Texas Southern senior forward Aaric Murray is now playing at his third college, with his move to the SWAC school being preceded by stops at La Salle and West Virginia. There’s no doubt that Murray possesses a lot of talent, but maturity issues shortened his stay at each of those first two schools.
On Wednesday night Murray led Texas Southern to a 90-89 win at Temple with 48 points and eight rebounds, with the point total a new high in college basketball this season. Murray’s career-high surpassed the 43 points Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky scored in a win over North Dakota on November 19. He shot 20-for-28 from the field, and he also set the Liacouras Center record for points scored in a game, eclipsing the 43 points scored by former Temple guard Lynn Greer in 2002.
Murray entered Wednesday’s game averaging 22.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per contest, and from a talent standpoint he’s the best player in the SWAC. Mike Davis’ team was the preseason pick to win the league after going 16-2 in conference play last season, with low APR numbers resulting in a postseason ban.
With Murray leading the way and forward Jose Rodriguez and guard Ray Penn also being double-digit scorers (forward DeAngelo Scott scored 15 points on Wednesday), the Tigers have the pieces needed to make good on the preseason promise.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: