No. 2 Houston wary of trap game against SMU


No. 2 Houston should be rested and ready to add to a winning streak when it travels north to face SMU on Thursday in an American Athletic Conference game in Dallas.

The Cougars (23-2, 11-1 AAC) have won five straight games after an 80-42 victory at Tulsa on Wednesday.

Marcus Sasser poured in 25 points, 19 of them in the first half, to lead Houston. Emanuel Sharp added 13 points, Jamal Shead dished out a season-high 12 assists and J’Wan Roberts collected 10 rebounds in the win.

The Cougars led by as many as 41 points and dominated the statistics as well as the scoreboard, outshooting Tulsa 46.3 percent to 27.8 percent. Houston outrebounded the Golden Hurricane 53-27 while holding the home team to a season-low point total.

“We put such an emphasis on ball movement and being unselfish, making the right play,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “(We had) 31 baskets (and) 21 assists. That’s not easy to do.”

It was the 10th time this season that Houston has limited an opponent to 50 or fewer points. The Cougars will have had a season-long eight days between games when the take the floor in Dallas.

“We’ve only lost two games, we probably should have lost some more,” Sampson said. “We’re lucky to only have two losses. Teams don’t usually go 23-2, but again, losses never really bother me that much. Just like I don’t get overly carried away with wins.”

The Cougars hammered SMU 87-53 at home on Jan. 5. But the Mustangs have captured two of the past three contests at home against Houston, including an 85-83 victory over the then-No. 6 Cougars last season.

The Mustangs head home after a 91-89 double-overtime loss at Wichita State on Sunday. SMU was up by a basket late in regulation before surrendering the tying layup with two seconds remaining.

Zhuric Phelps had a chance to win the game for the Mustangs at the end of the first overtime but missed a 3-pointer. Jalen Smith was off on another three at the end of second OT with SMU down two points.

Phelps led the Mustangs (9-17, 4-9) with 26 points while Efe Odigie added 21, Samuell Williamson had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Zach Nutall hit for 15 points in the loss. SMU forced a season-high 25 turnovers in the setback while committing just 12.

SMU has dropped three of its past four games and not won two straight contests since Dec. 22-23 in Hawaii. The Mustangs have played 12 games decided by five points or less, winning five of those.

“If you’re going to be on the floor, it’s important that you play with a level of confidence and be a threat because the level we’re playing at is not conducive to having guys out there that are playing timid,” SMU coach Rob Lanier said.

“And then obviously we’ve got to believe in these guys, and they’re capable. We don’t have a huge margin for error. We still have yet to play our best basketball in conference.”

–Field Level Media

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