Sampson ‘proud’ of Sasser and Mills heading into game against Tulane
The Cougars are coming off Saturday’s loss to the Bearcats, in which the team had a 10–point lead at halftime and extended it to as much as 15 in the second half, but Cincinnati outscored Houston 26-9 in the final 13 minutes of the game.
In the loss, freshman guard Marcus Sasser starred with 17 points including 4-5 shooting on 3-pointers. Sophomore guard Nate Hinton had 16 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
Redshirt freshman Caleb Mills leads the team with 12.9 points a game and Hinton leads the team with 9.3 rebounds and senior center Chris Harris Jr. leads with 2.1 blocks.
Head coach Kelvin Sampson on Wednesday afternoon praised his two freshmen for the way they have played this season.
“Marcus and Caleb, those two … they are not freshmen anymore (in terms of experience),” Sampson said. “Being able to play the minutes that they have and thinking about the guys they are replacing (Galen Robinson, Corey Brooks and Armoni Brooks), that’s not easy to do.
“I’m proud of those guys.”
The Green Wave
Tulane enters the game on a five-game losing streak and with a 10-11 record, 2-7 against The American, which is tied for the worst mark in the conference.
In its latest contest, Tulane lost 82-67 at SMU on Saturday night.
The Green Wave, however, did defeat Cincinnati early in January, and Sampson is keen on the different type of zone defenses the team runs, which could pose a problem for Houston if the shots are not falling.
“(Tulane coach Ron Hunter) is a matchup zone guy,” Sampson said. “They also throw some 1-3-1. You’re going to get open … (the thing about) handling zones is when you make shots, they aren’t a problem, when you miss shots, zones can be a problem.”
The Cougars on the season, however, are shooting only 40 percent from the field, which is middle of the pack in the conference at No. 7, so the zone could provide a challenge.
Houston’s biggest strength all year has been rebounding. Houston leads the AAC in rebounding margin (+7.2) while Tulane is at the bottom of the conference (-11.3).
Junior guard Teshaun Hightower leads Tulane with 15.5 points, while senior guard K.J. Lawson is second with 13.8 points per contest. Senior guard Christian Thompson leads the team in three different categories with 6.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and two steals.
The Cougars lead the all-time series between the two teams 23-18 with the last meeting ending in an 85-50 win for Houston.
The meeting in Fertitta Center will be the only matchup of the season between the teams.
The Green Wave has not won in Houston since 2015.
The game will be broadcast on ESPNU and can be heard on KPRC 950 AM at 8 p.m. on Thursday.