COLLEGE BASKETBALL RECAP

NCAA Hoops: The week that was and the week to come for teams of interest in Houston

The Texas Longhorns had a big win and a pair of tough losses. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

A look at college basketball teams of interest in the Houston area. How they did last week and what lies ahead:

TEXAS LONGHORNS (4-2)

Last week (1-2): W-Butler 61-48, L-#1 Duke 85-78 OT, L-#17 Gonzaga 76-71 OT

This week: Wednesday vs. Florida A&M (1-7)

Texas started strong at the PK80 Invitational with a bang, defeating Butler 61-48. They were paced by Andrew Jones 16 points and Mo Bamba’s 12 rebound, 4 block performance. The 2nd round looked like it was going to be the best win of the year for Texas, as Texas had a 16 point 2nd half lead over the top-ranked Duke Blue Devils. Coaching errors and the inability to stop Marvin Bagley (34 points, 15 rebounds) brought Duke all the way back, where they eventually pulled away in OT. Kerwin Roach was 7-9 from the field for 18 points in his best game of the young season. The consolation game had Texas in the opposite role, trailing Gonzaga by 21 points, but the Horns stormed back and outscored the Bulldogs 15-4 in the last 3 minutes. Overtime again went awry for Texas though, and Gonzaga got a 5 point win. Texas only has one game next week, and it should be a chance to get back on track against a hapless Florida A&M team. 

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (6-0)

Last week (4-0): W- Oklahoma State 72-55, W- Penn State 98-87, W- Pepperdine 81-65, W- @#10 USC 75-59

This week: Thursday vs. UT- Rio Grande Valley 

What a week for the Aggies. They started off with a bludgeoning of Oklahoma State in the Progressive Legends Classic. Robert Williams played his first game of the year for the Aggies and posted 11 points and 11 rebounds in a 17 point win. Duane Wilson led Texas A&M to the Progressive Legends Classic championship with his 22 point outing against Penn State. The team shot 61% from the field. The Aggies went back to College Station, and after a slow start, took care of business against Pepperdine before hitting the road to take on 10th ranked USC. The Aggies crushed the Trojans with another dominating defensive performance, holding USC to 28% from the field and out rebounding them 52-39. The Aggies have a light week ahead, with only a home matchup against UT-RGV on the schedule.

HOUSTON COUGARS (4-1) 

Last week (1-0): W-Incarnate Word 97-58

This week: Wednesday vs. New Orleans, Saturday vs. Arkansas

The Cougars had their way with the Cardinals of Incarnate Word, getting a balanced attack with 6 double-digit scorers. Houston shot 53% from the field and 55% from 3-point range en route to a 39 point win. Houston starts this week on Wednesday against another Southland team, the New Orleans Privateers (1-3) before taking on an Arkansas (5-1) team that already has wins over Oklahoma and UConn. 

RICE OWLS (2-4)

Last week (1-2): L-UNLV 95-68, L-Ole Miss 79-62, W-St. Thomas (TX) 70-59

This week: Wednesday @ UT-Arlington, Saturday vs. UT-Rio Grande Valley

The Owls trip to Vegas was ugly, as they were thumped by UNLV in the opener of the MGM Resorts Main Event. A.J. Lapray led the Owls with 15 in the loss. Things didn’t get much better the next night against Ole Miss. The Rebels had their way from long distance, shooting 12 of 32 from outside. The Owls shot 7 of 31 from 3. Connor Cashaw scored 24 in the loss. Rice got back in the win column against NAIA opponent St. Thomas on Saturday. A.J. Lapray had another solid night (16 points, 10 rebounds) in the win. The Owls will travel to Arlington to play a strong UT-Arlington team on Wednesday before getting the UT-RGV Vacqueros at home on Saturday. The Owls have already lost four games this season, a mark they didn’t hit until December 31st last year. 

BAYLOR BEARS (5-0)

Last week (2-0): W-Wisconsin 70-65, W-Creighton 65-59.

This week: Tuesday @ #15 Xavier, Saturday vs. #6 Wichita State

Scoot Drew’s Bears won the Hall of Fame Classic by besting the Wisconsin Badgers and Creighton Bluejays, running their overall record to 5-0. Baylor led by 19, but didn’t score for the last nearly 9 minutes of the game, allowing the Badgers to make it a sweat. Senior guard Manu Lecomte finished with 24, including 13-15 from the FT line. Baylor was the team making the comeback against Creighton. The Bears’ zone defense forced Creighton to try to win from deep, and they shot 5-30 from 3. King McClure had 19 points and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had 15 points and 15 rebounds in the win. This week will provide two great tests against teams coming off their first losses of the season. Xavier(5-1) just dropped their first game to Arizona State and Wichita(4-1) blew a 16 point lead against Notre Dame in the Maui Invitational title game. 

TCU HORNED FROGS (6-0)

Last week (3-0): W-Omaha 99-66, W-New Mexico 69-67, W-St. Bonaventure 89-79

This week: Wednesday vs. Belmont, Saturday vs. Yale

TCU won the Emerald Coast Classic last week, starting with an easy win over Omaha on their campus. The Mavericks turned the ball over 26 times in that game. New Mexico proved more of a test, but the Frogs prevailed behind a dominating performance from Kenrich Williams (23 points, 17 rebounds). Jaylen Fisher (20 points) led TCU, who had 5 players in double digits in the title game victory over St. Bonaventure. TCU will take on Belmont(4-2) and the always tough Yale Bulldogs (3-4) this week in Fort Worth.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (6-0)

Last week (2-0): W-Wofford 79-56, W-Savannah State 103-69

This week: Thursday vs. Seton Hall (New York, NY)

The Red Raiders continued their hot start by rolling through Wofford and Savannah State. Freshman Jarrett Culver scored 21 on Wednesday and added 18 more on Saturday to pace the Raiders. Tech faces arguably their toughest test of the non-conference season, as they will meet the 5-1 Seton Hall Pirates in Madison Square Garden as part of the Under Armour Reunion. Don’t be surprised if Texas Tech has a ranking in front of their name going into this next week. 

SMU MUSTANGS (5-2)

Last week (1-2): L-Northern Iowa 61-58, W-#2 Arizona 66-60, L-Western Kentucky 63-61

This week: Tuesday vs. Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Saturday vs. USC

There were some highs and lows in paradise for SMU at the Battle 4 Atlantis in The Bahamas. They lost to Northern Iowa in the opening round, as the Mustangs shot 39% from the field and only 29% from deep. The Mustangs shot poorly again in the second round against Arizona, but dominated the glass and got a 20 point night from Ben Emelogu. SMU blew a 10 point lead against Western Kentucky and missed a buzzer beater in the tourney’s 5th place game. The Ponies will try and get back on track against UT-RGV before taking on the ranked USC Trojans at home on Saturday. 

LSU TIGERS (3-2)

Last week (1-2): W-Michigan 77-75, L-#13 Notre Dame 92-53, L-Marquette 94-84

This week: Wednesday vs. UT-Martin, Sunday vs. UNC Wilmington

LSU coach Will Wade knows moral victories won’t help him keep his job, but this was a pretty decent 1-2 week for the Tigers. They got a win over a solid, albeit somewhat rebuilding Michigan squad in the opener of the Maui Invitational. Tremont Waters led the Tigers with 21 points. Point guard Brandon Sampson hurt his ankle early in the Notre Dame game, and they missed him on both ends in a 39 point loss. LSU was competitive against a solid Marquette squad in the 3rd place game, but couldn’t hold Andrew Rowsey (30 points) and left with a 10 point loss. Waters scored 39 points in the loss. LSU sees a considerable drop in competition this week against the 1-5 Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks and the 2-3 UNC-Wilminton Seahawks. 

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Houston couldn't keep up

Astros fall to Blue Jays as Toronto gets homer-happy

Houston's bats couldn't keep up with Toronto's Saturday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With an offensive clinic in the opener on Friday night, which helped them handily defeat the Blue Jays, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park Saturday with a chance to secure another series. Toronto had other plans, though, reversing roles with Houston by getting big home runs to even the series.

Final Score: Blue Jays 8, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 17-16, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Steven Matz (5-2)

Losing Pitcher: Cristian Javier (3-1)

Toronto flips the script and turns on their offense against Javier

Toronto flipped the script from the night before early in this middle game of the series, dealing damage to Cristian Javier, who so far in 2021 had been able to limit his amount of earned runs. After retiring the first four batters he faced, a one-out walk in the top of the second set up the Blue Jays' first hit of the night, a two-run home run by Cavan Biggio, giving them a 2-0 lead over Houston.

After a leadoff home run made it a 3-0 score, Javier would deal with the fallout of more walks in the top of the third, issuing two to set up a two-out two-RBI double to give the Jays a commanding 5-0 advantage. Javier would battle back and complete five full innings, getting one out into the sixth before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to make the call to the bullpen. His final line: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 91 P.

Alvarez keeps mashing as Houston tries to claw back into it

Javier would exit with at least some runs on the board in support of him, with Yordan Alvarez hitting a two-run opposite-field homer in the bottom of the fourth to cut the lead to three runs. Alvarez accounted for another run in the next inning, coming through with an RBI-single to make it 5-3, which is where the game stood as Andre Scrubb would take over in the top of the sixth.

Scrubb finished that inning for Javier and returned for a 1-2-3 seventh to keep it a two-run game. Bryan Abreu was the next reliever, and he, too, was able to retire the Blue Jays in order in the top of the eighth. The Astros continued to chip away at Toronto's lead, getting another run in the bottom of the inning on an RBI by Yuli Gurriel to make it 5-4 heading to the ninth.

Toronto evens the series

Brooks Raley entered to try and keep it a one-run game with a clean inning, but instead, two runners would reach on a walk and error before Joe Smith would enter to try and strand them. Instead, a two-out home run put the game back out of reach at 8-4, with Houston coming up empty in the bottom of the inning, setting up a rubber match in the finale.

Up Next: This series's third and final game will be an afternoon start of 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Zack Greinke (2-1, 3.76 ERA) will try to add more wins to his record for Houston, while Nate Pearson will be making his 2021 debut for Toronto.

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