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 β€” 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 Rockets selected Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick. Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images.

The city of Houston can finally rejoice as Jalen Green was selected as the number two pick by the Rockets at the 2021 NBA Draft. It was already suspected that the Rockets would draft Green from past reports. Shams Charania of The Athletic already reported that the Rockets narrowed their decision down to Green.

Green is an explosive shooting guard that can get in-and-out amongst the perimeter and paint. With the G-League Ignite, he averaged 17.9 points, 2.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. He is an excellent free throw shooter at 82.9 percent. Like James Harden, he is incredibly good at getting to the free throw line. Green has a good trigger from three by shooting 36.5 percent on 5.7 attempts a game. His mature status since high school has prepared him for the NBA.

"His down-hill playmaking is really hard to guard", as Joey Fucca, his ex-coach told TDS. "If he says he's going to get to the rim, good luck. He is very good at getting to the free throw line, he is also very explosive to finish above the rim. When his three ball is on, you're just going to have a long night. I wouldn't be excited to guard him."

Green has blistering speed with outstanding handles to blow by his defenders and score. Spectators have compared Green to a younger Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Bradley Beal, and Zach Lavine, which are superstar players. He is a particularly good midrange shooter underneath the perimeter, as he shot 35 percent on a small quantity of attempts in a shorter season.

"Jalen is a uniquely blessed guy. He's a transcendent athlete," as Rockets GM Rafael Stone said. "He can handle the ball, and he can shoot. Normally, people that athletic aren't as skilled. We think that combination of tools makes him an extraordinarily exciting prospect."

During his press conference on Thursday night, Green emphasized the achievements he wants to accomplish with the Rockets. Green even discussed his desire of being a better defender, as he wants to continue to get better. He has a great wingspan and lateral movement to stay with opposing players on defense and be disruptive in the passing lanes.

"They're going to say it's a great choice," Green said. "Rookie of the Year, All-Star, All-Defense, max contract. We're doing it big."

"Yeah, I think I can be that piece. I think I'm going to bring that dominant mentality, that defensive mindset…They already got a lot of star players"

As the draft continued, the Rockets sent future draft picks from the Wizards to land the 16th pick in the draft, which was 6'10 Alperen Sengun from Turkey. The 16th pick did belong to the Oklahoma City Thunder until Rafael Stone executed an interesting deal with Sam Presti.

"We did not think he would fall to us at 23, so we were really aggressive to try and move up all throughout the first round to acquire him," as Stone said.

Sengun's abilities on the court revolve around his post ups and skillful passing. He even maintains good feet along the baseline. In his press conference, he mentioned his passing skills can become better. There are clips of him looking impressive on shovel passes, passing the ball behind his back, and finding the cutting man towards the basket. Sengun looked good in double teams by showing he can still find the open man with his back turned.

While playing in the Turkish Super League, Sengun was an MVP at 18-years-old, averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assist, 1.7 blocks, and 1.3 steals per game. He could be another huge figure next to Christian Wood on the court, and a safety blanket for the Rockets if they cannot bring back Kelly Olynyk.

Usman Garbua is similar to former Rocket Luc Mbah a Moute. He is 6'8 with a tremendous wingspan at 7'3 and can guard anyone on the court, which is 1-5. Garbua was seen guarding Kevin Durant in the Team USA vs. Spain matchup and had interesting battles. The Rockets will get a ton of energy out of the 19-year-old player. He knows how to run the floor in transition, so he can finish around the rim. As I see it, he could be on a defensive first team in the future as he matures more. Garbua will become a defensive nightmare against opposing players.

"I think he's the best defender in the world outside of the NBA, and he's just 19 years old," Stone said. "I think he potentially could be really, really impactful on that side of the ball."

As the Rockets made their last selection, they selected Green's AAU buddy, Josh Christopher from Arizona State. He impressed a ton of scouts during his draft workouts and scrimmage against other prospects. Christopher had a double-double during his third scrimmage, which was 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is a very shifty guard with a ferocious step back.

While playing with the Sun Devils, he averaged 14.3 points per game and shot 49 percent from the field. Just like Green, he loved the midrange opportunities, as he shot 49.6 percent underneath the perimeter. He is another shifty big body the Rockets will have in their back court at 6'5. Christopher is very good at rebounding and playing defense. Stone loves watching him in defensive one-on-one situations. Christopher has Sixth Man of the Year written all over him because of his stocky body type and upside.

Hopefully, the Rockets have an exciting summer league and training camp along with their season.

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