Road victories rare in Big 12 this season

Tuesday, February 10, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:13 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Because of parity, winning on the road in the Big 12 Conference is a difficult task.

“It’s like trying to lick your elbow,” Nebraska coach Barry Collier said.

Collier’s Cornhuskers are 0-3 in Big 12 road games, but Collier wasn’t the only coach that talked about the difficulty to win on the road in the Big 12 coaches’ conference call Monday.

Halfway through the conference season, the road teams are 16-33. Oklahoma State, which was the only team to win a road game during the weekend, is 4-1 on the road. It defeated Iowa State, which was previously unbeaten at home, 88-67 on Saturday.

OSU assistant coach James Dickey said the team’s road play, especially its comeback 57-56 win at Kansas State on Jan. 17, has keyed the Cowboys run to the top of the standings.

“This team has really done a job when going on the road in terms of their preparation, their concentration, their intensity level and buying into what coach (Eddie) Sutton wants,” Dickey said. “We feel fortunate to be in the position that we’re in, but we know what can happen.”

Dickey said the No. 10 Cowboys (17-2, 7-1) were in a similar position in 2002-03 but stumbled in the last part of the season.

The Cowboys’ only road loss came in their conference opener at Texas Tech on Jan. 10. Since that 82-63 loss, the Cowboys have won four straight on the road, including a 72-67 win at Texas on Jan. 24.

Kansas coach Bill Self said it is difficult to win road games because of competition from the lower half of the Big 12. Kansas State has lost seven of nine games by a combined 32 points.

“I think the road is tough in any league, but it’s especially tough in a league that has a lot of parity,” Self said. “There are games that if you play well, you’ll have a chance. If you don’t (play well), guaranteed you won’t, which is the way it should be.

“I do think the second-half road games for us, because of where we go and who we play, will be very difficult games.”

The No. 12 Jayhawks (15-5, 7-2), who will play at Nebraska, No. 11 Texas and Missouri, lost 80-60 at Oklahoma State on Monday.

BAYLOR BOUNCING BACK: Picked to finish last in the media and coaches’ preseason polls, Baylor’s recent home wins has surprised many.

The Bears defeated Iowa State 63-59 on Jan. 24 and Texas A&M 72-64 on Saturday.

The murder of Baylor transfer Patrick Dennehy, the arrest of former teammate Carton Dotson and the insuing scandal that forced the resignation of Dave Bliss as coach tore apart the program in the offseason.

The fans are still behind the team though.

“It’s a situation that when the crowd gets behind us at home with the team playing as hard as we have played at home, it gives us a chance to make something special happen at home, and that equals a win,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “It’s more a tribute to the hard work that the players have put in and the support we’ve gotten at the home games.”

Drew said, though, that he thinks it will be difficult for the Bears (7-14, 2-6) to sneak up on teams in future home games.

SIGNIFICANCE OF 6-2: If history is any indication, Kansas, Oklahoma State or Texas will finish the year on top of the Big 12.

Every Big 12 champion has gone 6-2 or better through eight conference games. In 2002-03, the Jayhawks, Cowboys, Longhorns and Oklahoma were all 6-2 or better at this point, and all of them finished in the top four spots.

WEEKLY AWARDS: Oklahoma State junior John Lucas, who averaged 24 points in road wins against Texas A&M and Iowa State, was named Big 12 Player of the Week. In those games, he shot 64 percent from the field and from 3-point range.

Dickey said Lucas, who transferred from Baylor before the season, has taken advantage of the opportunity presented to him and quickly learned the Cowboys’ system.

“Coach (Sutton) and (assistant coach) Sean (Sutton) have given him a lot of freedom when the shot clock is running down,” Dickey said. “At the end of games, we want to put the ball in his hands. So he has a lot of confidence. ”

Lucas, who also won this award Jan. 19, had 10 assists and no turnovers. In conference play, Lucas ranks second in scoring with 17.5 per game.

Kansas State junior Jeremiah Massey was the Rookie of the Week after averaging 22.5 points against Nebraska on Wednesday and Colorado on Saturday.

Massey is the first Wildcats player to win a weekly award this season.

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