No. 3 Houston Cougars basketball cruises past Tulsa in American Athletic Conference opener

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dave Crenshaw/AP/Shutterstock (13687067c) Tramon Mark (12) dunks against Tulsa’s Bryant Selebangue (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Tulsa, Okla Houston Basketball, Tulsa, United States – 28 Dec 2022

No. 3 Houston Cougars basketball cruises past Tulsa in American Athletic Conference opener

TULSA, Okla. — The Houston Cougars basketball team opened their American Athletic Conference schedule on fire against Tulsa on Wednesday night.

Houston (13-1, 1-0 AAC) shot an outstanding 36-of-61 from the field against the Golden Hurricane en route to an 89-50 victory.

It was a fire by committee for Houston in Oklahoma all game long. Guard Tramon Mark had 12 first-half points on 5-of-9 shooting, but he was not alone. Fellow guard Jamal Shead had nine, guard Marcus Sasser had eight, and guard Emanuel Sharp had nine points when the teams went into the locker room.

The second half proved to be more of the same. Houston hit Tulsa with a knockout punch as it opened the period on a 12-2 run that built a 29-point lead for the Cougars. UH led by as many as 34.

Junior forward J’Wan Roberts got Houston’s second-half run started with a layup that was set up by Mark, who assisted Roberts on the shot.

Mark followed it up with a jumper of his own. After two free throws from Sasser and a jumper from freshman forward Jarace Walker, Roberts had three layups on three straight Houston possessions to cap off the run. Roberts led all scorers with 15 points, and he also had nine rebounds against Tulsa.

Mark finished the game with 14 points, and he did a little bit of everything for UH. The Dickinson native hit open 3-pointers. He pulled up for midrange jumpers. He distributed to his teammates and also had an impressive dunk after picking up some steam in the first half.

Mark also took a hit on his leg during the game, which required attention from the team’s head athletic trainer John Houston but it was not considered serious as he could have returned to the game, according to the program.

Sasser ended the game with 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field. The Dallas native starred in transition and had a lot of pull-up jumpers against the Golden Hurricane.

With the points scored against the Golden Hurricane, Sasser moved to No. 42 all-time in program history. He has scored 1,074 career points with Houston. He is just three points away from passing Jherrod Stiggers.

Despite the strong offense, however, the play of the night came on the defensive side of the ball. With 13:22 left in the second half, Houston sophomore forward Ja’Vier Francis erased a shot attempt by Tulsa freshman guard Jesaiah McWright with a block that sent the ball flying into the fifth row of the stands of the Reynolds Center.

The Cougars’ defense stiffened after a bit of a slow start against the Golden Hurricane (4-8, 0-1 AAC). Tulsa scored its first eight points from inside the paint and held an early 8-5 edge over the third team in the nation, but Houston held them to just 19-of-56 shooting for the entire game.

Tulsa also turned the ball over 15 times in the contest. The Houston Cougars basketball team out-rebounded the Golden Hurricane 35 to 31.

Houston returns to action on New Year’s Eve inside the Fertitta Center for a 1 p.m. tip against the Central Florida Knights.

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