College Basketball Report

UH rolls into Top 25; UT splits

Galen Robinson has been a beast for UH. Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

TEXAS LONGHORNS (6-3)

Last week (1-1):
L- VCU 54-53, W- Purdue 72-68.

This week: Saturday vs. Grand Canyon.

Texas basketball continues to be a roller coaster this year. The week started with the Horns dropping their third straight game, 54-53 to VCU. It was an ugly game for offense, as the Rams won the game shooting just 28%. Texas committed 18 turnovers in the game, and VCU turned those into 17 points. Kerwin Roach was the poster boy for the offensive struggles, as he went 1-for-11 from the field. Jericho Sims was the only Longhorn in double digits, scoring 14 in the loss. Texas then came back with a 72-68 win over Purdue. The three-ball finally started falling for Texas, who hit 44% from deep. Turnovers continue to plague Texas, though, adding 15 more in the game. Matt Coleman led the charge offensively for Texas, scoring 22 points in the win. Texas has just one game this week, Saturday vs. Grand Canyon.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (3-4)

Last week (0-0): Boston College- Canceled

This week: Saturday vs. Oregon State

The Aggies didn't play this week. Their scheduled game against Boston College was canceled due to mechanical issues with BC's charter plane, compounded by poor weather in the northeast. The Aggies are back in action on Saturday against Oregon State.

HOUSTON COUGARS (8-0)

Last week (2-0): W- Lamar- 79-56, W- @ Oklahoma State 63-53

This week: Wednesday vs. LSU, Sunday vs. Saint Louis

Cougar hoops continues to roll, tacking on two more wins last week. The first was a 79-56 drubbing of Lamar. The win was the 21st straight home win for UH, and it was never in question. Galen Robinson led the way with 20 points, and Armani Brooks added 17 points and 9 rebounds. The Cougars hit 47% of their shots and were plus-10 in rebounding. They then traveled to Stillwater, OK, and promptly put the boots to Oklahoma State 63-53. Brooks had another big game, posting 23 points and 8 rebounds in the win. Rebounding was strong all around for Houston, winning that battle 44-33. The two wins were enough to push UH into the AP top 25, coming in at number 24. The Cougars get LSU and Saint Louis next week.

RICE OWLS (3-6)

Last week (0-0): No games.

This week: Thursday vs. St. Edwards, Saturday vs. UC-Santa Barbara

The Owls didn't play last week. They have two home games this week, against St. Edwards and UC-Santa Barbara.

BAYLOR BEARS (5-3)

Last week (0-0): No games.

This week: Saturday @ Arizona.

The Bears didn't play last week. They have a game at Arizona on Saturday.

TCU HORNED FROGS (7-1)

Last week (2-0): W- @ SMU 67-59, W- USC 96-61

This week: Sunday vs. Indiana State

The Horned Frogs had a good week, taking in two wins this week. The first was their first road game of the season, going about 40 miles to SMU's campus, where the Frogs took a 67-59 win. Jaylen Fisher and JD Miller both had 15 points in the win. All 15 of Fisher's points came from behind the arc. The Frogs then went out to LA, and dominated USC by a score of 96-61. TCU led by 20 at half and never turned back. Fisher again hit 5 3-pointers, accounting for all 15 of his points. Alex Robinson also had 15 points in the win. His 8 assists padded his lead as the country's top assist man. The Frogs have just one game this week, Sunday against Indiana State.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (8-0)

Last week: W- Arkansas-Pine Bluff 65-47

This week: Wednesday vs. Northwestern State, Saturday vs. Abilene Christian

Texas Tech is still unbeaten, and still climbing the rankings after a 65-47 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Tech has been a force on defense all season long, and this one was no exception. Pine Bluff shot 32% from the field and turned the ball over 20 times. Jarrett Culver led the way for Tech with 13 points, on a night where the offense wasn't exactly in sync. Tech is now ranked 13th, and starting to garner some real respect nationally. They have two free throw games this week, against Northwestern State and Abilene Christian.

SMU MUSTANGS (6-4)

Last week (0-1): L- TCU 67-59

This week: Saturday @ Georgetown

After three wins a week ago, SMU got sent back to earth against TCU, 67-59. The offense was a real problem for the Mustangs, who shot 36% from the field and just 16% from 3-point range. Jahmal McMurray was a bright spot for SMU, scoring 19 points, but even he shot an inefficient 8-22 from the field. SMU hits the road for a game at Georgetown this week.

LSU TIGERS (7-2)

Last week (1-0): W- Incarnate Word 91-50

This week: Wednesday @ Houston, Saturday vs. Saint Mary's

The LSU freshmen didn't play well a week ago, but they came back strong against Incarnate Word in a 91-50 win. Nad Reid and Ja'vonte Smart. Kavell Bigby-Williams added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Tigers in the win. They led by 22 at half and never let the Cardinals within 20 points again. LSU shot 56% from the field and held the Cardinals to just 32%. Things will not be easy for the Tigers this week, as they have a trip to Houston and a home game against St. Mary's on the schedule.

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The clock is ticking. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

If he is indeed to become an ex-Astro George Springer can officially sign with his new team starting at four PM Houston time this Sunday. Michael Brantley the same. All free agents can sign contracts starting Sunday afternoon. If the die isn't cast that Springer is leaving, it certainly feels like his renewing vows with the Astros would be an upset.

The Astros will make Springer a 18.9 million dollar qualifying offer for 2021. He will of course reject that because contract offers of at least five years and over 100 million dollars likely await. Should Springer move on the Astros would then get a compensatory draft pick. Brantley won't get anything in close range of Springer's haul-to-be but still should at least get multiyear offers. The Astros should make the qualifying offer to Brantley (if they don't they forfeit any compensation for his departure). If they don't out of fear that he'd accept the one-year deal, the Astros would look lame. I don't think it comes to that. Losing Springer would be a huge blow on multiple levels, but if somehow they were to keep Brantley while getting back Yordan Alvarez at even 80 percent of his rookie performance level the Astros' lineup would look to be in decent shape.

With MLB's economic outlook shaky for 2021, it's unreasonable to say Jim Crane and his partners should give Springer whatever he wants. A six or seven year megadollar contract for a 31-year-old player with some durability questions on his resume is an iffy proposition. At the same time, the Astros have been quite profitable in recent years (before 2020), and Crane said over the summer the Astros were positioned to be "aggressive, whatever the market looks like." 13 million Josh Reddick dollars are off the books for 2021, 10 mil of Roberto Osuna is gone. After next year more than 57 mil of Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke clear.

MLB's postseason awards will be doled out over the next couple weeks but for the first time in years the Astros don't have a credible candidate for any of the big ones (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year). The Astros do have three American League Gold Glove finalists. I think Carlos Correa wins the shortstop honor. Correa had a weak regular season at the plate but his defense was stellar, plus the two guys who divvied up the last four AL SS Gold Gloves (Francisco Lindor and Andrelton Simmons) had down seasons and aren't finalists. Quick: name the teams of fellow finalists J.P. Crawford and Niko Goodrum. Hard to see either winning over Correa. Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker were also named top three at their positions. For the first time the finalist selections were driven entirely by stats and analytics.

Big week for the Rockets

With the Rockets settling on Stephen Silas as their new Head Coach, that hire coupled with the in house promotion of Rafael Stone to General Manager makes it appear as though owner Tilman Fertitta is doing more things on the cheap. The NBA economic environment is challenging and huge portions of the rest of Fertitta's portfolio are submerged in a COVID-driven bloodbath. Silas has paid his dues for a good while and most recently worked under the outstanding Rick Carlisle in Dallas. He has earned a lead chair opportunity. But with no prior head coaching experience and no bidding war for his services, Silas signs on at a much lower rate than, say, Jeff Van Gundy would have commanded. Former head coaches (and former Rockets' player rivals of the 90s) Jeff Hornacek and Nate McMillan would make for two strong Silas assistants. From their playing days if you combined Hornacek's offense and McMillan's defense into one player you'd have one of the top 20 or so greatest guards in NBA history.

Silas and Stone take the reins at a challenging time for the Rockets with their messy salary cap sheet, reduced draft capital, and one of the oldest core player groups in the league. Polite public statements aside, it's part of why Daryl Morey left. Maybe Mike D'Antoni too though that seemed more about feeling disrespected by the lack of a contract extension before this past season. D'Antoni may have overplayed his hand since he did not get fill any of the coaching vacancies elsewhere in the NBA. Only Oklahoma City remains open, and D'Antoni has gotten no run there.

Buzzer Beaters:

1. It seems sadly appropriate that the first meaningful positive in the Texans' 2020 season came in form of a COVID test result.

2. If we all commit to getting through it together, I think we can get by without a Texans' game this weekend. Remember, it's their open week, not a bye!

3. One hit wonder goodbye songs: Bronze-Terry Jacks "Seasons in the Sun" Silver-Norman Greenbaum "Spirit In The Sky" Gold-Steam "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"

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