The Big 12 Tournament first round tipped off on a rainy night in Kansas City, with four teams hoping to continue their seasons and win the Big 12 championship.
1) Balanced scoring from West Virginia adds a different dimension to their offense
In the past six games, it’s mostly been a one-man show on the offensive end, with Erik Stevenson scoring 23 or more in each of them. This was fine, but there was always the fear for West Virginia fans of what would happen if he went cold.
While he wasn’t necessarily cold, scoring 18 points, he did so on 6-of-15 shooting. Luckily, three other guys stepped up and scored double digits, with Kedrian Johnson, Emmitt Matthews, and Tre Mitchell going for 20, 13, and 17. If West Virginia can have a balanced scoring attack without limiting Stevenson, they go from a first-weekend team to a second-weekend team just like that. The defense is there, they just needed to take that extra step offensively and did so tonight.
2) In an ugly game, Oklahoma’s defense prevails
If you watched this game from start to finish, I’m sorry. This was probably one of the worst conference tournament games in the month of March from an offensive standpoint. Oklahoma State shot 35% from the field and won, which helps when your opponent shoots 14-for-56 (25%!) from the field.
While Oklahoma State wasn’t completely responsible for that percentage, a lot were just missed open shots, but when Oklahoma’s top two scorers, Grant Sherfield and Tanner Groves, combined to go 6-of-28 from the field, including 1-12 from three, you have to give massive credit to the defensive gameplan. Oklahoma State came into this game ranked 20th in defensive efficiency according to Kenpom, and tonight proved that.
If they want to beat Texas, they’ll need to bring the same defensive intensity if they want to have any chance of limiting Marcus Carr, Sir’Jabari Rice, and co. in the quarterfinal matchup.
West Virginia will take on Kansas tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., while Oklahoma State will face Texas at 7.