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Conley shows potential’s real

Tuesday, February 24, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:37 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Coaches around the Big 12 Conference have noticed Jason Conley’s recent offensive excellence.

After Conley, a 6-foot-5 guard, scored 24 points in Missouri’s 70-66 win at Baylor on Saturday, some of the Big 12’s coaches discussed Conley’s impact in the weekly teleconference.

During the Tigers’ four-game winning streak, Conley has averaged 16.8 points, making 59 percent from the field. He has also made 13-of-24 3-pointers.

“He looks like he’s getting more and more comfortable,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “You knew the reputation coming in. One thing a lot of coaches have experienced when you bring a guy in the middle of the year, it takes some transition period to get them in the flow and get your team all on the same page. I think right now he’s feeling very comfortable, and the team is feeling very comfortable with him.”

Drew had a firsthand view of Conley’s offensive impact Saturday. With the Tigers’ big men on the bench with foul trouble against Baylor, Conley jump-started a 17-4 first-half run, which allowed the Tigers to retake the lead. Conley hit two 3-pointers during the run, including one from NBA range.

Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton said Conley is one of the reasons the Tigers (13-10, 7-5) started their recent four-game winning streak.

“I think Conley has really been a spark plug for them,” Sutton said. “He was dynamite in the game against Baylor on Saturday.”

With the injuries to freshman forward Linas Kleiza and senior guard Josh Kroenke, extra minutes became available, and Conley exploited his opportunity. Since the Tigers’ game at Kansas, Conley has played 23.2 minutes per game.

His offensive production has increased along with the extra playing time. Conley has scored in double figures in five straight games, averaging 15.8 points.

“It’s been a steady progression,” Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. “You’ve seen it in practice. I like the way he impacted the game against Baylor.”

Baylor, as other teams have, attempted to shut down the Tigers’ inside game with a zone, but Conley shot over it. When Conley’s perimeter shots are falling, the interior should open for the Tigers’ big men as well.

Snyder said, though, Conley will probably not start against Oklahoma State today because of the valuable contributions he provides from the bench. In addition, Snyder said he does not want to remove freshman guard Thomas Gardner, the team’s best on-ball defender.

AGGIES’ ANGUISH CONTINUES:

Despite holding second-half leads in seven Big 12 games, Texas A&M remains the only Big 12 team without a conference win, but coach Melvin Watkins said his team isn’t ready to give up on the season.

“Actually, they’ve done a pretty good job of (holding up),” Watkins said. “Except for the last couple games, we’ve been playing pretty good, just making mental mistakes at the wrong time and not being able to finish games off.

“We hope we can get the kids spirit back and finish this home run all the way out.”

The Aggies (7-16, 0-12) lost badly in road games at Texas on Wednesday and Texas Tech on Saturday, but in 10 of their 12 losses, the Aggies were within five points at halftime and had leads in three of those games.

Watkins said he remains optimistic about the four games the Aggies’ have left, which includes a home game against Baylor on Wednesday.

“As you look at this program and where it has been, I still believe it can be done here,” Watkins said. “Surely, I think A&M basketball can be better than what it has been.”

SCORING RECORD BROKEN:

Texas Tech senior Andre Emmett became the Big 12’s all-time leading scorer with 2,112 points.

Emmett had 18 against Texas A&M on Saturday.

Kansas’ Nick Collison held the record with 2,097.

Emmett needs 79 points to set the record for career points in Big 12 games. Texas A&M’s Bernard King has that record with 1,123.

WEEKLY HONORS:

After helping his team to two wins this week, Texas senior guard Brandon Mouton received the Big 12 Player of the Week Award on Monday.

Mouton, who has scored more than 20 points in three straight games, had a game-high 25 points at Oklahoma on Saturday. For the week, he averaged 22.5, making 59 percent of his shots.

Junior forward Joey Graham, who transferred to Oklahoma State before the season, averaged 24.5 points for the Cowboys and received the Big 12 Rookie of the Week award.

Graham scored a career-high 36 in the Cowboys’ 87-83 overtime victory against Nebraska on Saturday. Graham’s scoring output was the most for a Cowboy since Randy Rutherford had 45 against Kansas in 1995. Graham also won the honor Jan. 26.


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