COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT: WEEK 18

Let the madness of March begin: It's conference tournament time

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TEXAS LONGHORNS (19-12), (9-9)

Last week: (1-1): W - Oklahoma 52-51, L - Oklahoma State 81-59

This week: Thursday Texas Tech

Before dropping a 22-point game in their season finale against the Cowboys, the Texas Longhorns came away victorious in a 52-51 win over the Oklahoma Sooners on Tuesday. In addition to scoring a game-high 21 points, junior guard Matt Coleman III knocked down the game-winning 3-pointer to seal the deal for the Longhorns.

Up next, the Longhorns will open their Big 12 tournament against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Thursday in Kansas City.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (16-14), (10-8)

Last week: (2-0): W - Auburn 78-75, W - Arkansas 77-69

This week: Thursday Missouri

After dropping two straight, the Texas A&M Aggies are riding a two-game winning streak after picking up wins against No. 17 Auburn (78-75) and Arkansas (77-69) last week. In both games, senior forward Josh Nebo led the way averaging 19.5 points, while recording 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.

The Aggies will return to action on Thursday against the Missouri Tigers to open their SEC Tournament in Nashville.

Houston Cougars (23-8), (13-5)

Last week: (1-1): L- UConn 77-71, W - Memphis 64-57

This week: Friday SMU/Temple

The Houston Cougars captured their second straight American Athletic Conference championship following a 64-57 win over the Memphis Tigers inside the Frittata Center in Houston. Sophomore guard Quentin Grimes scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half to lead the Cougars to the comeback win.

Following the win, the Cougars will return to the court on Friday to take part in the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Fort Worth. Houston earned a bye into the quarterfinals and will play the winner of SMU vs. Temple.

RICE OWLS (15-16), (7-11)

Last week: (1-1): W - Southern Miss 72-57, L - UTEP 77-72

This week: Wednesday vs. FIU

The Rice Owls closed out their regular season in a 77-72 loss to the UTEP Miners. While shooting 35.9% from the field (25.7% from deep), the Owls could not match the production of UTEP. The Miners shot 43.9% from the floor as Souley Boum led the way with 25 points.

Following the win, the Owls will take on the FIU Panthers on Wednesday to begin the USA Conference Tournament.

BAYLOR BEARS (26-4), (15-3)

Last week: (0-1): L - West Virginia 76-64

This week: Saturday vs. West Virginia

After what was a remarkable season that included a 23-game winning streak, the Baylor Bears dropped three of their previous five games following a 76-64 loss to West Virginia. The Bears defense was a no-show against West Virginia, as Baylor allowed the Mountaineers to score 55 points on 57.6% shooting from the floor during the second half.

Following the loss, the Bears will return to the court on Thursday to take part in the Big 12 Championship Tournament in Kansas City. As the No. 2 seed, Baylor earned a bye into the quarterfinals and will play one of the following three teams: Kansas State, TCU, or Oklahoma.

TCU Horned Frogs (16-15), (7-11)

Last week: (0-2): L - Kansas 75-66, L - Oklahoma 78-76

This week: Wednesday Kansas State

After picking up their most impressive victory of the season, the TCU Horned Frogs could not strike gold twice. TCU dropped a close one to the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks on Wednesday.

The Frogs held their own against the Jayhawks during the first half, in which TCU held a two-point led before losing the momentum in the second half. During the final period, Kansas outscored Baylor 40-29 while Udoka Azubuike registered 31 points (13-14 FG), 14 rebounds, and five blocks in the win for the Jayhawks โ€” senior guard Desmond Bane led the way with 20 points shooting 60% from behind the arc for the Horned Frogs.

Up next, TCU will open their Big 12 Conference Tournament on Wednesday against Kansas State.

Texas Tech (18-13), (9-9)

Last week: (0-1): L - Kansas 66-62

This week: Thursday vs. Texas

The Texas Tech Red Raiders dropped their four consecutive game in a 66-62 loss to the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks. In the loss, Texas Tech never got going on the offensive end, as the Red Raiders only connected on eight of their 26 attempts from behind the arc. Junior forward Davide Moretti scored a game-high 18 points in the loss.

With the hopes of ending their four-game losing streak, Texas Tech will open their Big 12 tournament against the Texas Longhorns on Thursday in Kansas City.

SMU Mustangs (19-11), (9-9)

Last week: (0-2): L- UCF 61-58, L - USF 61-60

This week: Thursday Temple

After a disappointing loss to the UCF Knights, the SMU Mustangs ended their regular season in a tough defeat to the USF Bulls on Saturday. After an entertaining second half separated by four points, USF's senior Laquincy Rideau sealed the deal for the Knights with a game-winning 3-pointer to close out the game. It was another frustrating loss for SMU, as Ethan Chargois led the way with 20 points on the night Mustangs.

While riding a three-game losing streak, the Mustangs will return to action on Thursday against the Temple Owls to open the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Fort Worth.

LSU Tigers (21-10), (12-6)

Last week: (1-1): L - Arkansas 99-90, W - Georgia 94-64

This week: Saturday vs. TBD

The LSU Tigers ended their regular season with a 94-64 win over the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday. In the win, four players scored in double-figures for LSU, as Marlon Taylor scored a career-high 30 points (10-17 FG, 3-7 3PT), to go along with seven rebounds, while Skylar Mays added in 19 points and six boards.

In the midst of ending the season as the No. 3 seed, the Tigers will open their SEC Tournament on Friday.

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Quaker State 400 preview

Photo via: WikiCommons.

This week, the NASCAR cup series heads to Kentucky Motor Speedway for the Quaker State 400. Built in 2001, this track is a 1.5 mile tri-oval with a dog-leg on the front stretch. The most dangerous part of the track has to be turn three as the corner is flat compared to the other three corners that are banked. This has been a major point of contingency for these drivers as most of the cautions end up being there. Look for turn three to be a hot spot come Sunday. Last year, both the Busch brothers finished 1-2 in one of the most exciting finishes of the season so there will be a lot of hype for this race to live up to.

Last week at Indy, as we all expected the race was a crazy one. Over the course of the race's 160 laps, we saw many horrific accidents including a scary pit road accident involving Corey Lajoe, Ryan Blaney, Justin Allgier, Ryan Preece and others. The wreck started when everyone got stacked up entering the pits and the calamity was on from there. During the wreck Brennan Poole struck Rear Tire Changer Zach Price as he was trying to avoid the wrecking cars in front of him. After the incident fans and media alike all held their breath as they awaited news on his condition. But when the camera panned to him being loaded into the ambulance, there was a huge sigh of relief as he gave everyone a thumbs up signifying he was okay. Another scary moment was both Erik Jones and Alex Bowman's vicious crashes. Both cars had tire failures that sent their cars directly into the wall. Fortunately both drivers were okay but their days were over.

In the end, tire wear would end up claiming one more victim as it took out Denny Hamlin as well. With seven laps to go, the four-time winner this season was in prime position to get his fifth victory until his right front tire blew out, sending him hard into the turn 2 wall. This mishap handed the win to his main rival in the championship, Kevin Harvick, as he went on to claim his third Brickyard 400 victory and fourth win of the year. When it was all over, many questioned why there were so many tire failures and if new owner Roger Penske would make an effort to possibly widen the pit-road after the massive accident on Sunday.

Needless to say, there are a lot of questions on what will be different at Indy in 2021. When I talked to spotter Freddie Kraft on Tuesday, he gave a lot of good insights on both topics. When it came to the tire failures, he talked about how the increasing corner speeds at the racetrack has put a lot of pressure on these Goodyear tires which eventually led to them coming apart. As far as Pit-Road and what they can do to fix that, he talked about how it is difficult to make changes to a track that is so historical. Which makes sense, but he followed this up by saying that maybe it would be wise to give up a little history and move the wall over and make it wider. It will be interesting to see what NASCAR does in the coming months.

On Friday, Associated Press journalist Jenna Fryer revealed a bombshell announcement that 7-time champion and NASCAR's biggest name Jimmie Johnson, had tested positive for coronavirus. As everyone knows, the world is going through the worst pandemic it's ever faced in this lifetime. With the sport coming back and racing again, it was only a matter of time until one of the drivers came down with it. Unfortunately it had to be NASCAR's most recognizable driver. Thankfully, Jimmie made a full recovery and was cleared to return this weekend at Kentucky. This was a big scare for everyone in the NASCAR world, but I have to give a lot of credit to Johnson for being as forthright as he was about his diagnosis with everyone who he works with. It will be good to have Jimmie back on Sunday.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Kyle Busch. While this season has been a disappointment for the defending champion, Kentucky would be a great place for him to turn it around. Ever since the cup series has started going there, Kyle has always been in contention to win. In fact, he won the first cup series race that was run at this track back in 2011. In his nine starts there, Kyle has finished outside the top ten only once and even then he finished 12th, back in 2016. Last season it appeared that Kyle was on his way to a third victory at this track, but he came up one spot short to his brother Kurt in a fantastic last lap duel. After a late race restart this weekend though, I see Kyle redeeming himself and capturing his first victory of 2020. Look for Kyle to get back on track come Sunday.


All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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