The college basketball report

NCAA basketball: Longhorns are on a roll but face toughest test

NCAA basketball: Longhorns are on a roll but face toughest test
Shaka Smart and the Longhorns are rolling. Jamie Squire/Getty Images


Last week (1-0): W- Citadel 97-69

This week:  Thursday vs. North Carolina

Texas struggled with the deep shot early in their matchup with The Citadel, going just 2-20 from distance in the 1st half. That all changed at halftime, and the Horns shot 10-22 from 3 in the 2nd half en route to a blowout win against the Bulldogs. Jase Febres led the charge, going 4-5 from behind the arc. Dylan Osetkowski and Kerwin Roach II led the Horns in scoring, with 15 a piece. Roach became the 37th Longhorn in program history to go over the 1,000 point mark. Texas has started well, but against poor competition. 3-point shooting has been a concern, and despite the strong 2nd half it was still a problem in this game. Turnovers have also troubled Texas, but they only gave it away 7 times in the game against The Citadel. Texas will get their biggest test of the young season on Thanksgiving day, when they take on seventh ranked North Carolina in Las Vegas. 


Last week (0-2): L- @ Gonzaga 94-71, L- Minnesota 69-64

This week: Tuesday vs. Washington, Friday vs. South Alabama

Texas A&M traveled to the Pacific Northwest to take on Gonzaga and play a game in Vancouver against Minnesota, and flew home with a bitter taste in their mouth. Gonzaga dominated from tip to buzzer, leading in the second half by as many as 34 points. The Aggies didn’t have an answer for the depth or shooting of Gonzaga, as the Bulldogs had five players in double digit scoring. Gonzaga also blocked 10 shots and had 8 steals in the game. The Aggies were led by Sauvion Flagg’s 18 points in the loss. The Aggies started slow against Minnesota, but fought back in the second half to make it a ball game, but the Gophers held on late and sent A&M to its third straight loss. The Aggies were 3-15 from 3-point range. Fouls also plagued the Ags, as the Gophers took 32 free throw attempts in the game. Brandon Mahan led the Aggies with 17 points in the loss. The Aggies have games with Washington and South Alabama this week. 


Last week (2-0): W- Rice 79-68, W- Northwestern State 82-55

This week: Saturday @ BYU

Armoni Brooks continued his impressive start to the season, leading the Cougars with 20 points in a 79-68 win over the Rice Owls. It was a balanced attack for Houston, who had four players over 15 points in the game. The Cougars shot 45% from distance, and were +11 in points from the free throw line. Houston protected the ball well, only turning the ball over seven times in the game. They had no problems with Northwestern State either, taking an 82-55 win on Monday night. Brooks led the charge again offensively with 15 points, but 5 Cougars finished in double figures. The Cougars were +10 in the turnover battle. Houston has just one game this week, Saturday against BYU. 


Last week (1-1): L- @ Houston 79-68, W- Northwestern State 102-74

This week: Wednesday @ BYU, Sunday @ Wichita State

Rice split their games this week, starting with a loss to cross-town rival Houston by a score of 79-68. Ako Adams did his part to keep the game close, scoring a team-high 19 points, including five 3-pointers and adding 5 assists. The Owls then got a dominant win over the Northwestern State Demons, 102-74. The Owls only led by four points at the half, but blew the game open in the second half. Freshman Quentin Miller-Brown was the standout for the Owls, scoring 21 points on 10 of 11 shooting, adding in 8 rebounds and 3 blocks. Fellow freshman Drew Peterson had 18 points, all coming from behind the arc. The 102 points was by far a season high for Rice. The Owls have road trips to BYU and Wichita coming up this week. 


Last week (1-0): W- Nicholls State 81-54

This week: Friday vs. Ole Miss

Baylor cruised to an 81-54 win over Nicholls State in their only game this week. Freshman Matthew Mayer led the Bears with 18 points, and Yale transfer Makai Mason had 11 in his first game for Baylor. Baylor had five players in double digits for the game. The Bears dominated on the defensive end, holding the Colonels to just 32% from the field. Baylor gets Ole Miss at a neutral site in Florida on Friday. 


Last week (1-0): W- Fresno State 77-69

This week: Tuesday vs. Lipscomb

TCU used a balanced attack to take a 77-69 win over Fresno State. All five starters hit double digits in scoring, led by Desmond Bane’s 23 points. Senior point guard Alex Robinson had 14 assists to go with his 13 points. The Frogs held Fresno to 38% shooting on the night. TCU gets a matchup with the 3-1 Lipscomb Bisons this week. 


Last week: W- Southeastern Louisiana 59-40, W- USC 78-63

This week: Saturday vs. Northern Colorado.

Texas Tech continued its hot start, rolling to a 59-40 win over Southeastern Louisiana. Jarrett Culver led the Raiders with 21 points, but it was the Red Raider defense that stole the show. Tech held SE Louisiana to 26% from the field and 17% from 3-point distance. Tech also led in points off turnovers, 18-4. Texas Tech started slow against USC, trailing by 9 at the half, but dominated the 2nd half on their way to a 78-63 win. Culver and senior forward Tariq Owens had 18 a piece to lead the Red Raiders in scoring. The Raiders hit 40% from distance and had 10 steals on the night. The Raiders get Northern Colorado on Saturday. 


Last week (1-1): W- Western Carolina 98-65, L- Lipscomb 79-73

This week: Tuesday vs. Bradley

SMU rode the hot hand of Jamal McMurray in their 98-65 blowout win over Western Carolina. McMurray was unstoppable, hitting 14 of 17 from the field. The Mustangs hit 47% from 3 and forced 23 turnovers by the Catamounts. SMU had a 7-point halftime lead against Lipscomb, but couldn’t hold on and dropped their 2nd game of the season, 79-73. McMurray was 3-19 from the field and 2-10 from distance. The shaky start to the season is a stark contrast to last season, when SMU had early season wins over Arizona and USC. The Ponies have just one game this week, Tuesday against Bradley. 


Last week (2-0): W- Memphis 85-76, W- Louisiana Tech 74-67

This week: Thursday vs. Charleston

LSU continues to play inspired basketball to start the season. They took a hard-fought win over Memphis 85-76. Junior Skylar Mays led the Tigers with 19 points in the win. LSU’s 3 fresmen starters all scored 11 points. Tremont Waters struggled from the field, shooting just 3-11, but the Tigers picked up the slack. LSU shot 54% as a team in the game. It wouldn’t be easy against Louisiana Tech either, but the Tigers again found a way, taking a 74-67 win. Freshman Ja’Vante Smart scored 16, including a go-ahead 3-pointer late in the 2nd half. LSU shot only 20% from long range in the game. The Tigers have just one game next week, against Charleston on Thanksgiving Day. 

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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