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Texas College Basketball Update

Taken by Kevin Jairaj- USA TODAY Sports

Taken by Kevin Jairaj- USA TODAY Sports

Nick Slavinsky, Sports Writer

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Texas Longhorns (12-7)

Heading into the 2017-18 season, the Longhorns had high expectations. However, almost halfway through the conference schedule, Texas has been a bit of a letdown. Ranked fourth in the 2017 ESPN 100 high school prospects, Mohamed Bamba only averages 11.8 points per game. Although Bamba does not score much, he pulls in 10.6 rebounds per game as well as averaging 4.5 blocks. Texas picked up key wins over Texas Tech and TCU, both ranking in the top 20 at the time, as well as defeating rival Texas A&M in an exhibition game scheduled to raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief. Although the Longhorns are currently projected to be in the NCAA Tournament by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the focus in Austin recently has been on guard Andrew Jones after he was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this month. Jones will miss the remainder of the season.

 

Texas A&M Aggies (13-6)

Despite starting the year strong with a 23 point win over West Virginia (ranked number 7 in the latest AP poll) and their only out of conference loss coming against Arizona (ranked number 11) the Aggies fell out of the top 25 after losing their first five games in the Southeastern Conference. The suspension of leading scorer DJ Hogg and injuries to starting guards Admon Gilder and Duane Wilson lead to some of the struggles Texas A&M faced in early January during their losing streak. With the three missing Aggies back on the court, the team beat Ole Miss and Mizzou to improve to 2 wins and 5 losses in conference. Although the Aggies are still projected to play in the NCAA Tournament by Joe Lunardi, wins over 5th ranked Kansas and 19th ranked Auburn later this season could lock up a spot in March Madness for Texas A&M.

 

Texas Tech Red Raiders (15-4)

After a disappointing 2016-17 season, the Red Raiders are back near the top of the Big 12 this year. Projected to finish in the bottom half of the conference by Sports Illustrated’s preseason poll, Texas Tech’s strong year comes as a shock. Texas Tech started off their conference schedule with a 24 point over Baylor (ranked number 18 at the time) and wins over Kansas and West Virginia (ranked number 10 and number 2). The Red Raiders went on a losing streak last week suffering defeats from unranked Texas and Iowa State. After these losses, Tech dropped from number 8 to number 14 in the latest AP poll. The last half of conference games will be a struggle for the Red Raiders having to play TCU and Oklahoma State twice each, as well as West Virginia, Kansas, and Oklahoma one last time.

 

Baylor Bears (12-8)

The Bears were ranked as high as 16th in the AP poll in late November, but after losing four of their first five Big 12 games, Baylor finds itself unranked and near the bottom of the conference standings. Baylor’s best win came against Creighton, who spent some time in the top 25 in December, just before Thanksgiving. After making the NCAA Tournament every year since 2014 and reaching the elite eight in 2017, it is unlikely Baylor will see its name on the bracket this March. The one thing Bears fans have to look forward to is high school senior Mathew Mayer (ESPN’s 69th ranked prospect) out of Austin, TX who signed to play basketball at Baylor next year.  

 

TCU Horned Frogs (15-5)

TCU’s success in the 2016-17 season came as a surprise after not making an appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1998. Although the Horned Frogs fell just short of making the tournament, they went on to win the NIT over Georgia Tech. TCU reached number 10 in the AP poll after winning 12 games in a row to start the season, but fell out of the top 25 this past week after losing to Oklahoma twice, as well as losses to Kansas, Texas, and Kansas State. The Horned Frogs bounced back with a nine point win over 7th ranked West Virginia on Monday. TCU faces four ranked teams in the last half of their season, including two games against Texas Tech. Lead by Kenrich Williams’ 14.4 points and 9.6 rebounds per game, Texas Christian University could end their 20 year tournament drought this March.

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