The UH/AAC Report

Houston receives reality check after their upset loss to SMU; The AAC West is up for grabs

Houston receives reality check after their upset loss to SMU; The AAC West is up for grabs
D'Eriq King and his offense struggled against SMU Houston Cougar Football Facebook

SMU 45, Houston 31

Houston traveled up to Dallas as the No. 2 scoring offense in the nation to face an SMU team that was on paper very beatable. But Mustang’s QB Ben Hicks and company had other plans on a night that unexpectedly opened up a closer race for the AAC West division. After suffering their loss on Saturday, Houston only has a one game conference lead in the AAC West sitting at 4-1, while SMU and Tulane are currently tied at 3-2. Losing the division lead was seemingly out of reach for UH a week ago after their explosive victory against USF. But here they are, facing a much needed reality check which will hopefully translate into positive improvements.

Houston QB D’Eriq King and his offense were completely unrecognizable mainly due to the new defensive looks SMU was giving them. The Mustang defense decided to switch up their traditional scheme to one that was fully committed to protecting the air, while surrendering the ground. Their gamble worked. Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles couldn’t seem to draw up an effective run game, causing him to rely on an uncharacteristically inaccurate King on third and long. King went for 11 of 22, 175 passing yards, 54 rushing yards, and 2 TDs; his lowest offensive showing this season.

Star DT Ed Oliver sat out his second game in a row due to a knee injury he suffered at Navy. He was a game time decision, but was sidelined before kickoff because of discomfort. Since Oliver’s absence, UH has allowed 81 points, and for the fourth time this season, Houston has allowed four opposing offenses to gain over 500 total yards.

Houston was down 17 points and was shut out by the end of the first quarter, but after a quick strike TD from King to WR Marquez Stevenson, and a fumble recovery TD scored by the defense, the Coogs came back to cut the difference to only three points in the second quarter. But that was the closest the Cougars would get to a fearless SMU team. Houston continued to attempt to get the run game going while Hicks was going off against the school he de-committed to back in 2014. Hicks went for 28 of 43, had 318 passing yards, and threw four TDs.

The weather was also seemingly going against Houston that night. A lightning delay halted any momentum the Cougars were seemingly gaining and sealed a well-deserved win for SMU. Houston falls to 7-2 for the season and will host Temple for their homecoming game on Saturday at 6 p.m., while SMU closes in on the AAC West division at 4-5 and will face a 1-8 Connecticut team.

Positives do remain. No notable injuries occurred. Stevenson continues to prove that he is one of the best WRs in the AAC. Oliver remains day by day, but should be ready to go this week. And best of all, Houston continues to control its own destiny towards the AAC championship game. 

Negatives also loom. Houston plays a Temple team this week that was just in a shootout with UCF. They also have yet to play a Memphis team that is capable to run the ball all over them. The offensive game plan was also worrisome. It’s interesting to ask ourselves why HC Applewhite and OC Briles were so inclined to keep trying the run game for so long when it was apparent it would never get going? Houston has proved they can make quick, in game, adjustments throughout the season, so why stick to an obviously faulty run game? Lastly, the extent of Oliver’s injury is realistically unknown. The video looks worse that what they are making it seem, but hopefully he’ll be good to go by this weekend.

After allowing only five sacks in the first eight games, King was sacked four times by the Mustangs.

Major Applewhite’s record as Houston’s head coach is 14-8.

Marquez Stevenson has his 5th career 100 yard receiving game.

Memphis 59, ECU 41

Memphis can knock off Houston as the leader of the AAC West. They currently sit at 2-3 in conference play, and are 2 games behind Houston. But after their win in Greenville, NC, it is hard to dismiss the Tigers and their elusive run scheme from contention. QB Brady White went 21 of 30, threw for 362 yards, and had three total TDs. He was accompanied by RB Darrell Henderson who had 21 carries, rushed for 132 yards, and two rushing TDs. WR Damonte Coxie had 10 receptions, 176 receiving yards, and 2 TDs. This Memphis team is capable of putting big numbers on the board, and they proved it in the second half where they scored 35 points which earned them a hard fought win over the Pirates last Saturday. The Tigers improve to 5-4 in the season and will play Tulsa at home. ECU falls to 2-5 and will face Tulane, who upset USF by a huge margin.

UCF 52, Temple 40

Temple and No. 12 UCF got into a typical AAC shootout on Thursday night. The Owls managed to win the first half by scoring 34 points, but the Golden Knights always had an answer and also lit up the scoreboard with 28 points of their own. The key to the game for UCF came in the third quarter, where they managed to shut out Temple after what seemed like an impossible task to do. UCF only allowed the Owls to score six points in the second half, halting an impressive performance by QB Anthony Russo who went 31 of 52, threw for 444 yards, rushed for 46 yards and had five total touchdowns. WR Ryquell Armstead lead Temple in receiving with 7 catches for 142 yards, including two TDs. Much of the offense came from the ground for UCF, where Greg McCrea had 16 carries, 188 rushing yards, and a TD. QB McKenzie Milton went for 17 of 33, threw for 312 yards, rushed for 19 yards, and had four total TDs. The Golden Knights improve to 8-0 on the season and will face Navy at home, while Temple falls to 5-4 and will travel to Houston.

Other Notable Results in the AAC

Cincinnati 42, Navy 0

Tulsa 49, Connecticut 19

Tulane 41, South Florida 15

Stats pulled via UH Cougar Football.

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Reed Sheppard to Houston seems to be the common consensus. Composite Getty Image.

French 7-footer Alexandre Sarr has widely been projected to follow the footsteps of fellow countryman Victor Wembanyama as the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.

But Sarr isn't the only big man expected to have his name called.

Though the June 26 draft isn't loaded with bigs, it does have the two-time national college player of the year and a two-time national champion available.

UConn's Donovan Clingan won two national championships and could go in the lottery with his strong pick-and-roll skills and shot-blocking ability.

Purdue's Zach Edey is expected to go much later in the first round due to his lack of mobility and perimeter shooting, but he is the first two-time national player of the year since Ralph Sampson, so there's likely a place for him in the NBA.

This year's draft also includes Kyle Filipowski from Duke, Indiana's Kel'el Ware and Baylor's Yves Missi, so there will be chances for teams looking to add size.

Then again, some team may even take a chance on using a first-round pick on Southern California's Bronny James, son of NBA career scoring leader LeBron James.

1. ATLANTA HAWKS: Alexandre Sarr, center, France

Sarr doesn't have the all-around skills of Wembanyama, but then no one really does. He's still extremely talented, an athletic 7-footer who can wreck rims and the hopes of opposing shooters. Sarr's shot still needs some work, but he could end up becoming a franchise player in the next few years. Atlanta fans should love watching him throw down lobs from Trae Young.

2. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Zaccharie Risacher, forward, France

Many NBA mock drafts have Risacher going No. 1 — and for good reason. The 6-foot-9 forward has the skills of a guard and should be a perfect fit for today's NBA. Risacher is a superb catch-and-shoot wing who can beat defenders off the dribble and has a huge defensive upside with his length and athleticism. He may end up being the franchise player the Wizards need in their rebuild.

3. HOUSTON ROCKETS: Reed Sheppard, guard, Kentucky

The Rockets need shooters and Sheppard is certainly that. The 6-3 guard may be the best shooter in the draft — his 52% mark would have led Division I last season if he had enough attempts to qualify.

He has a high basketball IQ — both parents played at Kentucky — and averaged 12.5 points as a freshman.

Last week's mock draft also had Sheppard going to the Rockets.

4. SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Stephon Castle, guard, UConn

The Huskies were loaded with talented players in their title defense last season and Castle had no trouble fitting in as a freshman. The 6-6 guard is a solid playmaker who can get his own shot and is a hard-nosed defender. His size and athleticism could end up making him one of the best players of the draft, particularly if he improves his outside shot. Even at 19, he’s already a proven winner.

5. DETROIT PISTONS: Matas Buzelis, forward, G League Ignite

Buzelis bypassed college basketball to play in the G League and improved his draft status by gaining muscle while rounding out his game. The 6-8 forward is an excellent playmaker who can see over defenders and finishes strong at the rim in transition. Buzelis will need to work on his perimeter shooting, though: He hit 27% from 3 for the Ignite last season.

6. CHARLOTTE HORNETS: Donovan Clingan, center, UConn

Clingan's a proven winner as the massive anchor to UConn's back-to-back NCAA titles. Though he doesn't fit the NBA mold of a perimeter-shooting big man, the 7-2, 280-pounder is a load for opponents inside at both ends of the floor and would be a great fit for a Charlotte team that was 25th in the NBA in blocked shots last season. Clingan also is excellent at finishing on lobs, which could be a great fit with LaMelo Ball running the point in Charlotte.

7. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Rob Dillingham, guard, Kentucky

Portland was last in the NBA in 3-point percentage last season and Dillingham's 44% mark in his lone season at Kentucky was nearly 10 points higher than the Blazers' percentage. Though small at 6-1, 165 pounds, Dillingham has a big game with an ability to score at three levels and has the quickness to beat defenders off the dribble. His size could be a liability on defense.

8. SAN ANTONIO SPURS: Ron Holland II, forward, G League Unite

Holland could end up being the best defensive forward in the draft. The 6-7 forward has a nose for the ball defensively — he averaged more than 2 steals a game in the G League — and is excellent in the open floor. Holland can create his own shot, but needs to make more after shooting 24% from 3 on 3.6 attempts per game last season. The Spurs are at least in a position to wait for him to develop.

9. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES: Dalton Knecht, guard, Tennessee

A knockdown shooter, Knecht could be a great complement to Ja Morant. The 6-6 shooting guard is superb at shooting off screens and can fill it up in a hurry, like he did while scoring 37 points against Purdue in the Elite Eight. Knecht is close to a finished product already, a 23-year-old who should contribute right away.

10. UTAH JAZZ: Tidjane Salaun, forward, France

Salaun can make it three French players as lottery picks in this year's draft. The 6-9 forward fits the NBA style of play. He can shoot it from deep and improved his game — not to mention his frame — while playing in the French LNB Pro A, the same league as Wembanyama before his move to the NBA. Salaun may be a longer-term project, but has massive upside.

11. CHICAGO BULLS: Cody Williams, guard, Colorado

He’s a thin 6-8, but has the size and athleticism to shoot over or get around defenders. Williams can create his own shot, is an excellent finisher and has good playmaking skills for a shooting guard. He shot a respectable 41% from 3 during his freshman season and has a huge defensive upside with his length and agility.

12. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER: Ron Holland, forward, G League Unite

Holland could end up being the best defensive forward in the draft. The 6-7 forward has a nose for the ball defensively — he averaged more than 2 steals a game in the G League — and is excellent in the open floor, which would be a great fit in OKC. Holland can create his own shot, but needs to make more after shooting 24% from 3 on 3.6 attempts per game last season. The Thunder are at least in a position to wait for him to develop.

13. SACRAMENTO KINGS: Devin Carter, guard, Providence

The 6-3 guard has a massive wingspan and vertical leap, which helped allow him make a big jump from 13 points to 19.7 last season. Carter has a high basketball IQ, is a hard-nosed defender and an excellent rebounder for a guard. The son of former NBA player Anthony Carter, he was the Big East player of the year in a league that included Clingan and Castle.

14. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS: Ja'Kobe Walter, guard, Baylor

The 6-5 guard was not shy in putting it up from 3 for the Bears as a freshman, taking more than four a game while shooting 34%. His long wingspan and athleticism give Walter the potential to become a defensive stopper at the next level. Shot selection and adding a bit of muscle to his 197-pound frame will be the biggest adjustments in the move to the NBA, but he's only 19, so there's plenty of time.

15. MIAMI HEAT: Nikola Topic, guard, Serbia

At 6-6, Topic is a superb passer with great vision and size to see over defenders. He also has the strength to get into the lane and can finish strong at the rim, making him able to control a game even without being a great 3-point shooter. Would be projected to go higher — maybe with the Spurs’ first pick at No. 4 — but medical tests showed he has a partially torn ACL in his left knee, which he injured twice last season in Europe.

16. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS: Jared McCain, guard, Duke

He was Duke's toughest competitor during his lone season in Durham and is an elite shooter who could fit in on any team. McCain is an excellent shooter off screens and in the pullup game, but can also run the point if needed. He has a high basketball IQ, so should pick up the NBA game fairly quickly.

17. LOS ANGELES LAKERS: Kel'el Ware, center, Indiana

The 7-footer with a 7-5 wingspan has the length and game to have an immediate impact in the NBA. Ware quickly moved up NBA draft boards during team workouts and is a strong rim protector. He's also excellent on lobs and shot 43% from 3 last season, making him the type of stretch big man NBA teams covet.

18. ORLANDO MAGIC: Carlton Carrington, guard, Pittsburgh

The player known as “Bub” gets buckets in bunches and loves the pull-up J. The 6-4 guard has good size to play point guard and, at 19, has plenty of time to develop. His biggest downside: perimeter shooting. Carrington didn’t lack for confidence in his freshman season, attempting 6.1 3s per game, but shot 32% from the arc.

19. TORONTO RAPTORS: Zach Edey, center, Purdue

Even with a lack of mobility and perimeter shooting, Edey was still the first repeat AP national player of the year since Ralph Sampson. At 7-4, 300 pounds, he dominated the college game and will be a handful even in the NBA. The Canadian would be a popular pick by the Raptors.

20: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: Tristan da Silva, forward, Colorado

Any team could use a steady, do-it-all type of player and da Silva is just that. The 6-8 forward doesn't have eye-catching athleticism, but he is smart and has the size and strength to endure the rigors of the NBA. He also can guard multiple positions and may be the most NBA-ready player in the draft after playing four years in Boulder.

21. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS: Isaiah Collier, guard, USC

While Bronny James got much of the hype in Southern California, Collier was the higher-rated prospect out of high school. Once projected as a lottery pick, his draft stock took a bit of a hit during an inconsistent lone season with the Trojans. Even so, Collier has the type of game and solid frame that could translate well in the NBA. The 6-3 guard plays hard with the strength and quickness to get past defenders, but needs to work on his perimeter game after shooting 34% from the college 3-point line.

22. PHOENIX SUNS: Tyler Kolek, guard, Marquette

The Suns have plenty of firepower led by Kevin Durant and Devin Booker but could use a true point guard to help get them organized. The two-time All-American can certainly do that and also provide points when needed, and should be a familiar name to new coach Mike Budenholzer from his time coaching in Milwaukee.

23. MILWAUKEE BUCKS: Yves Missi, center, Baylor

Missi knows his game and sticks to it. A high-motor 6-11 forward, he is a rim runner and shot blocker who didn’t even attempt a 3-pointer last season. The Cameroon native should transition well to the pick-and-roll game of the NBA and is a thunderous dunker, as he proved during his lone season with the Bears.

24. NEW YORK KNICKS: Kyle Filipowski, center, Duke

New York is loaded with Duke fans and Filipowski could be an instant favorite. The sturdy 6-11 center may not be an elite rim protector or a consistent 3-point shooter, but he has good footwork and plays hard. The Knicks had a solid run into the second round of the playoffs and Filipowski could be another piece to help push them deeper.

25. NEW YORK KNICKS: Terrence Shannon, guard, Illinois

Shannon can flat-out score and has shown he can do it in big moments. Sexual assault accusations might have made teams leery of taking the dynamic guard in the first round, but the Knicks might be willing to take a chance following a not guilty verdict earlier this month.

26. WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Johnny Furphy, guard, Kansas

The 6-8 Australian has a smooth shooting stroke and gets his shot off quickly. He also has good touch around the rim and good instincts on defense, often leading to steals. Furphy is not much of a shot creator off the dribble and needs to work on his individual defense, so he could need a year or two of development.

27. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES: DaRon Holmes II, forward, Dayton

The 6-9 forward is good in the pick-and-roll game and a strong finisher at the rim. Holmes has improved his outside shooting, hitting 39% from the 3-point arc after shooting 32% the season before. He can defend multiple positions, but would be undersized as a center in the NBA. He also isn’t much of a shot creator, but his pick-and-roll skills may offset that.

28. DENVER NUGGETS: Jaylon Tyson, forward, California

Denver's bid to repeat as NBA champions hit a wall in the second round when its top players were stretched to the limit. Tyson could give them a solid boost off the bench. The 6-6 guard has good size, finishes strong at the rim and is a decent perimeter shooter. He increased his scoring average nearly 10 points to 19.6 last season, so has shown the ability to develop his game.

29. UTAH JAZZ: Bobi Klintman, forward, Wake Forest/Australia

The back end of the first round is typically filled with potential projects and Klintman is an intriguing one. The 6-9 stretch forward from Sweden has good length, both physically and shooting ability. Klintman moves more like a guard and is a good passer for a big man. He will likely need a few years of development before becoming ready, but is worth the risk late in the first round.

30. BOSTON CELTICS: Bronny James, guard, USC

The champion Celtics already have a loaded roster, so there's room to take a chance on LeBron's son. Bronny James has an incredible feel for the game after learning from his father and has a solid 6-4 frame. He had a so-so freshman season at USC, averaging 4.8 points and 27% shooting from 3-point range, but has the potential to be a solid pro. James also could come with a huge bonus if his father follows through with his intention to play at least one season with his son.

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