Houston Cougars basketball banged up heading into second round of NCAA Tournament versus Auburn

Mar 16, 2023; Birmingham, AL, USA; Northern Kentucky Norse guard Sam Vinson (2) shoots over Houston Cougars guard Marcus Sasser (0) during the first half in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at Legacy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Cougars basketball banged up heading into second round of NCAA Tournament versus Auburn

The Houston Cougars basketball team is wounded heading into its second-round NCAA Tournament matchup against the 9-seed Auburn Tigers.

One-seed Houston outlasted and survived the pesky and challenging 16-seed Northern Kentucky Norse on Thursday night, but it did not leave the game without its lesions.

Senior guard Marcus Sasser aggravated his groin injury in the first half, and junior guard Jamal Shead hyperextended his right knee against the Norse. It is not yet known whether Shead’s injury could linger into Saturday.

For Sasser, the groin injury happened when he pulled up for a 2-point jumper against Northern Kentucky. The Dallas native believes he just planted too hard on his left leg, which caused him to aggravate the injury, he said.

“I was doing good during warmups,” Sasser told Gallery Sports. “The first five minutes of the game I was just trying not to think about it. I was going, and I was in the flow in the game, but then when that happened, I felt the pain again a little bit.”

Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson told reporters after the game that Sasser told him his groin felt funny after the play in the first half. The All-American did not play in the second half.

“Obviously, he got out there and didn’t feel like he could [play], so he shut it down, which is the right thing to do,” Sampson said.

Sasser said the next day leading up to the Auburn game would involve a lot of treatment, rehab, and ice tubs. He is determined to do everything possible to be ready for Saturday, he said. Whether he is available, only time will tell.

The same can be said about Shead’s knee, although he did finish Thursday’s game against Northern Kentucky on the court for Houston.

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