FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — When Marcus Sasser crumbled awkwardly to the court docket after his toes slipped from below him whereas dribbling previous midcourt, Houston coach Kelvin Sampson knew one thing was incorrect even with out actually seeing what had occurred.
“Marcus goes down, it means he’s harm,” Sampson mentioned. “We all the time say ache is an opinion. Some youngsters have a excessive opinion. Some youngsters have a low opinion. But Marcus doesn’t go down. He by no means misses follow, by no means misses a rep. He’s all the time there.”
Sasser, the American Athletic Conference participant of the yr, suffered an obvious groin damage with about 6 1/2 minutes left within the first half of the top-ranked Cougars’ 69-48 win over Cincinnati of their AAC event semifinal sport Saturday.
Houston (31-2), which led all through, was up by eight when Sasser obtained harm and expanded that to fifteen by halftime.
Sampson mentioned Sasser could be re-evaluated, however indicated that the senior guard may not play when the two-time reigning regular-season champion Cougars attempt to win their third consecutive AAC event title in opposition to Memphis on Sunday.
“I might most likely err on the aspect of holding him out due to how necessary subsequent week is,” Sampson mentioned. “But crucial factor is Marcus … his wholesome going ahead is crucial factor right here.”
Jamal Shead had 16 factors and 9 assists for the Cougars within the AAC semifinal, which matched two groups which can be shifting to the Big 12 subsequent season. J’Wan Roberts had two second-chance layups within the sport’s first minute to place Houston forward to remain. He completed with 16 factors and eight rebounds, whereas Jarace Walker had 13 factors.
“Just understanding that Marcus got here out of the sport and we nonetheless have teammates that we all know that come off the bench and include that very same vitality, it simply reveals quite a bit about our workforce,” Roberts mentioned. “It simply reveals everyone has one another’s again and we by no means get away from what we’re doing, simply staying collectively.”
Houston is a positive wager to be a No. 1 seed when the NCAA Tournament bracket comes out Sunday, it doesn’t matter what occurs in its fifth straight AAC Tournament championship sport.
Landers Nolley II had 14 factors for Cincinnati (21-12), which shot a season-worst 25.5% (13 of 51) from the sector.
After 30 factors for the Cougars on Friday, Sasser had 4 factors in 9 minutes in opposition to Cincinnati earlier than the non-contact damage. He was dribbling between the convention emblem and the 3-point line when his proper foot appeared to slide, throwing him off-balance earlier than his left foot slipped as nicely, sending him into an ungainly break up.
Sasser was a starter on the Cougars’ 2021 Final Four workforce however missed their run to the NCAA Elite Eight final yr due to a damaged bone in his left foot earlier than Christmas. He didn’t speak to the media after the sport.
Cincinnati was inside 44-35 on a 3-point by Nolley with about quarter-hour left — the one time after halftime the Bearcats had been inside single digits. Shead then began a 17-3 run with a jumper, and had seven factors within the spurt that pushed Houston’s result in 61-38.
“Obviously, they’re the No. 1-ranked workforce within the nation for a cause, they usually’re a tough workforce to attain on,” Bearcats coach Wes Miller mentioned. “It was a tricky night time for us, as a result of we didn’t rating and we didn’t defend nicely. So that’s the way you get that form of a lopsided margin.”
Cincinnati: The Bearcats will miss the NCAA Tournament once more, their final look being 2019, which was their ninth in a row. … For the second straight day, Cincinnati was down 10 factors lower than seven minutes into the sport. But there could be no comeback like Friday’s 84-54 victory over Temple for the Bearcats’ largest-ever profitable margin in a convention event sport. Instead, they misplaced by greater than 20 factors for under the second time this season.
Houston: The Cougars bounced again from Friday’s season-worst capturing sport (28.1% general, 16 of 57). They practically doubled that within the semifinal sport, capturing 50.9% (29 of 57). … Houston is 11-0 in Dickies Arena, and nonetheless hasn’t misplaced away from residence this season.