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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The Astros suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Yankees Thursday. Composite image by Brandon Strange.

After an impressive two-game sweep of the NL-best Mets at home earlier in the week, the Astros took to the road to begin a four-game series with the league-best Yankees on Thursday night. To little surprise, the series started with a bang (no, not a trash can bang) in more ways than one, confirming that this series should be a must-watch this weekend.

New York's comeback proves no lead will be safe

Right from the get-go, the loud Yankee Stadium faithful had their chance to rain boos down on Jose Altuve before showing some pleasure as he led off the series by being hit by a pitch. They were quickly, though only temporarily, quieted as Altuve would come in to score two batters later on a three-run blast by Alex Bregman.

Three-run homers seemed to be a theme, as New York would get one of their own to tie the game off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton to tie the game, then Yordan Alvarez continued his dominant June by pushing the Astros back in front by three with another three-run bomb in the third, making it 6-3. That lead held through to the bottom of the ninth, where instead of holding it, Ryan Pressly issued two walks to set up the fourth homer of the game to tie things again before Aaron Judge would get a walk-off single to complete the impressive comeback.

Not only will we get to sit back and watch the slug-fest between Yordan and Judge this weekend, but it looks like with Alex Bregman swinging well again to round out the top of Houston's order, the Astros may be getting closer to their full power. So far in June, these two teams sit third and fourth in on-base percentage, with the Astros at .351 and the Yankees right behind at .350. That means we should continue to see scoring opportunities on both sides that can tilt momentum one way or the other as these lineups try to battle against the opposing pitcher.

How will the aces fare

Verlander vs. Judge, and Cole vs. Alvarez, need I say more? Although we won't see Justin Verlander go up against Gerrit Cole in the same game in this series (they should go head to head next Thursday, however), they will pitch on back-to-back days, with Houston's ace going Friday night and New York's on Saturday afternoon. Verlander is coming off his worst start of the year, a three and two-thirds inning outing where the White Sox put up seven runs, four earned, against him and knocked him out early to give him his third loss and increased his ERA from 1.94 to 2.30.

The last time he faced the Yankees was in the Bronx in the 2019 playoffs, in ALCS Game 5, where he went seven frames while allowing four runs, all on two homers in the first inning, which is all New York needed to grab the 4-1 victory to make it a 3-2 Houston lead in the series, which the Astros would go on to clinch in Game 6. So, with the double dose of bad taste in his mouth, it will be interesting to see if he can use that as the fuel to get back to the phenomenal form he's had this year or if the Yankees try to jump on him early like they did nearly three years ago.

Cole, meanwhile, is fresh off of two quality starts in a row against the Rays, where he allowed just one run on six hits with nineteen strikeouts over 13.1 innings of work. He's had his share of strife this season, though, including a seven-run shelling by the Twins earlier this month, along with a start in April where he couldn't make it through two innings against the Tigers. He's had success against his former club, most notably a complete-game shutout in Houston last July with twelve K's and holding the Astros to just three hits.

If the series opener was any indication, we are in for the treat of a playoff-caliber matchup, if not a potential ALCS preview that we may see in October. The Yankees showed why they have the best record and are the hottest team in baseball on Thursday night, but the Astros were only a good outing from their closer away from having a relatively lopsided win. The rivalry is real; the competition is close, and we get to enjoy the show.

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