NORMAN — Teams from around the league agreed that the Big 12 is a solid basketball conference.
Texas Tech coach Chris Walker said he could see five or six teams making it into the NCAA Tournament.
During the weekly coaches call, which was before any Monday games were played, Kansas ranked first in the conference, then Kansas State and then a cluster of teams — including Oklahoma and Oklahoma State — were all with three Big 12 losses at third.
With so many freshmen, Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said he thinks some people thought this would be a rebuilding year, but with the surges from Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Baylor's Isaiah Austin and Kansas' Ben McLemore, Weber said that's clearly not the case.
“It's going to be a very competitive second half of the season,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said.
It will all come down to who can win at home and steal victories on the road — and who will make it to March.
“When the league prospers, everyone prospers,” Walker said.
OKSTATE: THE HOTTEST TEAM IN THE CONFERENCE
The mention of Oklahoma State got a lot of coaches talking.
Both Smart and Markel Brown received high praise from coaches such as Hoiberg and Baylor coach Scott Drew.
“Markel's one of those players that when he gets going it's really hard to stop them,” Drew said. “In our place, he obviously didn't play like he did at Kansas. Their team is very capable of having big games. That's what makes them so dangerous that at the end of the night, they have someone that can score 20 or 25.”
Smart finished with 25 points against the Jayhawks, while Brown led with 28.
Kansas coach Bill Self said he believes Smart will challenge Jayhawks guard Ben McLemore for National Freshman of the Year.
BEWARE OF HILTON COLISEUM
Before the tip between Iowa State and Oklahoma on Monday night, the Cyclones had won 19 consecutive games at Hilton Coliseum.
Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg tipped his hat to the fans for the Cyclones' hot home streak. Then he said this:
“I've always believed Hilton Coliseum is one of the most underrated arenas in college basketball.”
TRAVEL TOUGH FOR MOUNTAINEERS
Every time West Virginia plays a Big 12 game on the road, they play in a different time zone.
The Mountaineers, who are on Eastern Standard Time in Morgantown, W.Va., fly into the Central Standard Time zone. The basketball team, in its first year in the league, has already noticed the effects.
WVU coach Bob Huggins said in the future, the athletic program is going to be more aware about scheduling nonconference games — like the ones the Mountaineers had against Big Ten teams Purdue and Ohio State — during the conference season.
“We've tried to bring attractive nonconference teams in,” Huggins said. “What we need to do probably is try to keep those games out of the conference schedule.”