Big XII: Semifinal Wrap-Up

By Jean Neuberger - March 10, 2007

On Reno Avenue, which is closed for the tournament, there are two huge banners draped across the Cox Convention Center, which is across from the Ford Center. The banners have the updated brackets from both the men's and women's tournaments. Tonight, the men's bracket announces the game we've all been waiting for: #1 Kansas vs. #3 Texas for the Big XII Tournament title.

First, the awards:

Kansas didn't wow me over today, and Texas battled for 40 mins, finally getting the clutch shot they needed. Luck always seems to follow the Longhorns, and they've used it to their advantage in the form of Kevin Durant.

PLAYER OF THE DAY: Kevin Durant, Texas
Again he's carried his team on his shoulders. Again he made clutch shots and rebounds. Again, he was the best player on the court. Without Durant, Texas drops from a great team to just a decent one.

It's a runaway for the band in the Big XII carries their energy. Plus, their 80s music and that chanting song is really cool. KU band directors...y'all rock!

MASCOT OF THE DAY: Big Jay, Kansas
Just wasn't much of a choice here. Big Jay's a cool looking bird. Meanwhile, K-State is just a head (seriously, KSU...what is the deal? I'm going to keep fighting that one...if high schools can dress a mascot from head to toe, why can't you guys?), Oklahoma State's Pistol Pete has a head that shows no emotion, and the Texas Longhorn just really looks like he could get clocked at any second.

POM SQUAD OF THE DAY: Oklahoma State
The black cowgirl outfits look good...and the crowd loves them. 18,000 fans can't be wrong, right?

And now, the analysis from today's games.

It hasn't been easy for either team, especially today. Kansas was pushed to the limit against their in-state rival before finally pulling away and finishing off Kansas State. You know it's killing Bob Huggins to have gone 0-3 against the Jayhawks this year, but he should take solace in the fact that Kansas is good. Really, really good. Kansas has fantastic guard play, and their defense in this tournament has been the best of any team. The only weakness I've seen is when Sasha Kaun got in foul trouble. Kaun isn't a defensive animal, but he's a big, tall body that alters shots from the opposition, and when Kaun left the game with his fourth foul today, K-State came roaring back to make it a competitive contest. The key for Kansas tomorrow will be keeping Kaun on the floor, because they'll need him to help contain Kevin Durant.

Texas has found a way to win both nights they've played here. First, they survived being down 18 to beat Baylor in the last minute. They weren't down by that much today, but they were tied going into the last minute, and once again, Kevin Durant stepped up and took control of the game. As good as Durant is, he's going to need the help of AJ Abrams, DJ Augustin, and Craig Winder if he wants to cut some nets down in Oklahoma City tomorrow. Kansas was able to beat Texas by containing Durant and forcing someone else to try and win the game for the Longhorns. No one on their team was able to do it, and KU won the Big XII regular season on that game. Now, they can go for the sweep if they continue to contain the big Texas forward. Texas has to have the game plan of getting Kaun in foul trouble, getting Abrams open for 3-point opportunities, and fighting for every rebound and loose ball, because if given a chance, even if it's just one loose ball, Kansas is talented enough to take it and turn it into a game-changing run.

It should be a fantastic final tomorrow afternoon in Oklahoma City, and I hope everyone comes back to's Hang Time and joins in the live action from the Ford Center. Let's hope that there's no Internet problems though, as there was a one-hour wireless collapse at the women's tournament tonight. Until then, though, we bid you good night from Oklahoma City, where Kansas and Texas will square off with a NCAA automatic bid on the line.

Posted by Jean Neuberger at 10:38 PM on March 10, 2007

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