S-M-U (12-16) at Houston (12-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 25th, 8:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hofheinz Pavilion (8,479) -- Houston, Texas. Television: None. Home Record: SMU 8-6, Houston 11-5. Away Record: SMU 3-7, Houston 0-8. Neutral Record: SMU 1-3, Houston 1-1. Conference Record: SMU 3-10, Houston 4-9. Series Record: Houston leads, 43-25.
GAME NOTES: A pair of struggling Conference USA teams will try and put their best foot forward on Saturday night, as the Houston Cougars play host to the SMU Mustangs.
Houston failed to build off the momentum of its first win in five games, dropping a 66-58 decision at Marshall on Wednesday. The Cougars were coming off an impressive 73-71 triumph over Southern Miss and looked to be well on their way to another victory up eight at halftime. That's when Marshall erupted for a 34-7 run to open the second half and eliminated any hopes of Houston's first win streak in nearly a month. The Thundering Herd shot 57.6 percent from the field over the final period compared to 38.7 percent for the Cougars, who fell to 4-9 in C-USA with the loss. Leon Gibson tallied 17 points and 11 rebounds off the bench for UH while Joseph Young had 16 points. TaShawn Thomas also played well, totaling 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.
SMU brought an end to its three-game losing streak on Wednesday with a 64-50 thumping of Tulane at home. The Mustangs never trailed in holding the Green Wave to a paltry 28.9 percent shooting clip while landing 53.5 percent of their own field goals. London Giles led a balanced effort with 17 points while both Robert Nyakundi and Jeremiah Samarrippas scored nine points. Samarrippas added seven assists as SMU moved to 3-10 in conference play.
Houston owns a comfortable 43-25 advantage in the all-time series, though SMU has won two straight and three of the last four meetings. The Mustangs won 70-54 in Dallas on January 18, and captured a 65-51 victory in last year's matchup at Hofheinz Pavilion as well.
The Cougars' offense is led by the duo of Jonathon Simmons and Alandise Harris, who average 14.8 and 13.1 points per game, respectively. However, the duo had just two and five points, respectively, versus Marshall Wednesday. Young gives the Cougars a solid third scoring option at 10.9 ppg and leads the team in three-pointers with 47 on 39.2 percent shooting. Thomas has paid huge dividends in his first collegiate go-round, posting 10.6 ppg and a team- leading 8.2 rebounds per contest. Overall, Houston puts up 71.9 ppg and lands a crisp 46.1 percent of its field goals. The defense is another story, though, allowing a league-high 72.8 ppg on 44.0 percent shooting. The Cougars normally hold their own on the boards, checking in with a plus-1.2 margin at 36.1-34.9 rpg. Harris stands second to Thomas with 6.2 caroms per contest.
The Mustangs are paced by the likes of Nyakundi first and foremost. The senior leads the club in a host of categories including scoring (14.6 ppg), rebounding (4.7 rpg) and three-pointers with 68 on 42.0 percent shooting. His overall shooting percentage of 47.2 is second on the team, while his three- point percentage is the best in all of C-USA. Giles checks in at 10.9 ppg and also connects on a healthy number of triples with 47 on 37.6 percent shooting. Jalen Jones adds 8.3 ppg to the mix while Samarrippas kicks in 6.9 ppg and dishes a team-leading 4.1 assists per contest. The offense on a whole produces a league-low 59.9 ppg and shoots 42.4 percent from the field but the Mustang defense usually gives those numbers a chance to stand up by holding teams to a league-low 59.7 ppg and a 42.1 shooting percentage. A noted source of difficulty for the Mustangs is in the rebounding department, as they haul in a mere 28.6 per game with a minus-4.5 margin.
Houston has found a way to win at home this season (11-5) and gets the benefit of the doubt over an inconsistent SMU squad tonight at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Houston 66, SMU 65
02/25 10:37:16 ET