Most Big 12 Conference coaches are impressed that Kansas keeps winning despite the loss of powerhouse senior forward Wayne Simien.
Simien underwent surgery on his left thumb to repair a ligament that had pulled away from the bone on Dec. 19. Estimates said he would be out for four to six weeks.
Even without Simien, who was averaging a double-double for Kansas, the Jayhawks (11-0) are undefeated. The team is on a four-game winning streak without Simien including a 65-60 victory against then undefeated Texas A&M in the conference opener.
Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton said the Jayhawks impress him every week. He said when Simien returns Kansas will be “dynamite” and could be the best team in the nation.
Sutton said he is even a big Kansas supporter.
“Except for when we play them, I cheer for those Jayhawks as hard as anybody,” Sutton said.
Texas A&M coach Billie Gillispie, who formerly coached with Kansas’ Bill Self, was also impressed with the Jayhawks’ play.
“We caught Kansas at a good time,” Gillispie said.
He said his players played as hard and as well as they could but still fell short in Lawrence, Kans.
Missouri coach Quin Snyder said that Kansas has continued to win because senior leaders such as Aaron Miles have really shouldered the load in Simien’s absence.
Kansas’ play without Simien has some people talking about the possibility of the Jayhawks finishing the season undefeated after he returns.
Self said it’s a little early in the season for that kind of prediction, though. He said it was a possibility, though.
“I do think we have a chance to win every game that we go into,” Self said. “Every coach believes that.”
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Oklahoma forward Kevin Bookout was the Big 12 player of the week. Bookout, a 6-8 junior, had a career-high 27 points in 25 minutes in an 85-55 win against Colorado.
Bookout hit 13-of-14 shots and pulled down 11 rebounds. He also leads the conference with a 68.4 percent field-goal percentage.
ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Texas freshman Daniel Gibson received rookie of the week honors for his leading role in Longhorn victories against Memphis and Baylor.
Gibson averaged 17.5 points, four rebounds and three assists. He shot 45.5 percent from the field and 43.8 percent from behind the arc.