A Look At The AAC

The UH/AAC Report: UH nearly knocks off SMU and a ton of high scoring games

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The Coogs nearly upset #16 SMU, but ultimately fell short. This was the only game in the AAC this week that didn't have a 40+ point scorer. Let's take a look at what Week Nine in the AAC looked like:

UH loses by three to ranked SMU

In a game in which they outgained #16 SMU by 125 total yards and won time of possession by a shade over three minutes they still lost 34-31. The main culprits were turnovers (they had a -2 margin) and penalty yards (11 accepted penalties for 129 yards). Twice this game a turnover led directly to touchdowns for SMU, both on very short fields. Games like this make me think if there were more senior leadership, these mistakes wouldn't happen. That said, they still could've won this game. Next year and the coming years look promising. Clayton Tune outperformed Shane Buechele at the quarterback spot this game. Dare I say, there may be a bit of controversy going into next year when D'Eriq King returns?

Other key results

Navy 41, Tulane 38: Tulane is on a two game losing streak, while Navy extended their win streak to four games. They're two ships passing in the night. One is ascending, the other descending. Both will most likely make a bowl game, but they'll make different levels of bowl games.

UCF 63, Temple 21: In a matchup of two 5-2 teams coming into this game, I fully expected a much different result. The Golden Knights ended up rolling the Owls and looked much like the team from the past few years who dominated this conference, while Temple looked like their historical average to below average selves.

Memphis 42, Tulsa 41: Tulsa took this game down to the final seconds and almost pulled off the upset, but missed a 29-yard field goal. Coming into this game, Memphis was 6-1 and Tulsa was 2-5. This would've knocked Memphis down a few pegs in bowl jockeying position. Tulsa is playing out the strings of their season and trying to play spoiler, and almost did.

Stars of the week

UCF Running Backs: Otis Anderson had a career high 205 rushing yards on 17 carries and a touchdown; Bentavious Thompson had 10 carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns; Adrian Killins Jr totaled 52 yards and a touchdowns on four carries. 344 yards on 31 carries and four touchdowns was a helluva job by these three guys.

Kevin Mensah, RB, UConn: 19 carries for 164 yards for a 8.6 yards per carry average is one thing...but five touchdowns?!? This was against UMass in a 56-35 win, but still, five touchdowns is still five touchdowns.

Marquez Stevenson, WR, UH: Five catches for 211 yards and two touchdowns, including a 96 yard touchdown to draw the score within three points. His yardage total was almost a third of his season total, as well as a third of his touchdown total for the season.

Games to watch this week

SMU @ Memphis

UH @ UCF

Cincinnati @ ECU

Tulsa @ Tulane

Players to watch this week

Clayton Tune, UH: After throwing for 407 yards and almost upsetting the #16 team in the country. UCF has been the top dog in the conference the last few years. Let's see what Tune can do against the Golden Knights.

Xavier Jones, SMU: In a matchup of ranked teams with good running backs, I'm looking to see if Jones can continue his nearly two touchdown per game pace against Memphis.

Kenneth Gainwell, Memphis: Ditto here. Gainwell has 115 more rushing yards than Jones, but three less touchdowns on the season. Whoever wins this battle most likely wins this high profile game.

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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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