COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT

NCAA hoops: Big win for UH as most teams roll through the week

Rob Gray has the Houston Cougars on a roll. Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The weekly college basketball report:

TEXAS LONGHORNS (9-3)

Last week (2-0): W-Louisiana Tech 47-46, W-@ Alabama 66-50

This week: Friday vs. Kansas

Texas played their worse offensive game of the season against Tennessee State. Luckily, the defense was just good enough for them to sneak out with a 47-46 win. The Horns shot 3-21 from 3 and had 17 turnovers on the day. Dylan Osetkowski led the Horns with 16 in the win. The offense improved slightly against Alabama, as Mohamed Bamba led the way with 17 points and 11 rebounds. The freshman also added 5 blocks in the win. Texas starts up Big XII play with 11th ranked Kansas on Friday night. 

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (11-1)

Last week (2-0): W-Northern Kentucky 64-58, W-Buffalo 89-73

This week: Saturday @ Alabama

Texas A&M struggled against Northern Kentucky without Admon Gilder and Robert Williams, but were able to hold on for a 64-58 win. The Aggies shot 2-20 from 3 in the win, and the game was tied with less than 8 minutes to play. The Ags had a bounce-back showing against Buffalo though, rolling to an 89-73 victory. The sweet victory has some sour to go along with it, as Billy Kennedy announced before the game that leading scorer D.J. Hogg was going to be suspended for 3 games for violating team rules. The 2nd of those 3 games comes Saturday in their SEC opener at Alabama. 

HOUSTON COUGARS (10-2) 

Last week (1-0): W-Providence 70-59

This week: Thursday @ South Florida, Saturday vs. Temple

Rob Gray led the Cougars to a 70-59 win, in maybe their best victory of the season to date. Gray had 24 points in the win, including a run of 7 straight in the 2nd half. The Cougar bench also outscored the Friar bench 20-5. AAC play starts up this week with a game at South Florida and a home game against Temple. 

RICE OWLS (3-10)

Last week (0-2): L-@ New Mexico 78-69, L- Texas State 74-66

This week: Thursday @ UTSA. Saturday @ UTEP

The nightmare continues for Rice. New Mexico has been consistently competitive until this year, and they have run into serious struggles. The Owls couldn’t take advantage though, falling 78-69 to the Lobos in Albuquerque. Connor Cashaw led the Owls with 16 points but ultimately fouled out of the game. Cashaw was strong again on Friday, leading the Owls with 15 in a 74-66 loss to the Texas State Bobcats. Rice has now lost 6 of their last 7 and head into conference play as possible the worst team in the league. They start off the second season with back to back road games against UTSA and UTEP. 

BAYLOR BEARS (10-2)

Last week (2-0): W-Southern 80-60 

This week: Friday @ Texas Tech

The Baylor Bears won their fifth straight game, and established themselves as a real contender in the Big XII as they rolled Southern 80-60. Manu Lecomte led the Bears with 22 points in the win, and the Bears shot 63% from the field. They start conference play at Texas Tech on Friday.

TCU HORNED FROGS (12-0)

Last week: W-Texas Southern 91-72, W- William & Mary 86-75

This week: Saturday vs. Oklahoma

No surprise, TCU took care of business this week and head into conference play unbeaten. They started out with a 91-72 drubbing of Texas Southern. JD Miller led the Horned Frogs in the win. Texas Southern fell to 0-12 with the loss. Texas A&M transfer Alex Robinson led the Frogs in their 86-75 win over William and Mary with 23 points. The win set the school record for consecutive wins at 17, dating back to last season’s NIT Championship run. TCU starts conference play with a home game against Oklahoma on Saturday. 

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (11-1)

Last week (2-0): W-Florida Atlantic 90-54, W-Abilene Christian 74-47

This week: Friday vs. Baylor.

Florida Atlantic hung with Texas Tech for about a half. Whatever Chris Beard said to his team at halftime worked wonders. The Red Raiders outscored the Owls by 29 in the 2nd half en route to a 90-54 win. Keenan Evans led the Raiders with 15 and Tech hit a season high 14 3-pointers in the win. Zach Smith scored a team-high 16 in the Red Raiders 74-47 win over Abilene Christian. Tech was +12 in the rebounding department. The Red Raiders start off Big XII play with a matchup against a tough Baylor team on Friday. 

SMU MUSTANGS (10-3)

Last week (2-0): W-Boise State 86-63, W-Cal Poly 84-64

This week: Wednesday vs. UCF, Sunday vs. South Florida

SMU had five guys in double digits in the 86-63 win over Boise St., led by Jimmy Whitt, Jahmal McMurray and Ethan Chargois with 16 a piece. SMU shot 59% from the field in the win. They followed that up with a drubbing of Cal Poly, 84-64. It was the Ben Emelogu show, as he was perfect from the field, including 5-5 from 3. The Mustangs start conference play with home games against UCF and USF this week. SMU has now won 31 consecutive games at home. 

LSU TIGERS (6-3)

Last week (2-0): W-Sam Houston 80-58,  W-North Florida 104-52

This week: Thursday @ Memphis

LSU rebounded from a slow start to get an impressive win over Sam Houston State, 80-58. Skylar Mays and Randy Onwuasor led the Tigers with 13 a piece. LSU scored the first 11 points of the 2nd half to put the game out of reach. LSU then hammered North Florida, doubling them up by a score of 104-52. Tremont Waters and Duop Reath each scored 15 in the win. LSU plays its first true road game of the season on Thursday as they head to Memphis to take on the 9-3 Tigers. 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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