The Houston Cougars shoot for their fifth win in six games Wednesday against the visiting Golden Hurricane of Tulsa in a Conference USA clash from Hofheinz Pavilion.
Houston continued its winning ways with a gutty 70-68 win at SMU on Saturday. Freshman Alandise Harris sank two free throws for a three-point lead with 13 seconds to play, part of a career-best 19-point night. He added 11 rebounds for his second double-double of the season, while senior Adam Brown helped spark the win with 22 points off the bench. Junior Darian Thibodeaux also had a career night with 17 points on 5-of-8 three-point shooting. Houston hit a season-high 11 threes overall on 19 attempts.
Tulsa won for the second time in three games Saturday, putting forth a strong effort in defeating UAB at home, 78-62. Justin Hurtt scored 17 points and dished out five assists to lead the team in both categories, Steven Idlet added 16 points and Scottie Haralson kicked in 14 points. Redshirt freshman Kodi Maduka gave Tulsa some nice minutes as well, notching nine points and seven rebounds in just 15 minutes. The Golden Hurricane connected on 53.8 percent of their shots overall.
Tulsa won the last three games in the series to knot its all-time ledger with the Cougars at 19 games apiece. The Golden Hurricane picked up a win in Houston the last time these two tangled, 86-80, last January. The Cougars hold an 11-7 advantage in the all-time series at home.
The Golden Hurricane feature four players that average double-figure scoring led by Hurtt's 20.9 per game. Idlet follows with a solid 13.8-point average and a team-leading 6.1 rebounds per game. Haralson provides 12.8 points per contest and tops the roster with 50 three-pointers. He shoots 40.3 percent from beyond. Finally, Jordan Clarkson checks in at a 10.6-ppg scoring average with Tulsa averaging 72.8 points collectively. The Hurricane shoots the ball at a 44.6-percent clip from the field overall, but opponents are held to 42.3 percent shooting and 69.6 points on average. Tulsa has a nice advantage on the boards as well, holding a plus-4.1 margin on average (36.3-32.2).
The Cougars have steady contributors across the board, none more than Brown, who leads the team in scoring at 14.8 per game. He also leads the club in three-pointers with 33, shooting a healthy 47.8 percent from long distance. Maurice McNeil helps carry the load with a 13.5-point average and a team- leading 8.6 rebounds per game. Kendrick Washington adds to the well-rounded attack with 11.5 points and 6.4 boards. In addition, a trio of players check in at 8.0 points or better, including Thibodeaux (8.6 ppg) Zamal Nixon (8.4) and Harris (8.2), who is averaging 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds while hitting all but two of his 18 free throw attempts in the last two games. The Cougars were coming off a 76-71 upending of then No. 19 previously unbeaten UCF prior to taking on SMU. Overall, Houston scores 71.4 points per game and makes 46.0 percent of its field goals. Opponents average 68.2 points on 41.4 percent shooting from the floor.
Houston is on a roll right now, and it seems the team has an endless supply of players with the ability to provide that extra lift on a given night. Tulsa isn't exactly a pushover, but expect the Cougars to continue a high level of play and take care of business at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Houston 74, Tulsa 66