McCullar returns to the lineup as top-seeded Kansas routs Howard

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

Kansas coach Bill Self wasn’t in the arena for an NCAA tournament opener at Des Moines, Iowa, but guard Kevin McCullar, Jr. was.

With San Antonio’s McCullar returning to the lineup after sitting out a Big 12 title-game loss to Texas, the top-seeded Jayhawks stormed to a 96-68 victory over the Howard University Bison Thursday in a round-of-64 West region game.

The victory allowed the top-seeded Jayhawks to advance to play the No. 8 Arkansas Razorbacks in the round of 32 on Saturday. Arkansas downed ninth-seeded Illinois, 73-63.

Self’s status for the next round remains in question following a heart procedure and hospitalization last week.

The setback caused him to miss last Saturday’s Big 12 championship game, a 76-56 loss to Texas in Kansas City.

Though he was released from a Kansas City-area hospital on Sunday, the two-time NCAA championship coach wasn’t on the bench for the Jayhawks as they took the floor in Des Moines for the tournament opener.

Led by assistant coach Norm Roberts, the Jayhawks steadied themselves after a shaky start, shot 52 percent from the field in a fast-paced game and blew out the Bison. Jalen Wilson scored 20 points and freshman Gradey Dick added 19 points and 11 rebounds for Kansas.

McCullar, a former standout at San Antonio’s Wagner High School, enjoyed a solid game across the board with 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists. It was McCullar’s first NCAA tournament game with the Jayhawks after an offseason transfer from Texas Tech.

In his first season at Kansas, he was named to the Big 12’s all-defensive team and helped the Jayhawks to the conference’s regular-season title. Kansas finished 13-5 in conference, a game ahead of Texas and two games in front of Kansas State and Baylor.

Islanders ousted

A spirited run by the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders ended Thursday in Birmingham, Ala. The top-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide, backed by a home-state crowd, blew out the Islanders 96-75 in the South region round of 64.

Islanders coach Steve Lutz, an East Central High School graduate, led his team to a 24-11 record and the first NCAA victory in school history.

Point guard Jalen Jackson, from Wagner, scored 22 on Tuesday night in a round-of-68 victory over the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks at Dayton, Ohio. Jackson couldn’t get it going against the Crimson Tide, finishing with four points and three assists.

Jackson-led Texas A&M-Corpus Christi wins first NCAA tournament game

The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders overcame the loss of one of their top players Tuesday night and won the first NCAA tournament game in school history, holding off the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks, 75-71, in Dayton, Ohio.

Playing in the NCAA First Four for the second year in a row, the Islanders utilized the speed and attacking style of senior point guard Jalen Jackson, who scored a career-high 22 points. Jackson is a familiar face in San Antonio, as he led the Wagner Thunderbirds to the state finals in 2019.

Jackson, a 5-10 guard who started his college career at North Texas, scored 18 in the second half for the Islanders. After Jackson made two free throws to give his team a three-point lead, drama unfolded in the final seconds.

Southeast Missouri guard Phillip Russell came down and missed an open three with two seconds remaining. Isaac Mushila gathered the defensive rebound, got fouled and hit a free throw on the other end for the game’s final point.

With the victory, the Islanders (24-10) will move on to play the Alabama Crimson Tide (29-5) in the tournament’s round of 64 on Thursday night. The Tide are the No. 1 seed in the NCAA South region.

The Islanders were one-and-done in two previous trips to the NCAA tournament.

In 2007, they opened as a 15th seed in the round of 64 at Chicago and lost to Wisconsin, 76-63, Last season, in a round-of-68 game at Dayton, they were matched against the Texas Southern Tigers and bowed out, 76-67.

Islanders guard Terrion Murdix started against Texas Southern a year ago and produced 10 points and six assists. Murdix, one of the team’s key players, was unavailable to play against SEMO with a knee injury.

Chris Harris scored 23 points to lead the Redhawks (19-17), who earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament by winning four games in four days for the Ohio Valley Conference postseason title.

Mushila, a 6-foot-5 forward, had 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Islanders, who won the regular-season and postseason titles in the Southland Conference. Guard Ross Williams had 13 points off the bench and Trevian Tennyson added 12.

San Antonio’s Lutz, Jackson return to NCAA tournament with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

Islanders coach Steve Lutz. A&M-Corpus Christi beat UTSA 77-58 on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021, at the Convocation Center. - photo by Joe Alexander

Islanders coach Steve Lutz, a 1991 East Central High School graduate, has notched NCAA tournament berths in each of his first two seasons as a college head coach. – File photo by Joe Alexander

By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay

The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders are returning to the NCAA tournament.

Looking for the first NCAA victory in program history, Steve Lutz-coached A&M-Corpus Christi will play in one of the First Four games at Dayton, Ohio. The Islanders (23-10) will take on the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (19-16) at 5:40 p.m. Tuesday on truTV.

A&M-Corpus Christi guard Jalen Jackson playing at the UTSA Convocation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. - photo by Joe Alexander

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi guard Jalen Jackson played in San Antonio at Wagner High School and led the Thunderbirds to the 2019 Class 5A state title game. – File photo by Joe Alexander

Lutz, a San Antonian and a 1991 East Central High School graduate, is two-for-two in his head coaching career, leading the Islanders to back-to-back postseason titles in the Southland Conference.

After claiming the SLC trophies, he has also earned automatic bids to the NCAA tournament each time.

Last week, San Antonio’s Jalen Jackson emerged as the SLC tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Jackson, a senior point guard from Wagner High School, had 17 points and six assists in the title-game victory over Northwestern State (La.).

The rise of the Islanders under Lutz has been impressive. A&M-Corpus Christi had lost 73 games over four seasons before the school hired Lutz, a former player at East Central and Texas Lutheran and an assistant coach at the University of the Incarnate Word.

In 2021-22, his first team at A&M-Corpus Christi finished 23-12. They finished fourth in the SLC regular season and then won three games in three days for the postseason crown. Going on to Dayton for an NCAA First-Four matchup against Texas Southern, a battle between No. 16 seeds, the Islanders lost 76-67.

This year, with essentially the same core of players — forward Isaac Mushila and guards Terrion Murdix, Trevian Tennyson and Jackson — A&M-Corpus Christi backed up last year’s strong finish with a 23-win season, and counting

In the SLC race, the Islanders went 14-4 to finish first in the conference, earning a double-bye though the tournament. In the tournament, at Katy, they defeated McNeese and Northwestern State to claim back-to-back bids to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.

Their only previous NCAA appearance came in 2007 when they swept to a postseason SLC crown and lost to Wisconsin, 76-63, in the round of 64.

This year, the Islanders hope to win their first NCAA game against a Southeast Missouri State program that finished the regular season with a 15-16 record, before reeling off four victories in four days for the Ohio Valley Conference postseason crown. The winner between SEMO and A&M-Corpus Christi will advance to play Alabama, the top seed in the NCAA South region and the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, on Thursday night in Birmingham, Ala.

Lutz paid his dues in the profession to snag his first head coaching job in NCAA Division I. He worked as an assistant coach at UIW, Garden City Community College (Kan.), Stephen F. Austin, SMU, Creighton and Purdue.

At Creighton of the Big East, he worked on Greg McDermott’s staff and helped lead the BlueJays to four NCAA appearances.

At Purdue of the Big Ten, under Matt Painter, he coached in three more NCAAs including one run to the Elite Eight in 2019.

Jackson was a four-year starter at Wagner and, under coach Rodney Clark, the two helped propel the Thunderbirds to the 2019 Class 5A state championship game. In a heartbreaker, Wagner lost the state title match, 77-64, to Mansfield Timberview at the Alamodome.

Transitioning to college basketball, Jackson started his career at North Texas. He spent two years in the program and was part of the 2021 squad that won the Conference USA postseason title. The No. 13 seed Mean Green upset the fourth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers in the first round.

For the 2021-22 season, Lutz took the job at A&M-Corpus Christi and Jackson joined him. In their time together, the Islanders have posted a 46-22 record, with two NCAA berths. Now they have a chance to make a little more history Tuesday night in Dayton, Ohio.

San Antonio-area players

In the NCAA men’s basketball tournament

Zach Clemence, Kansas, a 6-10 sophomore forward from Antonian HS, Findlay Prep (Nev.) and Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.) Upcoming: Top-seeded Kansas plays Howard Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa. Clemence played as a freshman at Antonian in the 2017-18 season before going to prep school. In two years with the Jayhawks, he has played 42 games, including 18 this season. This year, he averaged 1.4 points in 5.9 minutes.

Vincent Iwuchukwu, Southern Cal, a 7-foot-1 freshman center, formerly of Cole HS, La Lumiere, Ind., Montverde Academy, Fla., Southern California Academy. Upcoming: Tenth-seeded Southern Cal will play No. 7 Michigan State Friday in Columbus, Ohio. After suffering a medical scare last summer, Iwuchukwu returned in January to play 14 games for the Trojans, averaging 5.4 points. He hasn’t played in a few weeks because of a reported back injury.

Jalen Jackson, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, a 5-11 senior guard from Wagner HS, transfer from North Texas. Upcoming: A&M-Corpus plays Southeast Missouri State in a battle of 16 seeds on Tuesday in Dayton. The winner advances to play top-seeded Alabama on Thursday in a round-of-64 game at Birmingham, Ala. Jackson started at point guard and averaged 7 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

Langston Love, Baylor, a 6-5 redshirt freshman guard, formerly of Steele HS, Montverde Academy, Fla. Upcoming: Third-seeded Baylor plays UC Santa Barbara on Friday in Denver in an NCAA South region game. Utilized primarily off the bench, Love averaged 6 points and 2.2 rebounds in his first season after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. He hasn’t played since Feb. 27 with an eye injury.

Kevin McCullar, Jr., Kansas, a 6-6 senior guard, formerly of Wagner High School, a transfer from Texas Tech. Upcoming: Top-seeded Jayhawks plays the Howard University Bison Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa, in the NCAA West region. In his first year on the team, McCullar has been one of the key players on the Jayhawks, averaging 10.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.0 steals. He sat out the Big 12 tournament final with back soreness.

Austin Nunez, Arizona State, a 6-2 freshman guard from Wagner HS. Upcoming: Arizona State will play as an 11-seed against Nevada in the First Four in Dayton on Wednesday. The winner advances to face six-seed TCU in Denver on Friday in the round of 64. Nunez played in 28 games for the Bobby Hurley-coached Sun Devils in his first year out of high school. He averaged 4.5 points in 16.3 minutes. Nunez has not played since Feb. 18 at home against Utah and has been out the last six games, including two in the Pac-12 tournament, with a concussion.

(Players with San Antonio roots who attended high school out of the area)

Micah Peavy, TCU, a 6-7 junior forward from Duncanville, transfer from Texas Tech). Upcoming: Six seed TCU will meet either Arizona State or Nevada on Friday in Denver in the round of 64. Peavy is the son of Duncanville coach David Peavy, an Alamo Heights HS grad who attended UTSA and graduated from Incarnate Word. Micah Peavy led Duncanville to a 6A state title in 2019 and in 2020 was the state’s player of the year. Now in his second year at TCU under Jamie Dixon, he’s averaging 7.3 points and 3.1 rebounds for the Horned Frogs.

Other SA-area players

On NCAA Division I rosters

Marco Anthony, Utah, a 6-6 senior guard from Holmes, formerly of Virginia and Utah State

Adam Benhayoune, LSU, a 6-5 sophomore guard from O’Connor HS

Trey Blackmore, Cal State-Fullerton, a 6-2 freshman guard from Cole HS

Marques Gates, Houston Christian, a 6-0 redshirt freshman guard from Clemens HS

Ja’Sean Jackson, Abilene Christian, a 6-0 sophomore guard from Wagner HS

Ellis Jefferson, Lamar, a 6-0 senior guard from Brandeis HS

Gerald Liddell, Detroit Mercy, a 6-8 senior forward from Steele HS; transfer from Texas, Alabama State

Carlton Linguard Jr., UTSA, a 7-foot junior center from Stevens HS, transfer from Temple JC and Kansas State

Silas Livingston, University of the Incarnate Word, a 5-9 freshman guard from Cole

Jayden Martinez, North Texas, a 6-7 senior forward from Steele; transfer from New Hampshire

Jordan Mason, Texas State, a 6-2 freshman guard from Clark

Ze’Rik Onyema, UTEP, a 6-8 sophomore forward from Jay HS

Dre Ray, Incarnate Word, a 5-9 freshman guard from Cole HS

Brendan Wenzel, Wyoming, a 6-7 guard from O’Connor HS; a transfer from Utah

Dalen Whitlock, Texas State, a 6-4 sophomore guard from Clark HS

NCAA tournament opener has a San Antonio flavor

A&M-Corpus Christi guard Jalen Jackson playing at the UTSA Convocation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. - photo by Joe Alexander

San Antonio’s Jalen Jackson leads the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders into the NCAA tournament today. Jackson is a junior guard from Wagner High School. — File photo by Joe Alexander

When the first game of the 2022 NCAA tournament tips off at 5:40 p.m. today, a couple of familiar faces from the Alamo City will step into the spotlight for the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders.

A little more than 30 years ago, the coach of the Islanders, Steve Lutz, was scrapping around in a high school gym and playing for the East Central Hornets.

Only three years ago, Jalen Jackson, the Islanders’ starting guard, was playing in the backcourt for the Wagner Thunderbirds.

Today, they will try to make history when the Islanders face the Texas Southern Tigers in an NCAA First Four game at Dayton Arena in Ohio.

They’ll try to lead the Islanders in their 23rd year as a basketball program to their first NCAA victory. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi started basketball in 1999-2000. The Islanders were independent until 2006-07, when they made their debut in the Southland Conference.

That season, the Islanders also made their NCAA debut and lost a heartbreaker, falling 76-63 to Wisconsin.

Taking the floor at the United Center in Chicago, the 15th-seeded Islanders were led by another Alamo City standout — center Chris Daniels from Sam Houston High School — and they stunned the crowd by surging to a 25-7 lead with five minutes left in the first half.

The lead didn’t last long. The Badgers rallied behind All-American Alando Tucker’s 23 points to win going away. At the time, the NCAA tournament consisted of 64 teams. Today, it is a 68-team field.

That is the reason that the Islanders and the Tigers are playing, essentially, in a bracket outside of a bracket. The four winners in the First Four games move on to play in the Round of 64.

In the case of the Islanders and the Tigers, the winner will fly out of Dayton on Wednesday and head to Fort Worth, where they will face the Midwest Region’s No. 1 seeded Kansas Jayhawks in an R64 game on Thursday.

According to rosters examined by The JB Replay, 10 players from the San Antonio area are on NCAA men’s basketball tournament rosters.

Jackson, Texas Tech’s Kevin McCullar (Wagner), Arkansas’ Stanley Umude (Warren) and Wyoming’s Brendan Wenzel (O’Connor) have started games this year, though Wenzel has been coming off the bench lately.

Freshman Langston Love (Steele) was projected to play a significant role this season for the top-seeded Baylor Bears, but he suffered a season-ending knee injury in October.

Love is sitting out as a redshirt.

S.A. players to watch

Adam Benhayoune, a 6-5 LSU freshman from O’Connor.

Jalen Jackson, a 5-11 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi junior from Wagner. Jackson averages 6.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 steals.

Kijana Love, Baylor, 6-1 senior guard from Steele; transfer from New Hampshire and St. Edward’s

Langston Love, Baylor, 6-5 freshman guard from Steele and Montverde Academy (Fla.).

Kevin McCullar, Texas Tech, 6-6 redshirt junior guard from Wagner. McCullar averages 9.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.4 steals.

Stanley Umude, Arkansas, 6-6 senior from Warren; transfer from South Dakota. Umude averages 11.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 1.1 steals.

Ethan White, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 6-3 grad student guard from East Central

Brendan Wenzel, Wyoming, 6-7 sophomore guard from O’Connor; transfer from Utah. Wenzel averages 5.2 points, 2.8 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.3 steals

Players from San Antonio area who attended high school out of the area, now on rosters for NCAA tournament teams

Zach Clemence, Kansas, 6-10 freshman forward, hometown listed as San Antonio, from Findlay Prep (Nev.) and Sunrise Christian Academy (Kan.)

Micah Peavy, TCU, 6-7 sophomore forward, hometown listed as Cibolo, from Duncanville; transfer from Texas Tech

Lutz-led Islanders will play in the NCAA tournament

San Antonio native Steve Lutz is going to the NCAA tournament in his first season as a head coach.

A&M-Corpus Christi coach Steve Lutz at the UTSA Convocation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. - photo by Joe Alexander

NCAA tournament bound Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is 23-11 under first-year coach Steve Lutz . – File photo by Joe Alexander

The Lutz-led Texas A&M Corpus Christi Islanders clinched a berth in the Big Dance of college basketball with a 73-65 victory Saturday over the Southeastern Louisiana Lions.

The victory for the fourth-seeded Islanders against the No. 2 Lions came in the finals of the Southland Conference tournament in Katy.

Guards Jalen Jackson and Terrion Murdix led A&M-Corpus Christi in scoring with 13 points apiece.

Jackson, from San Antonio Wagner High School, also had six rebounds and five assists.

The Lions scored 13 straight points early in the game and led the Islanders 16-6.

In response, the Islanders roared from behind with a 29-12 burst that gave them a 35-28 lead with two minutes left in the half.

The Lions came out energized after intermission, erasing a five-point halftime deficit and taking a one-point lead.

A 3-pointer by Southeastern’s Keon Clergeot made it 40-39 in favor of Southeastern.

From there, the Islanders retaliated when De’Lazarus Keys hit a layup and San Antonio Brinson added a 3-point jumper on an assist from Jackson.

A&M-Corpus Chrisi never trailed again.

The tournament served as a new season, in some respects, for the Islanders. At one point, they lost five in a row and six out of seven during the SLC schedule.

When they arrived in Katy, they turned it on, beating Houston Baptist, 75-60 in their opener. In Friday’s semifinals, they stepped it up again and defeated the top-seeded Nicholls State Colonels, 71-64.

After knocking off Southeastern, they had secured victories over the two best teams in the conference in a span of 24 hours.

As a result, the Islanders clinched the Southland’s automatic bid and earned their first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2007 and only their second NCAA trip ever.

The Islanders started basketball in the 2002-03 season.

Lutz is a 1991 graduate of East Central High School who played for the Hornets under Stan Bonewitz, a member of the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame. In college, he played at Texas Lutheran University.

His coaching career has been marked with assistant coaching jobs at some of the best programs in the nation.

Prior to taking the A&M-Corpus Christi job, he worked under Matt Painter at Purdue in the Big Ten and under Greg McDermott at Creighton in the Big East.

Lutz has toiled in the state of Texas as assistants at both Incarnate Word and at SMU.


Teams from the state of Texas finished 2-1 on Saturday in conference tournament finals, as both Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Texas Southern won and Abilene Christian lost.

Given those results, Abilene Christian is now out of contention for an NCAA bid. It’s also possible that SMU got knocked out of the NCAA picture, as well, with a Saturday afternoon loss to Memphis in the American Athletic Conference semifinals.

Now, it seems that fans might be able to expect eight bids going to teams in the state — to Baylor, Texas Tech, Texas and TCU in the Big 12; to Texas A&M in the Southeastern Conference; to Houston in the AAC; to Texas Southern in the SWAC and to A&M-Corpus Christi in the Southland.

NCAA automatic bids

Cal State Fullerton — Big West
Arizona — Pac-12
New Mexico State — Western Athletic Conference
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi — Southland Conference
Virginia Tech — Atlantic Coast Conference
Alabama-Birmingham — Conference USA
Montana State — Big Sky
Akron (Ohio) — Mid-American Conference
Villanova — Big East
Texas Southern — Southwestern Athletic Conference
Boise State — Mountain West
Kansas — Big 12
St. Peter’s (N.J.) — MAAC
Norfolk State (Va.) — MEAC
Vermont — America East
Colgate (N.Y.) — Patriot League
Gonzaga (Wash.) — West Coast Conference
Jacksonville State (Ala.) — Atlantic Sun
Bryant (R.I.) — Northeast Conference
Delaware — Colonial Athletic Association
Wright State (Ohio) — Horizon League
South Dakota State — Summit League
Chattanooga (Tenn.) — Southern Conference
Georgia State — Sun Belt
Longwood (Va.) — Big South
Loyola-Chicago — Missouri Valley
Murray State (Ky.) — Ohio Valley

Lutz-led Islanders aim for a Southland title and an NCAA bid

A&M-Corpus Christi coach Steve Lutz at the UTSA Convocation Center on Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. - photo by Joe Alexander

First-year Texas A&M-Corpus Christi coach Steve Lutz is a 1991 East Central High School graduate. A&M-Corpus Christi plays Southeastern Louisiana for the Southland Conference title an an NCAA tournament automatic bid tonight. – File photo by Joe Alexander

One coach and several players from the San Antonio area are vying this weekend for a chance to advance to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

In addition, as many as 10 teams from the state of Texas could make the 68-team field, which is set to be unveiled on Sunday night.

For San Antonio area hoops fans, the intriguing storyline for the weekend revolves around Steve Lutz, a 1991 East Central High School graduate.

Lutz is a first-year head coach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and has led the Islanders into the Southland Conference tournament final.

The Islanders will play for the SLC’s championship and NCAA automatic bid Saturday night when they take on the Southeastern Louisiana Lions. Tipoff is set for 8:30 p.m. at the Merrell Center in Katy.

If Lutz’s team wins, it means that one of his players, guard Jalen Jackson from Wagner High School, also would be guaranteed of making a trip to the NCAA’s Big Dance.

The fourth-seeded Islanders took a big step toward their dream Friday when they knocked off the No. 1 seed Nicholls State Colonels. Nicholls had won three games against A&M-Corpus Christi this season.

History notwithstanding, A&M-Corpus Christi defeated Nicholls, 71-64, in the SLC tournament semifinals.

Local players to watch

The NCAA tournament starts next week with four opening-round games, followed by rounds of 64 and 32 on the weekend.

On the second weekend, the tournament will be held at four sites, including San Antonio’s AT&T Center, which is hosting the South Regional. The Final Four is scheduled April 2 and 4 at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

Several San Antonio area players could get a shot to play in the tournament, including Texas Tech guard Kevin McCullar, Jr. from Wagner and Arkansas guard Stanley Umude from Warren.

Both have played roles as starters this season, though McCullar has been coming off the bench lately as he makes his way back from an injury.

On Saturday, the Red Raiders are playing the Kansas Jayhawks for the Big 12 title, while Umude and the Razorbacks played in a Southeastern Conference semifinal against the Texas A&M Aggies.

Texas Tech and Arkansas are both expected to make the NCAA tournament no matter what.

A&M is on the bubble but appears to be in good shape after a victory Friday over fourth-ranked Auburn and another victory Saturday over 15th-ranked Arkansas.

In addition, Brendan Wenzel from O’Connor is another player to watch from the San Antonio area.

He has been a starter this season for the Wyoming Cowboys, who have been projected as an at-large selection despite getting bounced out of the Mountain West tournament.

Texas-based schools in the hunt

The state of Texas, meanwhile, could produce as many as nine or 10 teams in the NCAA tournament. From the Big 12, the NCAA field is expected to include Texas Tech, Baylor, Texas and TCU.

From the Southeastern Conference, Texas A&M remains strongly in the hunt.

From the American Athletic Conference, the Coach Kelvin Sampson’s University of Houston Cougars are expected to make the field, and the SMU Mustangs remain in contention.

Both are playing in conference semifinals Saturday in Fort Worth. Houston plays Tulane at 2 p.m. and SMU takes on Memphis at 4 p.m.


Southwestern Athletic Conference — Texas Southern is in position to get the automatic bid Saturday afternoon, with the Tigers playing the Alcorn State Braves. The conference tournament title game is set for 5 p.m. in Birmingham, Ala.

Southland Conference — Texas A&M-Corpus Christi vs. Southeastern Louisiana, Saturday, 8:30 p.m., at Katy.

Western Athletic Conference — Abilene Christian will attempt to qualify for the NCAA field for the second straight season. The Wildcats will play the New Mexico State Aggies for the WAC title and auto bid. The game is set for Saturday at 9 p.m. in Las Vegas.