Big 12 Tournament Bounce: top teams hold strong

Joel Devick

Sports Blogger





The higher-seeded teams won every Big 12 tournament quarterfinals game on Thursday in the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. That created a mostly uninspiring day of “Madness” in the usually hectic March, but there was some noteworthy action from the city of fountains.

No. 5 TCU vs. No. 4 Kansas State

In a thrilling overtime contest and the first game of the day, Kansas State defeated TCU 66-64. The game was closely contested the whole way and came down to the wire twice.

TCU’s Desmond Bane forced overtime when he hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Bane’s 3 was about two inches off his fingertips when the clock struck triple zeros. Bane’s late heroics weren’t enough to get the Horned Frogs the victory in overtime. K-State’s Barry Brown hit the game winner with 11 seconds left in the extra period to give the Wildcats the victory.

TCU’s Kenrich Williams led scorers with 20 points, while K-State sophomore Makol Mawien scored 16 to lead the Wildcats. The Horned Frogs and the Wildcats are likely in the NCAA tournament field, so there wasn’t much to play for in terms of resume building.

No. 7 Texas vs. No. 2 Texas Tech

Texas Tech pulled away late against Texas, winning 73-69, to advance to the semifinals on Thursday in Kansas City. After beating 10th-seeded Iowa State on Wednesday to improve their tournament hopes, the Longhorns played the Red Raiders tough, nearly pulling off the upset.

What was the surprise of the day at the Sprint Center? UT sophomore Jacob Young had 29 points off the bench to lead scorers.

Tech’s Keenan Evans had 25 points, as nine Red Raiders scored.

This wasn’t a do-or-die game to get into the NCAA tournament for the Longhorns, but UT will likely sweat a bit come Sunday because of how tightly contested the field is this year. Tech is looking to prove its regular-season second-place finish wasn’t a fluke, and winning the Big 12 tournament could be a good primer for the big dance for coach Chris Beard’s squad.

No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 3 West Virginia

After a low-scoring, close first half, West Virginia controlled the second half against a tough Baylor team and won 78-65 in the last of Thursday’s games in Kansas City.

The Mountaineers employed their usual tough press defense but with an added scoring punch on Thursday. Jevon Carter showed out, scoring 18 points and dishing out 11 assists. Carter, a senior guard, also hit a three-quarter court heave at the end of the half to give WVU a six-point lead at intermission. Daxter Miles Jr. led WVU in scoring with 19 points, 15 of which came from 3-pointers.

Baylor is another team that is solid all around but has gotten lost in the shuffle in what has been a ridiculously strong Big 12 this year. The Bears have a case for playing in the tournament, and Baylor’s Manu Lecomte led all conference scorers this season with 27 points.

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