Our conference had plenty to boast about over the 2013-14 season. The Big 12 was #1 in conference RPI rank out of all the others, and sent 7 of our 10 teams to the NCAA tournament. Even though I had expected a much better showing in the tourney, we did manage to have 2 teams make it to the Sweet 16.
I thought it would be interesting to analyze some team stats knowing how great of a season Big 12 basketball just had. We’ll dive into some of the major categories for offensive and defensive stats and compare them to Texas Tech.
Points per Game
The conference had four teams rank in the top 25 nationally in points per game. These teams in order were Iowa State (83.0), Oklahoma (81.9), Oklahoma State (80.2), and Kansas (79.0). Texas Tech differs from those teams in many ways, and is known for having a slower paced game. There is no shame in trying to decelerate play and reduce the speed of the game to try and work the clock to your advantage. But, in taking on that strategy it made our average points per game drop to a lowly 68.4. That ranked #9 in the Big 12, and #245 nationally. TCU came in behind us in this category with 63.6 ppg, and finished #318 nationally.
Rebounds per Game
Another huge stat that translates to success on the court is rebounds per game. You have to be able to get the ball in your teams hands as many times as possible while at the same time limiting your opponent’s opportunities with the ball. Rebounding is an art that is mastered by establishing a better position than the other guy to grab the ball off a missed shot. Player size is usually a factor put into the equation of rebounding as well, but not for the smaller lineup of Iowa State. Three Big 12 teams were in the top 30 nationally; Texas (41.4), Iowa State (38.5), and Baylor (38.3). Texas Tech did a decent job in the paint, but often times they lacked aggression or were out of position to get more rebounds. They finished the year averaging 32.9 rpg, which made them #270 nationally and #9 in the Big 12. TCU finished below Tech in the category at 29.9 rpg and was ranked #339 nationally.
Free Throw Percentage
A brighter spot for Texas Tech was free throw shooting. With the inconsistency of calls from refs in college basketball this year, all teams had to be prepared to shoot from the charity stripe. A single point can determine the outcome of a game and nobody wants to be the losing team because of missed free throws. Four teams in the Big 12 finished as top 100 teams nationally on their free throw percentage. Oklahoma (74.9%), TCU (73.2%), Texas Tech (72.8%), and West Virginia (72.1%) were top 100 in the country. Texas Tech needs to keep this stat up, because there is never any pity for teams that miss free throws to lose games.
Assists per Game
You always want to be known as a team that can dish the ball to the open player and create shots. It makes life hard on opponents, and it shows that team chemistry is what can sometimes win a game over individual one-on-one skill. The Big 12 had the #1 team in the country for assists per game with Iowa State getting an amazing 18.4 last season. Three other Big 12 teams were in the top 50; Kansas State (15.2), Kansas (14.9), and Baylor (14.8). With a slower game pace it is hard to keep up with other teams assist numbers. But, Kansas State played a reduced speed game only making 69.1 points per game while getting ranked #33 nationally with 15.2 assists per game. Texas Tech finished tied for last place with TCU in this category with 11.4 apg and had a ranking of #267 nationally.
Steals per Game
A popular category for fans is steals per game, as most of the time these steals can lead to easy buckets on the other end of the court. The Big 12 was not overly impressive in this category as only two teams made it in the top 100 rankings. Oklahoma State had 7.6 spg and was ranked #33, and Oklahoma had 6.8 spg to crack the top 100 at #96. This category wasn’t a terrible one for Tech. They ranked at #5 in the conference with 6.1 spg, and that was good enough for #166 nationally. The bottom three teams in the conference are going to surprise you. It shows that steals per game really does not hold as much value to success on the floor as many believe. Kansas (5.8), Texas (5.7), and Baylor (5.2) were all in the lower #200 teams nationally in the category.
Blocks per Game
One more popular category for fans is blocks per game, because it is another feel good stat that shows how many times you get to give opponents rejections while shooting on your basket. Blocks are entertaining, because who doesn’t like to see a swatted ball go flying into the stands? The bottom three Big 12 teams in steals per game were the three highest in blocks per game. That basically translates that their frontcourts were much more dominant than their backcourts. Those three teams finished in the top 25 bpg category nationally; Texas (5.9), Kansas (5.6), and Baylor (5.3). The small ball team of Iowa State was spectacular in some other stats, but finished last place in the Big 12 with 2.9 bpg. Texas Tech held steady at #5 in the conference and #156 in the country at 3.7 bpg.