PREVIEW: No. 2 Houston Cougars basketball hosts Tulsa, looking for season sweep

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Phelan M Ebenhack/AP/Shutterstock (13744223fw) Houston guard Emanuel Sharp (21) is defended by Central Florida guard Jayhlon Young (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Orlando, Fla Houston UCF Basketball, Orlando, United States – 25 Jan 2023

PREVIEW: No. 2 Houston Cougars basketball hosts Tulsa, looking for season sweep

Houston Cougars basketball ranked second in both national polls, will go for the season sweep against Tulsa in Wednesday night’s home matchup.

The Cougars (22-2, 10-1 American Athletic) are coming off a road win against Temple on Sunday. The Golden Hurricane (5-17, 1-10 AAC) are entering the matchup on a four-game losing streak, their most recent being an 86-75 loss to Wichita State.

Despite the record, Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson loves the building blocks Tulsa has under its first-year head coach, Eric Konkol, and he was complimentary of the team heading into the contest.

“I like a lot of stuff that they are doing,” Sampson said. “You can tell they are well coached. His kids are playing hard, and they’ve been right there. They led [against] Memphis in the last five-to-10 minutes. They’ve been in every game, which I think is a great sign for the culture they are building and for Eric and his staff.”

In the first outing between Houston and Tulsa, the Cougars had four different players end the game in double figures. UH was led by junior forward J’Wan Roberts, who had 15 points and nine rebounds on a perfect 7-for-7 from the field.

Houston redshirt sophomore guard Tramon Mark had 14 points. Redshirt freshman guard Emanuel Sharp had 14 points. Senior guard Marcus Sasser had 12 points and five assists.

For Tulsa, sophomore forward Bryant Selebangue led the way with 13 points and nine rebounds. Sampson said on Tuesday that he has been impressed with Selebangue’s performance, particularly his rebounding.

“Selebangue leads the league in rebounding,” Sampson said. “[Brandon] Betson is shooting 45% from the 3, he is the leading 3-point shooter, and [Sam] Griffin is probably their best guard.”

Selebangue is averaging 9.6 rebounds per contest. Griffin leads the team in scoring with 15.6 points per game. Betson is shooting 45.6% on 3-pointers for the season. The player who has emerged in the last few games for the Golden Hurricane is junior forward Tim Dalger, Sampson said.

He is coming off a 24-point and seven-rebound performance against the Shockers.

“Konkol is going through what most of us went through when you inherit a program,” Sampson said. “I just remember how much we struggled to win a game our first year. I never looked at it as being tough, never worried about it ’cause I knew that that first year was going to be like that.”

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