Homecourt edge

Big 12 coaches credit enthusiastic fans for league’s
record nonconference winning percentage
Tuesday, January 18, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:44 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

After a couple of weeks of conference play, the Big 12 Conference has shown much parity. A lot of credit belongs to the fans.

Most Big 12 coaches agree that conference venues are some of the toughest places to play in the nation. Big 12 fans have made it tougher than ever this year. For the first time, the Big 12’s nonconference record broke the .800 mark with 109 wins and 27 losses.

The .801 percentage is second best in the country and is barely behind the Atlantic Coast Conference, which has won 80.8 percent of its nonconference games.

Oklahoma State assistant coach Sean Sutton said the conference would not be doing as well if Big 12’s fans weren’t as good as they are.

The Cowboys play in Gallagher-Iba Arena, which is touted as one of the rowdiest college venues. It helps that the design of the arena packs fans together just a few feet from the court.

“We would not have the record at home if our arena was not designed like it was and our fans weren’t into the games,” Sutton said.

Kansas coach Bill Self said Jayhawks fans at Allen Field House in Lawrence, Kan. were priceless. He said he had never been to a better venue.

“One great thing that Allen Field House has done for us is when we needed them the most, they were the best,” Self said.

Allen Field House and Gallagher-Iba Arena are considered the two toughest places to play in the Big 12 and it’s no coincidence Kansas and Oklahoma State lead the conference.

While KU and OSU may be the toughest places to play, fans at other conference arenas can also certainly make opposing teams regret taking the floor, giving new meaning to home-court advantage.

To prepare for the tough road trips, some Big 12 coaches made sure their team prepared during the nonconference season.

“The road games are really tough situations,” Barry Collier, the Nebraska coach, said. “I think we’ve helped ourselves by playing on the road a few times already.”

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kansas’ Wayne Simien earned Player of the Week honors in his first week back after surgery on his left hand. In two games he averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds. He also shot 56 percent from the field.

Against Colorado, Simien had a double-double in the first half with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Simien received the award for the fourth time in his career.

ROOKIE OF THE WEEK: Taj Gray, a junior forward from Oklahoma, received Rookie of the Week honors for the third time this season. In victories against Connecticut and Baylor, Gray averaged 18 points and nine rebounds.

This season he leads Oklahoma in scoring with 15.4 points per game, rebounds with 8.5 per game and blocks with 27.

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