doesn’t seem right when the Longhorns are playing and that is going to be what always makes them be a mediocre team.

TCU is bad, but they did beat Kansas in a sort of miracle situation. Also, I have to give them some love on just recently beating a really good Oklahoma squad. In both those wins senior Garlon Green (9.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 1.0 apg) had nice games. In the KU win he had 20 points, and the OU win he had 18 points. Kyan Anderson (12.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 3.5 apg, 1.4 spg) is the star player of the team but he needs help. When Anderson and Green are playing great on offense the TCU team can somewhat ball. Other then that TCU is not a very good team on anything else I have watch for this season.

UT (RPI #113) will have an easy time in this one if Kabongo and the other guards start hitting their shots early, but TCU (RPI #226) might stick around if they can take Kabongo out of the game. Both teams aren’t very strong in the frontcourt, so this will be a backcourt battle. I don’t think Green for TCU will get it going like he did against KU or OU, and Kabongo for UT should break out of his slump from last game against Tech to go off for at least 15 or more points. UT should win fairly easily in this matchup. Predicted Winner: Texas