A.J. HOFFMAN

College basketball report: UT gets big win, A&M struggles, UH knocks of BYU

Kerwin Roach had a big game against North Carolina. Sam Wasson/Getty Images

TEXAS LONGHORNS (5-1)

Last week (1-1): W- North Carolina 92-89, L- Michigan State 78-68

This week:  Friday vs. Radford

Texas started out the Las Vegas Invitational with a bang, dropping the No. 7 ranked North Carolina Tarheels 92-89. It was a great night for Kerwin Roach, who had a career-high 32 points to go with his seven assists and six steals. Roach was incredibly efficient, shooting 12 of 15 from the field. Matt Coleman added 16 points and five assists as well. 3-point shooting was a bright spot for the Horns (for the first time all season, as they hit 46% from distance. Texas moved on to the finals of the tournament, where they took on the 11th ranked Michigan State Spartans. The game started well for Texas, as they led by as many as 19 in the first half. The Spartans bounced back, though, and dropped the Horns by a score of 78-68. The 3-point shot that worked so well against the Heels was absent, with the Longhorns shooting just 27% from behind the arc. Roach again led Texas with 15 points, but shot just 4-14 on the night. The loss was Texas’ first blemish of the season. The Longhorns play Radford at home on Friday. 

TEXAS A&M; AGGIES (2-4)

Last week (1-1): L- Washington 71-67, W- South Alabama 74-62

This week: Monday (Dec. 3) vs. Northwestern State

Texas A&M; led Washington by 13 in the 1st half, but defensive lapses in the second half sent the Aggies to another loss, 71-67. Jay Jay Chandler was a bright spot for the Aggies, leading them with 21 points. Fouls plagued the Aggies in this game, as the Huskies got 25 points from the free throw line. Savion Flagg made sure the Aggie’s losing streak didn’t get any longer, as he led the Ads with 25 points in a 74-62 win over South Alabama. The Aggies out rebounded the Jaguars 37-22 on the night, and added 9 blocks in the effort. The win was the 350th of Billy Gillespie’s career. The Aggies don’t play again until December 3rd when they will take on Northwestern State. 

HOUSTON COUGARS (4-0)

Last week (1-0): W- BYU 76-62

This week: Wednesday vs. UT-Rio Grande ValleySaturday vs. Oregon

Houston got a dominant win over solid BYU squad on Saturday, 76-62. The Cougars got 24 points from Corey Davis and 19-6-6 from Cedrick Alley. Senior Breaon Brady added 17 points on 8-12 shooting. Houston shot 50% from the field and out rebounded BYU 36-28. The Coogs have two games this week, against UT-Rio Grande Valley and Saturday against the Oregon Ducks. 

RICE OWLS (3-4)

Last week (0-2): L- @ BYU 105-78, L- Wichita State 90-61

This week: Wednesday @ Texas State, Saturday vs. Lamar

The schedule got tough for the Owls last week, and they didn’t hold up well to the change. They dropped a laugher to BYU, 106-78, in a game that was never close. The Owls turned it over 13 times, to the Cougars six. BYU shot 56% from the field, and overwhelmed the Owls offensively. Ako Adams led the Owls with 17 points in the loss. Things didn’t get better for Rice on their road trip to Wichita, where they dropped a 90-61 contest to the Shockers. The Owls shot the ball horribly, going 38% from the field and a pathetic 15% from 3-point distance. Jack Williams and Chris Mullins had 12 points a piece to lead the Owls in defeat. Rice goes to Texas State on Wednesday and back home for Lamar on Saturday.

BAYLOR BEARS (4-2)

Last week (1-1): L- Ole Miss 78-70, W- George Mason 72-61

This week: Wednesday vs. South Dakota, Saturday @ Wichita State

Baylor dropped a back and forth battle against Ole Miss in the opening round of the Emerald Coast Classic by a final score of 78-70. Baylor was unable to overcome a horrible 3-point shooting night, hitting only 2 of their 18 attempts. The Bears also turned the ball over 18 times on the night. Tristan Clark was a bright spot for Baylor. He scored 27 points on an impressive 11-13 shooting. The Bears looked better in the 3rd place game, taking out George Mason 72-61. King McClure scored 27 points, including going 5 3-pointers made and a team high 14 rebounds. The Bears have South Dakota at home on Wednesday and travel to Wichita State this weekend. 

TCU HORNED FROGS (4-1)

Last week (1-1): L- Lipscomb 73-64, W- Eastern Michigan 87-69

This week: Friday vs. Central Michigan

TCU became the first team ranked in the Top 25 to lose to Lipscomb in their program’s history, as the Frogs fell 73-64. TCU’s inexperience was evident as they were outworked by the senior-laden Bisons. TCU committed 16 turnovers in the loss. Alex Robinson led the Frogs in defeat, posting a 17-10-6 line in defeat. TCU came back strong against Eastern Michigan on Monday night, getting an 87-69 win. Kouat Noi had 27 points in the win, highlighted by hitting 5 out of 8 3-point attempts. The Frogs shot 61% from the field in the game. TCU gets Central Michigan at home on Friday. 

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (6-0)

Last week: W- Nebraska 70-52, W- Northern Colorado 93-62

This week: Saturday vs. Memphis

Texas Tech got their best win of the season, beating Nebraska 70-52 in the title game of the Hall of Fame Classic. Nebraska jumped out to an early double digit lead, but Tech hung around and took a lead into halftime. The second half was all Red Raiders. Jarrett Culver led Tech with 27 points in the win. Texas Tech had a 38-29 advantage on the boards in the win. Things kept rolling for Tech back in Lubbock against Northern Colorado. Culver kept the hot hand going, leading the Red Raiders with 20 points in the 93-62 win. Kyler Edwards added 19. The difference in the teams was at the 3-point line. Tech hit 10/16 and held NCU to 4/24. Texas Tech has a matchup with Memphis on Saturday. 

SMU MUSTANGS (3-3)

Last week (1-1): L- Bradley 75-62, W- Wright State 79-76

This week: Tuesday vs. Lamar, Thursday vs. McNeese, Sunday vs. Oral Roberts

SMU was lit up by the Bradley Braves in the opening round of the Cancun Challenge, dropping a 75-62 decision. The Mustangs poor shooting was an obvious culprit, as they shot just 37% from the field. Jahmal McMurray was the offensive bright spot for the Ponies, with 19 points in the loss. Jimmie Whitt had 13 rebounds. Whitt would play a bigger role in the 3rd place game of the tournament, as his 18 points were capped by the game winner with under 5 seconds to go in the 77-76 win over Wright State. McMurray again was the offensive leader, hitting 7 3-pointers as part of his 27 points. The Mustangs have a busy week ahead, with games against Lamar, McNeese and Oral Roberts this week. 

LSU TIGERS (5-2)

Last week (1-2): W- Charleston 67-55, L- Florida State 79-76 (OT), L- Oklahoma State 90-77

This week: Saturday vs. Grambling

LSU ran into their first adversity of the season last week. It started out well enough, with a 67-55 win over College of Charleston. Emmitt Williams had 14 points and 9 rebounds in the win. Things went downhill in a hard-fought battle against Florida State that the Tigers ultimately dropped, 79-76. The Seminoles hit the game winning 3 with under a second left in overtime. Skylar Mays led the Tigers with 19 in the loss. The biggest differences in the game for LSU was Florida State’s 43-30 rebounding edge and 18-12 turnover advantage. Mays again scored 20 in the 3rd place game, a 90-77 loss to Oklahoma State. Super-freshmen Nad Reid and Ja’Vonte Smart combined to go 4-22 from the field. Defense was also a struggle for the Tigers, as they allowed the Cowboys to shoot 59% from the field. LSU gets Grambling at home this weekend. 

Move over Rockets, there's new basketball team in town. Joe Buvid/Houston Athletics

Houston Basketball is on the rise, yet many people within the city haven't recognized the tremendous campaign they are putting together. Here are my reasons as to why you should buy into the 2018-2019 Houston Cougar Men's Basketball team:

1) Coach Sampson

Kelvin Sampson is in his fifth year in Houston. He won AAC Coach of Year last year, making it his fifth said honor in his career. He has successfully built a program that seniors have bought into. Sampson has had much success considering the outdated facilities he inherited and overcoming the challenge of recruiting very average players. He's had great success developing his players into great ones, where the likes of Devon Davis and Rob Gray led the team into the sweet sixteen round in last year's March Madness tournament. He is also a great tactician, which was in display in their comeback win vs. LSU this week. After being down 15, Sampson went to the board and changed their approach to the game after realizing how open LSU was leaving the driving lanes, which enabled Galen Robinson to have a huge game and also allowed the team to collect the majority of offensive boards. He is also a class act. After their game vs. OSU, Sampson went up to his old nemesis, Coach Sutton, to pay his respects and even gave him a kiss on the cheek after seeing how badly his health had deteriorated. I also had the pleasure of attending the UH Basketball Tip Off dinner this year where many fans buy tables as a means to fundraise money for the program. I was impressed by his ability memorize the player's family members by name, and his ability of building long life relationships with them.

2) Community

Houston Cougar Basketball has become one of the hottest tickets in town for many reasons. Their success on the court has permeated out of campus and onto the city where even professional athletes have taken notice. Astros' Alex Bregman and Rockets Eric Gordon were in attendance in the matchup vs LSU. Chris Paul called Coach Sampson prior to the same game and told him he would go with 'friends.' Turned out they didn't show but the takeaway here as that they have caught notice. Amongst other rumored attendees were JJ Watt and Lebron James. The student section has also bought into this year's team. They have filled the stands every home game since the opening of the new arena. They are loud and proud, where even I thought they couldn't surpass the deafening ruckus from the upset win vs. Oregon. But the Fertitta Center saw a new standard in the comeback win vs LSU.

3) Intangibles

This team has displayed qualities that surpass the physical realm. It really started last season, where they upset numerous teams as they punched their ticket into March Madness. They were beat by a then 3 seed in the Michigan Wolverines on a walk off buzzer beater 3. Houston competed the whole way, and you could even argue that the loss was really mainly due to self-inflicted wounds, especially because of the missed free throws in the final minutes. I talked to Corey Davis at the annual tip off dinner this year and he told me his team is hungry to get back in the tournament. The juniors and seniors now have a taste of what the big dance is all about. If they make it again this year, they will bring something they didn't have before, experience. Houston also has displayed grit. They learned a lot about themselves in their comeback win vs LSU this week. Galen Robinson dug deep when he began to hear LSU chants when his team was losing by 15. "It really touched a nerve. I was like, there's no way we're losing this game," said Robinson. A humbling loss in the sweet sixteen round last year, and a gut check win vs LSU will definitely bring out maturity and leadership within this roster.

4) The Players

Senior point guard Robinson has had a great offensive start to this season. In their matchups vs LSU and Oregon, Robinson has displayed the ability to completely take over games. He has also adopted the role of a leader in the locker room, where Coach Sampson said he heard Robinson's loud rally cry towards his teammates through a wall that separated the coach's and player's rooms at halftime vs LSU. Junior guard Armoni Brooks has been as advertised. He remains an integral part of the offense with consistency, and showcases the most versatile talent on the Houston roster night after night. Senior guard Davis continues to struggle this season, but I do believe he will turn it around. It's hard to believe otherwise after his incredible season last year. Sophomore point guard Dejon Jarreau made his first start of the season vs LSU. He didn't have the greatest of games but there are many reasons as to why. Jarreau has recently lost his grandmother and has suffered from tough injuries that have sidelined him. The UMass transfer remains an important player to this team by allowing Robinson to have precious resting minutes. The upside in Jerreau is tremendous. Lastly, Freshman Guard Nate Hinton must live up the title of Preseason AAC Freshman of the Year. He's showed great flashes, so keep a sharp eye on this projected up and comer. Houston has all the right pieces to the puzzle. The seniors have completely bought into Coach Sampson's philosophy and have prior experience in the big dance. The trick is finding the right mix of players and keeping them healthy all the way into selection Sunday.

5) Ferttita Center

OK, we talked about this last week, so I'll keep this one short. The new arena has successfully been able to pull many fans back into campus. The scarlet red and the strategically placed student sections have been staples of the incredible atmosphere the Fertitta Center hosts. UH is currently on a 22 home game win streak, 19 of which happened at TSU. The history of where the arena sits is also something to note. Many loyal UH Basketball fans even label it as hallowed grounds that have seen players like Hakeem "The Dream" Olajuwon and Clyde "The Glide" Drexler. This entails a certain aura to the new arena, where you can almost even feel its past and foreshadow future success. You can read last week's article on the Fertitta Center here.

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