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No. 1 Houston surges past Tulane

Jan 17, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Houston Cougars forward Ja'Vier Francis (5) fights for a rebound Tulane Green Wave forward Tylan Pope (33) during the second half at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in Devlin Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Andrew Wevers-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Sasser scored 23 points as the No. 1 Houston Cougars won their ninth game in a row and held on to sole possession of first place in the American Athletic Conference by defeating Tulane 80-60 on Tuesday night in New Orleans.

Sasser made seven of 12 3-pointers, J’Won Roberts scored 15 points, Jamal Shead added 14 points and seven assists, and Tramon Mark scored 12 for the Cougars (18-1, 6-0 AAC).

Jaylen Forbes scored 23 points, Jalen Cook had 15 and Kevin Cross added 12 to lead the Green Wave (12-6, 5-2), who had won five straight.

Sasser scored the first eight points of the second half to extend Houston’s lead to 48-32.

Forbes made a free throw for Tulane’s first point of the half and Cook’s jumper produced their first field goal.

The Cougars rebuilt the lead to 15 twice before Forbes scored eight points and Cook converted a three-point play to get Tulane within 54-49 midway through the half.

Houston scored seven straight points for a 12-point lead and stayed in control the rest of the way.

Sion James scored five points to help Tulane take its first lead at 10-9.

Houston took a four-point lead before Cook answered with a layup.

The Cougars scored seven straight points to open a 26-17 lead midway through the first half.

Collin Holloway scored the Green Wave’s next three points, but the Cougars expanded the lead to 33-20 on a dunk by Ja’vier Francis.

Cross made a dunk for just Tulane’s second basket in 6 1/2 minutes. Then Houston went cold.

Cross had two more baskets to get the Green Wave within seven before Mark beat the shot-clock buzzer with a jumper that ended a nearly six-minute scoring drought and gave Houston a 35-26 lead.

The Cougars rebuilt the lead to 12, but Forbes was fouled while making an off-balance 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds left. He converted the four-point play, leaving Houston with a 40-32 halftime lead.

–Field Level Media