GAME NOTES: The Houston Cougars start their longest road trip of the season, as they play the first of three straight away games by facing in-state rival TCU in Fort Worth this afternoon.
The Cougars come into today's contest off a 78-65 win against Louisiana on Tuesday at Hofheinz Pavilion. Houston closed the final four minutes of its most recent victory on a 16-0 run. The Cougars overcame a 13-point deficit in the second half. Senior guard Adam Brown led the way with 23 points. He's averaging 15.8 ppg and has nailed 52.8 percent of his shots from the field. He scored 11 consecutive points and finished with 13 points during a 15-0 run that gave the Cougars a 39-34 lead against the Ragin' Cajuns. Maurice McNeil, a 6-6 senior forward, has three double-doubles already this season and is averaging 12.8 ppg and 10.0 rebounds a contest. The other starting frontcourt player is Kirk Van Slyke, a sophomore who is averaging 10.4 ppg and 5.2 rpg. Junior Darian Thibodeaux (10.4 ppg) and senior Zamal Nixon (6.4 ppg) make up the final two from the backcourt starters. Sophomore Kendrick Washington, a 6-7, 270-pound powerhouse (11.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) is a key contributor off the bench. He's made 68.4 percent of his shots from the floor, over eight percentage points higher than McNeil.
TCU owns a 3-2 overall record, but most recently lost two of three games during the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament last weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts. The Horned Frogs dropped a 76-61 decision to Rider on Saturday, downed Bradley 74-68 and fell to Massachusetts 67-48 on Monday night. TCU's other two wins came at home - against Jackson State and SMU. The Horned Frogs are led by junior guard Ronnie Moss, who averages 15.4 points, while freshman forward Amric Fields ranks second with 10.0 points per game off the bench. Junior guard J.R. Cadot leads in rebounds with 6.0 per contest, while junior guard Hank Thorns (9.6 ppg) leads the way with 7.0 assists per game. Nikola Gacesa (3.7 pg, 2.7 rpg) and sophomore Garlon Green (9.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg) make up the starting frontcourt for the Horned Frogs. Junior guard Sammy Yeager (9.6 ppg) is a big go-to guy off the bench.
TCU plays an opportunistic style of defense, averaging 8.4 steals per game this season. As of late this week, TCU ranked among the leaders in the Mountain West Conference in turnover margin (second), assist/turnover ratio (third) and three-pointers made (third).
Houston owns a 47-23 lead in the all-time series, which began in 1955. However, the Cougars have posted a 13-17 all-time record against the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth, Texas. That includes a 2-10 mark in the last 12 meetings at the DMC. The Horned Frogs and Cougars are former conference rivals in both the Southwest Conference (1976-96) and Conference USA (2002-05). The Cougars enter today on a two-game winning streak against TCU. Houston has not lost to the Horned Frogs since a 58-51 setback on January 19, 2005.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: TCU 74, Houston 70