Sasser-less UH falls to Memphis in AAC Tournament championship game
FORT WORTH — While Houston didn’t go out without a fight, the comeback fell short as Memphis knocked off the top-seeded Cougars 75-65 at Dickies Arena to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament championship game.
“I was proud of guys,” said UH head coach Kelvin Sampson. “We fought.”
Marcus Sasser, UH’s leading scorer and the AAC Player of the Year, did not play due to a groin strain he suffered against Cincinnati on Saturday.
After the game, Sampson said holding Sasser out was the right decision.
“We work all year to make the NCAA Tournament,” Sampson said. “I don’t think I could have loved with myself had (Sasser) played today and got hurt.”
The loss snapped the Cougars’ 13-game win streak.
Memphis’ Kendric Davis, who scored a game-high # points, was a one-man wrecking crew in the first half, dropping 20 points, including eight in under a minute to give the Tigers their largest lead of the game at 40-20.
UH gave up a season-high 46 first-half points and went into the locker room trailing for just the third time all season.
The Cougars used a 15-3 run to trim what was a 15-point first-half deficit to five points nine minutes into the second half.
“Once we got to halftime, we got everybody in the right frame of mind,” Sampson said. “We got them organized.”
That was as close as UH would get.
“We put ourselves in position to be in position,” Sampson said. ‘“We just couldn’t get over the hump there.”
J’Wan Roberts dominated the boards, pulling down a career-high 20 rebounds, half of them coming on the offensive glass. The 6-foot-7-inch forward also scored 12 points for his sixth double-double of the season.
“He was outstanding again today,” Sampson said. “Huge ups to J’Wan. 10 offensive rebounds, 10 defensive rebounds. 20 rebounds, that’s pretty special.”
Jamal Shead led the Cougars in scoring with 16 points.
Jarace Walker finished with 13 points and Tramon Mark added 10 points.
Freshman Terrance Arceneaux, who started in place of Sasser, scored nine points.
UH exits the AAC with four regular-season championships (2018-19, 2019-2020, 2021-22 and 2022-23) and two conference tournament titles (2021 and 2022).