A look at the upcoming week around the Big 12 Conference:
GAME OF THE WEEKEND
After a couple of high-profile Big 12 games during the first true week of conference play, the Big 12 steps back for a long break over the holidays. Nobody has a game until Tuesday, when a handful of teams play non-league games. All of them should be easy wins for the Big 12, though Kansas State may be most vulnerable in its game against Omaha.
Might as well skip ahead to the first weekend of the new year, when the Big 12 gets back to league play in a big way. No. 3 Kansas, which is fresh off back-to-back wins over Texas Tech and West Virginia, welcomes No. 10 Texas to Allen Fieldhouse in another matchup of top-10 teams. Second-ranked Baylor hopes to be in action at Iowa State, the seventh-ranked Mountaineers head to Oklahoma and No. 15 Texas Tech gets a visit from Oklahoma State.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
RJ Nembhard of TCU has been the breakout player of the non-conference portion of the season. The junior forward averaged 12.1 points a year ago, but his numbers have shot up to 18.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists this season. He’s been over 20 points in four of the past six games, and he had 23 against Northwestern State and 16 against Texas A&M in the others.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The Big 12 has gone 50-12 against other league opponents with five of those losses to Top 25 teams. That win percentage ranks second nationally. Four out of its 10 teams are ranked. … TCU’s Kevin Samuel was the Big 12 player of the week and Texas freshman Greg Brown the league’s top newcomer. … Baylor has scored at least 80 points in six straight games for the first time since 1994. … Iowa State held Jackson State to 24.1% from the field, the lowest shooting percentage by a Cyclones opponent in nearly six years. … Kansas set a school record with 37 3-point attempts against West Virginia. The Jayhawks made 16 of them, one shy of the record for a conference game. … Kansas State hit nine 3s in the first half and 11 overall in a win over Jacksonville.
ON THE WOMEN’S SIDE
Like the men, the Big 12 is taking most of the holiday weekend off on the women’s side. No. 20 Texas joins Kansas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma in playing non-conference games Tuesday before the league schedule resumes again after New Year’s Day. … Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith averaged 20.3 points per game, shot 64.4% from the floor and pulled down nine rebounds a game in earning Big 12 player of the week honors last week. Her teammate Hannah Gusters was the freshman of the week after averaging 15.5 points for the Lady Bears. … Iowa State standout Ashley Joens leads the Big 12 and moved into fifth place nationally with 27 points per game. Charli Collier of Texas ranks in the top 20 nationally at 24.1 per game.