Wizards

Several bowl bids up for grabs in Big 12

201211101647604654682-p2.jpeg

Several bowl bids up for grabs in Big 12

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) The Big 12's attention is on Kansas State's national championship dreams, yet there is plenty left to be decided in the conference over the final weeks.

Six teams are bowl eligible, with Iowa State, West Virginia and Baylor still battling for chances to fill out the league's bowl slots.

Kansas State (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) can clinch at least a share of its first conference championship since 2003 with a win Saturday night at Baylor. The Wildcats moved into the top spot in the Bowl Championship Series rankings after Alabama lost to Texas A&M.

``We're just honored to be there,'' Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said Monday. ``I'm just going to encourage our guys to not change the way we approach things and try to stay grounded.''

With conferences limited to two teams in BCS bowls, four schools from the Southeastern Conference currently ranked in the top 10 will be left out, opening chances for teams like No. 13 Oklahoma and No. 18 Texas. If Kansas State gets the league's automatic berth, the Sooners and Longhorns would be eliminated from consideration for at-large berths with another loss.

``There's a lot of scenarios by the end of the year for everybody,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ``Everybody wants to define it already. Let's face it, everybody had Alabama already going undefeated and that didn't happen. So there's a lot that's going to happen in the next 2-3 weeks. There's a lot of scenarios. Let's just keep playing and doing our part.''

The Sooners (7-2, 5-1) have won five straight conference games since losing the opener to Kansas State. Oklahoma has road games remaining at Big 12 newcomers West Virginia and TCU sandwiched around the Nov. 24 rivalry game at home with Oklahoma State.

To stay in BCS contention, the Longhorns (8-2, 5-2) would need a home win on Thanksgiving against a TCU team that's 3-1 on the road in conference play, then beat Kansas State in the regular-season finale on Dec. 1 in Manhattan, Kan.

Texas has won four straight since back-to-back losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma raised new speculation that Longhorns coach Mack Brown may consider retiring. Not only did Brown quickly dismiss the suggestions, his players have turned the season around.

``The guys have just understood that we didn't play well at times against West Virginia. We didn't play well at all against Oklahoma,'' Brown said. ``I think they just circled the wagons. Young guys are growing up on defense. The offense continues to build and grow.

``The biggest thing is they quit listening to any outside sources and went back to work. And they understood that the only thing that's important when it comes to football is the product that we put on the field. And for two weeks, the product wasn't very good and it needed to get better. Now we've got to finish strong.''

Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and TCU are bowl eligible. Not counting the BCS, the Big 12 has tie-ins to seven bowls and would look for a possible open slot elsewhere if more Big 12 teams than bowls are available.

Iowa State (5-5, 2-5) plays at one-win Kansas on Saturday and finishes the regular season at home against West Virginia on Nov. 23. The Cyclones are looking for their second straight bowl appearance.

Over the summer, the Oklahoma-West Virginia game was envisioned as having title implications.

Instead, West Virginia (5-4, 2-4) is fighting to keep a 10-year streak of going to bowls intact. The Mountaineers have lost four straight games, their longest losing streak in 11 years.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen still envisions Oklahoma's first visit to Morgantown as exciting, especially for the fans.

``They've had it circled for a while because OU is such a storied program,'' Holgorsen said.

In addition to playing Oklahoma and Iowa State, West Virginia finishes the regular season at home Dec. 1 against Kansas.

Baylor (4-5, 1-5) needs two wins in its final three games to have the chance of going to an unprecedented third straight bowl.

The Bears' uphill trek starts Saturday at home against Kansas State, followed by a Nov. 24 matchup with No. 23 Texas Tech at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, and a Dec. 1 home game against Oklahoma State.

Quick Links

Wizards destroy Raptors behind Bradley Beal's breakout effort, move series to 2-1

Wizards destroy Raptors behind Bradley Beal's breakout effort, move series to 2-1

The Washington Wizards beat the Toronto Raptors 122-103 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Wizards show some fight: The Washington Wizards who punch back, who play with an edge and impose their will on opponents physically and mentally, the team that initiates contact and trash-talks their foes into misery, that team finally showed up in the 2018 NBA Playoffs on Friday night and did so at the perfect time. With an 0-2 deficit and following a blowout loss three days before, the Wizards pulled themselves up off the mat and struck the Raptors with a message-sending blow that may have saved their season.

They blasted Toronto in a convincing win that looked a whole lot like the proverbial switch had been flipped. Their best players played to their capabilities on both ends of the floor and there was nothing the Raptors, as good as they are, could do about it. The net result is a 2-1 series and some newfound belief that an upset is possible.

It was just one game and anyone who has watched this team all season knows there are two very different versions of the Wizards. They aren't in the clear until they are actually in the clear.

But it would be hard to not to find encouragement in exactly how the Wizards won this game. They forced the Raptors into 19 turnovers and held their bench to 32 points, many of which came late when the game was decided. Washington shot 55.3 percent against one of the NBA's best defenses.

Bradley Beal (28 points) finally looked like himself. John Wall (28 points) was dominant and pumping up the crowd. Marcin Gortat (16 points), who almost lost his starting job, stepped up with several timely buckets. Mike Scott (12 points, 4-for-4 FG) played well for the third straight game.

Everything clicked and now we have ourselves a series.

Beal woke up: The fabled monster of the spring known as Playoff Beal showed up on Friday and announced his presence early. After the worst performance of his playoff career in Game 2, Beal broke out in a big way with a colossal first half of 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting.

Beal scored just nine points in Game 2, but surpassed that in about 10 minutes in Game 3. By halftime, he had more threes (four) than he did in his first two games this series combined.

Very quickly in the first quarter Beal looked different. His first bucket came on a turnaround fadeaway off the glass. From there his confidence grew as three-point shots fell one after another, whether he was guarded or not.

Beal finished with 28 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals. in between Games 2 and 3, head coach Scott Brooks held a meeting with Beal and John Wall, hoping to find Beal more opportunities. There may or may not have been an apology issued on Brooks' part.

Whatever the nature of the discussion, it seemed to work. Wall and Brooks told Beal to be more aggressive and that's exactly what happened. Beal looked much more like the guy who averaged 28.8 points against the Raptors during the regular season and was largely dominant vs. this very same team and without Wall to help out.

Wall needs some attention, too. He looked like the best player on the court for much of the game and accrued a ridiculous line of 28 points, 14 assists, six rebounds, four steals and a block, of the chasedown variety of course.

Oubre lit a spark: Beal did most of the heavy lifting early, but Kelly Oubre, Jr. also deserves credit for the first half surge by the Wizards. He was all sorts of active on both ends of the floor. In one sequence he blocked a shot, dunked it on the other end, took a charge and then dunked once more. 

Each time, Oubre let out one of his signature screams to the crowd. He was making plays and infusing energy into the team. That's the stuff Brooks wants to see from Oubre. Many people, including Oubre, obsess over his three-point shooting but defense and hustle plays are really the name of the game for him.

Oubre ended up with 12 points, four rebounds and shot 5-for-9 from the field.

Playoff basketball: The tone may have been set early by Markieff Morris. After two games where the Wizards didn't show much fight, Morris literally almost got in one. 

After hitting the deck on a collision with OG Anunoby, Morris got up and shoved both him and Serge Ibaka. Double technicals were assessed and one could argue Morris lost his cool on the play. The counter to that would be the Wizards needed to show some fire and Morris was sending a message. Given he wasn't kicked out of the game, it wasn't too costly.

Here is the whole sequence:

That's the playoff version of Morris we remember and it may have rubbed off on his teammates. In the third quarter, more animosity broke out after Jonas Valanciunas was called for an offensive foul on Marcin Gortat. Beal went after the ball and that started a big argument between the teams, highlighted by Wall and Ibaka needing to be separated by Wizards bodyguard Dave Best. 

The arena was playing Tupac's 'Ambitionz az a Ridah' as it all went down, invoking memories of the 'Death Row D.C.' days of last season. Wall is, of course, Tupac according to the Morris-conceived metaphor.

The end result was technicals for Beal, Wall and Ibaka. That, and the realization that this series is now a lot more fun.

Up next: Game 4 is on Sunday at Capital One Arena. Tipoff will be at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington with pregame coverage starting at 5 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

It took three minutes for the Wizards and Raptors to get into a Game 3 altercation

It took three minutes for the Wizards and Raptors to get into a Game 3 altercation

WASHINGTON —  It didn't take long for playoff basketball to escalate in the nation’s capital.

Less than three minutes to be exact.

On only the fifth possession of Game 3 between the Wizards and Raptors at Capital One Arena, Wizards forward Markieff Morris and Raptors forward OG Anunoby got tangled up and let their emotions out.

From the initial look it appeared that Morris just got tripped up in setting a screen, but if you look more closely, Anunoby appeared to pull down Morris from the back.

Even though a foul was called, Morris made sure that Anunoby knew his displeasure and even threw an extra shove at Serge Ibaka.

Both Morris and Anunoby received a technical foul after the altercation.

Once again the Wizards getting physical in a playoff series. 

MORE ON THE WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

THE DRAKE-WIZARDS TRASH TALK WON'T STOP

HISTORIC ODDS FOR TEAMS THAT GO DOWN 0-2

BROOKS MAY CHANGE STARTING LINEUP FOR GAME 3