TCU ranked 10th in latest AP basketball poll

Coach Jamie Dixon (second from left) has led the TCU men’s basketball team to a 12-0 record. (Photo/Sharon Ellman )

Coach Jamie Dixon’s undefeated TCU Horned Frogs have moved up to No. 10 in the Associated Press college basketball poll.

It’s the highest ranking in school history for the Frogs, who improved to 12-0 with a victory at home last Friday over William & Mary.

The win was TCU’s 17th in a row dating to last season, when it closed out Dixon’s first year as coach of the Frogs with a run to the National Invitation Tournament title.

Before today, the highest TCU had ever been ranked was No. 13 on Feb. 23, 1998.

Villanova, Michigan State, Arizona State and Duke remained 1-4, respectively, as the new poll was released Monday.

Texas A&M, now 11-1, is fifth in the nation. The Aggies have won four straight since their only loss of the season on Dec. 5 at Arizona.

Xavier of Ohio is sixth and West Virginia seventh. West Virginia is the the highest ranked of six Big 12 teams in the Top 25.

The others are TCU and Kansas (11th), Oklahoma (12th), Baylor (18th) and Texas Tech (22nd).

Bamba blocks five shots as Texas beats Alabama, 66-50

Texas center Mohamed Bamba finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots Friday night, leading the Longhorns’ 66-50 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

In the game played at Birmingham, Texas point guard Matt Coleman also played well.

Coleman scored 13 and helped limit Alabama freshman Collin Sexton to eight points, 13 below his Southeastern Conference-leading average.

The Crimson Tide (8-4) are coached by former Spurs point guard Avery Johnson, who watched from the side as the Longhorns (9-3) put on a defensive clinic.

With the 6-foot-11 Bamba protecting the basket, Texas held Alabama to a season-low in points on 34 percent shooting from the field.

Coleman and Kerwin Roach II guarded the perimeter and aided in limiting the Tide to 3 of 15 shooting from 3-point distance.

Sexton was hobbling at the end of the game, favoring his left leg.

Bamba struggled on the offensive end in Texas’ last game, a 47-46 victory at home on Monday against Tennessee State.

Against Tennessee State, he finished 1-for-8 from the field and scored four points.

Asked by ESPN’s Seth Greenberg the difference between his performance Monday and what he did against Alabama, he said, “Just an aggressive mindset.

“My teammates didn’t really get too down on me,” he said. “They just told me they wanted more out of me. That’s what I decided to give ’em.”

Bamba blocked a shot at the outset of the second half, ran the floor and dunked on the other end.

Later, he defended a shot on the 3-point line, and took off again. Bamba received a behind-the-back pass and dunked two-handed.

“I thought our guys did a great job on the defensive end,” Texas coach Shaka Smart told ESPN. “They’ve got some terrific offensive players. Our guys really honored the scouting report, did their best.

“They made some tough shots, but we never dropped our head and kept battling.”

Florida turns up the pressure, runs away from UIW, 75-60

The Florida Gators forced 23 turnovers Friday night in a 75-60 victory over the University of the Incarnate Word.

UIW played hard and kept the game close for most of the night.

Buoyed by the shooting of Charles Brown III and Simi Socks, the Cardinals tied it on the first possession of the second half and pulled within 51-46 on a Cody Graham drive with 12:50 remaining.

But the Gators (8-4) surged behind point guard Chris Chiozza and forward Egor Koulechov on a 20-4 run over the next six minutes to take control.

The Cardinals (5-5) will return to San Antonio for a two-day break before returning to practice on Monday.

UIW opens Southland Conference play with two games in Louisiana next week, starting Thursday night at McNeese State.

The Florida game marked the debut of UIW’s 7-foot center, Konstantin Kulikov. The native of Russia, a transfer from San Jacinto College, scored four points on 2 of 7 shooting.

Brown led UIW by hitting 5 of 10 from the field for 13 points. Socks scored 11 on 4 of 6 afield.

Chiozza contributed 16 points, 4 assists and 4 steals for Florida. The Gators completely disrupted the Cardinals with 14 steals as a team.

Jalen Hudson scored 13 points and Koulechov, a transfer from Rice, added 12.

Center Udoka Azubuike starts to assert himself for No. 14 Kansas

When I saw the Kansas Jayhawks play earlier this season on television, I wondered why Udoka Azubuike wasn’t a bigger part of the offense.

Azubuike is 7 feet and 280 pounds. It seems like whatever he may be lacking in skills, he can easily make up for in size and brute force.

Stanford came face-to-face with this reality Thursday night.

In a game played in Sacramento, California, Azubuike dunked seven times en route to 24 points, leading the Jayhawks to an easy 75-54 victory.

Two months ago, Kansas beat Kentucky 65-61 in Chicago.

In that game, it was easy to see several NBA-caliber prospects running the wings on both teams.

But I noticed Azubuike, very agile, moving easily around the bucket.

Kansas gave him five shot opportunities, and he made all of them, including a monster alley-oop slam.

Against Stanford, the Jayhawks seemed to take notice of him more often, getting him 15 shots.

He made 12 of them.

I guess that’s just the way it is with the Jayhawks, a team that features a dynamic wing presence with Devonte’ Graham, Lagerald Vick and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk.

If you’re an opposing coach, you hate it.

Some nights, the wing guys kill you with perimeter shooting.

Other nights, you have a freight train-type center dunking on your heads.

With the Jayhawks opening Big 12 play next Friday at Texas, I’d say that probably makes them more than capable of winning another title.

Duane Wilson scores 23, No. 8 Texas A&M beats Buffalo

Texas A&M forward Robert Williams blocks a shot that leads to basket on the other end for the Aggies.

Guard Duane Wilson scored 23 points Thursday night as eighth-ranked Texas A&M won its fourth game in a row, turning back the Buffalo Bulls, 89-73.

A&M (11-1) also got a strong effort from freshman forward Savion Flagg, who scored 21 as the Aggies closed out their non-conference schedule.

Buffalo (7-5) led by one point five minutes into the game and stayed with the Aggies most of the way.

The Bulls drew within two when C.J. Massinburg hit a 3-pointer with 6:54 remaining.

But A&M finished strong with Flagg scoring seven points in a 29-15 burst down the stretch to put the game away.

Three A&M players sat out on suspension and another, guard Admon Gilder, didn’t play because of an injured knee.

The team announced earlier in the afternoon that junior forward D.J. Hogg and freshmen guards T.J. Starks and J.J. Caldwell all would sit out.

Hogg, A&M’s leading scorer at 14.6 points per game, will be out for three games for a violation of university policy.

The Buffalo game is the last on the Aggies’ non-conference schedule before they open SEC play next Saturday at Alabama.

Is it really time to fear the Wofford Terriers?

If you’re looking for a bracket-busting NCAA tournament team in March, keep an eye on the Wofford Terriers.

Wofford, based in Spartanburg, South Carolina, made headlines on Wednesday night by beating the 5th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels, 79-75.

A stunning victory? Well, in more than one way, it definitely was.

The Terriers came into Chapel Hill on an 0-22 skid against ranked opponents.

They have played in four NCAA tournaments since 2010 but have emerged from those spotlight experiences 0-4.

Still, it’s not like the Terriers have never had success.

In 2015, coach Mike Young’s team won 28 games and pulled down a No. 12 seed in its NCAA region.

Wofford nearly knocked off fifth-seeded Arkansas in the first round that year before falling by three (56-53) at Jacksonville, Florida.

This year, they have a phenomenon on their team. He goes by the name of Fletcher Magee.

Magee is a brazen scorer who came into the home of the defending NCAA champions averaging 24.1 points per game, second in the nation only to Oklahoma freshman Trae Young.

Against the Tar Heels, Magee scored 27, including 16 in the second half.

“Magee was not typical Fletcher (tonight),” Wofford coach Mike Young said. “His numbers have been staggering, and people are starting to
take notice. He missed a couple, one that was like a layup to him.

“(But) 27 points in this environment; Kenny Williams and Theo Pinson, those guys can guard you,” the coach said. “That kid (Magee)
makes you look pretty good (as a coach) sometimes.

“He just rises up and hits a shot. He certainly did that a
couple of times tonight.”

So, make a mental note. In a few months, if you’re looking for an underdog to pick among double-digit seeds in the tournament, look up the Terriers.

They might be ready to roar.

Nebraska holds off hot-shooting UTSA, 104-94

The Nebraska Cornhuskers probably didn’t expect to sweat out a visit from the UTSA Roadrunners.

They probably didn’t anticipate that the game would be tied with a little more than four minutes remaining.

But that was exactly the scenario that played out Wednesday night in Lincoln, when the Cornhuskers had to dig deep for a late push to turn back the Roadrunners, 104-94.

“They’ve done that to a lot of people,” UTSA coach Steve Henson told the team’s radio broadcast. “Boston College was a close game going into the last few minutes and they just shut ’em out down the stretch.

“(Against) Kansas the other night, they shut ’em out until the very last shot, pretty much (in a one-point loss for the Cornhuskers). So we knew they had the capability of screeching us to a halt.

“They’re a good team. They’ve got good depth. Good size. Good players. I got a lot of respect for them.”

UTSA freshman Jhivvan Jackson led the Roadrunners with 26 points. Both Jackson and Deon Lyle gave Nebraska fits by hitting five three-pointers apiece.

In all, the Roadrunners tied a season high with 15 treys. They also did reasonably well on the boards, getting beat only 44-34 despite a huge size disadvantage.

But Henson was most proud of the way his players battled in the first half. Falling behind by 14 once, they rallied to within seven at intermission.

“It was ugly,” Henson said. “It was not our style of basketball. We couldn’t get a run going. You know, we’ve got that ability to go on a run and get things in a flow. But they didn’t let us do it, and we hung in there. And that was good to see.

“I know we’re a good team when it’s easy and we’re flowing. When both teams are getting up and down the floor. But I like the stretch there when it was hard and our guys hung in there and found a way to keep the game within reach.”

Guard James Palmer, Jr., led the Cornhuskers with 25 points. Guard Anton Gill came off the bench for 21, and Evan Taylor added 16.

After UTSA tied the game 86-86 on a Jackson three-pointer with 4:23 remaining Gill sparked decisive 15-2 run with six straight points. He hit a three and then made three straight free throws.

Pretty soon, the Cornhuskers had opened a 101-88 lead with 55 seconds remaining, and the fans of the home team could finally breathe easier.

Nebraska (8-5) didn’t need to worry about its RPI being in jeopardy any more.

Nevertheless, UTSA (7-6) can use the game to build, with the Conference USA portion of the schedule looming next week.

“I feel really good about (our progress),” Henson said. “We were disappointed with the outcome here tonight. We had a chance. Wish we could have done a couple of things better. But like I told the guys, I like the progress we’re making.

“Guys are figuring some things out. We’re healthy. We’ve got a lot of guys playing pretty good basketball. Nick Allen’s playing with the most confidence (he’s had) in his life. He’s feeling great. We got good depth.

“We got all the pieces to make some noise in conference play. That was our message to our guys just now.”

UTEP rallies at home for 72-66 victory over Incarnate Word

UTEPs Omega Harris (No. 2) drives on Incarnate Word guard Jalin Hart.

The UTEP Miners forced mistakes with their defense and rallied in the second half Tuesday night for a 72-66 victory over the University of the Incarnate Word.

Playing in El Paso at the Haskins Center, the Cardinals performed well for most of the night and held a 49-43 lead when Sam Burmeister buried a three-pointer with 10:26 remaining.

But, at that point, guards Kobe Magee and Omega Harris hit consecutive baskets to kick-start a 10-1 run for the Miners.

A Harris jumper capped the streak and gave UTEP a 53-50 edge with 6:57 left.

Down the stretch, the Cardinals (5-4) went cold, failing to make a basket for a span of 4 minutes and 43 seconds.

The Miners (4-6) did just enough to hold on for their third win in a row under interim head coach Paul Johnson. Johnson is 3-1 after taking over for Tim Floyd, who has retired.

Forward Paul Thomas led short-handed UTEP with 16 points and eight rebounds. Harris scored 15. Both Harris and Magee contributed three steals.

Miners’ injured 7-foot-1 center Matt Willms did not play.

For the Cardinals, forward Simi Socks led with 21 points, his second straight game with 20 or more. Socks hit 3 of 4 from three-point territory.

Forward Shawn Johnson scored 14, and Christian Peevy came off the bench for 10. UIW hit 9 three-pointers for the game but made too many mistakes, turning it over 25 times.

UIW plays on the road again at Florida on Friday night before opening Southland Conference play next week.

The SLC schedule starts with a road trip to Louisiana and games at McNeese State and Nicholls State.

TCU improves to 11-0 with win over Texas Southern

JD Miller scored 20 points on 9 of 13 shooting Monday night, helping undefeated and 15th-ranked TCU to break away in the second half for a 91-72 victory over winless Texas Southern.

Vladimir Brodziansky (in the photo, above) added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Frogs (11-0).

Guard Demontrae Jefferson poured in 29 for the Tigers (0-12) in the game played on TCU’s home floor in Fort Worth.

The Tigers of the Southwestern Athletic Conference stayed with the Big 12 powerhouse for a half, trailing by only two at intermission.

Texas Southern traded baskets with the home team early in the second half before TCU constructed a 10-0 run to open up a 53-43 lead.

The Tigers never got closer than five the rest of the way, with the Frogs pushing the lead to 25 down the stretch.

TCU remains as one of four unbeaten teams in the nation, joining No. 1 Villanova, No. 3 Arizona State and No. 6 Miami.

The Horned Frogs will play Friday at home against William and Mary before opening Big 12 play Dec. 30 at home against the Oklahoma Sooners.

Texas 47, Tennessee State 46

The Texas Longhorns hit a clutch shot with 11 seconds remaining Monday night, escaping with a 47-46 victory over the Tennessee State Tigers.

Matt Coleman’s runner allowed Texas (8-3) to avert disaster against Tennessee State (5-5) of the Ohio Valley Conference.

The Tigers, on their last possession, missed a wild three with the clock running down.

With the victory, Texas improved to 2-1 since they lost leading scorer Andrew Jones to a wrist injury.

No. 14 Kansas 109, Omaha 64

Svi Mykhailiuk tied his career high with six 3-pointers and scored 26 points as Kansas routed Omaha 109-64 Monday night.

Mykhailiuk hit the winning shot in the Jayhawks’ 73-72 victory over Nebraska in Lincoln on Saturday night.

Kansas, who have won 13 Big 12 regular season titles in a row, had lost two straight leading into the Nebraska game.

They Jayhawks (9-2) will now take a two-game winning streak on the road to play Stanford in California on Thursday.

It’s the last non-conference game for Kansas before it opens Big 12 play on Dec. 29 at Texas.

1-2-3 in AP poll? Villanova, Michigan State, Arizona State

Undefeated Villanova remained as the No. 1 team in the nation, according to the Week 7 release of the Associated Press college basketball poll.

Michigan State, unbeaten Arizona State and Duke were ranked second through fourth, respectively, with defending NCAA champion North Carolina coming in fifth after Sunday’s victory at Tennessee.

Undefeated Miami placed sixth, with Kentucky at No. 7 and Texas A&M in the eighth spot. It was Texas A&M’s fourth straight week in the top 10. Xavier of Ohio was ninth and West Virginia of the Big 12 was 10th.

Other Big 12 programs that made the top 25 included twice-beaten Kansas at No. 14, undefeated TCU (15), Oklahoma (17), Baylor (tied for 18th) and Texas Tech (21).

Villanova, the 2016 NCAA champions, kept the No. 1 spot for the second straight week based on a 20-point blowout of Temple.

Jalen Brunson scored 31 as the Wildcats (11-0) pounded Temple 87-67 last week in a battle of Philadelphia-based powers.

Michigan State also played only once last week, knocking off Oakland (Mich.) on Saturday in Detroit, 86-73.

The Spartans won despite 35 percent shooting in a game that they dominated on the boards (45-30).

Arizona State sold out Wells Fargo Arena on Sunday afternoon and played to the 10,797 fans with a 76-64 victory over Vanderbilt.

In a chaotic sequence of events last in the first half, Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley lost a championship ring from his days as a player at Duke, found it, and then led his team to victory.

Sports writer Doug Haller’s game story at is also a winner. Call it up by clicking the link in the following tweet.