No. 1 Houston Cougars basketball outlasts Tulane Green Wave for ninth-straight win

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP/Shutterstock (13722007g) Houston guard Jamal Shead (1) celebrates after being fouled while making a basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tulane in New Orleans Houston Tulane Basketball, New Orleans, United States – 17 Jan 2023

No. 1 Houston Cougars basketball outlasts Tulane Green Wave for ninth-straight win

NEW ORLEANS — The Houston Cougars basketball team overcame a strong offensive start by Tulane and ultimately proved too much for the Green Wave as they won their ninth straight game, 80-60, on Tuesday night at Devlin Fieldhouse.

Behind solid first-half performances from redshirt sophomore guard Tramon Mark and junior forward J’Wan Roberts and then a red-hot display from senior guard Marcus Sasser in the second half, No. 1 Houston was able to hand Tulane just its second conference loss and build a two-game cushion for first place in the American Athletic Conference standings.

The points came fast and furious to begin this contest as Houston and Tulane took turns testing each other out in the early going. Mark and Roberts provided the bulk of the scoring for the first seven minutes of the game. They each had eight points, which were the first 16 points of the game for the Cougars (18-1, 6-0 AAC) on Tuesday.

Every time Houston scored a basket, Tulane was never too far behind when it came to finding an answer in front of a rowdy, sellout home crowd. The spectators on Tuesday night heckled the Cougars during the timeouts and even started a anti-officials chant during one of the timeouts.

Despite the ruckus environment, the Cougars were able to stay poised. A 3-point basket from freshman guard Emanuel Sharp ignited what became a 17-5 run that gave UH its largest lead of the first half, 33-20.

Houston was able to convert turnovers into points, hurt Tulane in the paint with sophomore big man Ja’Vier Francis and Roberts, and impress with its stellar ball movement that even left fans inside of the Devlin Fieldhouse in awe.

With 1:45 left in the first half, Mark passed it around the 3-point line to junior guard Jamal Shead who then passed it to Sasser, who rose up for a 3-point jumper and buried it.

“You see how fast the ball moves,” exclaimed a spectator following Sasser’s shot.

The Green Wave hovered around and stayed within striking distance going into the break. Tulane ended the half with a big momentum play as junior guard Jaylen Forbes, who finished the game with 23 points, buried a 3-pointer in addition to a foul by Mark that allowed the deficit to be just 40-32 at the break.

When the second half began, however, it was Sasser that came out on fire. He hit his first four shots of the period, which included three 3-point baskets, and helped extend Houston’s lead to 48-32 with his own personal 8-0 run.

Houston led 53-38 when Tulane gave one last run to make it a contest. The Green Wave outscored the Cougars, 11-1, to get within just five points and send Devlin Fieldhouse into a frenzy after it had been quieted down from UH’s initial second-half run.

The Cougars answered with a 26-11 run of their own to end the game. It was started by a pull-up jumper from Mark and capped off by four points from freshman forward Jarace Walker and a pair of 3-point baskets each by Sasser and Shead. Houston continued to pour it on offensively as the energy inside the crowded arena slowly deflated.

Tulane was unable to rally again. The Cougars were led by Sasser, who finished with 23 points, 17 of which came in the second half, four rebounds, and four assists.

Roberts ended the game with 15 points and six rebounds. Both Shead, who had 14 points and seven assists, and Mark, who had 12 points, were the other Cougars in double figures.

The Houston Cougars basketball team will return to action on Sunday when it hosts Temple at 2 p.m. inside Fertitta Center.

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