COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT

NCAA hoops: Aggies keep rolling; tough loss for UH

NCAA hoops: Aggies keep rolling; tough loss for UH
The Longhorns picked up a win and a loss. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

TEXAS LONGHORNS (7-3)

Last week (1-1): L-Michigan 59-52, W-Louisiana Tech 75-60

This week: Monday vs. Tennessee St., Friday vs. Alabama

The root of the problems with last season’s Texas basketball team was poor shooting. The Horns had a nightmarish flashback to that in the Michigan game on Tuesday, shooting 36.5% from the field in a 59-52 loss. The offense struggled in their first game without leading scorer Andrew Jones, who Shaka Smart hopes to have back before the New Year. Dylan Osetkowski led the Horns with 17. Osetkowski would also lead them on Saturday, scoring 22 points and pulling down 7 rebounds in a 75-60 win over Louisiana Tech. Texas shot 42%  from 3-point range in the win. Texas finishes their non-conference schedule this week hosting Tennessee State on Monday and a solid Alabama squad on Friday.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (9-1)

Last week (1-0): W-Savannah State 113-66

This week: Tuesday vs. Northern Kentucky, Thursday vs. Buffalo 

Texas A&M had a memorable performance against Savannah State in a 113-66 win. The 113 points were the most put up by an Aggie team since 1989, and they also set a school record for made 3-pointers in a game with 16. DJ Hogg hit 5 3-pointers as part of his team high 18 points. The Aggies should go into SEC play with a strong 11-1 mark, assuming they take care of business this week against Northern Kentucky and Buffalo. 

HOUSTON COUGARS (9-2) 

Last week (1-1): L-@ LSU 80-77, W-Prairie View A&M 92-72

This week: Wednesday vs. Providence

Houston had one of their most disappointing performances of the season, and still almost pulled out a victory against LSU, dropping to the Tigers 80-77 in Baton Rouge. Rob Gray put up 20 points, but shot only 1-6 from 3-point range. The Cougars were out-rebounded for the first time this season. Houston got back on track against Prairie View A&M, with a crushing 92-72 win. Armani Brooks scored 24 in the win, and the Cougars shot better than 50% from 3 in the game. Houston only has one game this week, taking on a strong, but injured Providence team.

RICE OWLS (3-8)

Last week (1-1): W-St. Edwards 91-86, L-@ Texas Tech 73-53

This week: Tuesday @ New Mexico. Friday vs. Texas State

Mixed results for the Owls this week. They got a win over St. Edwards, 91-86, but edging out a lower division school isn’t exactly screaming that things are getting better. Connor Cashew matched his career-high with 27 points in the win. Cashaw had 21 points and 12 rebounds against Texas Tech, but the Owls got hammered 73-53 in Lubbock. The Owls lost the turnover battle 26-9 and were dominated on both ends. Rice travels to New Mexico and hosts Texas State before starting a potentially rough Conference-USA schedule. 

BAYLOR BEARS (9-2)

Last week (2-0): W-Texas Southern 99-68, W-Savannah State 118-86

This week: Wednesday vs. Southern

Baylor continues to punish inferior competition this season, pulling in 2 more blowout wins last week. The first was a 99-68 win over Texas Southern, that saw the return of Manu Lecomte who put in 22 points after missing a game with a sprained thumb. Nuni Omot also had 22 in the win. Sunday’s 118-86 dismantling of Savannah State was the Jo Lual-Acuil show. The Baylor center had a career high 31 points and 20 rebounds in the win. Lecomte added 25 points. The Bears just have one game left before Big XII play starts up, Wednesday night against Southern. 

TCU HORNED FROGS (12-0)

Last week: IDLE

This week: Monday vs. Texas Southern, Friday vs. William & Mary

Jamie Dixon’s team will look to finish the non-conference season unbeaten with games against Texas Southern and William & Mary this week. 

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (9-1)

Last week (0-1): W-Kennesaw State 82-53, W-Rice 73-53


This week: Tuesday vs. Florida Atlantic, Friday vs. Abilene Christian

The Red Raiders had little trouble this week, with blowout wins over Kennesaw State and Rice. 14 players got time on the floor in the 82-53 win over the Kennesaw State Owls. Keenan Evans led the Raiders with 16 and they doubled up Kennesaw on the glass. The Rice Owls didn’t fair much better, as the Raiders smashed their former Southwest Conference opponents 73-53. The Red Raiders shot 49% from the field and forced 26 turnovers. Wins over Florida Atlantic and Abilene Christian would send Tech into conference play with a top 20 ranking. 

SMU MUSTANGS (8-3)

Last week (1-0): W-New Orleans 79-66

This week: Monday vs. Boise St., Tuesday vs. Cal Poly

Jimmy Whitt led the Mustangs with 19 points and 8 assists en route to a 79-66 win over New Orleans, improving SMU to 7-0 at home this season. The guard-heavy Ponies shot 11-22 from 3-point range. SMU will look to extend their home winning streak with back to back games against Boise State and Cal Poly on Monday and Tuesday before starting up AAC play. 
 

LSU TIGERS (6-3)

Last week (1-1): W-Houston 80-77, L-Stephen F. Austin 83-82

This week: Tuesday vs. Sam Houston State, Friday vs. North Florida

LSU impressed with a big win over a strong Houston Cougar team, 80-77. Aaron Epps had a career-night, setting personal highs in points (26) and rebounds (16). Tremont Waters had 17 points and blocked the game-tying 3-point attempt with seconds remaining. Epps followed up his hero performance with a rough finish in a 83-82 loss to Stephen F. Austin. Epps missed a game-winning layup at the buzzer for a disappointing finish to a 16 point, 10 rebound effort. The Tigers get Sam Houston State and North Florida this week. 

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The NBA Draft takes place this Wednesday and Thursday. Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images.

This year's NBA draft features potential starters and valuable role players more so than no-doubt future stars. That becomes evident when looking at the headlining prospects among big men.

French teenager Alexandre Sarr from France could go No. 1 overall with his length and defensive potential, key reasons why he has thrice topped the AP's NBA mock draft. Meanwhile, Donovan Clingan from two-time reigning national champion UConn also will likely be a high pick as a rim-protecting force.

It's just unclear how quickly any will be ready for a leading role in the league, particularly offensively.

Here's a look at some of the top players in the position:

Alexandre Sarr, France

STRENGTHS: The athleticism, mobility and length offer significant upside at both ends of the court for the 7-footer, whether as a rim protector and versatile defender or as a rim-runner off pick-and-rolls for lobs on offense. Sarr, 19, spent two seasons with the Overtime Elite developmental program for top prospects in the United States, then last season with Perth in the Australian-based National Basketball League as part of its “Next Stars” program. He ranked tied for second there by averaging 1.5 blocks despite averaging just 17.3 minutes.

He finished strong by averaging 10.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 assists in his last six games with Perth. He also ranked among the best at the combine with a wingspan of better than 7-4.

CONCERNS: He'll need time to add bulk to a lean 224-pound frame and handle the rigors of an NBA season. Developing more consistent 3-point range (he shot 29% in the NBL last season) will be key to fully realizing his defense-stretching potential.

Donovan Clingan, UConn

STRENGTHS: He is big, strong and surprisingly nimble for his imposing 7-2, 282-pound frame, which made him an interior shot-blocking force in the Huskies' run to college basketball's first repeat men's title in 17 years. He ranked eighth in Division I by averaging 2.5 blocks per game despite playing just 22.6 minutes, then had some massive games in the NCAA Tournament. That included eight blocks and 14 rebounds in the second-round win against Northwestern, followed by 22 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in a regional final against Illinois (the Illini were 0 for 19 on Clingan-challenged shots ) and four more swats against Alabama in the Final Four.

The 20-year-old sophomore runs the floor well despite his bulk and is a strong finisher. He also was tied for first at the combine in standing reach (9-7) and was second in wingspan (nearly 7-7).

CONCERNS: It's unclear how well he might handle switches to defend outside the paint in space. While he shot nearly 64% to rank among the national leaders, he has rarely had to produce much outside of the paint. He also shot just 55.8% from the line in two seasons.

Kel'el Ware, Indiana

STRENGTHS: The 20-year-old sophomore has flashed intriguing two-way potential to make himself a first-round prospect, first in a season at Oregon and then last year at Indiana. He averaged 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks last season as a starter for the Hoosiers. He made 17 of 40 3-pointers (.425), indicating the potential for growth in terms of pulling defenders outside.

The 7-footer has a nearly 7-5 wingspan and tested well at the NBA combine by ranking second among bigs in the lane agility test (second at 10.97 seconds) and shuttle run (second, 2.91).

CONCERNS: He'll need to add strength to his 230-pound frame and improve at the line, where he shot just 63.4% last year.

Kyle Filipowski, Duke

STRENGTHS: The 6-11, 230-pound sophomore could play either forward or center as a first-round prospect. He was a steady producer by averaging 15.8 points and 8.6 rebounds with the Blue Devils. He also more than doubled his shot-blocking totals last year (54, up from 26 as a freshman) when having to work as Duke's interior anchor after Dereck Lively II's departure for the NBA. He has shown improved mobility and footwork after surgery on his hips before last season, and he has improved as an outside shooter (34.8% from 3 last year, up from 28.2% in 2022-23).

CONCERNS: Filipowski isn't an elite athlete, so he could be vulnerable defensively in space as well as struggle against physical play. He slipped at the foul line last year, shooting just 67.1% after checking in at 76.5% as a freshman.

Others of Note

—ZACH EDEY: The 7-4, 299-pound Purdue center is a two-time Associated Press men’s college basketball player of the year who led the Boilermakers to last year’s NCAA title game as the national scoring leader (25.2) and Division I’s No. 2 rebounder (12.2). He closed his career with 37 points in the title-game loss to UConn. He has a ridiculous wingspan of nearly 7-11 to go with the ability to shoot over any defender. There is uncertainty whether the first-round prospect is athletic enough to handle defensive switches or guarding in space.

—DARON HOLMES II: The 6-9, 236-pound junior from Dayton spent the past two seasons putting up big numbers, averaging 19.3 points and 8.3 rebounds while shooting 56.7%. He also hit 38.6% of his 3s last year and averaged 2.1 blocks for his college career. The Atlantic 10 co-player of the year and league defensive player of the year could go in the back half of the first round, though he is a bit undersized among bigs.

—YVES MISSI: The 6-11, 229-pound center from Baylor came on as the season went on as a one-and-done prospect with bouncy athleticism, helping him finish at the rim (61.4% shooting) and block shots (1.5). That could make him a pick-and-roll or lob threat in the pros, though the 20-year-old from Cameroon will have to expand his offense beyond those crowd-charging dunks and improve at the line (61.6%).

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