PREVIEW: Houston Cougars host Cincinnati Bearcats in network TV showdown

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Phelan M Ebenhack/AP/Shutterstock (13741981b) Houston guard Tramon Mark (12) sets up a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Central Florida, in Orlando, Fla Houston Men’s Basketball, Orlando, United States – 25 Jan 2023

PREVIEW: Houston Cougars host Cincinnati Bearcats in network TV showdown

The Houston Cougars host Cincinnati inside the friendly confines of the Fertitta Center for an afternoon meeting on Saturday.

No. 3 Houston (19-2, 7-1 American Athletic) is coming off a bounce-back win over Central Florida on Wednesday. The Bearcats (14-7, 5-3 AAC) last played Sunday when they fell to the Memphis Tigers, 75-68.

Saturday’s meeting will be the second of the season between the Cougars and Bearcats. Houston played in Cincinnati on Jan. 8 and came away with a 72-59 victory. UH was led by freshman forward Jarace Walker during the last outing. He ended the contest with 21 points and five rebounds despite battling an illness.

Senior guard Marcus Sasser added 16 points and six rebounds against the Bearcats. Junior forward J’Wan Roberts chipped in with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Heading into Saturday’s rematch against the Bearcats, the status of Sasser could be something to watch. Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson said his star guard suffered a knee injury against the Knights on Wednesday, but did not go into any specifics. Sasser was able to finish the game for UH.

Sasser was named to the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Watch List on Thursday. The award is annually presented to the nation’s most outstanding defensive basketball player that achieves tremendous on-court success.

Cincinnati had won three consecutive games following the Houston contest earlier in the month before losing to Memphis. Senior guard Landers Nolley II still leads the team in scoring, averaging 15.5 points per contest. He had 12 points against the Cougars in the first meeting, however, UH was able to limit him throughout the second half.

Senior guard Mika Adams-Woods, who is averaging 9.8 points and 3.3 assists per game, gave Houston plenty of problems in the last matchup. He led the Bearcats with 19 points, four rebounds, and three assists. Redshirt sophomore big man Viktor Lakhin also had 16 points and six rebounds against Houston. Lakhin is averaging 12.6 and 7.5 rebounds for the season.

As a team, the Houston Cougars were able to suffocate the Bearcats with their defense. They held UC senior guard David DeJulius to just six points on 2-of-10 shooting on Jan. 8. He is the Bearcats’ second-leading scorer for the entire season, averaging 14.5 points per contest.

UH held Cincinnati to just 35.1% shooting from the field and forced 17 turnovers that turned into 26 points for the Cougars.

Houston and Cincinnati will tip off at 1:15 p.m. and air on CBS. The game can be heard on KPRC 950 AM radio in Houston.

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