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. 

The Houston Cougars played their worst game of the season on Sunday after a shaky effort against Memphis on Saturday. Houston fell to Cincinnati in the finals of the American Conference Tournament on Sunday, losing 69-57.

Still, they landed a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They will face Georgia State in the first round, and most likely No. 6 seed Iowa State in the second. The Cougars will play in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Despite the shaky weekend, the Cougars finished 31-3. Their best player, senior Corey Davis, is dealing with an injury. But if he is OK, they should at least make the Sweet 16. Anything less would be a disappointment.

The Cougars could theoretically get Kentucky in the Sweet 16 and North Carolina in the Elite 8. If they can run that gauntlet, they would make the Final Four.

Several other teams from Texas (and of interest to Houstonians) made the tournament as well:

Prairie View will play in the First Four after winning the SWAC. They face Farleigh Dickinson.

LSU is a three seed and will face Yale in the East Region.

Baylor is a nine seed and will face Syracuse in the West Region.

Texas Tech is a three seed in the West and will face Northern Kentucky.

Abilene Christian (27-6) faces No. 2 seed Kentucky (27-6).

The AAC got in UCF, Cincinnati and Temple in addition to UH. The Big 12 got six, but TCU and Texas failed to get in.

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