A.J. HOFFMAN'S COLLEGE BASKETBALL REPORT

UH opens Fertitta Center with win, UT stumbles at home and Aggies bounce back

Billy Kennedy's Aggies got a much needed win. Getty Images

TEXAS LONGHORNS (5-2)

Last week (0-1): L- Radford 62-59

This week:  Wednesday vs. VCU, Sunday vs. Purdue

Texas only had one game this week, and if they overlooked the Radford Highlanders, be assured that it won’t happen again. Radford took a 62-59 victory over the Horns, giving them their first ever win against a ranked team. Three point shooting again hurt the Longhorns, as they only hit 5 of 27 from distance. Radford was even on the boards with Texas, and won the turnover battle 12-8. Jericho Sims was the only Texas player who shot better than 50% from the field, going 6 of 9 on his way to a team-high 16 points in the loss. Texas has VCU and Purdue this week. 

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (3-4)

Last week (1-0): W- Northwestern State 80-59

This week: Saturday vs. Boston College

JUCO transfer Wendell Mitchell broke out for the Aggies, scoring a season-high 18 points in an 80-59 win over Northwestern State. Christian Mekowulu added 14 points in the win. The Aggies were mean on the defensive end too, compiling 12 blocked shots in the win. It wasn’t all good news for the Ags, who have been off to a slow start. Billy Kennedy announced that Isiah Jasey would be leaving the program. He has averaged 3.6 PPG in five games this season. The Aggies play Boston College on Saturday.

HOUSTON COUGARS (6-0)

Last week (2-0): W- UT- Rio Grande Valley 58-53, W- Oregon 65-61

This week: Tuesday vs. Lamar, Saturday @ Oklahoma State

Big week for the Cougars, as they closed out their time playing on the Texas Southern campus and opened their new Fertitta Center on Saturday. They started the week with a 58-53 win over UT-Rio Grande Valley, giving them 20 consecutive home wins at H&PE Arena. Corey Davis, Jr. led the charge with 23 points. Offense was inefficient for both teams, with the Cougars shooting 39% from the field and the Vaqueros only managing 34%. The new Fertitta Center opened with a bang, with the Cougars taking a 65-61 win over the Oregon Ducks. Armani Brooks had 22 points to go with his 9 rebounds to lead the charge in front of a raucous sellout crowd. The shooting woes continued for UH (33%), but they won the turnover battle to get a hard fought win over a tough Ducks team. Lamar at home and a trip to Oklahoma State are on the schedule this week for UH. 

RICE OWLS (3-6)

Last week (0-2): L- @ Texas State 74-60, L- Lamar 75-68

This week: No Games Scheduled

You could say this was a rough week for Rice hoops, but that would be generous. Losing to Texas State in San Marcos wasn’t a huge surprise, but they were never competitive in that game, with a final of 74-60. The Owls shot the ball horribly, hitting just 36% from the field. Freshmen Chris Mullins and Quentin Millora-Brown combined to score 22 of the Owls’ 60 points in the loss. Things got no better against Lamar, as the Owls dropped a 75-68 decision to the Cardinals. Lamar led from tip to buzzer in the game, though the Owls were able to make it at least interesting in the final few minutes. Junior Robert Martin led the Owls with 21 points on 7 of 12 shooting. The Owls don’t have a game scheduled until Dec. 13. 

BAYLOR BEARS (5-3)

Last week (1-1): W- South Dakota 63-57, L- @ Wichita State 71-63

This week: No Games Scheduled

The Bears avoided disaster against South Dakota early in the week, scoring the last 12 points in a 63-57 win over the Coyotes. King McClure led the Bears with 15 points to go with his six rebounds. The Bears gave South Dakota problems on the defensive end, holding the Coyotes to just 8 of 22 shooting from 3-point range. Baylor then hit the road for the first time this season, and it took them a while to adjust to life outside of Waco. Wichita jumped out to a 44-15 halftime lead. Baylor powered back to make it a game in the second half, but couldn’t overcome the early deficit. The 3-point shot was not friendly to Baylor, as they went just 4 of 22 from long range. Mario Kegler and Tristan Clark each had 12 points in the loss for Baylor. The Bears are off this week. 

TCU HORNED FROGS (5-1)

Last week (1-0): W- Central Michigan 89-62

This week: Wednesday @ SMU, Friday vs. USC

After getting knocked out of the Top 25 last week, TCU came back strong with a dominant 89-62 win over Central Michigan. Desmond Bane was the highlight for the Frogs, putting up 24 points and nine rebounds in the win. Alex Robinson had a double-double, with 11 points and 12 assists. The Frogs put up a good defensive effort as well, with seven steals, eight blocks and holding the Chippewas to just 17% from deep. TCU shot 55% from the field on the day. The Horned Frogs get SMU and USC next week. 

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (7-0)

Last week: W- Memphis 78-67

This week: Wednesday vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Texas Tech stiffened on the defensive end when they needed it most, and were able to mount a comeback win over a game Memphis Tigers squad, 78-67. Memphis led for most of the game, but collapsed late, missing 17 of their last 21 shot attempts. Tariq Owens was front and center on the effort for Tech, with an 13 points, 11 rebounds and eight blocks in the victory. This was the second straight game for the Red Raiders where they trailed at halftime and won the second half by at least 20 points. The win pushes them to 13th in the rankings, but I would argue they are underrated, even at that number. Tech gets Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Wednesday. 

SMU MUSTANGS (6-3)

Last week (3-0): W- Lamar 79-65, W- McNeese 91-59, W- Oral Roberts 79-67

This week: Wednesday vs. TCU

SMU righted the ship this week after a rough 3-3 start. SMU jumped out to an early lead over Lamar, and never looked back, taking a 79-65 win to start the week. Jahmal McMurray led the Mustangs with 18 points and nine assists. Five Ponies were in double digit scoring. SMU had a 32-20 rebounding edge in the win. The Mustangs continued rolling, blowing out McNeese 91-59. Jimmy Whitt, Jr. filled up the stat line with 12 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and three steals. McMurray again led the Ponies in scoring with 19 points. SMU won the turnover battle 15-6 in the game. SMU wrapped up the week with a 79-67 win over Oral Roberts. Ethan Chargois led SMU with 17 and McMurray added 16 in the win. The Ponies jumped to a big first half lead and never looked back. SMU shot 47% from distance and were plus-10 in rebounding margin. They play just one game this week, Wednesday vs. TCU. 

LSU TIGERS (6-2)

Last week (1-0): W- Grambling 78-57

This week: Sunday vs. Incarnate Word

LSU made easy work against Grambling, rolling to a 78-57 win. Tremont Waters had it going on the offensive end, leading the Tigers with 15 points. Darius Days also came in with a season high 13 points and 9 rebounds in the win. Naz Reid, who has been inefficient, came off the bench for the first time this year and had 8 points to go with 7 rebounds. The inefficiency continued though, as he shot just 2-of-10 from the field. LSU was plus-21 in the rebounding department. The Tigers don’t play until Sunday against Incarnate Word. 

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Martin Truex Jr. won his 2nd race of the season last week. Photo via: Wiki Commons.

NASCAR returns to the Commonwealth of Virginia for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway. This is the first of two races here at this track as they will race on Sunday afternoon. This will be different from the normal night race they usually have here as this will definitely affect the racing surface considering how much the sun could make the track slick. It should be a fun race come Sunday.

Last week, Martin Truex Jr. passed Denny Hamlin to capture his second win of the season after rain moved the race to Sunday. He became the first driver to win multiple races after a fierce battle with his teammate Denny Hamlin. The race was filled with tons of wrecks including a fifteen car pileup including Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It was one of the better races of the season as there was lots of beating and banging.

The race was not without controversy but not the kind you would expect. Early in the race Rick Ware Racing teammates Cody Ware and James Davison were involved in an altercation. The two were battling towards the back of the pack when Ware decided to drive through his teammate in turn four. The race got much worse for Cody Ware as he was involved in three more cautions all throughout the race. Many people around the sport were quite perturbed by his antics including broadcaster Mike Joy as he was audibly annoyed after Ware spun out later in the race. Many have questioned if the fifth-year driver should even be in the car and overall I can understand why some of those people think that. In his five years of driving, he has finished on the lead lap one time. I hope that he is able to figure it out and find success in the future, but this was not a good look.

The slump continues for two-time champion Kyle Busch

Throughout the race, Busch was running okay for the most part but towards the closing laps of the race he and Chris Buescher got together triggering a fifteen car pileup. Despite all this, he was able to rebound to a respectable tenth place finish. This has been more than likely the toughest stretch of his career since his championship in 2019. Many would say that the omission of Practice and Qualifying has really affected his performance. Whatever the issue is, this team really needs to find some speed, or he could be in danger of missing the playoffs. I look for this team to bounce back considering how talented he is.

Prediction

The driver that I have winning this week is Kyle Larson. This has been an incredible rebound season for Larson as he currently sits fourth in points. He is also second in laps led only to Denny Hamlin. Richmond has been a great track for him as it fits his driving style perfectly as he can run the outside line and find grip where others can't. This track is also rather sentimental to him considering he won his first pole award here during his rookie season in 2014. While he may not have the results he would want he has always been extremely fast here and even won back in 2017. I look for him to capture his second victory of 2021 come Sunday.

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