I’ve decided to do a new feature called Big 12 Basketball: #TheTuesdayTally (the name is temporary for now until I think of something better). This post will impart to readers an interesting statistic or trend or piece of information that I’ve found about each Big 12 team. It could be positive or negative, it could be about the entire team or just one player on that team, or it could be more broad, analyzing a team in the grand scheme of things. This is an in-progress idea, so there will be changes and adjustments moving forward. It will definitely be bi-weekly with the potential to be a weekly feature.
Unlike my Power Rankings post, which often include statistics, trends, AND player and team breakdowns using game film, this feature will strictly focus on interesting statistics and trends. It won’t be as long as the Power Rankings post, but it’ll still have plenty of information to help you watch Big 12 games.
Sidebar, if you’re new here, check out my original weekly content — my Big 12 Power Rankings. Here’s a link to all of the previous posts, where you can find analysis and observations I’ve made on each Big 12 team this season. Here’s a link to last week’s post. Check it out.
All statistics used in this post are from Kenpom, Synergy Sports, College Basketball Reference, Hoop-Math, or T-Rank. Please be aware — stats like offensive rating or usage rate can differ between Kenpom, College Basketball Reference, and T-Rank. They will all be fairly close to one another, but they will have slight discrepancies. So if I use College Basketball Reference for a blurb below, it may not match exactly what you see on Kenpom. Alright, let’s dive into this.
I’ve talked often this season about Baylor’s issues from behind the 3-point line. In Monday night’s victory over Oklahoma State, it looked like Baylor was headed towards another game with 3-pointers being the main issue. They shot 2-10 on 3’s in the 1st half and were down 27-26 at halftime. In the 2nd half, things turned around as the Bears finished 10-23 on 3-pointers, going 8-13 in that 2nd half. For the first time in Big 12 play, their 3-point shooting was a positive rather than being detrimental.
Nonetheless, the 3-point shooting issue is still likely to persist. Let’s put their shooting into perspective.
Using College Basketball Reference’s Play Index (which will be a popular tool in this weekly article, so check it out), I used the Team Finder portion of the tool. I looked at just this season and created a list of teams sorted on the number of games where the following parameters occurred:
• 3-pointers made in a single game of 5 or fewer
• Points scored in a single game equaling 70 or fewer
Here’s the list.
|1||Mississippi Valley State||2017-18||11|
|3||Cal State Northridge||2017-18||9|
|19||San Jose State||2017-18||8|
|20||Texas A&M-Corpus Christi||2017-18||8|
|22||University of California||2017-18||7|
There is one school from a major conference with more games that fit this description than Baylor — Georgia Tech with 8 games. Other than the Yellow Jackets, Baylor is tied with Cal and Wisconsin with 7 games that fit these parameters. It’s not a great list to be on. The major concern? Georgia Tech, Cal, and Wisconsin are not making the NCAA Tournament. Baylor? There’s still a chance, and getting a needed win at home vs. Oklahoma State is a nice step. But they will have to overcome their poor shooting to make it for the 5th straight season.
Iowa State Cyclones:
Iowa State is currently 1-4 in Big 12 play as they encounter their first rebuilding year in the last seven seasons. That can be obviously frustrating for fans, but one positive is that it can showcase young players who have very promising futures. For Iowa State, they have two of these guys in Lindell Wigginton and Cameron Lard.
Wigginton and Lard are currently 1st and 4th on Iowa State in points per game, averaging 16.5 and 11.4 PPG respectively. They are 1st and 2nd on Iowa State in usage rate. Their high usage rates, combined with their encouraging offensive efficiency stats, made me curious. (Curiosity will be the driving force behind a lot of these #TuesdayNumbers.)
Once again, I used Play Index, this time using the Player Finder. I wanted to find other Big 12 freshmen who had similarly high usage rates and high offensive efficiency. Here were the parameters of my query, which pulled Big 12 freshmen in the last ten years (from 2007-08 to 2017-18) with the following characteristics:
• Usage rate equal to or greater than 24%
• Offensive rating equal to or greater than 110.0
• Averages 20.0 minutes played per game
Here are the players who fit that equation. A couple of notes: 1) you can click the link at the bottom of this table that says “View Original Table” to take you to the query on College Basketball Reference and 2) the table is sorted by PPG — at the College Basketball Reference link, you can sort the table by whichever statistic you please.
|1||Trae Young||FR||2017-18||G||Oklahoma||Big 12||16||33.4||4.3||10.0||1.9||0.3||30.1||35.5||.568||1.2||11.1||55.3||38.6||124.8||14.7||1.6||16.3|
|2||Alec Burks||FR||2009-10||G||Colorado||Big 12||30||30.2||5.0||1.8||1.2||0.4||17.1||25.8||.567||8.3||12.2||13.6||27.1||120.9|
|3||Andrew Wiggins||FR||2013-14||G||Kansas||Big 12||35||32.8||5.9||1.5||1.2||1.0||17.1||21.4||.499||8.4||12.3||9.2||26.3||116.1||5.4||3.0||8.5|
|4||Lindell Wigginton||FR||2017-18||G||Iowa State||Big 12||16||32.1||4.4||2.2||0.8||0.4||16.5||18.6||.523||2.7||11.9||13.7||25.9||110.4||3.0||0.0||3.0|
|5||Josh Jackson||FR||2016-17||G||Kansas||Big 12||35||30.8||7.4||3.0||1.7||1.1||16.3||24.1||.552||8.7||17.4||18.2||27.2||110.7||5.1||5.7||10.7|
|6||Jawun Evans||FR||2015-16||G||Oklahoma State||Big 12||22||28.9||4.4||4.9||1.1||0.2||12.9||22.0||.517||1.9||14.8||41.9||25.5||111.8||5.3||2.2||7.5|
|7||Cameron Lard||FR||2017-18||F||Iowa State||Big 12||14||21.6||6.9||0.2||0.4||2.1||11.4||27.3||.632||14.6||19.5||2.3||24.2||114.7||0.7||3.6||4.3|
|8||Myles Turner||FR||2014-15||F||Texas||Big 12||34||22.2||6.5||0.6||0.3||2.6||10.1||25.5||.488||7.2||24.9||6.2||25.1||112.6||1.5||7.3||8.7|
Be encouraged Iowa State fans, because that’s some impressive company. Trae Young is not yet in the NBA, but he will certainly be a top-5 pick next season. Otherwise, every other player on that list is currently in the NBA. Additionally, only two players on that list played two years of college basketball — Alec Burks and Jawun Evans. Everyone else was a one-and-done. Iowa State will almost certainly have Wigginton and Lard back next season. Rebuilds can be frustrating, but this table shows the potential for next season’s return to prominence.
In Monday’s victory over West Virginia, Kansas sophomore center Udoka Azubuike was a +22. In the 1st half, when he was in foul trouble, Kansas suffered because of it. When he was in the game in the 2nd half, Kansas got back into the game. I hate to simplify it, but his presence in the paint on both ends was overwhelming.
Azubuike’s stats are ridiculous. He’s shooting 78% from the field and averaging 14.5 PPG. I was curious who else has put up numbers like that in the Big 12. Using Play Index again, here are the players who have shot 65% from the field and averaged over 14 PPG since the Big 12 was formed.
|1||Udoka Azubuike||SO||2017-18||C||Kansas||Big 12||18||451||.781||.781||25.1||7.8||1.7||1.4||14.5|
|2||Blake Griffin||SO||2008-09||F||Oklahoma||Big 12||35||1165||.654||.659||33.3||14.4||1.2||3.3||22.7|
Now Azubuike doesn’t have the total level of production that Griffin had, but it’s still absurd to shoot it that well from the field. In the last ten seasons, here are the players who have averaged over 14 PPG on a minimum of 65% shooting from the field:
• Udoka Azubuike, Kansas, 2017-18
• Nick Ward, Michigan State, 2017-18
• Jahlil Okafor, Duke, 2014-15
• Blake Griffin, Oklahoma, 2008-09
• Jeff Pendergraph, Arizona State, 2008-09
Whoa, Jeff Pendergraph flashback. Azubuike’s production has been superb this season, and Kansas being able to lean on him is why they stole a win in Morgantown last night and are now 5-1 in the Big 12.
Kansas State Wildcats:
Bruce Weber’s offense scored 1.15 PPP in their heartbreaking loss to in-state rival Kansas on Saturday. This offense continues to show signs of being the best of Weber’s Kansas State career. They are currently 23rd in the nation per Kenpom’s Adjusted Offense metric, with an AdjO of 116.0 points per 100 possessions.
Let’s put that into perspective for Bruce Weber’s career. The below chart shows Bruce Weber coached teams’ offensive efficiency since 2002, per Kenpom’s Adjusted Offense.
The first two years in this chart — 2002 and 2003 — are from Weber’s final two seasons at Southern Illinois. His two best offenses — 2004 and 2005 — are from Weber’s first two seasons at Illinois, when he was coaching Bill Self’s recruits. Weber started at Kansas State in 2013, which means that this season is Weber’s best offensive team with players that he both recruited and coached. This isn’t your traditional grind-it-out defensive team that Weber has had in Manhattan.
Trae Young averaging 30 PPG and 10 APG on 40% shooting from 3-point range is so absurd for a college player that it’s nearly impossible to find similar players to him in Play Index. But I wanted to adjust the parameters to at least get some guys who are close to him. Here’s the parameters I used:
• Averaged 20 PPG or more
• Averaged 6 APG or more
• Shot 40% or better on 3-pointers
Here are the other players who have done this since 1993 (sorted by PPG):
|1||Trae Young||FR||2017-18||G||Oklahoma||Big 12||16||.458||.517||.407||.832||33.4||8.9||19.4||4.3||10.4||4.3||10.0||1.9||4.8||30.1|
|2||Antonio Daniels||SR||1996-97||G||Bowling Green State||MAC||32||.547||.576||.433||.777||36.3||8.7||15.9||1.4||3.3||2.8||6.8||2.3||3.2||24.0|
|3||Ben Woodside||SR||2008-09||G||North Dakota State||Summit||33||.464||.481||.427||.840||34.5||7.1||15.3||2.0||4.8||3.2||6.2||1.4||3.2||23.2|
|6||Steve Nash||JR||1994-95||G||Santa Clara||WCC||27||.444||.435||.454||.879||33.4||6.1||13.7||3.1||6.9||3.8||6.4||1.8||4.2||20.9|
|7||Jalan West||JR||2014-15||G||Northwestern State||Southland||32||.456||.489||.422||.862||34.5||6.0||13.2||2.7||6.4||4.4||7.7||2.1||2.8||20.0|
That Steve Nash comparison we keep hearing about during Oklahoma games makes a lot of sense, huh? The only other major conference players who have been close to as productive as Young are Jay Williams at Duke and Damon Stoudamire at Arizona. Williams averaged 9 PPG and 4 APG less than what Young is doing currently. Stoudamire averaged 7 PPG and 3 APG less than Young. We will likely never see another major conference performance like this. Kudos to Trae Young and kudos to Lon Kruger for allowing Young to play so freely.
Oklahoma State Cowboys:
Oklahoma State’s defense has improved since last season. You can see it when you watch them play. Their ball pressure has intensified, and they’re making it more difficult for their opponents to run action. Their Adjusted Defense in Kenpom is currently 88th nationally, at 99.8 points per 100 possessions. Last season, they finished 155th nationally, at 103.5 points per 100 possessions.
The current issue for Oklahoma State? Their defense has been noticeably worse against tougher competition (which you’d expect), but it’s really gotten worse during Big 12 play. See this chart for visual evidence.
They’ve now allowed over 1.00 PPP in each Big 12 game besides their home victory over Iowa State — where they allowed 0.99 PPP. In Big 12 play, opponents are scoring 1.13 PPP. In the non-conference, opponents scored only 0.91 PPP.
Obviously your defense will struggle more against better competition, but Oklahoma State’s defense in Big 12 play has been much worse than it was against their best non-conference opponents. In games against Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, Wichita State, Florida State, and Tulsa, Oklahoma State held opponents to an average of just 0.99 PPP. The trendline shows they haven’t been able to keep up that effort.
If Oklahoma State wants to make a final push for an NCAA Tournament bid, they’ve got to get back to play defense at that 0.95-1.05 PPP rate. They can’t allow over 1.10 PPP like they are currently doing in conference play.
TCU Horned Frogs:
In my Power Rankings post on 12/21, I took a look at Texas’ profile. Texas currently has a top-10 defense and a non-top 100 offense, and I was curious how other teams have performed who had that statistical profile. I now want to do the same thing with TCU’s profile.
TCU currently has a top-10 offense and a non-top 100 defense. Their offense is 5th in the nation, with an AdjO of 120.9 per Kenpom. Their defense is 123rd in the nation, with an AdjD of 102.1 per Kenpom. Here is a list of other teams who have had similar profiles in the last five seasons. Included in this table is how their season ended.
This season is loaded with these types of teams, with four of them on this list. Take a look at the last column. Other than Notre Dame in 2016 (who reached the Elite Eight), there is just one NCAA Tournament win on this list — Creighton who won one game as a 3-seed in 2014. Otherwise, every single team on this list crapped out in their first tournament game.
I’m not saying this is what is in TCU’s future, but there is a historical trend here. If TCU truly wants to have a viable chance of making some noise in March, they have to get better on the defensive end of the court.
I’ve written plenty this season about Texas’ issues with perimeter shooting. Let’s give an update.
Here is Texas’ 3-point shooting performance by game, with a trendline shown.
Slowly, Texas is improving since the beginning of the year. The trendline has a slight uptick since the start of the season, and their Big 12 performances thus far have been better. They’re currently shooting 34.2% in Big 12 games after shooting just 28.3% in non-conference games. Is it a blip or is it a trend we can count on moving forward? We’ll have to wait and see.
But there have been encouraging signs out of individual players. Eric Davis is shooting 13-32 (41%) in Big 12 action. Dylan Osetkowski is 12-32 (38%) in Big 12 play. Both of these two are shooting much better in the last five games than they had in the previous 12. Can they keep it up? Texas fans are hoping so.
Texas Tech Red Raiders:
Zhaire Smith has been a revelation for Texas Tech. As a freshman, he’s contributing way more than I, and many others, expected. Smith has been efficient on offense, a distruptor on the defensive side of the court, and he’s been playing enough minutes to impact the game frequently. Let’s check some player comps for him using Play Index.
Here are the parameters for this query (sorted by PPG):
• Averaged 10 PPG or mroe
• Offensive Rating greater than or equal to 130
• Steal % greater than 2
• Block % greater than 5
|1||Brice Johnson||SR||2015-16||F||North Carolina||ACC||40||28.0||10.4||1.5||1.1||1.5||18.2||33.0||.617||11.7||28.5||20.4||9.7||2.2||5.5||25.0||130.2||92.3||7.3||6.2||13.4|
|5||Zhaire Smith||FR||2017-18||G||Texas Tech||Big 12||17||24.0||4.4||1.6||1.1||1.0||10.2||25.2||.614||9.7||11.9||10.8||12.2||2.7||5.3||18.1||135.1||86.8||6.3||7.3||13.6|
|6||Jordan Parks||JR||2013-14||G||North Carolina Central||MEAC||34||19.0||5.6||0.6||0.8||1.1||10.1||30.6||.675||15.9||19.5||17.8||8.1||2.5||7.3||23.6||130.3||85.8||4.8||3.9||8.7|
Any time you’re on the same list as Anthony Davis is a pleasant surprise. Brice Johnson and Gary Clark certainly isn’t bad company either.
Smith is going to be a major impact player for Texas Tech for multiple years. With the amount of seniors on this team, he could be the main guy for Texas Tech next season. For now, enjoy his play in a reduced role — he’s incredibly (shockingly) efficient and he’s a tremendous defensive player.
West Virginia Mountaineers:
Jevon Carter’s impact can never be overstated. He is West Virginia’s best player on both sides of the court, hugely impacting every game on both offense and defense. The offense runs through him, and their Press Virginia defense depends on his on-ball, intense ball pressure defense. How common is his type of impact? To Play Index!
Here were the parameters for this query (sorted by PPG):
• Steal % greater than 5%
• Defensive Box Plus/Minus greater than 5
• PPG greater than 16.0 PPG
• Usage rate greater than 22%
Any of these advanced statistics like Defensive Box Plus/Minus or Usage Rate only go back to 2011 in College Basketball Reference, so only players from the last eight seasons could be found in this query. Here’s the list.
|1||Marcus Smart||SO||2013-14||G||Oklahoma State||Big 12||31||1014||18.0||26.9||.486||10.2||30.1||5.0||1.9||29.2||114.3||92.3||8.0||5.5||13.5|
|2||Jevon Carter||SR||2017-18||G||West Virginia||Big 12||18||620||16.7||24.9||.498||8.1||33.5||5.5||1.8||23.2||120.2||85.5||7.4||5.9||13.3|
Two Big 12 players in Carter and Marcus Smart. That’s it. Smart was a disruptor on defense in college, and he’s been able to do the same in the NBA, despite being an awful shooter. Could Carter do the same? Perhaps. He’s a touch smaller than Smart, but he is a better shooter. Could he get run in the NBA at some point? I think it’s possible because of his defense. He’s the best backcourt defender in college basketball; that could translate to the next level.