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Texas Southern hopes to slow No. 3 Houston’s flying start

Sportsnaut
Nov 14, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars guard Tramon Mark (12) goes up for the lay up during the second half against the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles at Fertitta Center. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

No. 3 Houston will look to continue a hot start — in which its three victories have been by an average of 37 points — when the Cougars host Texas Southern on Wednesday night.

After opening the season with a 47-point win over Northern Colorado and a 26-point victory over Saint Joseph’s, the Cougars cruised to an 83-45 win over visiting Oral Roberts on Monday.

Tramon Mark had a career-high 23 points and Marcus Sasser added 19 against the Golden Eagles. Houston’s Ja’Vier Francis recorded 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds and Terrance Arceneaux had 14 points and five rebounds.

“Tramon has always had a fantastic attitude,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “He’s very coachable. When Tramon got here, if I had told him to run through a brick wall, he’d want to negotiate. Now, he’d say, ‘Can I get a running start?’ But that means he’s bought into our culture.”

Houston, which led Oral Roberts by as many as 39 points in the second half, shot 30 of 58 (51.7 percent) from the field, including 6 of 17 (35.3 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc. The Cougars outrebounded the Golden Eagles 52-30 and converted 11 turnovers into 16 points.

The Cougars’ suffocating defense forced Oral Roberts to shoot 14 of 62 (22.6 percent) from the field, including 8 of 38 (21.1 percent) from long distance. The Golden Eagles had one field goal in the first 10 minutes of the game and one field goal in the final 12 minutes.

“Last year I always felt like I was coaching with one arm tied behind my back a little bit because I lived in constant fear of foul trouble and fatigue because we had no depth, and that was an issue,” said Sampson, whose team finished 32-6 after losing in the Elite Eight. “It affected the way I coached and the way I had to manage the game. This year, if you are not doing what I ask you to do, sit down. I’m not going to ask twice.”

Through three games, Sasser is averaging a team-high 15.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and three assists per game, while Mark averages 13.7 points and five rebounds. J’Wan Roberts chips in 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, with five-star freshman forward Jarace Walker adding 11 points and a team-high 7.7 rebounds per game.

Texas Southern (1-3) is coming off an 82-64 loss to visiting Oral Roberts on Tuesday. The Tigers were outscored 44-26 in the second half after the game was tied at halftime.

Texas Southern posted a 67-66 overtime win over visiting Arizona State on Sunday when Zytarious Mortle tipped in the game-winner with 5.6 seconds left.

PJ Henry stole the ball on the Sun Devils’ final possession of the Pac-12/SWAC Legacy Series game in Houston.

“These guys believe in each other, they trust each other, and they trust the system,” Texas Southern coach Johnny Jones said.

Houston is 3-0 all-time against Texas Southern, though this will be the teams’ first meeting since 2012.

–Field Level Media