A week ago, Baylor was riding high, near the top of the conferenceBut consecutive losses at home to Oklahoma and at Iowa State have pushed the Bears (14-7, 5-3 in the Big 12) back to the middle of the pack.Coach Scott Drew, however, is not fretting. He spun it into a positive example of what makes college basketball interesting."Last week everything was great with us. This week it looks like it's terrible," Drew said. "In reality, that's just college basketball. I think that's what makes it so exciting from game to game."The Bears lost two close ones, including 74-71 at home to Oklahoma, in which Baylor trailed the entire second half but nearly pulled off the comeback in the final minutes by outscoring the Sooners 35-22 the final 13:39.In Ames on Saturday, ISU held off Baylor down the stretch.Drew chocked it up to parity, in the league and across the nation."I think that's why having veteran leadership and experienced players is so critical because every year in the conference race there's highs and there's lows, especially in a conference like the Big 12," he said."The teams that are successful at the end of the year are able to maintain that sense of balance. We like to say, [make sure] one mistake doesn't lead to two."Drew's Bears will try to not let two losses turn into a three-game losing streak at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Oklahoma State. The Cowboys (15-5, 5-3) are coming off their upset of previously No. 1-ranked Kansas in Lawrence, Kan. Baylor beat OSU by 10 on Jan. 21 in Waco.Mountaineer travelTexas coach Rick Barnes thinks the Big 12 should help minimize West Virginia's travel burden in the future.But he acknowledged he's not sure what the league can do.The Longhorns (10-11, 2-6), who played at West Virginia on Monday night, will gain an hour when they fly back to Austin.That's the same as the rest of the league's teams, except for the Mountaineers, who lose an hour every time they fly back to the Eastern time zone after a road game in the Central time zone."Where I think it's really tough for the West Virginia athletes is academically more than anything," Barnes said.Stefan Stevenson817-390-7760Twitter: @FollowtheFrogs
Big 12 Players of the Week
Men's Player of the Week
G Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: The Flower Mound Marcus ex earned his first player of the week honor (he already has two rookie of the weeks) after the freshman averaged 23 points and 7.5 rebounds in wins against Iowa State and Kansas. He also had a combined 10 assists and nine steals and shot 53.1 percent. He tied a career high with 25 points against KU, ending the Jayhawks' 33-game home win streak.
Men's Rookie of the Week
G Will Clyburn, Iowa State: He averaged 21 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 50 percent from the field as the Cyclones split two games with OSU and Baylor. He scored 28 points against the Bears, including 17 in the second half, and finished with 10 rebounds. He shot 41.7 percent from the 3-point arc and made 13 of 14 free throws combined in the two games.
Women's Player of the Week
C Brittney Griner, Baylor: The senior won her fifth consecutive weekly honor and seventh of the season as she averaged 35 points, 12.5 rebounds, five blocks, and 5.5 assists in wins at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. She became the Big 12's all-time leading scorer, passing OSU's Andrea Riley, with 2,903, 12th-most in NCAA Division I history.
Women's Freshman of the Week
C Imani McGee-Stafford, Texas: Scored a career-high 23 points and had 13 rebounds in the Longhorns' win over TCU. She made 13 of 14 free throws and had 7 blocks in a career-high 37 minutes.
"I think Kansas, obviously, is still the team to beat, no question. They're one of the best teams in America. We had a good day on that day, but I don't think our win diminishes how good they are ... they're still in the driver's seat." -- Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford on the Cowboys' win over Kansas on Saturday.
"It wasn't very good Saturday, but we got outplayed, too. I don't want to blame it just on us. I thought [Oklahoma State] was definitely the much more aggressive team and better team on Saturday."
-- Kansas coach Bill Self
"Tell Bill [Self] he doesn't have to come if he wants. He can stay home."
-- TCU coach Trent Johnson, joking to the Big 12 teleconference moderator about playing No. 5 Kansas at 8 p.m. Wednesday in Fort Worth.