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NCAA hoops: Tech stumbles; UH, SMU get wins over Wichita State

Mohamed Bamba was a big part of Texas' win over Tech. Chris Covatta/Getty Images

TEXAS LONGHORNS (12-7, 3-4 BIG XII)

Last week (1-1): W-Texas Tech 67-58, L-@ West Virginia 86-51

This week: Monday vs. Iowa State, Saturday vs. Ole Miss

Kerwin Roach wasn’t even supposed to play for Texas until the weekend, but the doctor cleared him from his fractured hand right before tipoff, and he made the most of it. Roach led Texas with 20 points as the Horns beat the No. 8 ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders 67-58. Mohamed Bamba was strong as well, particularly on defense. He posted a 15 point, 11 rebound, 5 block night in the win. Texas outshot Tech 51%-38% on the night. Things didn’t go as well on the road, as Texas dropped their matchup against West Virginia by an 86-51 count. Texas shot horribly, going 34% from the field and only 20% from deep. The Mountaineers also dominated on the boards, 45-29. Bamba had 9 points and 13 rebounds to lead Texas in defeat. Texas has two home games this week, Monday against Iowa State and an out of conference matchup with Ole Miss on Saturday. 

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (13-6, 2-5 SEC)

Last week (2-0): W-Ole Miss 71-69, W- Missouri 60-49

This week: Tuesday @ LSU, Saturday @ Kansas

The Aggies finally got their first conference win of the season, though it didn’t come easy. Texas A&M beat Ole Miss 71-69 in a close game that saw Ole Miss rattle out the game-winning attempt at the buzzer. Tyler Davis led the charge for the Aggies with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Robert Williams was terrific from the field, going 8 of 9 en route to an 18 point night. The weekend game against Mizzou was not pretty, with both teams shooting sub-40%, but the Aggies did enough to take a 60-49 win. The Aggies only turned the ball over 4 times in the win. Tonny Trocha-Morelos scored his season-high 14 points and led the team in the win. The Ags travel to LSU and Kansas this week. 

HOUSTON COUGARS (15-4, 5-2 AAC) 

Last week (1-1): L-@ Tulane 81-72, W-Wichita State 73-59

This week: Sunday vs. South Florida

Last week was a true mixed bag for the Cougars. Houston fell 81-72 at Tulane on Wednesday. The game was closer than the final score would appear. The teams went back and forth until Tulane hit 10 free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Rob Gray led the Cougars with 24 points in the loss. Devin Davis (5 of 8) was the only Cougar to shoot better than 50% from the field. Houston had a considerably better showing on Saturday against Wichita State, who was ranked No. 7 in the country. The Cougars took the game 73-59, giving them their first win against a top-10 opponent since 1996. Gray again led the Cougars with 24, but the key to the win was a strong defensive showing. The Cougars held the Shockers to 33% shooting and turned them over 18 times. The Coogs are now legitimately in contention for the AAC title, and have only a home matchup with the conference cellar-dwelling South Florida Bulls this weekend. 

RICE OWLS (4-16, 1-6 CUSA)

Last week (0-2): L-@ Southern Miss 86-75, L-@ Louisiana Tech 69-54

This week: Thursday vs. Florida International, Saturday vs. Florida Atlantic

Another week, another couple of losses for the Rice Owls. The Owls lost 86-75 to Southern Miss. The Owls shot well, but were out rebounded 29-17 and turned the ball over 23 times on the night. Ako Adams led the Owls in points and assists with 18 and 5, but was also responsible for 6 of the aforementioned turnovers. Things continued against Louisiana Tech, as the Owls fell 69-54 to the Bulldogs. Connor Cashaw led the Owls with 14 points, but Rice struggled to find the basket, shooting 37% for the game. The Owls will try to get out of the Conference USA cellar this week, with relatively winnable games against Florida International and Florida Atlantic. 

BAYLOR BEARS (12-7, 2-5 BIG XII)

Last week (1-1): W-Oklahoma State 76-60, L-@ Kansas 70-67

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

Baylor blew a big first half lead, but came roaring back in the 2nd half to take a 76-60 win over Oklahoma State. Most of the second half charge was led by Manu Lecomte, who was struggling with a sore shoulder. Lecomte scored 30 points on the night, 25 in the second half, to lead the Bears to the much needed conference win. The Bears shot 43% from 3-point range, including Lecomte’s 7 for 12 showing. It seemed they may have taken their momentum into the weekend matchup against Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse. The Bears fell behind early, but rallied to take a 6 point lead with two minutes left in the game. It wouldn’t hold, and the Jayhawks took a 70-67 win. Lecomte’s 3-point stroke failed him, as he went 1 of 8 from beyond the arc. Jo Lual-Acuil led the Bears with 14 points and 12 rebounds, but fouled out in the loss. Baylor gets Kansas State at home before traveling to Florida on Saturday. 

TCU HORNED FROGS (14-5, 2-5 BIG XII)

Last week (1-1): W-Iowa State 96-73, L-@ Kansas State 73-68

This week: Monday vs. West Virginia, Saturday @ Vanderbilt

After losing 4 of 5 to start conference play, TCU got a convincing Big 12 win over Iowa State, 96-73. Playing without Jaylen Fisher, who injured his knee in practice, the Frogs didn’t miss a beat. Vladimir Brodzianksy was 11 of 13 from the field for 26 points. Alex Robinson set a TCU record with 17 assists in the win. Even without their starting point guard, the Frogs only committed 4 turnovers. The turnover bug bit the Frogs later in the week, losing the ball 14 times in a 73-68 loss at Kansas State. Brodziansky again led TCU with 15 points a game that saw the first ever ejection of TCU head coach Jamie Dixon. The Horned Frogs get a home matchup with West Virginia and a road trip to Vanderbilt this week. 

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (15-4, 4-3 BIG XII)

Last week (0-2): L-@ Texas 67-58, L-@ Iowa State 70-52


This week: Tuesday vs. Oklahoma State, Saturday @ South Carolina

The Big 12 parity bug finally caught up to Texas Tech. They dropped a 67-58 game to Texas, but Chris Beard believes his team still has what it takes to win the conference. The Raiders shot 38% from the field and 26% from 3-point range in the loss. Freshman Jarrett Culver led the Red Raiders with 16 points and 9 rebounds. The Red Raiders haven’t won a game in Austin since 1996. Ames, Iowa was not much friendlier, as the Red Raiders dropped back to back games for the first time this season in a 70-52 defeat. Keenan Evans, who has led Texas Tech in scoring all season, could only muster 7 points on 2 of 12 shooting. The Raiders as a team shot only 33% from the field. Tech draws Oklahoma State and South Carolina this week. 

SMU MUSTANGS (14-6, 4-3 AAC)

Last week (2-0): W-@ Wichita State 83-78, W- Tulane 73-62

This week: Thursday @ Connecticut, Sunday vs. East Carolina

SMU got the toughest win you can get in the AAC, taking an 83-78 game at Wichita State. Shake Milton had a career high 33 points to lead the Mustangs, going 11 of 14 including 5 of 6 from deep. The Ponies didn’t miss much, shooting 63% from the field. The win broke Wichita’s 27 game home winning streak. Milton was hot again against Tulane, scoring 20 to lead the Mustangs to a 73-62 win over the Wave. Jimmy Whitt added 18 points and 5 steals in the victory. SMU gets two bottom-half of the conference opponents in Connecticut and East Carolina this week. 

LSU TIGERS (11-7, 2-4 SEC)

Last week (0-2): L-Georgia 61-60, L-@ Vanderbilt 77-71

This week: Tuesday vs. Texas A&M, Saturday @ Auburn

LSU has shown promise early in conference play, but this week was a reminder that they are far from a finished product. Tremont Waters missed a 3 to win the game with two seconds left and LSU lost 61-60 to Georgia. Georgia took the lead with five seconds left to seal the comeback after LSU led by 10 at the half. Waters, LSU’s leading scorer on the season, only scored 6 for the Tigers. Junior Brandon Sampson led LSU with 17 points in the loss. The Bulldogs dominated the glass 38-27. Vanderbilt, the last place team in the SEC, took a 77-71 win over the Tigers in Nashville. Duop Reath did his part, putting up an impressive stat line of 31 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks. He shot 13 of 20 from the field, but the rest of the team shot only 14 of 42. LSU gets Texas A&M at home before traveling to Auburn. 

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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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