College Basketball Roundup

Houston and Texas Tech both dominant, battling for seeding

Chris Beard and Tech look mean again. Sarah Stier/Getty Images

TEXAS LONGHORNS (15-12) 7-7 Big XII

Last week (0-1):
L- @ Oklahoma 69-67

This week: Wednesday @ Baylor, Saturday vs. Iowa State

Texas lost a close one in Norman, 69-67 to Oklahoma over the weekend. The Horns played without leading scorer Kerwin Roach, who was suspended indefinitely for an undisclosed violation of team rules. Texas had a chance to win the game, but Jamal Bieniemy blocked a last second 3-point attempt from Matt Coleman III. Jase Febres, who started for Roach, led the Horns in scoring and hit several key 3 pointers in the final moments. Texas showed some fight in the second half after being down 14 at the break. Roach is unlikely to play against Baylor, but Shaka Smart said he wouldn't rule out a return for Roach at some point this season. Texas has a road game at Baylor and a home date with Iowa State this week.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (12-14) 5-9 SEC

Last week (2-0): W- Alabama 65-56, W- @ Arkansas 87-80

This week: Tuesday @ LSU, Saturday vs. Vanderbilt

Texas A&M is arguably playing their best ball of the season. The Aggies came back from a 12-point second half deficit to beat Alabama, 65-56. Savion Flagg and Wendell Mitchell each had 18 points for the Aggies in the win. The difference in the game was made at the free throw line. A&M hit 15 of 16 from the line, while Alabama made just 4 of 7 free throws. The win gave the Aggies a season sweep of Bama. They followed that up with just their third road win of the season, 87-80 at Arkansas. Flagg led the way again with 22, and Mitchell added 20 more in the win. The Ags overcame an 18 turnover day with a strong day on the glass, out rebounding the Hogs by 10. Texas A&M gets LSU and Vanderbilt this week.

HOUSTON COUGARS (26-1) 13-1 American

Last week (1-0): W- South Florida 71-59

This week: Wednesday @ East Carolina, Saturday vs. UCF

The Cougars inched closer to the 2-line with a win over South Florida, 71-59. After a 12-2 run to start the game, USF drew within 1 with 4 minutes to go in the half, but the Cougars took over from there. DeJon Jarreau scored 17 points off the bench to lead the Cougars in the victory. The Coogs shot 47% from the field, and held the Bulls to just 31%. Houston enters the week with a one-game lead in the AAC, with East Carolina and UCF on deck this week.

RICE OWLS (11-17) 6-9 CUSA

Last week (1-0): W- @ UTEP 85-81 2OT

This week: Sunday vs. Middle Tennessee State

Rice has been a tough read this season. They were awful, then had a spurt of being pretty solid, then back to awful. The game against UTEP was no different, as the Owls trailed by as many as 19 in the first half, before rallying to force overtime, and then a second overtime before leaving with an 85-81 win over the Miners. The Owls hit 46% from 3-point range in the game. Junior Robert Martin led the Owls with 23 points and 13 rebounds. The Owls are resting until Sunday when they take on Middle Tennessee State at home.

BAYLOR BEARS (18-9) 9-5 Big XII

Last week (2-0): W- @ Iowa State 73-69, W- West Virginia 82-75

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

Baylor needed a big week after losing 3 out of 4, and they got it. The Bears went 2-0, including an upset road win at Iowa State, 73-69. Jared Butler led the way for Baylor with 17 points. Makai Mason returned from his toe injury with 14 points, but on an inefficient 18 shots. The Bears dominated the glass, 44-28, including 19 offensive rebounds. Baylor followed that up with a closer than expected win over a pretty bad West Virginia team, 82-75. The Bears had a 16-5 run in the last 3 minutes to seal the comeback victory. Mario Kegler paced the Bears with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Mason struggled again, going 0-7 from the field in 33 minutes on the floor. Baylor will try to carry that momentum through to this week when they face Texas and Kansas State.


TCU HORNED FROGS (18-9) 6-8 Big XII

Last week (1-0):
W- Iowa State 75-72

This week: Tuesday @ West Virginia, Saturday vs. Texas Tech

Kouat Noi and Alex Robinson both had double doubles for TCU, who got a much needed win over Iowa State, 75-72. Noi, who previously missed the last two games, had 20 points and 12 rebounds in his return. Robinson had 12 points and 10 rebounds. JD Miller scored 17 and Desmond Bane scored 19 in a balanced scoring attack for the Frogs. TCU was helped by Iowa State's ineptitude from behind the arc, where the Cyclones shot just 2-20. The Frogs have West Virginia and Texas Tech on tap for this week.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (22-5) 10-4 Big XII

Last week (1-0): W- Kansas 91-62

This week: Wednesday vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday @ TCU

The defense showed up as usual, but the offense was amazing in Texas Tech's 91-62 win over Kansas this weekend. The Raiders were 61% from the field and an incredible 62% from 3-point range (16-26) in the blowout win. The game was never within a possession after the first 4 minutes of the game, and Tech had a 45-20 lead at halftime. Jarrett Culver was 10/21 from the field and had 26 points in the win. Texas Tech moved to 11th in the polls, and has games against Oklahoma State and TCU on tap for this week.


SMU MUSTANGS (13-13) 5-9 American

Last week (1-1):
W- Connecticut 77-59, L- @ UCF 95-48

This week: Wednesday vs. Cincinnati, Sunday vs. Wichita

Mixed bag of results for the Mustangs last week. Things started out well enough, with a 77-59 blowout win over Connecticut. SMU had lost five straight and 7 of 8, with their only win coming against lowly Tulane before the UConn win. Jahmal McMurray led the way for the Ponies with 25 points in the win. The defense was also sharp, as they held the Huskies to just 31% from the field. Things took a drastic turn for the worse on the road, where the Mustangs were obliterated by UCF, 95-48. The Mustangs had no answer for Tacko Fall, who had 23 points and 20 rebounds for the Golden Knights. SMU didn't have anyone in double digit scoring, as Ethan Chargois led them with 9 points. The Mustangs get Cincinnati and Wichita at home this week.

LSU TIGERS (22-5) 12-2 SEC

Last week (1-1):
L- Florida 82-77, W- Tennessee 82-80

This week: Tuesday vs. Texas A&M, Saturday @ Alabama

LSU had a frustrating home loss to Florida, 82-77 to start the week. The Tigers gave up 15 offensive rebounds, a department they usually dominate. The other downfall came at the free throw line, where the usually sure shooting Tigers shot just 64%. Tremont Waters shot just 3-12 for LSU, who were paced by Skylar Mays' 18 points in defeat. LSU followed it up with an improbable 82-80 win over Tennessee. Javonte Smart hit two free throws with .6 seconds left to cap a career-high 29 point night. Mays added 23 points on a night where leading scorer Waters sat out with an illness and 3rd leading scorer Nad Reid scored just 1 point. The Tigers now have 2 top-5 wins in the last 10 days. 13th ranked LSU gets Texas A&M and Alabama this week.

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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