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Early All-Big 12 basketball first and second teams

With three games remaining on the schedule for Big 12 basketball teams, the dog days of the winter season are coming to an end.

Will Texas (22-4, 12-1 Big 12) hold on at Colorado, vs. Kansas State and at Baylor? If so, the Longhorns would clinch the Big 12 regular season title, their first since sharing the crown with Kansas in 2007-08.

If UT loses one of its remaining three games this season, Kansas (26-2, 11-2) would have to win out (at Oklahoma, vs. Texas A&M, at Missouri) to claim at least a share of a seventh straight league title.

If KU and UT finish with the same league record, both would win the regular season title. The Big 12 doesn't turn to head-to-head matchups or any sort of tiebreaker.

In a little more than a week, the All-Big 12 team will be announced. If I was voting for my first and second teams today, here's what my ballot would look like:

Guard: Jacob Pullen, Kansas State

Say what you want about Pullen (it took him nearly the entire season to starting playing to his gamebreaking potential) and Kansas State (not performing up to expectations after being picked to win the league; guys quitting the team; post players regressing), but the following facts are indisputable: In Big 12 play, Pullen leads the conference with 21.6 points per game. In his last three games, the Wildcats senior has went off for 30.7 ppg. Kansas State (19-9, 7-6) has won five of its last six games and will likely earn an NCAA Tournament bid.

K-State's big men (Jamar Samuels, Curtis Kelly) continue to struggle putting up consistent scoring totals. Put simply, the stellar play of Pullen is the main reason KSU will likely be dancing in March. Better late than never, I suppose.

Guard: LaceDarius Dunn, Baylor

By Dunn's standards, the senior has struggled this season. His field goal percentage, three-point percentage and rebounding figures are all down. His turnover average is up. That said, Dunn (20.4 ppg) is the only Big 12 player to average at least 20 points this season. Yes, he's occasionally a chucker (his 212 attempted threes are by far the most in the Big 12), but Dunn's 38.7 percentage from distance is decent. If he keeps the Big 12 scoring title, he deserves a first-team nod.

Guard: Alec Burks, Colorado

Only Dunn and Pullen average more points in the Big 12 than Burks (19.2 ppg). The sophomore's 6.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game prove the Grandview, Mo. native can do more than just score. But he's a scorer at heart. Burks is one of the best slashers in the conference. He gets to the foul line more than anyone in the league (202 times) for players with at least 2.5 made free throws per game. He's shooting 84.7 percent from the line, third in the Big 12.

Guard/forward: Jordan Hamilton, Texas

If there's a more improved player than Hamilton in the Big 12 this season, I haven't heard of him. Pick a stat, any stat. It's likely better than Hamilton's freshman season a year ago. Field goal percentage (41 to 45.6), three-point percentage (36.5 to 40.7), free throw percentage (57.8 to 77.1), rebounds per game (3.7 to 7.5), assists per game (1.5 to 2.3), points per game (10 to 18.8). Hamilton's ascension from sixth man as a freshman to one of the best players in the league as a sophomore has Texas in a better spot than anyone could have predicted before the season.

UT's chemistry is considerably better than last year, and Hamilton's shot selection is a contributing factor. He's not taking nearly as many ill-advised shots to simply boost the scoring average. If anything, he took his aggressive shot selection and applied it to defense. Hamilton's 5.61 defensive rebounds per game rank second in the league, a rather impressive feat for a perimeter-oriented player. Texas has also ranked first in the country in kenpom.com's adjusted defensive efficiency ratings for a large portion of the season.

Hamilton is fourth in the Big 12 in scoring and third in rebounding. Hamilton gets my early vote for Big 12 player of the year.

Forward: Marcus Morris, Kansas

The junior may not be at the very top of the Big 12 in scoring (17.1 ppg, sixth in league) or rebounding (6.9 rpg, 12th in league), but his marksmanship from the field is unparalleled. Morris leads the conference in field goal percentage at 60.3. If he took more shots, he could probably lead the league in scoring, but the balance of the KU offense prohibits that from happening.

To put Morris' accuracy into perspective, consider that Iowa State's Diante Garrett, for instance, averages 17.3 points per game, almost identical to Morris' 17.1. Garrett, however, attempts 16.5 shots per game, while Morris only averages 10.5 per game. Imagine the potential scoring average for Morris if he took 16 shots per game.

Here's my second team:

Guard — Diante Garrett, Iowa State: Senior leads conference in assists with six per game; also scores 17.3 points per game.

Guard — Marcus Denmon, Missouri: Seventh in conference with 17.5 points per game; second in Big 12 in steals (1.86 per game); junior is shooting an impressive 44.4 percent from three-point line; could be second-most improved player in league behind UT's Hamilton.

Forward — Perry Jones, Baylor: Freshman averages 14.1 ppg and 7.1 rpg; scoring has improved in Big 12 play, where he's averaging 16.5 ppg; third in Big 12, behind KU's Morris twins, in field goal percentage (56.3).

Forward — Tristan Thompson, Texas: Leads conference in blocked shots (2.25 per game) and offensive rebounds (3.46 per game); freshman scores 12.7 ppg and pulls down 7.5 boards per game; a difference-maker on defensive end; still has some polishing left on offense.

Forward — Markieff Morris, Kansas: Junior leads Big 12 in rebounding at 8.4 per game; he's second in league to his brother Marcus (60.3) in field goal percentage at 60 — no other Big 12 player is above 57 percent.

Would your first or second team look any different? Who's your Big 12 player of the year?

That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.

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Comments

kesmithstl1 3 years, 5 months ago

Fair assessments. I will say this though, how bad of a coach is Scott Drew? All that talent and nothing but an NIT bid to show for it. Karma is a biotch!

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kureader 3 years, 5 months ago

God is getting even with Drew for escorting his team and the rest of his entourage out of the field house during the introduction of the KU players last year in Lawrence. He's classless.

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Krohnutz 3 years, 5 months ago

How sad is it that one of the nicest NCAA coaches has sired one of the dirtiest?

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actorman 3 years, 5 months ago

Why Karma for Scott Drew? Am I missing something?

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kesmithstl1 3 years, 5 months ago

he's not a nice guy. Other coaches don't approve of his recruiting tactics, gamesmanship tactics, etc...

Another thing, the guy recruits McDonald's All-Americans and utilizes their superior talents by playing in a zone schemed system.

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KGphoto 3 years, 5 months ago

Agreed kesmiths. And I'll add what an unbelievable job Crazy Doc has done at Nebraska. He has Nebraska at 6th in the Big 12, on the verge of dancing, with wins over Texas, TAM, and USC. Save for the last KU game, they've been close in almost every loss. They don't have a single player that would make the 4th team All Big 12. Their leading scorer, Jeter, is at 10.8/game.

And I'll add some more. Fred Hoiberg can't coach his way out of a wet paper sack. That team makes doormats look competitive. Diante Garrett is an outstanding talent, almost worthy of 1st team, but they are one win away from a conference goose egg.

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kesmithstl1 3 years, 5 months ago

Great points! Doc can coach, but the Big 10 fits his style of play better. The Mayor is taking any transfers he can get. Seems like he has a win now mentality, but doesn't know how to carry it out effectively.

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kureader 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm one of many who underestimated Doc. He has done a great job this year. He just doesn't strike you as a coach. He looks more like a high school janitor or maybe a field house usher.

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panalytic 3 years, 5 months ago

Mentioning Jeter was a great point. I only saw him in the two games against us and part of another, but he really looked good. I guess his numbers are not enough to get an all big 12 team.

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Kevin Huffman 3 years, 5 months ago

To be fair what do they have outside of Garrett and Vanderbeken. Not fair to judge Hoiberg as a coach until another 2 - 3 years down the road. If anything I would argue that he's had them playing above their heads to (while losing) hang as close as they do in most of their games.

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KGphoto 3 years, 5 months ago

What does Nebraska have outside of Jeter and Diaz? If Nebraska had Garrett, they would be in the discussion for a conference title.

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buckleyhawk 3 years, 5 months ago

So...I'll go ahead and point out the obvious here:

You could have simply said "All Big-12 Basketball First Team -- See Top 5 Big-12 Conference Play Scoring Leaders".

On top of that, 3 of the 2nd teamer's are in the next 5 (Garrett, Jones and Denmon).

I suppose that is fair, and the only one in my mind that is questionable (at least on the first team) is Dunn -- Baylor has been awful relative to their talent level, and a lot of that falls on Dunn, who is a super-high volume shooter (read: Allen Iverson). Scoring a lot is about the only thing he has done well this year.

Because of that, and because you have what really amounts to 4 guards (Hamilton is way more of a 2/3 guard than a forward), I think you move either T. Thompson (UT) or Kieff up to 1st team. Or at worst, trade Denmon for Dunn.

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mikehawk 3 years, 5 months ago

Well, I hope Brady makes the third team, al least. Look at his numbers in Big 12 play. His distractors, and Lord knows they are many, have been quieted for the most part for now, only to reawaken at any hint of a bad game. Coach seems to be his only supporter at times. Fortunately for Brady, Coach is the one that counts.

Tyrel has to be at least Honorable Mention. He has been as steady as a rock from the first game. I don't hear much about it, but it seems to be more and more obvious Tyrel is hurting. Does anyone know the specific injury?

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domino 3 years, 5 months ago

LOL - you posted "Tyrel" and I thought "Tyshawn" - you posted "steady as a rock" and I thought "what is he smokin'?"

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Bill Lee 3 years, 5 months ago

"has went off"...did you sleep through your English classes?

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Kent Wells 3 years, 5 months ago

Awesome - and you managed to not play the douche card!

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Jayhawk444 3 years, 5 months ago

Words do matter - especially to those who make their living using them. I've got no issues with somebody pointing out obvious grammar mistakes made by journalism professionals

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Alex Berger 3 years, 5 months ago

I think these are fair All-Big XII teams. Sometimes I get bummed that we don't have the numerical studs that we did under Roy but it is nice having the depth of Self's team where KU is now competitive for a championship every season. When was the last "rebuilding" year? 2006? Go Self. Rock Chalk.

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Robert Murphy 3 years, 5 months ago

New rebuilding years may be on the way. Losing big talent and no one coming in. Hope this changes soon.

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keith horinek 3 years, 5 months ago

while we are bashing big 12 BB coaches, let's not forget Rick Barnes at UT. He's had superior talent in past years and has not lived up to their potential as a team. Last year was a good example, a complete meltdown of a good team. Rick Barnes is over rated as a div. I BB coach, IMHO.

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panalytic 3 years, 5 months ago

These picks by Eric are probably good ones, I just wanted to add to the promotions for Brady to make some all big 12 team. What a great big 12 run he has had this year. Also, let's hope Marcus and Markieff stick around another year so the twins can be on the first team together.

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Robert Murphy 3 years, 5 months ago

Brady would make first team all fifth year players

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Greg Lux 3 years, 5 months ago

You said "Say what you want about Pullen", so I will I guess. The reason Pullen is looked upon as so great is because he about the only outside scorer KSU has on their team. If you took KU and put Reed, Morningstar and Selby together you would make Pullen look very very average as a player. KU shares the ball so well outside that no players gets all the numbers and its looks like we don't have any "STARS", but they are all very good players who just don't need to be the "One and only" on the basketball team. Don't get me wrong, Pullen is a good player .. but not near the star you made him out to be here.

Rock Chalk

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Michael Auchard 3 years, 5 months ago

"If there's a more improved player than Hamilton in the Big 12 this season, I haven't heard of him."

Yes, you have.

I'd say Markieff Morris takes the spot of most improved player in the league, and it's by light years.

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 5 months ago

I'm recalling a similar article (Keegan?) from '08, that talked about KU not getting anyone on the all conference team b/c we were so balanced that no one player had significant stats - offensive numbers. If I remember correctly, that team had 2 first team and 2 second team players, b/c some people know enough to realize that a player's significance is more than just the total # of points scored.

Along those lines, who leads the conference in A's? B's? Kief is R's? Is there an advanced stat (Jesse?) for defensive efficiency?

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jayhawkintx73 3 years, 5 months ago

It isn't necessarily Kief's R's. Any person on KU's team can lead in scoring in any game. That is what makes them dangerous. Marc and Mark have both led. Taylor has, Morningstar has at least tied for it, Reid has led, Selby has led, T-Rob has tied, Releford and Johnson have scored in the teens to be second leading. I take that back, maybe only one can't lead. That would be Withey, as far as the regular PTers go. Withey is capable, but he needs to get take it to the hole strong when he gets in within 3 or 4 feet of the bucket and he would be very hard to stop. When he gets the ball, he needs to take it to the rim. He's tall enough he could pick up some assists by kicking out to anyone else on the floor that can hit the three. Withey is probably the only regular PTer, besides T-Rob, that I wouldn't want to shoot from outside 18 feet. Everyone else on this team can knock it down. Everyone on this team can take it to the rack and score. Everyone on this team can catch an ally-oop pass and rattle the rim including Reid and Morningstar. If they clean up their defense and FTs down the stretch, Kansas will have a deep run, probably at least a Final Four appearance, and maybe another Massachusetts street parade.

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Robert Murphy 3 years, 5 months ago

When it comes to Withey,why shoot it when you can dribble it?

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REHawk 3 years, 5 months ago

An argument could be made that Morningstar has flourished more for Kansas than Dunn for Baylor in league play. If Dunn possessed Brady's two conference leading stats he probably would be a lottery pick.

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Robert Murphy 3 years, 5 months ago

If pigs had wings they could probably fly.

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