No. 5 Houston (7-0, 2-0) at Tulsa (4-3, 1-1)
The series between the Cougars and Golden Hurricane is tied at 28-28 as the Cougars have won six of their last seven in the matchups. The two teams split last season as the Golden Hurricane took a 63-61 win in Tulsa’ Reynolds Center while Houston returned the favor with a 76-43 blow out in Houston’s Fertitta Center. Tulsa is 8-2 against the Cougars at home in those last 10 games in Tulsa.
Vs. the Spread:
This feels like a game for the UNDER as 15 of the last 20 Cougars’ games have enjoyed the UNDER as eight of the last 12 Golden Hurricane game have done likewise. Houston is 5-1 ATS in it’s last six vs. Tulsa, but 1-4 ATS in the last five roadies. Tulsa is 7-1 SU in their last eight home games.
|Teams||Spread||Money Line||Total Points|
|Houston||-8½ (-112)||-400||O 126 (-110)|
|Tulsa||+8½ (-108)||+320||U 126 (-110)|
Last Time Out:
Marcus Sasser had 19 points and Caleb Mills had seven of his last 12 points in the closing minutes as the Houston Cougars outlasted the UCF Knights, 63-54, despite shooting only 38 percent from the field. The Cougars were 11-for-11 from the line in the final 2:24 to pull out a victory against the tough-minded Knights.
Tulsa tuned up for the Christmas break with a 102-45 win over Southwestern Christian on Dec. 23. Two nights before, the Golden Hurricane went into Memphis and upset Penny Hardaway’s Tigers, 56-49. This was another defensive AAC rock-fight as the Golden Hurricane, who shot only 34.7 from the field themselves, held Memphis to 32.1 percent and forced 20 Tigers’ turnovers. Austin Richie led Tulsa with 14 points and Rey Idowu followed with 13.
Junior Quentin Grimes (18.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg) is becoming the go-to guy for the Cougars inside of their offense. He has scored 20+ points in three of the last four games. Marcus Sasser has been torching the nets in the Cougars’ start as he has only appeared in five of the seven games but he averages 15.2 ppg. and he has made 3.4 triples per outing.
Defense though is the name of the game for Kelvin Sampson’s team and why they are in Final Four conversations already. Try this out – through games of Dec. 26, the Cougars rank fourth nationally in opponents’ 3-point field goal percentage (21.8), fifth in scoring defense (54.6 ppg), 12th in offensive rebounds per game (14.7 orpg), and 15th in opponents field goal percentage (36.7).
Although 7-0, Sampson would like to see the extra pass more on offense as the Cougars assist only 46.6 percent of their makes. The disruptive Tulsa defense of capable of causing even less efficiency in that category.
The paint is a point of contention on offense when you gameplan for Tulsa as 60.1 percent of the Golden Hurricane’s points have come from inside. They have outscored opponents, 36.9-16.9 on average on the inside this season. Centers Emmanuel Igboh and Rey Idowu combine for 78 points inside.
Tulsa has outscored six of it’s seven opponents by 10 or more points in the second half.
The defensive end of the floor is also the emphasis for Coach Frank Haith as TU only allows opponents to shoot 36.8 percent, but they have allowed 58 triples as the Golden Hurricane continues to work to defend the three more efficiently.
Golden Hurricane X&0:
Tulsa has to put heat on Houston’s guards and force turnovers. The Golden Hurricane have turned opponents over 16.9 times per game. The Cougars are 248th in the nation in non-steal turnover percentage at 12.2, per kenpom.com.
Winner: Houston 67 Tulsa (+8½) 63
O/U: Take OVER 126