Mandatory Credit: Photo by Kevin M Cox/AP/Shutterstock (13779320c) Houston forward J’Wan Roberts is defended by Tulane guard Sion James during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Houston Tulane Basketball, Houston, United States – 22 Feb 2023
No. 1 Houston Cougars basketball crushes Tulane in 89-59 rout
No. 1 Houston Cougars basketball put a beatdown on the Tulane Green Wave inside Fertitta Center on Wednesday night. It was a dominating performance as UH routed Tulane 89-59.
Houston might have strung together its best game of the season to clinch at least a share of the American Athletic Conference regular season against the Green Wave, who entered the game in second place in the league.
The Cougars (26-2, 14-1 AAC) suffocated Tulane on defense. They passed the ball around on offense. They crashed the offensive glass and secured defensive rebounds as well. There was a block party, and various new career highs were set. There was not one facet of the game where UH did not excel on Wednesday.
Houston senior guard Marcus Sasser pushed the pace all night, hitting pull-up 3-pointers and seemingly skating on the court in transition as he occasionally bamboozled the Green Wave with his euro step.
Both junior forward J’Wan Roberts and senior big man Reggie Chaney got steals pressuring the ball when Tulane was inbounding, and freshman forward Jarace Walker was active on defense too.
There were stretches on Wednesday when it not only looked like Houston was the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, but it also looked like UH was on a different stratosphere than Tulane.
During one occasion in the first half, Sasser hit a pull-up 3-pointer with a hand right in his face. The Fertitta Center erupted, and the Cougars followed it up by locking down the Green Wave for all 30 seconds on defense.
When Tulane junior forward Kevin Cross dribbled into the corner, Houston sent the monster trap that forced him to pass the ball into the hands of sophomore guard Jalen Cook, who had to rush a shot and missed.
Following Cook’s miss, Sasser skied in for the defensive rebound. Houston pushed the ball to the other end of the floor. Eventually, Sasser took another 3-pointer, but this time he missed.
Sasser sprinted back on defense and was the first to greet Cook, who had gotten the defensive rebound. Sasser planted his feet on the block and forced Cook to slow down and shoot a fadeaway jumper that was erased by redshirt sophomore guard Tramon Mark.
On a night filled with eye-popping blocks, the highlight of the game came early in the second half when junior point guard Jamal Shead found Walker on the block, who immediately touch-passed it to Roberts for an easy two points.
For the second consecutive game, Roberts scored north of 20 points. He eclipsed his career high of 20 points set on Sunday against Memphis by scoring 26 on 9-of-10 shooting against Tulane. He also had seven rebounds.
Walker also set a new career-high with 13 rebounds against the Green Wave. He also scored nine points. Sasser finished the game with 22 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Shead had nine points and six assists. Mark had 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Houston held Tulane (17-8, 10-4 AAC) to just 19-of-50 shooting from the field. The Green Wave committed 19 turnovers.
Wednesday night’s game saw 7,763 people pack into the Fertitta Center, according to Houston Athletics, which broke Sunday’s record of 7,730 for the largest attendance ever inside the arena.
The Cougars will now head east to Greenville, North Carolina, to take on East Carolina in the lone meeting of the season. The game will be on Saturday at 7 p.m. CT and air on ESPN2. With a win, Houston is the sole AAC regular-season champion for the 2022-23 season.