March 10, 2023 

Big 12 Tournament Day 1: The madness begins

The Big 12 Tournament kicks off with two exciting matchups

KANSAS CITY – Hearing the brand new Big 12 rap anthem for the first time at the Municipal Auditorium meant it was time for the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Tournament to begin!

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With the Big 12 being the lone Power-5 tournament left, eyes of the selection committee will be on Big 12 teams at different tiers of the tournament. We will have potential Top-16 implications on Day 2, but Day 1 would feature teams around the edge of the 68 teams selected, with Kansas State matching up with Texas Tech and Kansas against TCU.

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Texas Tech vs Kansas State

You have heard the boxing analogies before but I am getting ready to use them again. This game started out with the first quarter as the feeling out process between two opponents. The final five minutes of the fourth quarter felt like the two heavyweights throwing everything they had left.

The duality of Big 12 basketball showed in the first quarter, as this was no Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State. The quarter would end at a narrow 11-8 score with Texas Tech in the lead.

You could tell one player was feeling it even with the low score, Texas Tech senior Bre’Amber Scott. She would drain a three and get a steal for an easy layup in the quarter to get her scoring going. It would be far from her last bucket in the game.

In the second quarter the offensives found their flow. Kansas State’s leading scorers on the night, senior Gabby Gregory and sophomore Serena Sundell, would begin to really find their success in this quarter. All of that success came from inside the arc, however, as the Wildcats would shoot 0-8 from three in the half.

From the blow of the first whistle, the second half felt like a different game. Earlier in the game, K-State wasn’t getting bad shots as much as they were just not making them. Gabby Gregory believed the same.

“We were 0-for-8 from three in the first half, but I still — like we were getting good shots, they just weren’t falling,” Kansas State guard Gabby Gregory said. “I knew going into the second half, [if] we just kept doing what we were doing, pushing the ball, keep the game in transition, that we were going to continue to get those good shots.”

They did keep getting those shots except, in final 20 minutes, they started knocking them down. In the second half the Wildcats shot 58.6% from the field.

In response to that shot making ability, Tech went into a full court press which is when the heavyweight swings started to occur. The game got extremely physical with the press employed by the Lady Raiders. Bodies were flying for the ball everywhere.

As they game made its way to the fourth quarter it increasingly became a battle of wills. Nobody’s was stronger than Tech senior Bre’Amber Scott.

Scott ended up dropping a double-double with 27 points and 10 rebounds including 5-11 from the three point line, tying a career high for made threes in one game. Those 27 points not only kept Tech within reach of this game, they allowed Scott to reach a major individual milestone, her 1,000th career point.

Her scoring and defensive fight on the full-court press brought Texas Tech back into this game after they were down by 11 points at the beginning of the fourth.

Scott’s scoring would be nearly matched by K-State’s Gabby Gregory who ended the day with 26 points. The difference? Gregory would have more help. Serena Sundell dropped a very efficient 19 points on 8-13 shooting from the field.

Ultimately, Kansas State would be the ones to survive and advance in this one with 79-69 win. This was their first win of the season against Texas Tech after dropping the first two matchups. They will be looking to do that again against the No. 1 seed Texas Longhorns, a team they also dropped both regular season games against.

TCU vs Kansas

While this seemed like the easiest game to predict, you know what time of year it is. TCU came into this game 1-17 in the Big 12 this year.

The Frogs sure didn’t play like their regular season squad on the defensive side of the ball. That defense was enough to get them their second Big 12 win of the year in a 57-52 victory over Kansas.

Throughout the entire game TCU was sound on the defensive side of things. Coming into this game Kansas had four of their starters averaging at least 11.9 points per game. All but one of those four, senior Holly Kersgieter (14 points) were held to under double digits for the night.

The lone starter that didn’t average double-figures on the season was guard Chandler Prater. Friday was a special night because it was the one time of the year she got to play in her hometown of Kansas City. And she showed out.

“I thought she was really aggressive. She’s put together back-to-back games where she’s really shot the ball well. And it gives us, I would typically say, a fifth scoring option.” Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider said. “But tonight, obviously, she was kind of the lone option in terms of making shots. And it’s nice to see her confidence continue to grow.”

Prater would end the night with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Unfortunately for her the homecoming was not complete with a win, leaving her to process those emotions after the game.

“I’m going to take this night to cool off, do what I do, get right mentally.” Prater said. “I was really excited to play in Kansas City tonight. And I’m really proud of all the support that I got from my family and friends, from my hometown.”

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The game would come down to the wire as both teams’ largest lead at any point in the game was only six points. Kansas coach Brandon Schneider felt like his team left a lot of those opportunities on the table.

“There’s some stats that really jump out at me. You shoot 15 percent in the fourth quarter and lose the quarter by one.” Schneider. “Get 22 offensive rebounds but only nine second-chance points. The ball didn’t go in the basket for us today. And I thought we had a lot of good looks.”

For TCU it has been an interesting end of the year with head coach Raegan Pebley announcing she would be stepping down at the end of this season. For TCU senior forward Bella Cravens the game was about trying to maximize the time they had together as a team.

“Coach P has played such a big role in both of our lives. In just the short amount of time that we’ve been here, and just like [graduate student Tomi Taiwo], she’s a big reason I came here.” Cravens said. “And it’s sad to see her step down. And I think it’s just like overall, at any point that if we should lose, it’s the end for all of us — Tomi and I, [graduate student Emily Fisher], couple of other seniors — it’s like doing it one last time for each other.”

TCU will get at least one more game together as a team when they matchup with Oklahoma. For Kansas, they now hold their breath until Selection Sunday arrives. Even with the loss, Schneider thinks his Jayhawks will be in the Field of 68.

“I mean, I’ve been confident. I think [of] the three wins down the stretch, especially Oklahoma State and Iowa State.” Schneider said. “Everything that I’ve been told, the people that I talk to — and they’re not people on the committee, obviously — but is that we’ll be part of the tournament. I’m probably a little more anxious than I would have been had we won.”

What’s on deck?

Day 2 of the Big 12 Tournament is stacked with four games that all have potential March Madness tournament implications.

Oklahoma State takes on West Virginia, who could potentially be in need of a win to make the tournament.

Kansas State will look to continue their momentum with an attempt at dethroning the No. 1 seed Texas Longhorns. A Texas loss could potentially knock them out of the Top-16.

Next TCU attempts to keep the magic alive against Oklahoma, who need a deep run to pull themselves into the Top-16.

Wrapping up the night is a matchup between Baylor and Iowa State which is bound to be a good one. Every team has tons to play for in what is bound to be an exciting Day 1 in Kansas City.

Written by Tyler DeLuca

Tyler DeLuca has been contributing to The Next team since May 2022. Tyler currently is the Big 12 beat writer for The Next. Tyler's work is also featured on Twitter with The Committee, hosting the "Art of the Paint" podcast and on Gameday U Hoops throughout the college season.

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