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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Boston's two grand slams in the first two innings were too much for Houston to overcome in ALCS Game 2. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

After a win in ALCS Game 1 that had the prototypical fingerprints of this Astros team all over it, Houston returned to Minute Maid Park on Saturday, hoping to take a dominant 2-0 series lead if they could grab another victory. The Red Sox dashed those hopes very early, though, scoring eight runs across the first two innings to build the lead they would hold on to even the series.

Final Score: Boston 9, Astros 5

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): tied 1-1

Winning Pitcher: Nathan Eovaldi

Losing Pitcher: Luis Garcia

Houston met with disaster to start Game 2

You couldn't have drawn up a much better start for the Red Sox or a worse one for the Astros in Saturday's ALCS Game 2. Luis Garcia met early disaster in the top of the first inning, allowing a leadoff double, then got two outs while issuing two walks to load the bases. That brought up Boston's designated hitter, J.D. Martinez, to the plate, and he delivered a crushing blow to Houston, launching a grand slam to put the Red Sox up 4-0 before Houston could even get to the plate.

After a scoreless bottom of the inning by his offense, things got worse for Garcia in the top of the second, as after issuing a four-pitch walk to start the frame, he would become the center of a meeting at the mound with trainers, ultimately leaving the game with an injury. Houston opted to bring in Jake Odorizzi for the emergency call to the bullpen, but things did not start well for him either. He would put two of his own batters on base with two singles, then gave up the second grand slam in as many innings, this one to Rafael Devers to double Boston's lead to 8-0, doubling down on Houston's disastrous start to the game.

Odorizzi rebounded with a 1-2-3 third, but with one out in the top of the fourth allowed a solo homer to KikΓ© HernΓ‘ndez, his third homer of the series so far. He would still get the job done of eating up a few innings, finishing the fourth, and retiring Boston in order in the fifth, giving Houston just four more innings to cover with the rest of their relievers.

Astros get a few runs back

Over that span, Houston did trim the lead by three runs, getting an RBI double by Kyle Tucker and a two-RBI single by Yuli Gurriel in the bottom of the fourth, making it a six-run game at 9-3. Their next reliever was Blake Taylor in the top of the sixth, and he would keep the score where it stood by sitting down the three batters he faced that frame.

The Astros threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, getting two singles to put two aboard, but would come out empty, sending the game on to the seventh, where Taylor would remain on the mound. He faced three more batters, getting two out while allowing a single before Yimi Garcia would come in to get the third out.

Red Sox even the series as it shifts to Boston

Garcia returned in the top of the eighth, getting through that inning despite a walk and hit by pitch, stranding both runners. Boston's bullpen kept Houston from getting any closer in the bottom of the eighth, then Ryne Stanek came in for the Astros in the top of the ninth. Stanek allowed a leadoff double, but with a groundout and double play, held the score at 9-3. Yuli Gurriel and Jason Castro did their part to keep the Astros alive in the bottom of the ninth, each hitting solo homers to make it 9-5, but that's as close as they'd come, dropping Game 2 to tie the series at one game apiece.

Up Next: The ALCS now moves to Boston for the next three games after a day off on Sunday, with Game 3 on Monday at 7:08 PM Central. While the Astros have named Jose Urquidy as their starter, the Red Sox have not yet determined theirs.

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