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Houston 76, Texas 72 (OT)

The Jamal Shead game.

Woo-wee. That mid-range jumper at 16 seconds was filthy.

Big Monday is a big deal and is the Big 12’s marquee event. Texas and Houston both rose to the magnitude of this standalone game. Coming off a dominant performance against Kansas State, the Houston Cougars were ready to go from the start. Jamal Shead was on a mission in the first half and looked like he took the Max Abmas matchup personally. Shead was out to prove that he was the best point guard in the Big 12 and the country.

The Cougars had full control of the game up 41-30 with 17:40 left to play. But Texas was desperate and bulled its way back into the game mounting a seismic 24-7 run to take a 54-48 lead with 7:50 left to play. Tyrese Hunter, Abmas, and Dylan Disu beat the Houston traps and got out in transition so they did not have to face Houston’s set defense.

The Longhorns had all the momentum and looked poised to close out the Cougars and get back to .500 in the conference. But unfortunately for Texas, the other team had Shead, who scored eight of Houston’s next 11 points to retake the lead.

Tied at 65-65 with 20 seconds left in regulation, Shead had a shot to win it over Abmas, but he missed it wide right.

Free basketball!

Generating offense was a struggle for both teams in overtime and the game came down to two crucial offensive rebounds from Houston’s Joe Tugler. The first was a putback dunk with authority. The second offensive board set up a J’wan Roberts finish at the basket to put Houston up 72-70. On the next possession, Texas got Abmas driving downhill but he couldn’t finish the layup. Houston secured the loose ball to hold on to win another nail-biter on the road. Shead the “point god” and the Cougars escape the Moody center to improve their win streak to six games and move into first place in the Big 12.

Next up: A top-10 tilt between Houston and Kansas while Texas is on the road at TCU.

TCU 85, Texas Tech 78

Pop Isaacs was not playing around Tuesday night in Fort Worth. He popped off early, beating Horned Frog defenders off the dribble and he made some incredibly tough shots en route to a 27-16 lead halfway through the first half.

TCU came off of a triple-overtime thriller against Baylor on Saturday, so it was no surprise that it got off to a slow start. But eventually, things clicked into place and TCU went nuclear. The Horned Frogs closed the half on a 23-9 run to take a 40-36 lead at halftime. The Red Raiders are a dangerous team when they get hot but the erraticness of their guards often results in prolonged cold stretches because of the amount of tough shots Isaacs and Joe Toussaint take.

In the second half, it was a war of attrition. Surprisingly, Texas Tech appeared to be the team that didn’t have their legs to close the game because this was the Red Raiders’ fourth straight game against a ranked opponent.

Every Big 12 game is a grind.

TCU’s efficient shooting and physical play ended up being too much for Texas Tech. The Horned Frogs’ Trevian Tennyson scored a game-high 23 points including four 3-point makes leading TCU to its best shooting night this season. The Horned Frogs shot 11 of 20 from behind the 3-point line, a season-high in both makes and percentage.

With the loss the Red Raiders drop to second place in the Big 12 at 5-2 and Houston moves into sole possession of first place. For now.

Next up for both teams: TCU hosts Texas and Texas Tech welcomes Cincinnati to Lubbock looking to get back on track.

Oklahoma 73, Kansas State 53

There is a lot of really good basketball in the Big 12. This game was not one of those. Kansas State made its first field goal at 10:29 left in the first half and even that shot bricked in. That’s all the analysis you need for this game. Oklahoma thoroughly dominated on the road.

Next up: Oklahoma heads to Orlando to face UCF and Kansas State travels to Stillwater to matchup against Oklahoma State.

Kansas 83, Oklahoma State 54

On Tuesday, two top 10 teams North Carolina and Tennessee fell to unranked teams. However, Kansas had no problem disposing of the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

It was that kind of night for Kansas. Everything came easy for the Jayhawks despite the Big 12’s leading scorer Kevin McCullar out due to injury. KJ Adams was phenomenal for the Jayhawks. He scored 16 points on 7 of 7 shooting from the field. Of his seven field goals, three came on alley-oop dunks from his floor general Dejuan Harris. Hunter Dickinson added 16 points of his own.

Up next for Kansas: One of the most anticipated matchups of the season between Kansas and Houston on Saturday. For what looks like the best weekend of the year in college basketball so far, the Cougars and Jayhawks will take center stage. KU is hoping McCullar returns to the court before Saturday and Kansas is back at full strength this weekend.

Baylor 77, UCF 69

A game that featured two of the tallest and longest teams in the country was decided by the little guys. Both rosters showcase multiple big guys at 6-10 or taller but Darius Johnson and RayJ Dennis carried both of their teams in this game.

Early in the game UCF’s Darius Johnson played inspired after losing his grandfather earlier this week. In his previous two games, he scored 12 points on 2/23 shooting from the field. On Wednesday, he scored 16 points on 6/7 shooting from the field which included multiple pull-up 3-point makes in one half. The Golden Knights hit eight threes in the first half to lead 38-32 after 20 minutes of action.

The lead should have been double digits for UCF but RayJ Dennis kept Baylor in the game throwing six assists and setting up Yves Missi for some incredible finishes. Dennis, a transfer from Toledo, has been one of the Big 12’s most impressive newcomers and has been vital in orchestrating the Bear’s high-powered offense this season. That high-powered offense showed up at the end of the game.

The one-two punch between Langston Love and Dennis down the stretch allowed Baylor to get a good look every possession down the stretch of the game. Love, Baylor’s leading scorer in conference play, got going in the second half and scored 24 points to lead his Bears squad. The Bears spammed one of their pet plays Spain pick and roll which had the Golden Knights defense in a pretzel. Not only could UCF not get stops on one end but their offense cooled off significantly in the second half. The Knights had the game in their hands for the first 30 minutes of play but watched it slip away in the final minutes of the game. The Bears’ comeback win snapped a three-game losing streak and got them back to above .500 in league play at 4-3.

Next up: Baylor hosts Iowa State and UCF faces Oklahoma in Orlando.

West Virginia 69, Cincinnati 65

If you look up the definition of ‘rock fight’ in the dictionary, you will see highlights from this game. Cincinnati led 27-23 at halftime in a physical and sloppy game. Of the 10 players that saw action from the Bearcats, nine of them scored in the first half.

Both teams matched their first-half point totals before the under-eight media timeout. The Mountaineers led 50-49 until Cincinnati hit back-to-back-to-back 3-point shots which was a part of an 11-0 run to lead 60-50. That run felt like a knockout blow to West Virginia watching it live. Except the Mountaineers were not dead yet. West Virginia mounted a 17-3 run to close out the Bearcats at home to send Cincinnati head coach Wes Miller and his Bearcat squad in shock wondering how they lost another close game. West Virginia center Jesse Edwards was outstanding. He led the Mountaineers with 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Next up: BYU travels to Morgantown to play West Virginia and Cincinnati travels to Lubbock for a matchup against Texas Tech.

What’s next?

February… the penultimate step to March madness. It’s where conference and national title contenders set themselves apart from the rest of the other 300 plus division one teams in the country. Houston and Kansas appear to be the Big 12’s best shot at making the Final Four. Texas and Kansas State are currently just outside the NCAA tournament according to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi. How will they and other Big 12 bubble teams close out their seasons? Will this Saturday be ‘Separation Saturday’ in the Big 12 or will the log jam in the middle continue? All of these questions will be answered this month and then it’s time for the madness.

Thank goodness February is the shortest month of the year because March is just 29 days away. 

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