NCAA hoops: Another big win for Tech, Baylor and A&M struggle

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Last week (1-1): W-TCU 99-98 2OT, L-@ Oklahoma State 65-64

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

Playing their first game since the announcement that sophomore guard Andrew Jones has been diagnosed with leukemia, the Longhorns played possibly their game of the season and beat TCU 99-98 in double overtime. The Horns were forced to play with a limited rotation with the absence of Jones and the injured Kerwin Roach. Only seven players got minutes in the game, including Dylan Osetkowski logging 20 points in his 49 minutes on the floor. Eric Davis, Jr. led Texas in scoring with 22 off the bench. The Oklahoma State Cowboys wouldn’t miss their shot in the final seconds, as Tavarius Shine tipped in the game winner with only 6 seconds left in OSU’s 65-64 victory. Texas had a double digit lead throughout most of the 2nd half, but a late 13-0 run got the Pokes back in the game. Davis again led the Horns with 18 points in defeat. Mohamed Bamba put up 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Horns face the top of the conference this week, taking on Texas Tech and taking a road trip to West Virginia. 

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (11-6, 0-5 SEC)

Last week (0-2): L-@ Kentucky 74-73,  L-@ Tennessee 75-62

This week: Tuesday vs. Ole Miss, Saturday vs. Missouri 

Once off to an extremely promising start, the wheels may be falling off in College Station. Texas A&M got Robert Williams and Admon Gilder back, but their return wasn’t enough to stop their slide in SEC play. Kentucky, playing without Quade Green, stole a 74-73 victory over the Aggies on Tuesday. The Aggies had two missed three pointers in the closing seconds from Gilder and D.J. Hogg. Tyler Davis’ performance was the highlight of the loss, as he put up 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting. After a few close losses for the Aggies, they got blown out by Tennessee, 75-62. Rebounding and turnovers were a big part of the Aggies’ problems. They had 17 turnovers and got out-rebounded 38-29. Gilder had 16 points in the win. Next week’s schedule has the Aggies at home against Ole Miss and Mizzou. 


Last week (2-0): W-Tulsa 104-71, W-@ East Carolina 65-49

This week: Wednesday @ Tulane, Saturday vs. Wichita State

Coming off a frustrating loss to Wichita State last week, Houston came out with a vengeance on Thursday night, logging a lopsided 104-71 win over Tulsa. They did it in historic fashion, hitting 18 three pointers, the most in AAC history in a conference game, and set a school record for most points scored in a conference game. Rob Gray led the way with 34 points and 8 assists in the win. The Coogs shot 55% from the field to Tulsa’s 39%. The Cougars kept rolling against East Carolina, taking a 65-49 win over the Pirates. Corey Davis, Jr. led the Coogs with 20, and Rob Gray added 12 points and 9 assists. Houston held East Carolina to under 30% from the field in the win. The Cougars travel to Tulane on Wednesday and get a rematch with Wichita State this weekend. 

RICE OWLS (4-14, 1-4 CUSA)

Last week (0-1): L-North Texas 85-78

This week: Thursday @ Southern Miss, Saturday @ Louisiana Tech

Rice had no answers for North Texas’ 3-point shooting, as the Mean Green hit 17 3-pointers en route to an 85-78 win over the Owls. Connor Cashaw was the bright spot for Rice, scoring 30 points and 6 rebounds in the loss. Ako Adams also pitched in 16 points in the effort. The Owls’ disastrous season continues with road trips to Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech on the schedule this week.


Last week (0-2): L-@ West Virginia 57-54, L-@ Iowa State 75-65

This week: Monday vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday @ Kansas

Baylor did a great job defensively against West Virginia, but at the end of the day the Mountaineers walked away with a 57-54 win. The Bears were hoping for a measure of revenge. Last season, Baylor went into West Virginia with the school’s first ever #1 ranking, and were promptly blown out by WVU. This year it was 2nd ranked West Virginia, their highest ranking since Jerry West played there, defending their poll placement. The Bears held WVU to 31% shooting, but shot only 35% themselves in the loss. Baylor’s 21 turnovers were a killer, as they only forced 11. Manu Lecomte led the Bears with 13 points in defeat. The Bears lost again on Saturday, dropping a 75-65 battle with Iowa State. Freshman Tristan Clarke had his best game of the year, putting up 16 points and 15 rebounds for Baylor in the loss. The Bears shot just 4-18 from 3-point distance, including a brutal 0-7 from Lecomte. Baylor gets Oklahoma State before traveling to Kansas this week. 


Last week (0-2): L-@ Texas 99-98 2OT, L-@ Oklahoma 102-97 OT

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

TCU suffered a heartbreaking loss to Texas on Wednesday night, dropping a 99-98 double overtime thriller. Jaylen Fisher missed a game winning layup at the buzzer. The Frogs rallied from a 13 point 2nd half deficit to take the game to overtime, led by Kenrich Williams 26 points. The woes continued for TCU against Oklahoma, with TCU dropping another OT thriller 102-97. Fisher led the Frogs with 22 points, but his OU counterpart Trae Young put up 43 points for the Sooners. The loss was TCU’s 4th Big XII loss after going 12-0 in non-conference play. All 4 losses have been by 4 points or less, and the Texas loss was their 2nd by a single point. TCU gets Iowa State and Kansas State in the coming week. 


Last week (1-1): L- @ Oklahoma 75-65, W-West Virginia 72-71

This week: Wednesday @ Texas, Saturday @ Iowa State

Texas Tech struggled to defend one of the best players in the country, particularly in the 2nd half, as Trae Young and Oklahoma got a 75-65 victory on Tuesday. Young, who leads the nation in scoring and assists, put up 27 and 9 in the win. Tech’s defense held up in the first half, allowing Oklahoma only 29 points, but the Sooners boomed in the 2nd half, running away with the game by shooting 56% in the 2nd half. Keenan Evans put up 19 in the loss. He was the only Red Raider in double digits. Things got brighter for the Raiders, as they got their biggest win of the season on Saturday, a 72-71 win over West Virginia. Tech shot 50% from the field, and were led by Keenan Evans 20 points. Tech senior forward Zach Smith has a broken foot, and may not play for the rest of the season. The Red Raiders travel to Texas and Iowa State this week. 

SMU MUSTANGS (12-6, 2-3 AAC)

Last week (0-1): L-Temple 66-64

This week: Wednesday @ Wichita State, Saturday vs. Tulane

SMU lost a shocker to Temple on Thursday, 66-64 in Dallas. The loss broke a 33-game home winning streak for SMU, which was the second longest streak in the country. Shake Milton led the Mustangs with 25 points. He hit 5 of his 6 free throws. The rest of the Ponies combined to shoot 4 of 11 from the stripe. SMU has now lost 3 straight games after a strong non-conference run and a 2-0 start to conference play. Things won’t get easier this week as SMU travels to play top-5 ranked Wichita State and return home for a revenge matchup against Tulane. 

LSU TIGERS (11-5, 2-2 SEC)

Last week (1-1): W-@ Arkansas 75-54, L-Alabama 74-66

This week: Tuesday vs. Georgia, Saturday @ Vanderbilt. 

On a night when LSU star Tremont Waters wasn’t at his best, senior forward Aaron Epps stepped up with 13 points and 11 rebounds in a 75-54 win over Arkansas. Waters, who had been on fire of late, had just 8 points on 3 of 10 shooting. LSU shot 53% from the field, holding the Hogs to just 33%. The LSU roller coaster hit another low against Alabama over the weekend, as the Tide took a 74-66 victory over the Tigers. Waters led the Tigers with 19 points, on just 5-13 shooting. The Tide bench outscored LSU’s 28-11. LSU gets Georgia at home before taking a road trip to Vanderbilt this week. 

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These next six games will be very telling. Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images.

Houston has six games left in the 2022 regular season, two three-game series in which they need just one more win, or a Yankees loss, to secure the top seed for the AL side of the postseason bracket. They've accomplished what they set out to do over the 162-game drudge that is the regular season, so you're likely to see them use the opportunity to get some players off their feet in the remaining games.

Even so, having one of the best teams means that while putting out a lineup with some starters missing, they can still beat most teams on any given day. So then, what could that mean for the teams still vying for postseason spots or positioning in the remaining games?

Affecting the NL playoffs

It's a relatively sure bet that if they haven't locked up that top seed by the time they enter the final three games, they will before that last series is over. That means that when the Phillies come to Minute Maid Park to close out the season next week, Philadelphia will have much higher stakes in those games than Houston.

Under the expanded playoff format starting this season, the two best teams in each league receive a bye, while the remaining four teams square off in a Wild Card series, with all those games taking place at the better seed's stadium. That means teams will be very motivated to secure their best Wild Card positioning.

As of now, the Phillies hold just a half-game lead over the Brewers for the third and final Wild Card spot for the National League. Things could change this weekend, but whether they still lead or have fallen back and have ground to makeup, the games will matter to them against the Astros.

They also sit 2.5 games behind the Padres, meaning that Philadelphia could potentially be looking at a chance to jump into the second Wild Card spot. However, it's questionable if that's an envious position or not. With the juggernaut battle between the Mets and Braves coming down to the wire, with one team winning the NL East and a first-round bye and the other starting with home-field advantage in a Wild Card series, whoever gets the second Wild Card spot is going to be heading to face a really tough, and potentially angry, team on the road.

It will make things interesting for the Phillies when they face the Astros. They could be playing for their playoff lives or jockeying for position. Either way, the games will be meaningful.

Affecting the AL playoffs

There's a similar scenario at play for the American League side of things with the Astros' three-game series against the Rays this weekend. Just like the Phillies, the Rays enter the weekend holding on to the third and final spot in the AL Wild Card race.

Tampa Bay is only 0.5 games back of the Mariners for the second spot and two games back of the Blue Jays for the first Wild Card spot. Farther behind, the Orioles still have a chance for something crazy to happen, sitting five games behind.

So based on the result of their series with the Astros and how the other teams fare this weekend and in the final stretch of games, the Rays have a range of outcomes that could cause havoc in the AL bracket. They could end up taking the top Wild Card spot and hosting a series, traveling to face the Blue Jays, Mariners, or Guardians, or, less likely, missing the playoffs altogether.

This variance in positioning could have ramifications for the Astros directly in the ALDS round as well. The Astros are likely to be favored regardless of the three potential teams they face; however, some matchups would make things easier.

Houston went 2-4 against the Blue Jays this year and are currently up 3-0 on the Rays with the three games remaining in the season series. And while the Astros took the season series 12-7 against division-rival Seattle, that could give the Mariners all the more reason to be ultra-motivated for the ALDS if they faced the Astros.

So, while the Astros may not have any direct milestones to play for other than locking up their top seed, these remaining six games will have plenty of storylines and drama to follow for them and their opponent.

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