Kansas State

After beating the Longhorns in Austin on Saturday, Kansas returned to its spot atop the Big 12 standings.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

For the past 10 years, No. 9 Kansas has sat at the top of Big 12 basketball. However, after a non-conference 72–40 blowout loss at the hands of No. 1 Kentucky, many thought the Jayhawks looked vulnerable.

But two months later, Kansas looks like its usual self.

The Jayhawks traveled to Austin this weekend and defeated Texas, 75-62. Kansas Freshman forward Cliff Alexander had a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds to help put the Jayhawks back atop the Big
12 standings.

“We just wanted it more than them,” Alexander said.

With a one-game lead over in-state rival Kansas State, the Jayhawks will return to action to take on unranked TCU on Wednesday.

Wildcats bounce back

 Before Kansas reclaimed the Big 12 throne, Kansas State was on top of the
conference. However, a 77–71 loss to Iowa State last week dethroned the Wildcats.

Kansas State struggled to keep up with the Cyclones early but rallied to get within 1 point of Iowa State at halftime. But, in the second half, the Wildcats couldn’t overcome the deficit and received their second Big 12 loss of the season.

After the loss to the Cyclones, Kansas State stayed within striking distance of the conference’s top spot with a 63-53 bounce-back win over Oklahoma State. Senior forward Nino Williams led the Wildcats with 20 points and seven rebounds.

“It’s a good team win,” said Williams, who was 10-of-13 from the field. “Like Coach [Weber] said, everybody played well, everybody did something.”

Mess in the middle of the pack

Nearing the midpoint of the season, the Big 12 is making an argument for the toughest conference in college basketball. While Kansas currently leads the league, second- through seventh-place teams all have a shot, if any of them have a late season run.

The middle of the pack contains seven teams jockeying for position, including Kansas State, West Virginia, Iowa State, Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The Cyclones and Longhorns faced off Monday, and Kansas State could separate itself from the pack with a win over No. 17 West Virginia on Tuesday.  

Baylor and Oklahoma State will meet Tuesday for a game that will help the winner’s NCAA tournament chances. Oklahoma, on the other hand, has the easiest upcoming game, taking on Texas Tech, which sits at the bottom of the Big 12.

With the NCAA tournament looming around the corner, the teams in the middle of the Big 12 will be looking for every opportunity to make a statement and improve records.

 Polls kind to Big 12

The Big 12 had six ranked teams — Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma — in this week’s AP poll. The conference also had five teams ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll — Oklahoma was excluded from the top 25.

The Big 12 was tied for the most teams in the AP poll with the ACC.

Senior outside hitter Khat Bell and the Longhorns fight off a Baylor attacker during their match in Waco on Wednesday night.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

At first glance, the Longhorns’ volleyball record shows they’re well on their way to another run at the national championship.

With a 21-1 record — the lone loss coming at home against Oklahoma — and its fourth Big 12 championship already in hand, Texas appears set to contend for its second NCAA title in three years. But on a closer look, specifically the last four matches, there’s a troubling trend the Longhorns are looking to end before the tournament rolls around. 

The Longhorns have dropped the first set in three of their last four matches, and, in two of those, the first sets haven’t even been close.

“We’ve got to come out better in game one,” head coach Jerritt Elliott said. “We’ve got to be able to get everyone playing on the same night.”

In each of those first set losses, the Longhorns have struggled to take control of the match early, posting only a combined .159 hitting percentage. Meanwhile, their opponents in those matches, which include Oklahoma and Kansas State, have posted a hitting percentage of .316 and outscored Texas by an average of five points in the first set.

“I think the dynamics about the first set [have to change] and just coming out strong and just knowing that every team is going to play their best against us no matter who it is,” senior outside hitter Khat Bell said.

Once the first set passes, however, the Longhorns have returned to their dominant ways. Texas outscored Kansas State and Baylor by an average of 8 points and posted a .253 hitting percentage while holding them to just a .088 hitting percentage.

Still, Elliott knows they have to come out ready to play right from the start, especially against tougher teams.

The Longhorns likely won’t be able to afford a similar start to their match Saturday against a Kansas team that’s looking to solidify itself for an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament.

The Jayhawks come into the match tied for second in the Big 12 and riding a three-match winning streak, which includes a sweep of in-state rival Kansas State. They also received votes in the latest AVCA rankings. Kansas is  second in the conference in opponent hitting percentage and first in assists and kills per set.

Kansas also boasts three of the top four hitters in terms of hitting percentages in the conference. Freshman middle blocker Kelsie Payne leads the Jayhawks with a .362 hitting percentage, while fellow freshman middle blocker Kayla Cheadle and sophomore middle blocker Tayler Soucie are right behind with hitting percentages of .354 and .331, respectively.

Following the match against Kansas, Texas will close out the Big 12 season at TCU on Wednesday and then face Florida at Gregory Gym in a nonconference battle on Nov. 29 before the NCAA tournament.

Big 12 Power Rankings

Kansas State

Kansas State is certainly not the most glamorous team in the conference, but it may be the toughest and most physical. It forced Oklahoma into three turnovers, and ran for over 200 yards while holding the Sooners to just 88. The Wildcats have the week off as they enter the easiest part of their schedule with games against Kansas and Iowa State. Kansas State will have to be ready for the end of the season though as its road game against West Virginia is one of four games against ranked foes to end the season.

West Virginia

The Mountaineers had a tough time against Maryland, which limited West Virginia’s potent offense to 363 yards while piling on 351 on the Mountaineers’ defense. Even more concerning for the Mountaineers is that they were only able to run for 25 yards against the Maryland defense. If West Virginia cannot remedy its defense and run game then it will have a tough time against the offenses in the Big 12. Saturday’s home game against an explosive Baylor team will be important one for the Mountaineers to see where they stand.


The Longhorns had the week off to nail down what went right on offense and what went wrong on defense against Ole Miss. Texas had its highest offensive output since hanging 70 points on Colorado in 2005. However, the defense gave up a 75-yard touchdown pass, a 48-yard touchdown run and an uncharacteristic 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. The Texas defense came into the season with lots of hype, but has had a tendency to give up big plays, and has the unfortunate habit of committing drive-extending personal fouls. The task gets a lot tougher this week as the Longhorns go on the road to take on Oklahoma State.


The Sooners experienced a setback on Saturday as they fell at home to Kansas State in a poor offensive showing. Oklahoma was done in by turnovers and its inability to get anything going on the ground. Additionally, its defense was unable to stop the Wildcats on the ground and only managed one tackle for loss and could not register a sack. The Sooners’ lofty preseason expectations seem to have given way for doom and gloom up in Norman. Also, Landry Jones has not been able to become the Heisman candidate that some had expected.


The big problem for the Horned Frogs comes in the red zone. TCU is No. 117 in red zone efficiency so far this season. The Horned Frogs have only managed to score on 56 percent of their trips into the red zone and they have developed a habit of turning the ball over when they get close to the end zone. TCU goes on the road to play SMU before diving completely into conference play in October. TCU will have to take advantage of its scoring opportunities if it wants to have a chance to win the conference.


The sixth spot in the conference is essentially a toss-up between Baylor and Texas Tech. The Bears get the nod for going on the road and beating a Louisiana-Monroe team that may be the best in program history. The Bears have an offense that can challenge any team in the conference and are probably more vertical than any other Big 12 team. But the big issue for Baylor is its lack of defense. La.-Monroe actually outgained Baylor last Friday, and were if not for three turnovers, that five-point game might have gone the other way.

Texas Tech

The Red Raiders got bumped down a little for not having played anyone worth mentioning. Their defense seems to be improved, having only allowed three touchdowns so far this season while leading the nation in total defense (yes, that stat is correct). But the Red Raiders’ offense is still rolling and makes up one of the four Big 12 teams in the top five nationally in passing offense. The Red Raiders also lead the nation in first downs, averaging 35 a game. Texas Tech gets its first test of the season with a road trip to Ames to play an Iowa State team that is capable to beating high profile teams at home.

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys rebounded two weeks ago with a win over outmatched Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cowboys’ offense is one of the best in the country, but it was held in check by Arizona in its first year under Rich Rodriguez. After leading the conference in turnover margin last season, Oklahoma State is No. 105 in turnover margin this season, which has left its defense exposed. Oklahoma State will have to make sure its defense is ready for a Texas offense that is starting to click and its offense will need to avoid turnovers if it wants to beat Texas for the third consecutive season and have a chance to repeat as Big 12 champions.

Iowa State

The Cyclones are 3-0 for the second consecutive season, and for the third time in last ten years. With the Big 12 as strong as it has been in years, the Cyclones need to take as many games as they can at home if they wants to return to a bowl game. This weekend’s game against the Red Raiders is one of the few games on the schedule not against a ranked opponent. Iowa State is third in the conference in total defense and with Texas Tech leading the nation in total defense, Saturday’s game should be a defensive slugfest. Actually, scratch that. This game should be a high-scoring affair, same as every game in the Big 12.


After starting the season off with a win, it’s all been downhill for Kansas. The Jayhawks are last in the conference in scoring and total offense, and in the bottom third of the conference in total defense. The addition of Charlie Weis and Dayne Crist have not provided good results as the Jayhawks are only averaging 21 points a game. Kansas has a week to prepare for its next game against in state rival Kansas State. It’s going to be difficult for Kansas to stay out of the basement in the Big 12, but with so many unlikely results every year in college football, who knows what kind of surprises the Jayhawks can manage over the next two months.