The final dress rehearsal before conference play begins for all college basketball teams.

College basketball report Week 8: Conference play looms

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TEXAS LONGHORNS (10-2)

Last week (1-0): W-HPU 89-58

This week: Saturday vs. Baylor

The Texas Longhorns came away victorious in an 89-58 win over the High Point Panthers, Monday night, inside the Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center in Austin. Junior guard Jase Febres scored a game-high 16 points, as sophomore guard Andrew Jones added in 13 points and four assists in his first start following a battle with leukemia.

Winners of six of their last seven, the Longhorns will open their Big-12 schedule with a Texas Showdown against the Baylor Bears.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (6-5)

Last week (1-0): W - Texas Southern 58-55

This week: Saturday vs. Arkansas

In a surprisingly competitive contest, the Texas A&M Aggies outlasted the Texas Southern Tigers in a three-point victory, Monday night, inside the Reed Arena in College Station. While recording 10 points, senior forward Josh Nebo was a dominant force in the middle for A&M as he tallied 15 rebounds and four blocks in the win.

After losing four straight, the Texas A&M Aggies will enter the SEC conference play riding a three-game winning streak ahead of their match against Arkansas on Saturday.

Houston Cougars (10-3)

Last week (1-0): W - Washington 75-71

This week: Friday vs. UCF

The Houston Cougars closed out the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic with a Christmas Day victory over No. 21 Washington Huskies Wednesday night. It was a come from behind win for the Cougars, as Houston trailed by 14 points early in the 1st half.

Behind a 19-point performance from both Caleb Mills and Fabian White Jr., UH went on to outscore the Huskies 44-35 in the second half to complete the comeback win.

With the upset over Washington, the Cougars won the mid-season Hawaiian tournament with White taking home Most Outstanding Player honors after averaging 14.6 points and 5.6 rebounds during the three-game tournament.

As they head back to Houston riding a four-game winning streak, the Cougars will open their American Athletic Conference play with a showdown against UCF on Friday.

RICE OWLS (8-5)

Last week (0-1): L - Sam Houston 75-61

This week: Thursday vs. Marshall, Saturday Western KY

The Rice Owls closed their non-conference schedule with a 75-61 loss to the Sam Houston State BearKats, Sunday afternoon inside the Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston. The Owls struggled out of the gate on the offensive end, and had no answer on the defensive end giving up 27 points (11-17 FG & 13 Rebs) to Kai Mitchell, Sam Houston's senior big man who scored a game-high in the win.

Following the loss, the Rice Owls will open their conference play against Marshall on Thursday, inside the Cam Henderson Center in West Virginia.

BAYLOR BEARS (10-1)

Last week (1-0): W - Jackson State 83-57

This week: Saturday vs. Texas

The sizzling No. 6 Baylor Bears continued their early-season success with an 83-57 win over the Jackson State Tigers, Monday night, in Waco. After coming out of the gates missing their first six shots, Baylor closed out the first half on a 32-6 run to take a 48-24 by halftime.

Four players scored in double figures for the Bears, as Jared Butler recorded 18 points while MaCio Teague finished the night with 16 points and Davion Mitchell had 14. Closing out their non-conference schedule on a nine-game win streak, the Baylor Bears will host the Texas Longhorns on Saturday to begin their conference play.

TCU HORNED FROGS (9-3)

Last week (1-0): W - George Mason 87-53

This week: Saturday vs Iowa

Desmond Bane proved to be too much for the George Mason Patriots to handle, as the senior guard scored a season-high 30 points in an 87-53 win for the TCU Horned Frogs. It was a wire-to-wire victory for TCU with Bane scoring 21 points in the first half shooting 5-for-7 from behind the arc.

Following the win, the Horned Frogs will open their Big-12 schedule on Saturday against Iowa State inside the Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (9-3)

Last week: (1-0) W - CSU Bakersfield 73-58

This week: Saturday vs. Oklahoma State

The Texans Tech Red Raiders won their fourth consecutive game in a convincing 73-58 victory over the California State Roadrunners on Sunday. As a whole, the Red Raiders stayed hot throughout the game, as Texas Tech shot 49.0% from the field, and a blazing 53% from behind the arc. Both Jahmi'us Ramsey and Kyler Edwards registered 20 points apiece, as the only players to score in double digits for Texas Tech.

Following the win, The Red Raiders will open their Big-12 Conference play against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, Saturday, inside the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, TX.

SMU MUSTANGS (9-2)

Last week (0-0): No Games Scheduled

This week: Wednesday vs USF, Saturday Vanderbilt

With no games on the schedule, SMU will return to the floor on Wednesday, January 1st, for a New Year showdown against the University of South Florida Bulls.

LSU TIGERS (8-4)

Last week (1-0): W - Liberty 74-54

This week: Saturday vs Tennessee

Following back-to-back losses to East Tennessee and USC, the LSU Tigers closed out their none-conference games with a 74-57 win over the Liberty Flames on Sunday. Behind a 14-point performance from Darius Day shooting 54% from the floor, and a dozen coming from Skylar Mays, the Tigers handed Liberty their first loss of the season.

LSU will prepare to open the SEC play on Saturday in a match against the Tennessee Volunteers inside the Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, TN.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

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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