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. 

Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

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12. RICE

This week Rice is playing at UTSA and while they probably won't win but here's the thing, if they do win, they are actually right back into contention in the Conference USA standings. They're only two losses behind first place Louisiana Tech (although they did lose to them so that doesn't help) so if Rice gets off this six game skid, they could in theory still save their season. I'm not sure if that's good news or bad news, but there it is.

11. UTEP

After an off week to sit and sulk in their losses, they now get a chance to play some meaningful season saving football. Just like with Rice, we're still early enough in conference play that a win saves the season and in theory rights the ship. Now they are massive underdogs going on the road to Florida International, but hey, maybe.

10. UTSA

UAB came to town and played the kind of good football they normally do. Last year's conference champs put a hurting on The Roadrunners but honestly it was expected. This week Rice comes to town and this is a chance to actually start climbing some rungs on that Conference USA ladder.

9. NORTH TEXAS

So it turns out North Texas was still trending downward last weekend and the losing has continued, now 2-4. Middle Tennessee State University has done The Mean Green the favor of coming down to Texas and probably will lose to North Texas, unless the school with the most words in their name gets spotted a touchdown.

8. TEXAS STATE

After a stretch of success, Texas State dropped a much-needed game against UL Monroe and now they're off this week. Hopefully they're watching game film, studying tendencies and avoiding the mentality that they have to sit around and stew in a loss, which as regular readers have noticed I think is the hardest thing for college teams to deal with because ultimately they're kids. Winning feels good and losing hurts, then having time off to think about whatever happened the weekend before can be a bonus or a detriment. Let's see which way they go with this time off.

7. TEXAS TECH

Poor, poor Texas Tech. Losing a heart breaker to Baylor in the second overtime, that if you're a Red Raider Alum should never have happened after a fumble recovery was waived off by the officials as an illegal snap (I honestly can't remember the last time I've seen that call in an important moment in a game) that would have given the ball to Tech needing only a field goal or touchdown to win. But now here they are, upsetting Oklahoma State and one play and a score away from a second upset in as many weeks, going from potentially being at least No. 21 where Oklahoma State is now to unranked where Tech is currently. But there's no time to whine, a win against traveling Iowa State at least keeps Texas Tech in striking distance of the top of the Big 12 standings.

6. HOUSTON

This team has become like a telenovela my Dad's mother-in-law watches. So much drama, where do we even begin? Ok, how about we set aside the recent news of an offensive lineman leaving the team and destroying them on twitter after being told his commitment to the team was being questioned while playing on a medically bad knee? How about we set aside the audacity of a program questioning the commitment of their student-athletes (who are still unpaid) while having "star" players red-shirt and bail on this season to be ready for another campaign next year while everyone else is still dressing and playing and bleeding and sweating for this program for this year? They lost to Cincinnati in a game that while they weren't favored I think they could have won if two quarterbacks hadn't thrown four picks and a backup running back (who wouldn't be playing if you were in the game with all your players on the roster still) coughed up one also. If you lose by 15 points but spotted the other team five possessions, then you could have won. The Cougars travel to the Huskies where they should win, but does it matter?

5. TCU

After getting drummed by Iowa State and then having a week off, The Horned Frogs travel to Kansas State for their last warm up game before they face Texas, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma in the following five weeks. This game is their last dress rehearsal before every snap counts with their season swinging in the balance. I don't think the second half of this season goes well so I hope for the program's sake they win this week.

4. TEXAS A&M

In some ways it feels unfair to punish Texas A&M for having one of the harder schedules in the state but that is the plight of an SEC team that also schedules Clemson (yikes) as an out of conference opponent. Three losses after only six games isn't a great place to be in, even if two of the three losses were to the number 1 team in the country at the time and the other loss was to a top ten team at the time. I totally respect the program for scheduling tough opponents but moral victories don't count in the standings. This week The Aggies visit Ole Miss and should get themselves back over .500 for the season.

3. SMU

Coming into this week ranked in the top 20 and looking at a remaining schedule full of winnable games, The Mustangs have got to be feeling pretty proud of themselves. However, before anyone just hands them the American Athletic Conference Championship, let's see if they stay focused and take care of business against visiting Temple. They should, but this is why we actually play the games and not just pick winners and losers, let's see what happens.

2. BAYLOR

So Baylor beat Tech but it wasn't in the convincing sense I expected to see. Baylor, who had been rolling most opponents and winning by more than in a touchdown in all but one game coming into last week looked very beatable against The Red Raiders. It wasn't the kind of game you would expect from a highly ranked, Big 12 leading, trying to make the playoffs type of team. This week they travel to Oklahoma State, who has been off since their upset loss to Texas Tech. This is where college sports can get weird, Oklahoma State is currently ranked higher than Texas Tech who they lost to, and if they beat Baylor who did beat Texas Tech it's only going to get weirder ranking wise. This is going to be a must watch game for fans of the Big 12 because Texas and Oklahoma and TCU will also have much cheering to do if Baylor loses.

1. TEXAS

Speaking of oddities in the ranking system of College Football and conference play, Texas is the best team in Texas right now without a doubt, however coming off a loss to Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry they are now 4-2 overall and 2-1 in conference play, putting them a few spots behind Baylor and only just ahead of Texas Tech and TCU in the Big 12 rankings. This weekend Kansas University comes to town and Texas gets to feel much better about themselves if they win.

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