Houston rallies past LSU 82-76 to remain undefeated

Trailing by 15 points early in the second half Wednesday night, the 24th-ranked Houston Cougars rallied to stun the LSU Tigers 82-76 at the Fertitta Center.

With the win, the Cougars of the American Athletic Conference improved to 9-0 on the season.

Houston has beaten teams from the Pac-12 (Oregon), the Big 12 (Oklahoma State) and now the Southeastern Conference (LSU) since Dec. 1.

LSU tumbled to 7-3 on the season despite leading by 10 at halftime and by 50-35 with 19:04 remaining.

Houston’s backcourt play proved to be the difference, with senior guard Galen Robinson Jr. leading the way with 18 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Junior guard Armoni Brooks had 13 points and nine rebounds, with all of his scoring coming in the second half.

After LSU pulled to within two with 28 seconds left, Houston guard Corey Davis Jr. sank four straight free throws for the final points.

Ja’Vonte Smart paced the Tigers with 18 points. LSU, a 34-percent shooting team on three-pointers, finished 5 of 26 from beyond the arc.

Notable

Houston has won 22 games in a row at home, including a 2-0 record at the Fertitta Center, its new, refurbished, on-campus facility. For a little more than a year, the Cougars had been playing their home games at nearby Texas Southern University as a $60 million makeover was done on the former Hofheinz Pavilion. Crowds announced at a little more than 7,000 have packed the new building since it opened on Dec. 1 against Oregon.

Quotable

“This building is not winning the game for us, but what our winning is doing is putting people in an incredible arena. You could feel it. We didn’t have this before. We had to win games like this by manufacturing our own enthusiasm. We didn’t always get a little help. That crowd was incredible. That crowd was a big reason we won.” — Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, according to comments posted on the UH athletics’ website.

UIW will upgrade the McDermott Center with a new floor

Incarnate Word coach Carson Cunningham expresses his frustration after a call during a 90-64 loss to Northern Colorado on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018.

UIW men’s basketball coach Carson Cunningham. –Photo by Joe Alexander.

The University of the Incarnate Word announced Tuesday that it will upgrade the Alice P. McDermott Convocation Center with the installation of a new floor, thanks to a partnership with CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Hospital System.

To honor the generosity of the donor, the basketball/volleyball court will carry the organization’s namesake (CHRISTUS Court), with branding on the surface, according to a news release from the UIW athletics department.

The project will include installation of a 12,000 square-foot floor with better grade maple and will include a new subfloor system. The new court will also have an enhanced design for a more aesthetically pleasing look.

Installation is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2019, according to the release.

UIW men’s basketball coach Carson Cunningham called it a “fantastic” development for the school’s student-athletes.

“For a student-athlete’s body, the benefits of a state-of-the-art floor, one with excellent resilience, cushioning and durability, are plentiful and long lasting,” Cunningham said.

The cost of the project wasn’t made public due to a confidentiality agreement between the private entities, a spokesman said. But the release said it was the fourth-largest donation in UIW athletics history.

UIW athletics teams compete in NCAA Division I as a member of the Southland Conference.

Rock Chalk: Jayhawks move up to No. 1 in AP poll

Kansas moved up to No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 Monday after escaping an upset bid a few days ago against the New Mexico State Aggies.

Trailing by seven points several times in the second half, the Jayhawks rallied behind Dedric Lawson to topple the Aggies, 63-60, Saturday in Kansas City.

Later Saturday night, Tennessee upset top-ranked Gonzaga, opening the door for Kansas to take the top spot in the poll for the first time since the preseason.

The Jayhawks are expected to be without injured center Udoka Azubuike as they prepare to play 17th-ranked and defending national champion Villanova at home on Saturday.

Azubuike injured his ankle on Nov. 22 against Wofford and did not play against New Mexico State.

Last March, Villanova knocked Kansas out of the NCAA Tournament at the Final Four in San Antonio, recording a 95-79 victory in the semifinals at the Alamodome.

AP Top 25

1. Kansas 8-0 Big 12
2. Duke 9-1 ACC
3. Tennessee 7-1 SEC
4. Gonzaga 9-1 West Coast
5. Michigan 10-0 Big Ten
6. Virginia 9-0 ACC
7. Nevada 10-0 Mountain West
8. Auburn 8-1 SEC
9. Michigan State 8-2 Big Ten
10. Florida State 8-1 ACC
11. Texas Tech 8-0 Big 12
12. North Carolina 7-2 ACC
13. Virginia Tech 8-1 ACC
14. Buffalo 9-0 Mid-American
15. Ohio State 8-1 Big Ten
16. Wisconsin 8-2 Big Ten
17. Villanova 8-2 Big East
18. Mississippi State 8-1 SEC
19. Kentucky 7-2 SEC
20. Arizona State 7-1 Pac-12
21. Marquette 8-2 Big East
22. Iowa 7-2 Big Ten
23. Furman 10-0 Southern
24. Houston 8-0 American
25. Indiana 8-2 Big Ten
25. Syracuse 7-2 ACC
25. Kansas State 6-2 Big 12

A victory over Purdue was nice, but UT needs more from Roach

Coach Shaka Smart has stocked the Texas Longhorns with enough talent that senior guard Kerwin Roach II doesn’t necessarily need to lead the team every night.

But for the Longhorns to reach their potential this season, Roach will need to play better than he has been playing lately.

Which is to say, not all that great.

Roach is at the center of one of the early mysteries to the new season.

In the state of Texas, few players have the athleticism that Roach can bring to the floor every night.

His skills were on full display on Nov. 22 when he scored 32 points to help the Longhorns defeat the seventh-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.

In addition to his 12 of 15 shooting against the Heels, he also produced seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.

Since then, his offensive efficiency has declined dramatically.

Over the past four games, including Texas’ 72-68 home victory over Purdue on Sunday night, Roach has hit only 21 percent of his shots from the field.

Yes, Matt Coleman, Dylan Osetkowski and freshman phenom Jaxson Hayes can, and should, be leading on a nightly basis.

The Longhorns can win their share of games in the upcoming Big 12 race with those three playing well.

But, no matter how you slice it, 9 of 43 from the field from Roach over a four-game stretch is not going to inspire much confidence leading into conference.

Shooting 80 percent shouldn’t be expected every night. But, some consistency would be a welcome sight for the fans.

Tennessee upsets top-ranked Gonzaga, 76-73

Admiral Schofield hit two 3-point shots in the final 80 seconds Sunday night to lift the seventh-ranked Tennessee Volunteers to a 76-73 victory over No. 1 Gonzaga.

Playing in the Air Force Reserve Jerry Colangelo Classic, at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Schofield made six 3s in all during the game and scored a career-high 30 points.

His 3-point bucket with 1:20 remaining gave Tennessee a 73-71 lead. Gonzaga came back to tie it, 73-73, on two Rui Hachimura free throws.

But the Vols answered with another Schofield trey with 24 seconds left for the final points.

Brandon Clarke had 21 points and 9 rebounds for the Bulldogs, who had wins over Arizona, Duke and Washington.

Hachimura had 21 points and 8 boards.

Notable

Former Texas coach Rick Barnes coaches the Vols. He worked in Austin for 17 years through 2015. Barnes is in his fourth season at Tennessee. Last year, the Vols won the Southeastern Conference title and reached the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32. The coach received in September a contract extension through 2023-24, according to the school’s website.

Records

Gonzaga 9-1
Tennessee 7-1

LSU wins 91-50, as free throw streak for UIW’s Peevy ends at 24

Christian Peevy’s streak of consecutive free throws made ended at 24 on Sunday afternoon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Peevy, a University of the Incarnate Word sophomore from Chicago, hit his first three in a game against the LSU Tigers.

But he finally missed on the second of two with 9:52 left in the opening half during LSU’s 91-50 victory in the Maravich Assembly Center.

The Peevy streak included: 14 straight at Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Nov. 25. Seven (in seven attempts) at home last week against Trinity. Finally, three at LSU.

After his lone miss, he finished with six straight, giving him 9 of 10 for the game and 59 of 65 for the season (90.7 percent).

Before the game at LSU, Peevy vowed to try to break the NCAA record for consecutive makes held by UIW assistant coach Darnell Archey.

Archey made 85 in a row over parts of three seasons at Butler from 2001-03.

UIW’s Christian Peevy is shooting for his coach’s NCAA record

Incarnate Word's Christian Peevy is 50-of-55 (90.9 percent) on free throws through the first 10 games of the season. The Cardinals are 171-of-208 (82.2 percent) as a team through 10 games. - photo by Joe Alexander

Incarnate Word’s Christian Peevy is 50-of-55 (90.9 percent) on free throws through the first 10 games of the season. The Cardinals are 171-of-208 (82.2 percent) as a team through 10 games. – photo by Joe Alexander

If history is a teacher on the nature of basketball culture, Christian Peevy’s modest streak of consecutive free throws made likely will never hit the television highlight reels.

Not unless the sophomore forward from the University of the Incarnate Word can quadruple his current run of 21 straight, that is.

UIW assistant coach Darnell Archey, a former Butler player who owns a 15-year-old NCAA record of 85 in a row, said the art of free throw shooting never will be regarded as sexy.

Not in any way, shape or form.

Incarnate Word assistant coach Darnell Archey at the UIW McDermott Center.

Incarnate Word assistant coach Darnell Archey at the UIW McDermott Center.

Archey said nobody talked about his streak until he broke the previous record of 73 in January of 2003 as a senior at Butler University.

“The only time it becomes sexy or when it’s in the mainstream, is when it’s in the extreme,” he said. “If you’ve made a ton. Or, (if) you can’t shoot a free throw.”

As UIW prepares to tip off at LSU today, the Cardinals are hardly a hot item.

They’re 5-5, with only one victory against a Division I program.

And yet, it’s worth noting that the Cardinals have blossomed into a program that leads the 351-team Division I standings at 82.2 percent from the free throw line.

All under a new staff that includes head coach Carson Cunningham, an 82 percent free throw shooter from his college days, and Archey, who hit 95.1 percent.

“Coach Cunningham just wants us to be a team that, when we get to the line, we knock down our free throws,” Peevy said. “We don’t want to be a team where teams want to put us at the line.

“He wants us to be a team (that) others hate to put on the line, because every time … we convert.”

Usually, free throws only become a topic of conversation in professional basketball when a player can’t make them in a high- profile playoff series, and it becomes a focus of an opposing team’s strategy.

“That’s when you talk about ‘em,” Archey said.

It’s even more unusual to hear about free throws in college ball.

For instance, ESPN highlights this season have focused quite a bit on the art of the windmill dunk by Duke sensation Zion Williamson.

But, did anyone notice last year when Eastern Washington senior Bogdan Bliznyuk made a Division I, single-season record of 77 straight?

Or, that Bliznyuk he produced the first serious challenge to the overall Division I record established by Archey over parts of three seasons, from 2001-03?

It’s just something that doesn’t come up when all the hot takes on hoops, across all media platforms, are sorted out.

Nevertheless, fans at UIW can look it up in the record books.

As a player at Butler, in Indianapolis, Archey made a mind-bending 85 in a row from the charity stripe over parts of his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

The streak started on Feb 15, 2001 at home in famed Hinkle Fieldhouse, and it spanned 57 games through Jan. 18, 2003.

It came to an end at Hinkle, as well.

Father knows best

“Looking back on it, I’m not sure how I did it,” Archey said.

The roots of his success at the line and in his career, overall, can be traced to his childhood in New Castle, Indiana.

His father, Dennis Archey, worked a night shift at the Chrysler plant.

But before he started his shift at work, Dennis would take Darnell to the local YMCA to work on all sorts of skills, shooting included.

“He’d sleep during the day, obviously,” Darnell Archey said. “Then when I’d get home from school, we’d go get our shots up. Then we would have dinner, and he’d take a nap before he went off to work.”

Talking to a reporter at UIW’s McDermott Center last week, Archey reminisced about his childhood, when he learned lessons about the game and about life.

“Those shooting machines that we have over there,” he said, pointing to a contraption on the floor at UIW’s McDermott Center. “(It’s called) ‘The Gun.’ Well, my dad was my gun. He was my shooting machine.”

Archey said his high school coach also was equally demanding.

In practices, the coach would tell his prized shooter to go to the free-throw line and make 20 in a row — or the team would run.

“You know, five or six (in a row) wasn’t enough?” Archey said.

UIW coaches haven’t divulged all their secrets on how they practice and how they prepare as the premier free-throw shooting team in the nation.

Extra incentive

But, it’s likely similar to what Cunningham and Archey both experienced as high school and college players in Indiana.

“We’re going to try to get to the line, obviously, because that’s usually beneficial, especially if you’re shooting well,” said Cunningham, who played at Oregon State and Purdue.

“We’re going to keep plugging,” the coach said. “(We’re) just trying to keep getting better every day. Every week. And see what we can have once conference really kicks in.”

Peevy, for one, gets extra incentive when he talks to Archey about the NCAA record. About the streak of 85.

About how Archey, schooled by his father, took down what had been the record of 73, set in one season in 2000-01 by Villanova’s Gary Buchanan.

A record that likely will turn 16 years old this season — unless Peevy gets it.

“Yeah,” Peevy said. “I’m gunning for that. I told him already. I told him I’m going to try to come for it. He said if I get it, he’s happy for me.”

UTSA runs away from Mid-America Christian, 104-74

Sophomore guard Keaton Wallace scored a career-high 35 points to lead UTSA to a 104-74 victory over Mid-American Christian on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Sophomore guard Keaton Wallace scored a career-high 35 points to lead UTSA to a 104-74 victory over Mid-American Christian on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. – photo by Joe Alexander

With Keaton Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson leading a rejuvenated offense, the UTSA Roadrunners blew out the NAIA Mid-America Christian Evangels, 104-74, Saturday afternoon.

Yes, it was fun for the Roadrunners to win at home again, finally, after an 0-3 start at the Convocation Center. It also felt good to produce season-highs in points and field goal percentage (60.3).

But more than that, UTSA coach Steve Henson commended the players’ focus and work ethic in practices since a deflating 69-68 home loss to Texas State last Saturday.

“I liked the entire week,” Henson said. “Certainly, this is a results-based thing that we’re involved in here and we have to find a way to win ball games. But we also have to find a way to get better every week and every opportunity. I think we really took advantage of that this week.”

Individuals

UTSA — Wallace scored a career-high 35 points on 12 of 16 shooting. He was one off the school record with nine threes. Jackson produced a season-high 28 on an 11-for-21 effort.

Mid-America Christian — Char Beauregard, Jr., scored 15. Daniel William and Justin Bogle had 13 apiece.

Records

UTSA 3-6
Mid-America Christian 6-3

Notable

Henson shuffled his starting lineup, giving Jackson his first start of the season. Jackson responded with a 25-minute performance that included six rebounds, three assists and a team-high four turnovers. The move seemed to create space on the floor for Wallace, who was getting open looks consistently.

Quotable

Asked what went into the decision to start Jackson, Henson said: “Today was the first day we didn’t have to monitor his minutes. We didn’t know where his conditioning would even be prior to being unrestricted. So, it was good to see that that was not a factor. Really, just to give us a jolt offensively.”

Jhivvan Jackson. UTSA beat Mid-American Christian 104-74 on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Jhivvan Jackson produced a season-high 28 points against Mid-America Christian.

UTSA’s De Nicolao weighing options on pro basketball

Giovanni De Nicolao. Texas State beat UTSA 69-68 on Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 at the UTSA Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Giovanni De Nicolao drives to the bucket against Texas State.

UTSA junior Giovanni De Nicolao confirmed Friday that he is on pace to graduate in the spring and could elect to make the jump to professional basketball next season.

De Nicolao, from Padua, Italy, is a third-year starting point guard for the Roadrunners.

He made his remarks as UTSA (2-6) prepares to host NAIA Mid-America Christian (6-3) on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Convocation Center.

“I still have open thoughts about everything,” De Nicolao said. “I didn’t make my mind (up), for sure. I’m … talking to people at home, about going back there and playing in Europe or in Italy.

“But, I also have the opportunity (to stay at UTSA). It’s always good to finish your four years eligibility and get a masters (degree).”

UTSA coach Steve Henson said he knew in the summer that this season might be De Nicolao’s third and last as a Roadrunner.

It all depended on whether his playmaker could take a heavier course load in the fall and the spring to earn an undergraduate degree.

De Nicolao said he is set to complete 17 hours this fall — he is currently holding down five ‘A’ grades and one ‘B’ — and another 16 hours in the spring.

He said he also needs to complete an internship next summer to complete his kinesiology degree requirements.

Henson said he is proud of De Nicolao for his work in the classroom, which will yield an earlier-than-anticipated degree, all while opening a door to get a jump start on a pro career — if that’s what he wants.

“It gives him options, which is great,” Henson said. “You never want to restrict someone in a situation like that. He made the decision to come to the (United) States. He came here to get a degree and play college basketball. The plan all along was to go back and hopefully play professionally back home.

“So, the fact that he’s able to do all that in three years is pretty impressive. But we didn’t want him to shut the door on the opportunity to come back (UTSA), you know. If we have a good year and at the end of the year he decides that he wants one more year, one more crack at it, we want that to be an option for him, as well.”

De Nicolao has started and played every game for the Roadrunners (76 in all) since arriving for the 2016-17 season.

He is averaging 7.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.3 assists this year.

Notable

UTSA is coming off a 69-68 home loss to Texas State last Saturday. Sophomore guards Keaton Wallace and Jhivvan Jackson are leading UTSA in scoring at 17.6 and 16.8 points per game, respectively. Jackson has played five games since returning from a knee injury.

Quotable

“I like the mindset. We’re defining and refining roles a little bit more this week. I think everybody’s settling in and understanding the significance of that. Hopefully that’ll allow us to be more efficient offensively. That’s the big key right now. We’re playing pretty hard defensively … But offense is where we’ve got to be sharper.” — UTSA coach Steve Henson, on the team’s recent practices.

Jaylen Fisher-led TCU rallies past SMU, 67-59

Guard Jaylen Fisher hit five 3-point shots, and the TCU Horned Frogs rallied for a 67-59 road victory Wednesday night against SMU, a longtime rival in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Both Fisher and JD Miller scored 15 points apiece, and Kouat Noi had 12, to lead the Horned Frogs.

SMU controlled the game early, pushing out to a 10-point lead midway throuogh the first half.

The Mustangs led by six at halftime, but the Horned Frogs stormed from behind with Fisher and Miller leading the way.

Fisher hit four of his five threes after intermission. SMU, meanwhile, shot 24 percent from the field in the second half.

“As a coach, you never fault that unless guys were just playing selfish, which I don’t think we did at all. We had some really good shots that didn’t go in,” SMU coach Tim Jankovich told the Associated Press.

Senior guard Jahmal McMurray led the Mustangs with 19 points.

Records

TCU 6-1
SMU 6-4

Notable

Both Fisher and Noi have played four games since returning from knee injuries. Fisher had been out since last January.

Quotable

“I liked how we did it, because we gutted it out, grinded it out. We didn’t make shots early, and got it done with our defense. Just got it done by finding a way,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon told the AP.