After earning byes and foregoing the first seeded Texas Longhorns and the third-seeded Iowa State Cyclones will meet in the quarterfinal round of the 2012 Big 12 Conference Tournament tonight in Kansas City.
Texas earned the tournament's sixth seed by going 19-12 overall and 9-9 in the conference this year, though it went just 2-8 against the five teams that finished ahead of it in the Big 12 standings. The Longhorns haven't been very good outside of Austin, combing for just a 4-9 record between their road and neutral-site affairs. As many consider Texas to be a bubble team at the moment, this game is pretty much a must-win for the 'Horns.
Iowa State shocked many with its 22-9 overall record, and with a late surge of four wins in its final five games, the team was finally able to sneak into the national rankings at No. 25. The Cyclones went an impressive 12-6 in conference play, which included an 80-72 win over Baylor in the regular-season finale, tying the Bears in the standings and winning the head-to-head tie- breaker to earn the tournament's third seed -- their highest seed since earning the top spot in both 2000 and 2001.
Texas has a handle on the all-time series, 14-9, which includes wins in eight of the last nine bouts with the Cyclones. The two teams splits the season series this year with each winning on its home floor.
Texas has been almost perfectly average in the Big 12 this season, racking up solid yet unremarkable numbers in terms of scoring offense (73.3 ppg), scoring defense (66.4 ppg), field goal percentage (.440), rebounding margin (+3.0), and turnover margin (+1.06). Though it has the potential to put up points in bunches, it has not been effective shooting the long ball, ranking last in the conference in three-point field goal percentage (.329). The Longhorns have the league's most prolific scorer on their side in J'Covan Brown (20.0 ppg), who also tallied 3.8 apg, 1.3 spg and 75 three-pointers en route to being named to the All-Big 12 First Team. Sheldon McClellan adds 11.4 ppg to the mix and Myck Kabondo dished out the fourth-most assists in the conference (5.3 apg).
Iowa State's puts up respectable numbers on both offense (73.5 ppg) and defense (66.6 ppg), but where it really shines is from beyond the arc. The Cyclones rank first in the conference and seventh nationally in three-point field goal efficiency, making 279 treys at an impressive 38.2 percent clip. They also defend the perimeter very well, allowing a league-low 30 percent three-point shooting to their opponents. Royce White was the catalyst for the Cyclones all season long, earning First Team All-Big 12 honors as well as the Newcomer of the Year award. White was a menace across the stat sheet, as he was the only player in the nation to lead his team in scoring (12.9 ppg), rebounding (9.2 rpg), assists (5.2 apg), steals (1.2) and blocks (1.0). Assisting White with the scoring load is Scott Christopherson (12.6 ppg) and Chris Allen (12.0 ppg), who between them have drained 133 three-pointers.