College basketball area roundup

Houston, Texas Tech and Texas shining in early conference action

Shaka Smart and UT picked up a big win. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

TEXAS LONGHORNS (10-4) 2-0 Big XII

Last week (2-0):
W- @ Kansas State 67-47, W- West Virginia 61-54

This week: Tuesday @ Oklahoma State, Saturday vs. Texas Tech, Monday @ Kansas

Texas couldn't have asked for a better start to Big XII play, winning in a rout at Kansas State against a Wildcat team that was without a couple of key players due to injury. You'd be hard-pressed to convince me that it would have mattered. Texas shot 52% from 3-point range and held Kansas State under 33% shooting from the field. The Horns had just a 3-point lead at halftime, but Jace Febres scored 15 of his team-leading 23 points in the second half, and Texas ran away with the win. Febres was 7-9 from 3-point range. Texas then defended their home court in their second conference game, defeating West Virginia 61-54. Matt Coleman had 17 points to lead the Horns. The Texas point guard also had 0 turnovers in his 35 minutes of play. Dylan Osetkowski had 14 points and 7 rebounds in the win. Texas plays at Oklahoma State on Tuesday, then get the top two teams in the conference in Texas Tech and Kansas.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (6-6) 0-1 SEC

Last week (0-1): L- Arkansas 73-71

This week: Tuesday @ Kentucky, Saturday @ Alabama

The Aggies can't be pleased with their start to the season in non-conference play, and Arkansas made sure that SEC play didn't make them feel any better. The Hogs knocked off the Aggies 73-71 in the conference opener. The poor shooting for A&M from long range did them in, with the Aggies hitting just 5 of their 24 3-point attempts. TJ Starks and Sauvion Flagg provided the only offense for the Aggies, scoring 43 of their 71 points. The future schedule won't get easier this week, with road games on tap against Kentucky and Alabama.

HOUSTON COUGARS (15-0) 2-0 American

Last week (2-0): W- Tulsa 74-56, W- Memphis 90-77

This week: Wednesday @ Temple, Saturday vs. Wichita State

Houston has placed themselves in the argument for the best team in the state with another 2-0 week. The Cougars started with a 74-56 win over Tulsa. Corey Davis, Jr., as he has done much of the year, led the way for UH, scoring 21 points and hitting 6 3-pointers. A +12 rebounding edge helped the Cougars overcome a poor shooting night (36% from the field). Houston continued their best-ever start with a 90-77 win over Memphis, extending the nation's-best 28 game home winning streak. A major factor for the Cougars was their 18 offensive rebounds, allowing them to have 21 more shot attempts than Memphis. Armani Brooks paced UH with 22 points on 8-14 shooting. The Cougars will look to continue the best start in school history, taking on Temple and Wichita State this week.

RICE OWLS (7-9) 2-1 CUSA

Last week (2-0): W- Southern Miss 73-65, W- Louisiana Tech 78-66

This week: Thursday @ UTSA, Saturday @ UTEP

Rice used a strong second half performance to pick up their first of two conference wins this week. The Owls trailed by 9 at the half, but Ako Adams and Jack Williams combined for 22 points in the 2nd half en route to a 73-65 win over Southern Miss. The Owls were +10 in rebounding and hit 17 of their 20 free throw attempts. Rice kept it rolling against Louisiana Tech, with a 78-66 win. Rice again trailed at halftime, but rallied behind Williams and Adams to get the victory. The duo combined for 31 points in the victory. Rebounding was again a deciding factor for Rice, as they had a +13 edge in boards, including 13 offensive rebounds. The back to back wins was a first for the Owls since February/March of 2017. The Owls travel to UTSA and UTEP this week.

BAYLOR BEARS (8-5) 0-1 Big XII

Last week (0-1): L- @ TCU 85-81

This week: Tuesday vs. Iowa State, Saturday vs. Kansas

Baylor dropped their conference opener against TCU, 85-81. Baylor led 2-0, then TCU went on to lead by as many as 17. Baylor clawed back to cut the Frog lead to two with 30 seconds left, but TCU was able to hang on for the win. Tristan Clark led the Bears with 18, and freshman Matthew Mayer added 17 off the bench. Baylor shot just 25% from distance in the loss. Baylor has 2 matchups with ranked teams this week, as Iowa State and Kansas come to town.

TCU HORNED FROGS (12-1) 1-0 Big XII

Last week (1-0): W- Baylor 85-81

This week: Wednesday @ Kansas, Saturday @ Oklahoma

The Horned Frogs had just one game this week, taking an 85-81 win over Baylor. They dominated for most of the first half, but had to fight off a strong push by the Bears late in the game. Desmond Bane led the charge with 22 points on an efficient 8 of 11 shooting. The Frogs as a team shot 57% from the field and 43% from long range. TCU has two road trips coming up this week, to face Kansas and Oklahoma.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (13-1) 2-0 Big XII

Last week (2-0): W- @ West Virginia 62-59, W- Kansas State 63-57

This week: Tuesday vs. Oklahoma, Saturday @ Texas

A rough start for Texas Tech had them trailing at halftime, but a late push brought them back for a 62-59 road win over West Virginia. Jarrett Culver led the comeback, scoring all of his team-leading 18 points in the 2nd half. Tech shot 38% from the field and 17% from 3-point range in the win. They were also -10 in rebounds. Defense ruled the day, though, and Tech forced 22 Mountaineer turnovers in the game. The Red Raiders then took a 73-67 win over Kansas State to move to 2-0 in conference play. This time it was Tech holding the Wildcats to 33% shooting for the game. Davide Moretti led Texas Tech offensively with 19 points. Tech gets Oklahoma and a trip to Texas this week.

SMU MUSTANGS (10-4) 2-0 American

Last week (1-0): W- East Carolina 82-54, W- @ Tulane 74-65

This week: Thursday @ UConn, Saturday vs. Tulsa

SMU started 2-0 in American Conference play. They led off with an 82-54 drubbing of East Carolina, in a game that was competitive until about the 6:30 mark of the 1st half. Jahmal McMurray led the way for the Mustangs with 20 points in the win. SMU shot 49% from the field and held the Pirates to a feeble 34%. They followed it up with a 74-65 win at Tulane. McMurray continued to be the top contributor, pouring in 25 more points. Defense was key again, as they held their opponent to 34% for the 2nd straight game. The Ponies get a road trip to UConn and a home tilt with Tulsa this week.

LSU TIGERS (10-3) 0-0 SEC

Last week (0-0):

This week: Tuesday vs. Alabama, Saturday @ Arkansas

LSU hasn't played since handing UL Monroe an 81-69 defeat on December 28th. The Tigers open conference play this week, with a home game against Alabama and a road trip to Arkansas.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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