NCAA

Big 12 picture clearing up at midway point

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Big 12 picture clearing up at midway point

The Big 12 season is halfway done, with every team having played at least four league games, and this Saturday shapes up as a big one for teams across the conference.

There have been plenty of surprises so far, none bigger than Kansas State being picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll and instead standing third in the country and second in the BCS.

Here's a glimpse at what's ahead, starting with the meaningful games this weekend:

CAN KANSAS STATE CLOSE IT OUT?

Bill Snyder's Wildcats (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) can eliminate nearly all the drama in the conference title race by winning at home against Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1). With a victory Saturday night, K-State would then have to lose two of its remaining three games against TCU, Baylor and Texas to fall short of the conference championship.

Every game is huge at this point for any team in the national title chase but while this one may not get the same billing as the last two - against West Virginia and Texas Tech - the defending champion Cowboys pose the most direct threat to Kansas State claiming the conference crown. OSU doesn't need help from anyone else, but would have to win four straight games against ranked teams.

``I think they know that we have the opportunity to control our own destiny but they also feel like we're certainly not in any position to look beyond the next game,'' coach Mike Gundy said Monday.

``We're getting ready to play the second-ranked team in the country and we'll have our hands full just traveling up to Manhattan.''

None of the teams left on the Wildcats' schedule are currently in the Top 25.

``They've got a great chance to run the table. They're definitely one of the better teams in the country,'' Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said, having lost 55-24 at K-State on Saturday.

``They're more like an SEC team than a Big 12 team, ho they play defense, how they play offense, so I think they've got a great chance.''

WILL WEST VIRGINIA REBOUND?

Not long ago, the Mountaineers (5-2) were preseason favorites and quarterback Geno Smith was the Heisman Trophy front-runner. Now, they're practically afterthoughts.

Dana Holgorsen and Co. had an off week to pick up the pieces and will host fellow Big 12 newcomer TCU on Saturday.

``There was a pretty good sense of urgency last week. The attention to detail tends to pick up when you get beat, if the makeup of your team is what you want it to be,'' Holgorsen said.

Holgorsen said he thinks players can forget their fundamentals during the grind of the season and the off week was a good chance to re-focus.

``There's a whole bunch of good 5-2 football teams out there. Just because we've dropped the last two doesn't mean that we're a bad football team,'' he said.

WHO'S PLAYING QUARTERBACK?

While there has been steady play at the top from the likes of Klein, Texas Tech's Seth Doege and Oklahoma's Landry Jones, there's been more shuffling than usual at the quarterback position in the Big 12.

Injuries forced Oklahoma State to replace Wes Lunt with J.W. Walsh and then bring Lunt back last week. TCU went with Trevone Boykin after Casey Pachall was arrested and suspended indefinitely.

And then there were the changes related to effectiveness: Kansas switched from Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist to Michael Cummings and a run-based attack, and Iowa State started with Steele Jantz, then turned to Jared Barnett and then back to Jantz in time for him to set career-highs with 381 yards passing and five TDs in a win over Baylor.

``He was not doing some things effective enough, and that's why we made a change at one point this season, but 4-1 as a starter is pretty dang good,'' coach Paul Rhoads said. ``I think it's overshadowed by the fact that he had his best game as an Iowa State Cyclone this Saturday night.''

Texas coach Mack Brown announced Monday that he was sticking with David Ash, even after Case McCoy replaced him for the game-winning drive against Kansas.

WHO'S HEADED WHERE IN THE POSTSEASON?

Kansas State, Texas and Texas Tech are already bowl eligible and another five teams are sitting on five wins, hoping to qualify for the postseason this week - Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and West Virginia.

It's all but impossible at this point to project who will end up where among the league's six bowl partners, with the potential for two to make the BCS.

``We're trying to get one more ballgame so that we can get the extra practices and get to a bowl game,'' TCU's Gary Patterson said. ``And if you can get to six, then you're going to try to get to seven. If you get to seven, then you try to get to eight.''

WHO WILL FINISH LAST?

Kansas dropped its 16th straight conference game Saturday, falling just short when Texas scored with 12 seconds left for a 21-17 win. But the Jayhawks (1-7, 0-5) can climb out of the cellar this week at winless Baylor (3-4, 0-4), which has reverted to its pre-Robert Griffin III ways.

``There's definitely things you can look at and say you're getting better here, you're getting better here, you're getting better here. But still at the end of the day, it's still about winning,'' Weis said. ``Regardless of whether you played tough, played close,

``Are there silver linings? Yes, there are. But it still comes down to you've lost 100 in a row in the Big 12, at home and on the road, and you need to beat somebody so you can start moving that trend in a different direction.''

Old Dominion at Syracuse Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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USA Today Sports

Old Dominion at Syracuse Basketball: Date, Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Following a thrilling 72-71 win over rival Georgetown, Syracuse (7-2) returns to the floor on Dec. 15 and welcomes Old Dominion (7-3) to town. The Orange will play four more non-conference games before starting ACC play on Jan. 5 at Notre Dame.

Old Dominion has won five-straight games entering their game against Syracuse. In the Monarchs' last game, B.J. Stith led the way with 28 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. 

Tip-off is scheduled for noon ET and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

Old Dominion at Syracuse How to Watch

What: Old Dominion Monarchs at Syracuse Orange
Where: Carrier Dome, Syracuse, N.Y.
When: Noon ET
TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Old Dominion at Syracuse Preview

Conference: ACC (Syracuse), C-USA (Old Dominion)
Record: 7-2 (Syracuse), 7-3 (Old Dominion)
Last Game: 72-71 win vs. Georgetown, 12/8 (Syracuse), 79-69 win vs. Fairfield, 12/9 (Old Dominion)
Leading Scorers: Tyus Battle, 18.0 ppg (Syracuse), Ahmad Caver, 18.5 ppg (Old Dominion)
 

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Drew Gooden describes playing with LeBron James: It was 'like a traveling rock band'

Drew Gooden describes playing with LeBron James: It was 'like a traveling rock band'

LeBron James and the media circus that comes along with him is coming to Washington, D.C., as the Lakers will face off with the Wizards at Capital One Arena.

Drew Gooden played with James for the better part of four seasons in Cleveland from 2004-08, and so he knows exactly what it's like when one of the NBA's greatest players comes to town. 

"It's only real until you actually see it," Gooden said during Thursday's edition of the Wizards Talk podcast. "We used to joke and call ourselves not the Beatles, but the 'Cleatles,' because it was almost like a traveling rock band. And everybody played their part."

Gooden recounted one particular incident during a day off in Detroit in 2006, when he, James and a couple of their teammates went to a shopping mall to buy some watches.

"When we walked into the shopping mall in Detroit, it was like Michael Jackson had entered the shopping mall," Gooden explained. "Kids were running up, grownups were running up, everybody ran into the store we were in. They had to shut it down with mall security, and wouldn't let anybody in."

"The only thing I was thinking of is like, 'How are we gonna get out of here?' Because we came on our own with no security, so we were just thinking of how we were gonna get out of the mall now. And when I saw that star power of LeBron James back in 2006, this was before he won a championship, I couldn't imagine how it is now, and what he's become in today's game."

James' star power has only grown since then, and many have already declared him the greatest basketball player of all-time.

This label in reference to James is nothing new to Drew Gooden: he heard it when they were both teenagers playing AAU baskeball. 

"Calvin Andrews, who was a sports agent of Carmelo Anthony, Calvin Andrews told me when LeBron was 15 years of age, he said, 'You see that guy right there?'" Gooden recalled. "I said, 'Yeah, what about him?'"

"'He's gonna be the best basketball player ever.'"

"So it's no surprise to me, and this is not new to me, it's just I'm more amazed that it actually happened," Gooden concluded. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, he's gonna be the best ever or he has an opportunity of being the best ever.' But I literally heard a man tell me that in Calvin Andrews, and that guy actually becoming one of the best ever, or the best ever." 

For more on LeBron James and the Lakers' upcoming visit to D.C. to take on the Wizards, listen to the full Wizards Talk podcast below.

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