Baylor beats No. 10 Kansas, keeps NCAA hopes alive

Guard Manu Lecomte scored 11 points in a late surge Saturday as the Baylor Bears pulled away for an 80-64 victory over the 10th-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.

Playing at home, Baylor (15-10, 5-7) won its third game in a row to keep alive hopes for a fifth straight trip to the NCAA tournament.

Kansas (19-6, 8-4) whittled a 13-point deficit to two in the second half but couldn’t sustain the momentum in falling out of first place in the Big 12 conference.

The Jayhawks have won 13 straight Big 12 titles.

Seven-foot center Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. led Baylor with 19 points. Lecomte heated up late and finished with 18. Nuni Omot came off the bench for 17.

Devonte’ Graham paced Kansas with 23 points. But backcourt mate Svi Mykhailiuk was held to only 2 points on 1 of 8 shooting.

Mykhailiuk entered the game averaging 16.4 points.

Big 12 standings

Texas Tech 20-4, 8-3
Kansas 19-6, 8-4
West Virginia 18-7, 7-5
Kansas State 17-7, 6-5
Oklahoma 16-8, 6-6
TCU 17-8, 5-7
Baylor 15-10, 5-7
Texas 15-10, 5-7
Okla. State 15-10, 5-7
Iowa State 13-11, 4-8

Saturday’s scores

Baylor 80, Kansas 64, at Waco
Iowa State 88, Oklahoma 80, at Ames, Iowa
Oklahoma State 88, West Virginia 85, at Morgantown, W.Va.
TCU 87, Texas 71, at Fort Worth
Texas Tech at Kansas State, 7 p.m.

UTSA plays at UTEP looking for a 2-0 series sweep

The surging UTSA Roadrunners will start a three-game Conference USA road swing Saturday night in El Paso against UTEP.

UTSA (13-11, 6-5) and UTEP (7-16, 2-9) will meet at the Haskins Center in a game that starts at 8 p.m. central time.

If the Roadrunners win, they would complete a two-game, regular-season sweep of the Miners for the first time in five seasons of UTSA’s membership in the C-USA.

UTSA beat UTEP 65-61 in San Antonio on Jan. 20.

A victory also would keep alive hopes for the Roadrunners to claim a top-four finish in the C-USA standings, which would be rewarded with a first-round bye in the postseason tournament.

Currently, Middle Tennessee leads the conference at 11-1, followed by Old Dominion and Western Kentucky at 9-2 and Marshall and North Texas at 7-4.

After winning three straight, UTSA is in sixth place at 6-5, while Louisiana Tech and Alabama-Birmingham are tied for seventh at 6-6.

Freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson has led the Roadrunners in wins over UAB, Marshall and Western Kentucky, averaging 23 points per game during the streak.

The Roadrunners play on the road next week at Old Dominion and Charlotte.

UTSA notes

UTEP swept two games against UTSA in both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons.

UTSA split in each of the past two years, winning at home and losing on the road.

All time, UTSA is 4-10 overall against UTEP and 1-7 in El Paso.

The Roadrunners’ one and only victory over the Miners at the Haskins Center came on Nov. 11, 2011.

On that night, UTSA guard Michael Hale III produced 12 points, 3 assists and 3 steals as the Roadrunners won the season opener for both teams, 73-64.


Sophomore guard Giovanni De Nicolao drives and twists a reverse layup off the glass in UTSA’s 65-61 victory over UTEP on Jan. 20.

Worthy of a highlight reel: A&M upsets No. 8 Auburn

After a poor start in Southeastern Conference play, Texas A&M has won three in a row to bolster its NCAA tournament hopes.

The Aggies knocked off the eighth-ranked Auburn Tigers 81-80 on the road Wednesday night.

Troubled with injuries, A&M (16-8, 5-6) lost the first five games on its SEC schedule.

But the Aggies won at home last week against Arkansas and South Carolina and now have won on the home floor of the first-place team in the conference.

With a little more than a month remaining before NCAA Selection Sunday, A&M appears to be in good shape.

The Aggies are 20th in the nation in the latest ratings percentage index and are projected as a No. 9 tournament seed by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.

A&M hosts Kentucky on 24th-ranked Kentucky on Saturday at Reed Arena.

Tennessee sweeps Kentucky for first time since 1999

Coach Rick Barnes on Tuesday took another major step toward leading the Tennessee Volunteers back to the upper echelon in the Southeastern Conference.

No. 15 Tennessee beat 24th-ranked Kentucky 61-59 on the road at famed Rupp Arena, completing the program’s first regular-season sweep of the Wildcats since 1999.

Sophomore Lamonte Turner scored 16 points and hit a decisive three-pointer with 28 seconds left for the Volunteers, now 18-5 and 8-3 in the SEC.

For the Wildcats, who fell to 17-7 and 6-5, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander hit a shot over Kyle Alexander that gave Kentucky the lead in the last minute.

But Turner responded with a three and a 59-58 Tennessee advantage.

A steal and a dunk by Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield salted the game away.

β€œI tell coach all the time, put (Turner) in late in the game because I think he is the most clutch guy I’ve been around,” Schofield told the Tennessean newspaper. “He is a big-time shooter in my book.

“He puts the work in. … I’m proud of him. I’m happy for him. He deserves everything he’s got.

“But the biggest thing is Tennessee beat Kentucky in Rupp tonight. That was our goal coming in here. We got it done.”

Barnes finished 15-19 and 16-16 in his first two years in Knoxville.

But in his third season, the former longtime coach of the Texas Longhorns has sparked the Vols’ roll into the upper tier of the conference.

Tennessee trails only Auburn (21-2, 9-1) in the SEC standings.

If the Vols keep winning, they would become the fourth program that Barnes has led into the NCAA tournament.

He’s done it previously at Providence, Clemson and Texas.

Barnes did the best work of his career in Austin, where he led the Longhorns to 16 NCAA tournaments in 17 years, including the 2003 Final Four.

West Virginia escapes with 75-73 victory at Oklahoma

The West Virginia Mountaineers stayed in the thick of the Big 12 title chase Monday night with a 75-73 victory at Oklahoma.

With the win, 19th-ranked West Virginia improved to 7-4 in conference and remained one game in the loss column behind Kansas and Texas Tech, both at 7-3.

No. 17 Oklahoma failed to hit a potential game-tying shot under the basket in the final seconds and lost its first game at home this season, falling to 6-5 in Big 12 play.

Lamont West led West Virginia with 17 points and center Sagaba Konate dominated down low, producing 14 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.

Forward Esa Ahmad also scored 14 for the Mountaineers, including seven points in the final 4:51.

National scoring leader Trae Young of Oklahoma produced a team-high 32 points on 10 of 20 shooting from the field.

Young also hit four three-point shots in the face of a physical West Virginia defense.

But the Mountaineers limited Young, also the national leader in assists, to only one.

West Virginia guard Jevon Carter finished with 10 points, eight assists and six steals.

It was the fifth time this season that Carter has had at least five assists and five steals in the same game.

Records

West Virginia (18-6, 7-4)
Oklahoma (16-7, 6-5)


West Virginia’s Jevon Carter and OU’s Rashard Odomes face off in the final minutes of a Big 12 game in Norman, Okla.

Two teams from Cincinnati remain in top ten in AP poll

Xavier sharp-shooter Trevon Bluiett is averaging a team-high 19.2 points per game, while shooting 42.4 percent from three-point range.

For the third week in a row, two Cincinnati-based teams have been ranked among the top ten teams in the nation, according to the Associated Press Top 25 released on Monday.

This week, the Xavier Musketeers (21-3) and Cincinnati Bearcats (21-2) are ranked fifth and sixth.

On Jan. 22, the two schools hit the top ten together for the first time since 1958.

While Xavier plays in the Big East and Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference, the two share some commonalities.

Neither plays football at the Power Five level. Xavier doesn’t play football at all, having dropped the sport in 1973 because of cost concerns.

Cincinnati plays football at the FBS level in the American, which is considered a Group of Five conference along with Conference USA, the Sun Belt, the Mid-American and the Mountain West.

Both programs are well-funded and play in front of passionate fan bases.

Cincinnati is playing this season at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky, with the team set to return home to a refurbished Fifth Third Arena in 2018-19.

Fifth Third is slated to undergo an $87 million renovation, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Xavier plays at the 10,250-seat Cintas Center, which opened in 2000-01.

Both head coaches — Chis Mack at Xavier and Mick Cronin at Cincinnati — are well-respected nationally and paid in seven-figure salaries.

Last year, according to a USA Today survey, Cronin made $2.2 million. Mack made $1.4 million.

Cronin’s salary was listed 21st among coaches whose teams played in last year’s NCAA tournament. Mack’s was 33rd.

Passionate fan bases at both programs likely will feel some anxiety in March and April when jobs come open at schools playing in Power Five conferences.

Because Power Five schools bring in the most revenue in Division I, they’re always a threat to poach a coach from a top basketball program like Xavier or Cincinnati.

For the time being, though, fans of the Musketeers and Bearcats can sit back and enjoy some of the best basketball anywhere.

AP Top 25

1 Villanova 22-1 Big East
2 Virginia 22-1 ACC
3 Purdue 23-2 Big Ten
4 Michigan State 22-3 Big Ten
5 Xavier 21-3 Big East
6 Cincinnati 21-2 American
7 Texas Tech 19-4 Big 12
8 Auburn 21-2 SEC
9 Duke 19-4 ACC
10 Kansas 18-5 Big 12
11 Saint Mary’s 23-2 West Coast
12 Gonzaga 21-4 West Coast
13 Arizona 19-5 Pac-12
14 Ohio State 20-5 Big Ten
15 Tennessee 17-5 SEC
16 Clemson 19-4 ACC
17 Oklahoma 16-6 Big 12
18 Rhode Island 19-3 Atlantic 10
19 West Virginia 17-6 Big 12
20 Michigan 19-6 Big Ten
21 North Carolina 17-7 ACC
22 Wichita State 17-5 American
23 Nevada 20-4 Mountain West
24 Kentucky 17-6 SEC
25 Miami 17-5 ACC

Texas Tech gains tie for first with Kansas in the Big 12

The Texas Tech Red Raiders have moved into a tie for first in the Big 12 with perennial champion Kansas.

The race was deadlocked at the top after 10th-ranked Tech defeated TCU in Fort Worth, 83-71, and Oklahoma State beat No. 7 Kansas in Lawrence, 84-79.

It was the fourth straight win for the Red Raiders.

Big 12 leaders after Saturday night:

Texas Tech 7-3, 19-4
Kansas 7-3, 18-5
W. Virginia 6-4, 17-6
Oklahoma 6-4, 16-6
Kansas State 5-5, 16-7
Texas 5-5, 15-8

Other scores from around the conference:
Texas 79, Oklahoma 74
West Virginia 89, Kansas State 51
Baylor 81, Iowa State 67

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rallies past UIW, 56-51

UIWs Shawn Johnson splits the defense on a drive against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. (Soobum Im / The University of the Incarnate Word)

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi rallied in the final eight minutes Saturday afternoon to claim a 56-51 victory over the slumping University of the Incarnate Word Cardinals.

Trailing by three with 8:32 remaining at UIW’s Convocation Center, the Islanders surged behind Joe Kilgore and Deion Rhea down the stretch to win their fourth straight.

Kilgore and Kareem South each scored 11 points apiece for A&M-Corpus Christi (8-12, 5-5 Southland Conference).

UIW (5-15, 0-10) has lost 12 straight, its longest losing streak since it moved up to NCAA Division I and joined the SLC in 2013.

Shawn Johnson and Charles Brown III each produced 14 points for the Cardinals.

Johnson also had nine rebounds and two blocks, two assists and one steal while playing all 40 minutes.

Center Konstantin Kulikov had four blocks and seven rebounds in 20 minutes.

With eight games to play in the regular season, UIW hosts Southeastern Louisiana on Wednesday.

UIW forward Charles Brown III takes it strong to the basket against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. (Soobum Im / The University of the Incarnate Word)

UTSA rolls past second-place Western Kentucky, 74-63


UTSA forward Nick Allen hits a jumper off the baseline late in the game, courtesy of a drive into the paint and a slick pass from point guard Giovanni De Nicolao.

The UTSA Roadunners on Saturday soared to their third straight victory over a top-tier team in Conference USA, taking down the second-place Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, 74-63, in front of 1,305 fans at the Convocation Center.

Freshman Jhivvan Jackson scored 22 points to lead the Roadrunners.

UTSA (13-11, 6-5) held Western Kentucky (16-7, 8-2) to 36.1 percent shooting, the worst shooting effort of the year for the Hilltoppers, who had won nine of their last 10.

Only nine days ago, the Roadrunners were blown out 75-51 on the road at first-place Middle Tennessee. It was their fourth loss in five games.

But since then, UTSA notched a victory at Alabama-Birmingham and followed at home this week with wins against Marshall and Western Kentucky.

Those teams are the fourth-, fifth- and second-place teams in the conference, respectively.

To view the upset in another context, Western Kentucky was 46th in the Ratings Percentage Index leading into the game. UTSA was 214th.

“Just shows that we can compete with anyone in this league,” Roadrunners forward Byron Frohnen said.


UTSA forward Byron Frohnen hits a follow shot off a miss from Toby Van Ry in the first half. Frohnen and Keaton Wallace led a UTSA rebounding onslaught with eight boards apiece.

Jackson scored 15 points and UTSA held Western Kentucky to 22.6 percent shooting in taking a 37-25 lead on the Hilltoppers at halftime.

In one of their best halves of the season, the Roadrunners alternated between man and zone defenses and limited the visitors to 7 of 31 shooting from the field.

Western Kentucky entered the game shooting 49.4 percent from the field in 22 games and 48.5 percent in nine conference games.


Emblematic of UTSA’s defensive prowess, Van Ry and guard George Willborn III (35) combine forces to protect the front of the rim on a Western Kentucky possession early in the first half.

Celebrating a victory

After the game, the worst kept secret of the day was confirmed, that UTSA players celebrated in the dressing room and that coach Steve Henson got right in the middle of it.

“Yeah, we had a little celebration,” Frohnen said. “It’s always good to get a big win, especially against one of the best teams in the conference. That just shows that we can compete with anyone in this league.”

From the outset, the Roadrunners just seemed to bring more energy than the Hilltoppers.

“We came out to play and they came out kind of asleep, to be honest,” Frohnen said. “So, definitely, getting on their backs right out of the gate was huge momentum for us.”

In 2015-16, the UTSA program had hit bottom with a 5-27 record, leading to the dismissal of the coaching staff and the hiring of Henson.

In the coach’s first year, the team was better, finishing 14-19 and 8-10 in the conference.

UTSA even won a game at the C-USA tournament, downing Western Kentucky before getting ousted by Middle Tennessee in the quarterfinals.

But over the last few weeks, it feels as if the entire program has executed another positive step forward.

“Our guys have practiced so well for three weeks in a row,” Henson said. “To see the progress and get the results, because of the practices, is what you want.

“The guys are figuring some things out. I think we’re getting better, which is very important at this point of the season, especially with young guys.

“You know, freshmen are sometimes hitting the wall. I don’t think our freshmen are doing that. They’re getting better every day. We’re in a good spot right now.”


UTSA freshman Jhivvan takes off on the dribble and passes to Deon Lyle for a layup in the first half.

Freshmen on the rise

Jackson and Wallace, arguably two of the best freshmen in school history, are both hitting their stride.

Jackson has scored 24, 23 and 22 points in his last three games, respectively.

Wallace had a career-high with 11 assists at UAB, and he has followed with double figures in scoring in each of the past two games.

Against Western Kentucky, he produced 11 points, a career-high eight rebounds, four assists and a steal.

Breaking it down: Western Kentucky at UTSA


UTSA players put up a few shots in advance of their game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers.

Conference USA basketball

Western Kentucky (16-6, 8-1)
at
UTSA (12-11, 5-5)

Game time, 3:05 p.m.

Probable starters

UTSA
5 Giovanni De Nicolao G
2 Jhivvan Jackson G
35 George Willborn III G
3 Byron Frohnen G/F
25 Nick Allen F

Western Kentucky
1 Lamonte Bearden G
13 Taveion Hollingsworth G
15 Darius Thompson G
22 Dwight Coleby F
23 Justin Johnson F