COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT

NCAA hoops: Texas Tech keeps rolling along; A&M bounces back

Keenan Evans and Tech went 2-0 last week. Texastech.com

TEXAS LONGHORNS (15-8, 5-5 BIG XII)

Last week (1-1): L-@ Texas Tech 73-71 OT, W-Oklahoma 79-74

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

Texas had a chance to make this a massive week, but it started with them coming up just short on the road against the top-10 ranked Texas Tech Red Raiders. Keenan Evans hit a shot at the buzzer to give Tech the 73-71 victory in overtime. The game had two consistent factors throughout: Evans was going to be amazing and the Horns were going to struggle from the line. In a tightly called game that saw 52 foul whistles, the Horns shot only 13-of-26 from the charity stripe in the loss. Kerwin Roach led the Horns in scoring with 20, while Mohamed Bamba had a 12 point, 10 rebound, 7 block performance. Texas was back at home on Saturday to face Oklahoma and their freshman sensation, Trae Young, who came in averaging over 30 points per game. Luckily for Texas, Young wasn’t himself, and scored only 19 on 7-of-22 shooting. The Sooners struggled from 3-point range, going only 3-of-22 from deep. Freshman Matt Coleman led the Horns with 22 points in the win. Texas gets a solid Kansas State squad at home before hitting the road again to face TCU.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (15-8, 4-6 SEC)

Last week (2-0): W-Arkansas 80-66, W-South Carolina 83-60

This week: Wednesday @ Auburn, Saturday vs. Kentucky

Texas A&M, on life support a week ago, may have taken a breath this week. They started out with a dominant win over Arkansas, 80-66. The Aggies took advantage of an Arkansas team that struggles mightily on the road, led by freshman point guard TJ Starks, who put up 16 points and 5 assists in the win. All five Aggies were in double digits scoring, and as a team they dominated the glass by a 45-30 margin. The Aggies kept the momentum going against South Carolina, getting another balanced offensive attack in an 83-60 victory. Admon Gilder led the Ags with 15 and Robert Williams was perfect from the field en route to an 11 point, 9 rebound, 5 block performance. The Aggies were brilliant defensively, holding the Gamecocks under 28% shooting for the day. This week will be huge for A&M’s tourney hopes, as they have a trip to Auburn and a home game with Kentucky on the schedule. 

HOUSTON COUGARS (17-5, 7-3 AAC) 

Last week (1-1): L-@ Cincinnati 80-70, W-@ UCF 69-65

This week: Thursday vs. SMU, Sunday vs. Tulane

Houston looked on its way to a massive road win that would have broken the nation’s longest home winning streak and all but locked up a bit in March Madness, but a furious Cincinnati comeback knocked the Cougars off by a score of 80-70. The Cougars led by 18 points in the 1st half, but gave nearly all of that lead away before halftime. Rob Gray, who led the AAC in scoring with 18.7 points per game, struggled to 9 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Corey Davis, Jr. led the Cougars with 18 points. Gray bounced back on Saturday, scoring 20 in a 69-65 win at Central Florida. UCF pushed for a comeback in the second half, but the Coogs stiffened late and held off the charge. The Cougars are back at home against SMU and Tulane this week. 

RICE OWLS (5-18,  2-8 CUSA)

Last week (0-1): L-@ North Texas 74-70

This week: Thursday @ Middle Tennessee, Saturday vs. UAB

Rice lost its only game of the week, dropping a 74-70 decision at North Texas. Rice led by nine with under 9 minutes to play, but couldn’t hold off the Mean Green. Once again, turnovers were the culprit, as the Owls had a -10 turnover margin. Connor Cashaw led the Owls with 18 points in the loss. Rice will hit the road to take on conference-leading Middle Tennessee before returning home to take on UAB. 

BAYLOR BEARS (13-10, 3-7 BIG XII)

Last week (1-1): L-@ Oklahoma 98-96, W-Iowa State 81-67

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

Baylor had no answer for Trae Young, and the freshman scored 44 points in a 98-96 Oklahoma win. Manu Lecomte was strong for Baylor in the loss, scoring 29 points including seven 3-pointers. Nuni Omot was 6-of-6 from deep for the Bears as part of his 23 points. Young dominated though, including a 16 of 19 performance from the free throw line. He also had nine assists for the Sooners. Baylor was able to snap their four game losing streak against Iowa State, taking an 81-67 win over the Cyclones. Terry Maston led the Bears with a career-high 23 points in the win. The game was back and forth in the first half, but Baylor took control in the second half and never looked back. After the 3-point shot was so kind to Baylor against Oklahoma, it failed them against Iowa State. The Bears had to focus their attack on the inside, as they shot only 2-14 from deep. The Bears travel to Oklahoma State in search of their first road win of the season this week before heading back home to take on Kansas. 

TCU HORNED FROGS (16-7, 4-6 BIG XII)

Last week (1-1): W-@Oklahoma State 79-66, L-Texas Tech 83-71

This week: Tuesday @ Kansas, Saturday vs. Texas 

The Horned Frogs picked up their second road win of the season, and their first since Jan. 2, with a 79-66 win at Oklahoma State on Tuesday. The Frogs shot the lights out, going 56% from the field and 67% from distance in the win. Kenrich Williams and Alex Robinson led the Frogs with 13 points each in the win, and TCU had five players in double digits for the game. The good fortune did not follow the Horned Frogs home, as they were blown off the court by Texas Tech 83-71. The final score was closer than the game. The Frogs trailed by 24 at half and were never close in the 2nd half. Vladimir Brodziansky led TCU with 18 points and 3 blocks in the loss. TCU will likely have 3 more shots to get a road win over a ranked team, and the first chance comes Tuesday at Kansas. The Frogs go home on Saturday to take on Texas. 

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (19-4, 7-3 BIG XII)

Last week (2-0): W-Texas 73-71 (OT), W-@ TCU 83-71


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

Texas Tech has worked its way into a 1st place tie in the Big 12 with another 2-0 week. The Raiders started off with a 73-71 overtime win over Texas that was essentially the Keenan Evans show. Evans had a career high 38 points on 9-13 shooting and 18-20 free throw shooting in the victory. He also hit the game winner as time expired in overtime. No other player for the Red Raiders had more than 3 made field goals in the win. The Raiders kept their momentum rolling against TCU, taking an 83-71 win over the Frogs. Evans put up 17 in the win, and Jarrett Culver led the Red Raiders with 20. Texas Tech gets Big 12 cellar-dweller Iowa State at home before hitting the road to take on Kansas State. 

SMU MUSTANGS (15-8, 5-8 AAC)

Last week (0-1): L-@ Tulsa 76-67

This week: Thursday @ Houston, Sunday vs. Cincinnati

SMU played just once this week, and suffered a damaging blow, falling 76-67 at Tulsa. SMU played without Shake Milton, and struggled from the field without him, shooting 38% from the field and 33% from three. Ben Emelogu led the Mustangs in scoring, putting up 24 points in the loss. The Mustangs find themselves firmly on the bubble for March, and have a rough week ahead of them with a road trip to Houston and a home game against Cincinnati. 

LSU TIGERS (13-9, 4-6 SEC)

Last week (1-1): L-@ Tennessee 84-61, W-Arkansas 94-86

This week: Wednesday @ Florida, Saturday vs. Ole Miss

LSU lost for the fifth time in six games, dropping an 84-61 game at Tennessee. LSU suspended two players before the game, and had only seven scholarship players available. Duop Reath led the Tigers with 21 points. Tremont Waters struggled mightily, going only 1-of-9 from the field in the loss. The Tigers were only 3-19 from long range in the game. Waters was much better against Arkansas, putting up 27 in a 94-68 LSU win. The 3-point shooting woes were gone at home as well, as the Tigers hit 15-30 from deep against the Razorbacks. LSU gets a road trip to Florida and a home matchup against Ole Miss in the coming week. 

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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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