COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT

NCAA hoops: TCU and UH keep rolling

TCU's Desmond Bane and Vladimir Brodziansky helped the Horned Frogs get wins over SMU and Nevada last week. TCU/Facebook

TEXAS LONGHORNS (6-2)

Last week (1-0): W-@ VCU 71-67

This week: Tuesday vs. Michigan, Saturday vs. Louisiana Tech

Texas is already a better road team than they were last season. After going winless in true road games last season, this was Texas’ first win on an opponent’s court since March of 2016. It didn’t come easy, as Shaka Smart’s former team charged back from a 19 point deficit to take a lead with under 5 minutes to play. The Horns stiffened though, and got out with a 71-67 win. Andrew Jones had 19 and Mohamed Bamba filled the box score with 13 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks. Texas has home games against Michigan and Louisiana Tech this week. 

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (8-1)

Last week (1-1): L- Arizona 67-64, W- Prairie View A&M 73-53

This week: Wednesday vs. Savannah State

Texas A&M ran into their first diversity of the season, losing 67-64 to Arizona on a neutral court, albeit in Phoenix. The Aggies struggled defensively in the 2nd half, but were able to take advantage of sloppy passing by Arizona to keep it close. They missed a long chance to tie at the buzzer. Tyler Davis had 21 points and 10 boards in the loss. It looked like the loss could have sent the Aggies into a tailspin, as they were struggling with Prairie View A&M early in the 2nd half, but they were able to pull away on the strength of a 48-34 rebounding edge. Robert Williams had 8 points and 16 rebounds in the win. This should be a light week, with only Savannah State on the schedule. 

HOUSTON COUGARS (8-1) 

Last week (2-0): W- Fairfield 88-66, W- @ Saint Louis 77-58

This week: Wednesday @ LSU, Sunday vs. Prairie View A&M

The train keeps rolling for the Cougars, picking up a win over Fairfield at home and a win against Saint Louis on the road. The Cougars dominated Fairfield from start to finish, paced by Rob Gray’s 20. More impressive was the winner over Saint Louis. While they aren’t having a great season, it was a convincing road win against an Atlantic 10 opponent. The Coogs won the rebounding battle, as they have in every game this season, 37-24. Gray led the team in points and rebounds, putting up a 24-6 line. A road trip to LSU and a home game against Prairie View await this week. 

RICE OWLS (2-7)

Last week (0-1): L- Stephen F. Austin 81-62

This week: Thursday vs. Saint Edwards, Saturday @ Texas Tech

The Owls only played one game this week, and they weren’t competitive in it. The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks dominated the Owls, and while there are plenty of reasons they lost, the 1-17 shooting performance from 3 point range and the 27 turnovers stand out. Kevon Harris put up 31 for the Jacks in the win. Robert Martin and Connor Cashaw each had 13 for the Owls in defeat. Rice gets mixed competition this week, taking on a Division II team(albeit a good one) in Saint Edwards, and a ranked Texas Tech squad on the road. 

BAYLOR BEARS (7-2)

Last week (2-0): W- Sam Houston State 84-56, W- Randall 105-82

This week: Thursday vs. Texas Southern, Sunday vs. Savannah State

Baylor got back on track after losing their first two of the season with a couple of blowout wins. Baylor got double-digit efforts from 6 players in an 84-56 drubbing of Sam Houston State. The Bears hit 10 3-pointers in the effort. Randall University didn’t provide much competition for the Bears either, falling 105-82. The Bears only dressed 6 scholarship players, but had no problem with the much less physical Randall. Nuni Omot led the way with 30 points. Baylor gets Texas Southern and Savannah State in the week to come.

TCU HORNED FROGS (12-0)

Last week (2-0): W- SMU 94-83, W- Nevada 84-40

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

TCU stayed unbeaten with two solid wins over SMU and Nevada last week. The Frogs beat SMU 94-83 in a physical game between cross-Metroplex rivals. Kenrich Williams continued his outstanding season with 27 points in the win. TCU hit 12 of 24 from deep. The Frogs then got an 84-80 win over a tough Nevada team. TCU cruised early on, and Nevada made it close in the 2nd half, but were never able to take a lead. Jaylen Fisher led the Frogs with 20 points. 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 (7-1)

Last week (0-1): W- Nevada 82-76 (OT)

This week: Wednesday vs. Kennesaw State, Saturday vs. Rice

The Red Raiders bounced back from their first loss of the season by beating the 22nd ranked Nevada Wolfpack 82-76 in overtime. Texas Tech didn’t make a shot in the last 5 minutes of regulation, but hit their free throws and forced overtime. Keenan Evans scored 8 of his team-high 32 points in extra time to seal the win. Tech should continue their strong non-conference run against Kennesaw State and a struggling Rice team this week. 

SMU MUSTANGS (7-3)

Last week (0-1): L- @ TCU 94-83 

This week: Wednesday vs. New Orleans

SMU couldn’t put out the TCU fire from 3-point range en route to a 94-83 loss. The backcourt that had SMU riding high last week, struggled in this game, with Shake Milton making just 1 of his 8 3-point attempts on the day. The Ponies kick off their 5-game homestead with New Orleans on Wednesday in their only game this week.

LSU TIGERS (5-2)

Last week (1-0): W-UNC Wilmington 97-84

This week: Wednesday vs. Houston, Saturday vs. Stephen F. Austin 

Duop Reath stayed hot, leading LSU to a 97-84 win with a 30 point performance that saw him make 13 of 17 attempts from the field. LSU took a 16 point lead into halftime, and were able to hold off UNCW in the 2nd half. This week will be tough for the Tigers, as they get matchups against the 8-1 Houston Cougars and the 9-1 Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks.

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THE LEFT TURN

NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600 preview, picks

Watch out for Ryan Blaney this weekend. Photo via: Wiki Commons

It’s a Memorial Day Tradition; The NASCAR Cup Series heads home to Charlotte for the annual Coca-Cola 600. This race is probably the third most crucial race all season, behind the Daytona 500 and the Season Finale at Phoenix. Anyone who wins this race will always be able to say that they were Coke 600 champions. No race on the schedule is as long as this one, because of this there will be a 4th stage added to the race. Teams will be provided 13 sets of tires, and if the last few weeks have been any indication, they will need all the tires they can get. With the race being as long as it is, there is a good possibility this could be an attrition race and the driver that survives will more than likely win. The record for the most cautions in NASCAR history was 22 cautions, at this same race in 2005. Come Sunday, I bet we get close to that number.

What's the deal with all of these tire failures? Last week in the All-Star race we saw drivers like Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, and Erik Jones all crash out because they had a flat. There are many factors that could be contributing to this, for one the tires are much wider and the sidewalls are much more narrow. Because of this, the tire falloff is much shorter, so now instead of going maybe 40-45 laps on one set of tires, drivers can now only go 25-30 laps. The other major facet is that a lot of teams are running much lower air pressures to get the car to handle better by being closer to the ground. Goodyear and NASCAR usually require the right side tires to run around 51-52 PSI, the rule however isn’t enforced for the left side tires, so drivers will push the limits to see how much they can take out to make the car faster. The fact that we were seeing such tire ware on smooth surfaces like Texas and Atlanta is a clear sign that there is a problem, but not all of it is on Goodyear. Only time will tell how this develops on tracks with old abrasive surfaces, like when they go back to Bristol in the fall.

One of NASCAR’s newest teams, Trackhouse racing, made a bit of a surprise announcement this week. Starting at Watkins Glenn in August, the team will run a third car with a series of international drivers, starting with 2007 Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen. This is something that I think is interesting for the sport. I am a bit surprised that another team hasn’t already done this before. Having drivers like Kimi, one of the more world renowned racers in F1, can really bring a whole new audience to NASCAR. There have been rumors on whom some of the other drivers might be, from Daniel Riccardo to even Lewis Hamilton. There will be a lot of intrigue about who will be the next driver.

The driver that I have winning this weekend is Ryan Blaney. After winning the All-Star race, it seems like Roger Penske and the rest of the Ford camp are picking up steam. Overall, Blaney tends to struggle at this track with an 18.8 average finish, but if last week is any indication of how his car will run on mile and halves like Charlotte, he will be a fierce contender for the win.

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