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AAC Basketball News and Notes | Tyson Etienne Saves Wichita State

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The first week of the 2021-22 college basketball season is officially in the books. While most are still locked in on the college football season, there were, and will be many more, great non-conference games for AAC basketball teams. It may still be a long way off, but we are starting to see early signs of what to expect from teams in this conference for this season.

With plenty of early AAC basketball storylines and crazy games already, here’s a recap of the first week of the season.

AAC Basketball Opening Week Headlines

Even though the AAC only boasts two ranked teams at this point in the season, teams have already grabbed plenty of headlines this week. Several teams represented the league with high-profile non-conference games across the country. AAC programs had plenty of strong performances and made several headlines during college basketball’s opening week.

No. 15 Houston Escapes Hofstra

Coming into the season, Houston was picked to win the AAC conference. For over 30 minutes on Tuesday, they showed a team with no identity and no idea how to replace all of their players from last season’s Final Four run. At the last possible moment, the Cougars found their stride, rattling off a 20-7 run to send the game into overtime.

Marcus Sasser led the way with 25 points with Taze Moore (12) and Kyler Edwards (10) the only other Houston players to score in double-digits. While, as a team, Houston shot over 44% from the field, they had to overcome a rough night from Kyler Edwards, who shot just 21% from the field. Free throw shooting was almost their kryptonite, as Houston could only convert on 15 of their 25 free throws.

Nobody thought this season was going to be a cakewalk for Houston basketball. With that being said, nobody thought this team would struggle so much that they’d need a late surge to win in overtime at home over Hofstra. Houston has time to find some answers, but their non-conference schedule only gets harder from here.

https://img.particlenews.com/image.php?url=0rt9jl_0cwqWCMT00
Credit: Travis Heying/The Wichita Eagle

Tyson Etienne’s Heroics for the Shockers

Although Wichita State won the conference last season, few predicted them to win the AAC basketball conference again this season. Many also thought this team would be good enough to contend and not struggle with teams like Jacksonville State. A late three from the logo from Tyson Etienne won it for the Shockers who escaped their home opener with a win, 60-57.

The Shockers found themselves in a four-point hole at halftime before turning it up a notch in the second half. Wichita State was ice cold the entire game, however, as they shot just over 38% from the field and 18% from behind the arc. Only Etienne (16) and Dexter Dennis (14) scored in double-digits. Both players also were the only Wichita State players to log more than 25 minutes, with 37 and 33 minutes, respectively.

While Wichita State basketball has had anything but a promising start, they are 2-0 and have won despite some truly horrific team shooting performances. Their shooting will eventually come back up. However, they can’t afford these performances come conference play. With that being said, the ability to win ugly is important and could be useful come February and March.

SMU Stumbles Against No. 13 Oregon

The Mustangs had their first true test on the road in Eugene and came away empty-handed. SMU fell to Oregon, 86-63, in a game that was never really close. While SMU didn’t necessarily play a bad game, they were just outclassed by a more talented Ducks team.

SMU did shoot under 38% from the field, but their offense was hardly the main issue. While plenty was due to just some lights-out shooting, Oregon shot over 52% from the field and 45% from three-point range. It also didn’t help SMU that only four players total had more than a single rebound while every player in Oregon’s starting lineup had at least three.

This is far from the end of the road for an SMU team that we always knew was going to need time. An early-season test will do wonders for them come crunch time this season. With that in mind, it is intriguing to see a Mustangs team with this much talent go down so easily, even to a solid team in Oregon.

Upcoming AAC Basketball Games to Note

The AAC Conference will have several opportunities to make more headlines in the second week of the 2021-22 college basketball season. Here are a handful of games to watch for throughout the upcoming week of AAC basketball.

No. 25 Virginia at No. 15 Houston

Date: Tuesday, Nov. 16
Time: 8 pm EST
TV Coverage: ESPN

Tulane at No. 20 Florida State

Date: Wednesday, Nov. 17
Time: 8 pm EST
TV Coverage: ACC Network

No. 22 Auburn at South Florida

Date: Friday, Nov. 19
Time: 7 pm EST
TV Coverage: ESPN+

Wichita State at Arizona

Date: Friday, Nov. 19
Time: 7 pm EST
TV Coverage: ESPNU

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