It’s hard for me to sit down and list off the five guys that should be on the All-Big 12 team.
That’s because, most of the time, I don’t get to see all the Big 12 games. Like many of you, I watch the KU game, then get to see whatever highlights are shown of the other games on TV later in the night.
But what if I came up with an All-Big 12 list that I could justify?
This will be the “How’d they do against KU” All-Big 12 team. The rules are simple: My squad will consist of the five best players I saw while watching them play against the Jayhawks. For this exercise, KU’s players are ineligible (Sorry Sherron and Cole). Also, Texas and Texas Tech’s players aren’t going to make the list, as KU has yet to play those two teams, and Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin’s concussion keeps him from picking up the coveted HTDAKU honor.
Let’s get to it:
Jesse Newell’s "How’d they do against KU" All-Big 12 Team
MVP — Craig Brackins, Iowa State. No surprise here, huh? Brackins was the best player KU faced this season, and it wasn’t close. His 42-point, 14-rebound performance in Ames, Iowa, just seemed like an open workout for the NBA scouts there. He can hit the face-up jumper, use his quickness to get by you and also shoot in the occasional three. He also added a respectable 20 points and 11 rebounds at Allen Fieldhouse. Though he needs to add some muscle to his frame, isn’t that the same thing we were saying about Texas’ Kevin Durant a few years ago?
Willie Warren, Oklahoma. The second slam-dunk, no-doubt selection on this list. With OU’s best player Griffin out, Warren stepped up when his team needed him most against KU. What I’ll remember was his second-half “Anything you can do, I can do better” competition with KU’s Sherron Collins. Warren hit a three, then Collins would come back and hit a deeper three, then Warren took the ball and hoisted one barely past half court (If I remember right, didn’t he make one of his threes from the “O” in “OU” logo on the center of the court?). Though Collins won the battle and the game, Warren’s performance makes him an easy choice on this list.
DeMarre Carroll, Missouri. Say what you want about whether he deserves to be on the actual All-Big 12 team (I’d probably give him the nod if I was voting), but Carroll didn’t disappoint in his two games against KU. He was the leader and the driving force behind the Tigers’ comeback in Columbia, Mo., scoring 22 points with seven rebounds. I was most impressed by his willingness to take big shots for MU. When the Jayhawks sagged in their defense, daring the Tigers to shoot it from the outside, Carroll was the guy who didn’t hesitate and hit 18-footer after 18-footer to get his team back in the game. His bounced-in three also was a momentum-changer. He followed that performance up with a 16-point, 11-rebound effort in Lawrence.
Cory Higgins, Colorado. It seems like Colorado always has one really good player surrounded by an untalented cast (See David Harrison, Richard Roby, etc.). That was no different this year, as Higgins stood out as easily the best Buffalo. I like Higgins a lot, but because his team is/was so bad, he won’t be picking up many postseason honors. If you look at both games against KU, though, he was the only reason the Buffaloes were able to hang around. Higgins scored 20 points and made 12 of 12 free throws in the first game against KU — a game that CU actually led, 22-17, with 6:24 left in the first half. In the second game, Higgins helped an 8-0, second-half run by recording two straight steals. He helped the Buffaloes trim a 21-point deficit all the way down to two with his 15-point, four-steal performance.
Ade Dagunduro, Nebraska. The final spot was close between Dagunduro and Oklahoma State’s Obi Muonelo, but the nod goes to Dagunduro. On a team that can play some defense but desperately needs scoring, Dagunduro was the Cornhuskers’ second-half go-to-guy as NU battled KU to the final minutes in Lincoln, Neb. Dagunduro scored 24 points, which is made more impressive considering that was 38.7 percent of his team’s total output (62 points). Dagunduro added 13 points (of NU’s 53) in his return trip to the Fieldhouse, giving him an average of 18.5 points against KU.
Just missed the cut
Obi Muonelo, Oklahoma State. He was the only Cowboy who could score in the first half. Finished with 19 points on 5-for-9 three-point shooting to go with six rebounds.
Leo Lyons, Missouri. After a poor shooting effort in his first game against KU (4-for-15), he bounced back with 20 points and six rebounds against the Jayhawks in Lawrence. Still not consistent enough for my taste.
Jacob Pullen, Kansas State. Scored 35 combined points in the two games, but needed 26 field-goal attempts to do it (10-for-26 combined shooting, 38.4 percent).
Denis Clemente, Kansas State. Was dominant at times during his 26-point performance at Bramlage Coliseum, but also lost his cool and let his team down with a technical that gave the Jayhawks momentum. Also only scored nine points in his trip to Allen Fieldhouse.
Cade Davis, Oklahoma. This might be the only time he’ll be involved in an All-Big 12 discussion, but he nearly single-handedly brought the Sooners back against KU. Made four of six threes with all of those treys coming late in the second half.
Coach of the Year — Mike Anderson, Missouri. Without Self in the running, this is an easy pick. Anderson was the only Big 12 coach (so far) to beat KU, and it took good coaching for that to happen. After a miserable first half by is team against KU — one in which the Tigers looked like they were playing nervous because of their sellout home crowd — Anderson could have laid into his team at halftime. He had every right to. MU had scored just 16 first-half points and was blowing a huge opportunity on national television. Anderson tried a different method than yelling, though: He went into the halftime locker room laughing. He reminded his players that they were at home, and that they should be the loose ones. His team responded in the second half, playing much more relaxed before coming away with the two-point victory. Had Anderson entered the locker room and pulled a Bobby Knight, I don’t think the comeback would have happened.