The college basketball report

The week in college basketball: UH and Tech continue hot starts

Kelvin Sampson and the Coogs had a big week. UHCougars.com

TEXAS LONGHORNS (7-3)

Last week (1-0):
W- Grand Canyon 98-60

This week: Friday vs. Providence

Texas finally found their range from 3 against Grand Canyon. The Horns shot 53% from distance in a dominant performance against the Antelopes. Jase Febres and Eli Metro-Long were at the forefront of the explosion, tying for the team lead with 16 points a piece. Kerwin Roach had 15 off the bench, since he was not starting due to a team rules violation. Texas was +15 in rebounding and +11 in assists. The Longhorns have one game this week, Friday against a strong Providence team.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (4-4)

Last week (1-0): W- Oregon State 67-64

This week: Wednesday vs. Valparaiso, Saturday vs. Marshall

The Aggies were able to overcome any rust that they had picked up from their near two-week layoff and hold on for a 67-64 win against Oregon State. TJ Starks led the way with 18 points and 8 assists for the Aggies. Defense was key for Texas A&M, as they forced 19 turnovers and held the Beavers to 34% from the field. Texas A&M was able to hit 41% from long range in the win. The Aggies are home for Valparaiso and Marshall this week.

HOUSTON COUGARS (10-0)

Last week (2-0): W- LSU 82-76, W- Saint Louis 68-64

This week: Thursday vs. Utah State, Sunday vs. Coppin State

Houston was pushed by the best competition they have seen so far this season, and were able to persevere and walk away with a 2-0 week. They first took an 82-76 win over LSU, overcoming a 15 point deficit in the second half. Galen Robinson, Jr. sparked the comeback, and led the Cougars with 18 points and 6 assists in the win. On a night where the 3-point shot wasn't dropping for Houston (4-20), they were able to pull down 18 offensive rebounds to make up the deficit. They were able to keep the momentum rolling against Saint Louis, coming back in the final minutes to take a 68-64 win over the Billikens. Corey Davis had 17 points to lead the Cougars, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with :29 seconds on the clock. Robinson and Armoni Brooks added 13 a piece in the victory. The two wins pushed UH to No. 21 in the pools. They get Utah State and Coppin State this week.

RICE OWLS (4-7)

Last week (1-1): W- Saint Edwards 78-73, L- UC-Santa Barbara 99-89

This week: Tuesday vs. UT-Rio Grande Valley, Friday vs. Omaha

Rice was able to get a win in a back and forth game with Division II St. Edwards, 78-73. Chris Mullins had 24 points in the win. Rice was playing behind for a 10 minute-plus stretch in the second half, but Mullins turned it on late to get the lead and eventually the win. Jack Williams added 17 in the win. Fouls were the story in the game. Rice hit 21-of-26 from the free throw line, while St. Ed's only had 8 attempts, hitting 5. Things didn't go as well for Rice against UC-Santa Barbara, as the Owls fell 99-89 to the Gauchos. Robert Martin scored 24 to lead the Owls in the loss, and Mullins added 21. Santa Barbara shot 48% from long range and hit 23 of their 24 free throw attempts. The Owls were -12 in the rebounding department. Rice goes to UT-Rio Grande Valley and hosts Omaha this week.

BAYLOR BEARS (6-3)

Last week (1-0): W- @ Arizona 58-49

This week: Tuesday vs. Stephen F. Austin, Friday vs. Oregon

Baylor had one of the best wins of the season, breaking a 52-game home non conference win streak for Arizona, 58-49. Makai Mason led the Bears with 22 points in the win. Baylor was a remarkable +31 in rebounding for the game. Mark Vital had 16 of Baylor's 50 rebounds on the night. Baylor hosts Stephen F. Austin and Oregon this week as they prepare for their Big XII opener on January 5th.

TCU HORNED FROGS (8-1)

Last week (1-0): W- Indiana State 90-70

This week: Saturday vs. Charleston

The Horned Frogs had just one game this week, but were impressive in a 90-70 win against Indiana State. Desmond Bane led the way for the Frogs with 17 points. The difference-makers in the game were the 3-pointer, which TCU won 40% 19%, and the turnover battle, which favored the Frogs 20-10. TCU had 4 players reach double-digits in scoring. TCU has just one game this week, a Saturday home game against Charleston.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (10-0)

Last week (2-0): W- Northwestern State 79-44, W- Abilene Christian 82-48

This week: Thursday vs. Duke

Texas Tech had another 2-0 week, starting with a dominant 79-44 win over Northwestern State. Defense again paved the way for Tech, who led 53-10 at halftime. Northwestern State shot below 25% for the game and turned the ball over 19 times. Jarrett Culver led the way offensively for Tech with 15 points. Tariq Owens was right behind him with 14. Tech then blew out Abilene Christian, 82-48. Culver scored a career-high 30 points and added 7 boards and 4 assists in the win. He hit 12 of his 13 shot attempts, and the Red Raiders shot 56% for the night last a team. The victory moved Tech to 10-0 on the season, and they have won every game by double digits. Their toughest test comes Thursday night, as they will take on Duke in Madison Square Garden.

SMU MUSTANGS (7-4)

Last week (1-0): W- @ Georgetown 81-73

This week: Sunday vs. Cornell

SMU picked up a solid road win this week, taking a win over Georgetown, 81-73. It was a balanced attack offensively for SMU, with four players in double digits. Jahmal McMurray led the way with 19, including four 3-pointers in the win. 3-point shooting hurt Georgetown, who could only manage 22% from distance. The loss was the first at home for the Hoyas this season. SMU has a home game against Cornell on Sunday.

LSU TIGERS (8-3)

Last week (1-1): L- @ Houston 82-76, W- Saint Mary's 78-74

This week: Friday vs. Furman

LSU almost broke out this week, but Houston decided that it was just their night. LSU dominated for most of the game, but fell 82-76 to the Cougars. Their dynamic pair of freshmen, Naz Reid and Ja'Vonte Smart combined for 31 points in the loss. Tremont Waters again struggled with his shot, getting 10 points on 3-13 shooting. The Tigers as a team shot just 19% from 3-point range. Things went better for LSU against Saint Mary's. Waters came back strong, scoring 18 points on 7-12 shooting. Reid added 14 in the win. LSU was +8 in turnovers, which was a huge factor in the victory. LSU gets a matchup against a ranked Furman team on Friday.

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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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