A LOOK AT THE AAC

The UH/AAC report: Memphis, Cincy get big wins; UH gets rolled by Oklahoma

Photo via: UH Football/Facebook

The AAC season is under way with two teams - Cincinnati and Memphis - scoring big wins over power 5 schools. UCF continues to roll and Houston took a tough loss in its opener against OU. A look at the AAC in Week 1:

Cougars fall

New coach Dana Holgorsen inherited a flawed roster at UH, and it showed in the 49-31 loss to Oklahoma. The Cougar defense was rough, forcing only one punt late in the game when OU had backups in. Otherwise, two fumbles and two missed field goals were all that kept the Sooners off the board. D'Eriq King struggled in the new offense and did not hit 200 yards passing, but did rush for over 100 yards. The Cougars get a breather with Prairie View this week before another high profile opponent - Washington State - visits.

Other key results

Memphis 15, Ole Miss 10: The Tigers won in a very different way - with stout defense - knocking off an SEC bottom feeder.

Cincinnati 24, UCLA 14: Cincy's stingy defense made life terrible for UCLA, and took a huge win. Cincy gets another tough opponent with Ohio State up next.

Tulane 42, FIU 14: Willie Fritz and the Green Wave are on the upswing, and a big win over a tough FIU squad was a nice way to start the season.

UCF 62, Florida A&M 0: The Golden Knights train keeps on rolling along with another easy win over an outmatched opponent.

Three stars of the week

1) Patrick Taylor, RB, Memphis: The Tigers lost two NFL running backs in the off-season, but Taylor picked up where they left off, rushing for 128 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries in the win over Memphis.

2) Anthony Russo, QB, Temple: Russo hit on 31 of 42 passes for 409 yards and 4 TDs for the Owls in a 56-12 romp. Granted, it was Bucknell, but still a big effort.

3) Shane Buechele, QB, SMU: The Texas transfer was 30-of-49 for 360 yards as the Mustangs knocked off Arkansas State 37-30.

5 games to watch this week

1) Cincinnati at No. 5 Ohio State

2) North Texas at SMU

3) Prairie View at Houston

4) Tulane at Auburn

5) South Florida at Georgia Tech

3 players to watch

1) D'Eriq King, Houston: The mercurial quarterback did not have a good passing day at OU. He should rectify that this week against Prairie View.

2) Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati: After a solid debut against Ole Miss, Ridder will need a big effort to keep Cincy in shouting distance of Ohio State.

3) Reggie Roberson, Jr., WR, SMU: Roberson had a monster week with 11 catch for 180 yards against Arkansas State. He will need to be just as good as the Ponies face a tough North Texas team this week.

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5 questions on the John Wall trade

The Rockets made a big move. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets point guard carousel continued to spin Wednesday night, as the Woj bomb-iest of Houston-related Woj bombs erupted in the Space City:

For the third year in a row, the Rockets will begin the season with a new point guard, in an attempt to finally find someone that can play alongside James Harden. Let's take a look at how the Rockets got to this point, and what it means moving forward.

What led to the trade?

Russell Westbrook simply wanted out. Westbrook is the type of player that needs to be the number one ball handler and that simply wasn't ever going to happen on a James Harden led team. Other reports cited Westbrook's frustration with the lack of accountability and casual atmosphere within the locker room. Ultimately if anyone was going to be moved between Harden and Westbrook, it was always going to be Westbrook.

Why John Wall?

This one is another fairly straightforward answer: they both have relatively similar contracts. Each is making an absurdly overpriced $40 million this season, and both were disgruntled with their current team. Rockets General Manager Rafael Stone and Wizards GM Tommy Sheppard tossed the idea around a few weeks ago, but couldn't find a deal they liked. It was reported that discussions resumed Wednesday afternoon and within a few hours the deal was done in an almost one-for-one swap.

How does Wall fit?

This is a little more complicated because it's not exactly known what head coach Stephen Silas' game plan is. It's also difficult to predict whether or not Harden will still be on the roster when the season starts. But let's assume that Harden takes the court for the Rockets and that Silas' system resembles something similar to what we've seen in Houston for the past few years. In that case, Wall would be a slight upgrade to Westbrook. Westbrook is more athletic than Wall, but when healthy Wall was no slouch. In addition he's a much better defensive player and has much better court vision than Westbrook. Westbrook's assists were usually a bailout after attacking the lane with his head down, while Wall is more likely to set up a teammate.

This isn't to say that Wall doesn't need the ball though. He's fairly ball dominant, but not nearly as much as Westbrook. Harden proved last season that he's capable of effectively playing off the ball if necessary, so it seems like a better fit from a distribution rate alone. If they can find that sweet spot like they did with Chris Paul and stagger the lineups so that each star gets their own time to create, there's potential for an improved Rockets team more reminiscent of their 2018 run than the past two years.

What are the best and worst case scenarios?

The worst case is that the Rockets were sold a lemon. Wall has potential to be an upgrade, but comes with huge risk. He last took the court in 2018, where he was sidelined with a knee injury. He subsequently ruptured his Achilles in an accident at his home while recovering from the knee injury, forcing Wall off the court for almost two years. It's possible an extremely unfortunate Wall reinjures something and completely derails the machinations of the trade. Even if he's recovered fully, it will take time to get him up to game speed which could frustrate Harden on a team that can't afford a slow start in their stacked conference. Harden has managed to cultivate drama with just about every co-star he's played with, so there's no reason to assume this attempt would go any better.

The best case scenario is that Wall arrives ready to play team basketball and resembles the better part of his pre-injury form. Wall and Harden buy into Silas' new system, space the floor, and take turns carving up the lane with dribble drives and kick outs to players who can actually hit from distance. This version of the Rockets could potentially be a 3-seed in this year's Western Conference.

Who won the trade?

At the moment the Rockets. Not only did they remove at least one of their locker room distractions, but they also gain a first round pick. If Wall can stay healthy and Silas can keep both stars happy, this team should be a lot more fun to watch than last season's clunker.

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