College basketball week in review

Texas in a tailspin; LSU and Baylor surging this week

Shaka Smart and Texas are fading fast. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

TEXAS LONGHORNS (11-9) 3-4 Big XII

Last week (0-2):
L- @ TCU 65-61, L- @ Georgia 98-88

This week: Tuesday vs. Kansas, Saturday @ Iowa State

Texas' tournament chances are fading. They lost both of their games this week, and have now lost five of their last six games. They started off with a 65-61 loss at TCU. Texas actually kept pace with the Frogs from a shooting standpoint (46.1%-45.6%) but lost the turnover and rebounding battles. The Horns hung in the game until late, but missed a desperation 3-point attempt with a chance to tie after the Frogs used their fouls to give to disrupt the Texas offense. Kerwin Roach III led the Horns with 15 points in the loss. Things went from bad to worse against Georgia, with the Dawgs taking down Texas 98-88 in the Big XII-SEC Challenge. The Bulldogs had their way from the field, shooting 67% from the field and 71% from 3-point range. Texas forced 26 turnovers, but the hot shooting of Georgia prevented them from taking advantage of it. Courtney Ramey scored 19 points to lead Texas in the loss. Things don't get much easier this week for Shaka Smart's team, with Kansas and a road trip to Iowa State on the schedule.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (8-10) 1-5 SEC

Last week (1-1): L- @ Florida 81-72, W- Kansas State 65-53

This week: Wednesday vs. LSU, Saturday vs. Tennessee

Odd week for the Aggies. First, they dropped an 81-72 battle to Florida, dropping them to 1-5 in SEC play. Florida killed the Aggies from outside, shooting 18-37 from distance. The Aggies led for a long portion of the game, from the middle of the first half to the middle of the second half, but finally gave up the lead for good with about nine minutes to play. Wendell Mitchell scored 25 points to lead the Aggies in the loss. Texas A&M then got their best win of the season, and their first win over a likely tournament team, beating Kansas State 65-53. The Aggies trailed by four at halftime, but dominated the second half. Wendell Mitchell scored 22 to lead the Aggies, and all of them came after halftime. The Aggies used a zone-heavy defensive scheme, and it paid dividends, as the Wildcats shot just 33% from the field and 23% from 3-point range. The Aggies have tough matchups this week against LSU and the No. 1 team in the country, Tennessee.

HOUSTON COUGARS (20-1) 7-1 American

Last week (2-0): W- East Carolina 94-50, W- @ Tulsa 77-65

This week: Thursday vs. Temple

Houston continues to roll through AAC competition. They got a dominant win over East Carolina, 94-50. Armoni Brooks led the Cougars with 17 points, but it was a balanced attack from UH. Twelve players saw minutes in the blowout win, with 10 of them logging points. The Coogs dominated on the boards, 47-22 and at the 3-point line, 67% to 9%. Houston then went on the road, and got an impressive road win over an underrated Tulsa team, 77-65. Brooks again led the way for the Coogs, scoring 22 points, including six 3-pointers. The rebounding difference again told the story, with the Coogs grabbing 49 boards to Tulsa's 24. Houston became the first team in the country to hit the 20 win mark. The 2-0 week bumped the Cougars to 13 in the latest polls. UH has just one game this week, a home game with Temple that will give them the opportunity to avenge their lone loss of the season.

RICE OWLS (8-13) 3-5 CUSA

Last week (1-1): W- Middle Tennessee 72-68, L- UAB 89-86

This week: Thursday @ Charlotte, Saturday @ Old Dominion

It's hard to say that Rice is having a solid season, but they are definitely better than expected. The Owls got their eighth win of the season last week, 72-68 over Middle Tennessee, surpassing their 2017-18 win total. Chris Mullins had 19 and Trey Murphy put up 18 in the win. The two combined to go 7-of-12 from deep. The Owls trailed by four at halftime, but controlled the second half on their way to an easy win. They followed it up with a tough loss, 89-86 against UAB. Murphy put up 24 points in the losing effort. Rice shot the ball well (52%) but the difference came in the turnover department, where the Blazers bested the Owls 13-3. The Owls have a good shot at another win this week, with a road game at CUSA bottom-feeding Charlotte before heading to Old Dominion.

BAYLOR BEARS (14-6) 5-2 Big XII

Last week (2-0):
W- Alabama 73-68, W- @ Oklahoma 77-47

This week: Saturday vs. Alabama, Sunday @ Oklahoma

Baylor played their role in helping the Big XII win the Big XII/SEC Showdown with a 73-68 win over Alabama. Sophomore Mario Kegler led the way with 17 points in the victory. Statistically, the teams were even for the most part. Baylor used a slight edge in rebounding and turnover margin to seal the win. There wasn't anything even about Baylor's matchup with Oklahoma. The Bears trounced the Sooners, 77-47. The Sooners last lead was at 9-8, and Baylor went on to dominate on both ends. The Bears shot 54% from the field, compared to Oklahoma's 27%. Baylor dominated in basically every statistical metric. Makai Mason led the Bears with 12 points in the win. Baylor gets TCU at home on Saturday.

TCU HORNED FROGS (15-5) 3-4 Big XII

Last week (2-1):
W- Texas 65-61, W- Florida 55-50, L- @ Texas Tech 84-65

This week: Saturday @ Baylor

TCU started the week strong, with a 65-61 win over Texas. Kouat Noi had missed the previous game with an illness, but showed no signs of it against the Horns, posting 15 points and 11 rebounds in his first career double-double. Desmond Bane led the Frogs with 17 points. TCU was +9 in rebounding, and was able to hold off a late Texas charge to take home the win. They followed that up with a non-conference win over a solid Florida team, 55-50. Noi was big again, this time leading the Frogs with 22 points. Again the Frogs dominated the glass, with a 45-33 rebounding advantage. Things didn't go as smoothly on the road, as TCU got smashed by Texas Tech in Lubbock, 84-65. Noi played well again, with 17 points, but TCU lost the rebounding battle and turned it over nearly twice as many times as the Raiders. TCU has an important road game against Baylor on Saturday.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (17-4) 5-3 Big XII

Last week (2-1): L- @ Kansas State 58-45, W- Arkansas 67-64, W- TCU 84-65

This week: Saturday @ Kansas, Monday vs. West Virginia

Texas Tech started off the week with their third straight loss, 58-45 to Kansas State. Tech got a taste of its own medicine, as the Wildcats held the Raiders to just 33% from the field. Jarrett Culver had 17 and Tariq Owens added 12 to lead Tech, but no other Red Raider scored more than 6 points in the loss. They righted the ship against Arkansas, taking a 67-64 victory at home. The Raiders got their shooting percentage back up to 51%, and Davide Moretti led the way with 21 points in the victory. Tech lost the turnover battle, a rarity this season, but overcame it with hot shooting from outside, hitting 10-of-19 from long range. The Red Raiders stepped on the gas against TCU, drubbing the Frogs 84-65. Culver and Matt Mooney both had 18 points in the win, and Owens added 17. The Raiders handled the ball well all night, dishing out 20 assists and committing only seven turnovers. Tech has a road trip to Kansas and a home tilt against West Virginia in the next week. They currently sit at 16th in the poll.

SMU MUSTANGS (12-7) 4-3 American

Last week (1-0):
W-Tulane 85-75

This week: Wednesday @ Wichita State, Saturday @ Cincinnati

SMU rebounded from back to back losses last week with an 85-75 win over Tulane. This was a back and forth game for the most part, but a 9-0 run gave the Mustangs enough juice to pull ahead and stay ahead, taking the season sweep over the Green Wave. The Mustangs forced 16 turnovers, and only gave it back nine times. Jahmal McMurray led the Mustangs with 29 points. Isiaha Mike went 5-of-5 from 3-point range to help him to 20 points. SMU hits the road this week against a struggling Wichita State team and a strong Cincinnati squad.

LSU TIGERS (16-3) 6-0 SEC

Last week (2-0):
W- Georgia 92-82, W- @ Mizzou 86-80 (OT)

This week: Wednesday @ Texas A&M, Saturday vs. Arkansas

LSU continued to roll through the SEC with another 2-win week. The Tigers got a 92-82 win over Georgia in a game that saw Tremont Waters break out. Waters was 9-of-14 from the field and had 26 points to go along with four assists and four steals. Skylar Mays added 20 points in the win. Mays came up even bigger against Mizzou, leading them to an 86-80 overtime win. Mays scored 11 of his 24 points with under three minutes to go in regulation. The Tigers were down by 14 points with just over two minutes to play, and were able to roar back and force overtime. LSU dominated in overtime to get a six-point win. Ja'Vante Smart and Nad Reid each added 14 in the win. The Tigers jumped from 25 to 19 in the latest polls. They get Texas A&M and Arkansas this week.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans loss rests squarely on this decision

Another tough loss for the Texans. Photo by Getty Images.

There are times in which you gamble and it pays off. Then there are times in which you gamble and lose badly. Today was definitely the latter. The Texans fell to the Titans 42-36 in an overtime thriller. The loss rests squarely on the head of interim head coach Romeo Crennel and his ill-timed gambling at the end of the game.

It started with the gamble to go for it on 4th&1 on the Titans' 35-yard line with 4:37 left in the game. That move said two things: A) we're on the road at 1-4 against the 4-0 division leader up by one point so let's try to end this, or B) I don't trust our kicker to make a 53-yard field goal. They converted because David Johnson is good for slamming into the backs of the offensive line for at least a yard or three. The next gamble came eight plays later. It was 4th & Goal from the 1-yard line. The play call was a pass. Deshaun Watson found Randall Cobb after scrambling to extend the play and putting the ball in a tight window on the sideline where only Cobb could catch it. Here's where I started to have a problem with the gambling.

That touchdown made it 36-29 in favor of the Texans. Up by seven with less than two minutes left in the game, the "right" call would be to kick the extra point to potentially go up by eight. That forces the opposition to have to score a touchdown and convert a two point conversion in order to tie the game. Alas...Crennel gambled by trying to force things, went for two, and came up short. Kenny Rogers once said: You've got to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.

The porous defense, however, gave up the game tying touchdown and extra point with four seconds left to send the game into overtime. From there, the Titans got the ball in overtime and drove down the field for the game winning score. A team that played a game on Tuesday evening bullied a team on Sunday at noon. Let that sink in. Sure, Derrick Henry is a linebacker playing running back, but the amount of yards you gave up to him was unacceptable.

Not kicking that extra point to go up by eight with less than two minutes left (1:50 to be exact) was the key coaching move that I feel cost them the game. There's no coming back from blunders like that when you're now 1-5 and would need to go at least 8-2 with tons of help down the stretch to have an outside shot at the newly created seventh spot in the playoffs. You had the division leader down and were in position to get a division win to go to 2-4. Instead, you're now in position to help the Dolphins continue to improve their franchise from the boneheaded decisions Bill O'Brien made before his exit. Crennel and staff coached a good game, until the end when it mattered most. With an extra playoff spot available, they still have an outside shot to make it, but it'll be difficult.

This city and fanbase deserve better. One day, they'll get it and get a winner. Until then unfortunately, they'll have to settle for purgatory, disappointment, and mediocrity. Hold tight. I see good things coming one day Houston football fans.

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