The Big 12 will play five games this weekend, highlighted by a Friday afternoon matchup of Texas A&M and St. Johns in the 2k Sports Coaches Vs Cancer Classic at Madison Square garden in New York.
Texas A&M Aggies vs. St. Johns Red Storm -3:30 PM CST on ESPN2
Aggies and Red Storm head coaches have both been through a rollercoaster of an offseason. A&M's Billy Kennedy was recently diagnosed with early stages of Parkinson's Disease, while St. John's Steve Lavin was treated for prostate cancer in early October.
Back on the job, they are both also leading teams coming off their first losses of the season. A&M, playing without Big 12 preseason all-conference forward Khris Middleton, lost to Mississippi State in the semifinals of the Coaches Vs cancer Classic, while St. Johns lost to Arizona in the same round. They meet tonight in the consolation game of that tournament.
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Coppin St. Eagles at Oklahoma Sooners - 7:00 p.m. CST on ESPN3
The inexperienced Sooners had a an unexpected test against Idaho State last Friday, and face a Coppin State team who might be looking ahead to their Sunday meeting with the defending national champion UConn Huskies.
OU trailed the Bengals by three at half last week but used a 9-0 run midway through the second half to take and maintain the lead in their four-point victory. Mississippi State transfer Romero Osby's double-double led a Sooner team that shot just 36.5% from the field.
Texas Longhorns vs. Oregon St. Beavers - 8:00 PM CST on LHN
The much maligned Longhorn Network will debut Horn hoops with this Ticketcity Legends Classic game in East Rutherford, NJ. The 2-0 Horns are led by J'Covan Brown's 31.5 ppg while the Beavers are 3-0 behind junior guard Jared Cunningham's 22.3 ppg. As it stands right now, I am being proven wrong for leaving Brown off my All Conference selections, as he is lighting up the scoreboard. My reasoning for leaving Brown off those lists were that he shot a dismal 40% from the field last year, and I figured that with the lack of experience on the Longhorn team he would face the best defender and his shooting would slump more. That hasn't been the case where, thus far, he is shooting a sizzling 48.8% from the field (including 42.1% from behind the arc), while dishing out seven assists per game and grabbing five boards. I may eat crow.
Western Carolina Catamounts at Iowa St. Cyclones - 12:30 PM CST
The Big 12 wildcard was the Cyclones. Fans and analysts alike were wondering whether coach Fred Hoiberg could get a group largely comprised of transfers from big schools to meld together into a cohesive unit. Thus far, it looks like the team still needs time to gel. A 9-point victory over a decent Lehigh program was quickly followed up by a 9-point defeat at the hands of in-state rival Drake. In both games, ISU star transfer Royce While has given the Clones a double-double and is averaging 23 points and 12.5 rebounds per game, while shooting 52.9% from the field. Despite their 2-1 record, Western Carolina has only played one other BCS-type school, South Carolina, and suffered a 15-point defeat in Columbia.
Texas Tech is lucky to be standing 2-0 after a strong effort by North Texas on Wednesday. As another Big 12 team trying to find its identity with an influx of new faces, Tech should have an easier time with the Lumberjacks than they did with the taller Mean Green. Robert Lewandowski followed up a sub-apr opening game with a 17-point, four rebound performance against a Mean Green team that appeared to have a bench full of 6-9 guys, who they could interchange at a moment's notice. With only one real big man on its roster - Jereal Scott - Lewendowski should be able to flow even better in the game and get more touches down low. Ty Nurse, who scored 29 in the Raiders' first game, but was limited to 15 on 3-9 shooting in the second, should also benefit from playing a guard-heavy team.