The fifth-ranked Houston Cougars try to bounce back from their first loss when they visit the undefeated SMU Mustangs in an American Athletic Conference contest on Sunday night. The Cougars (7-1, 2-1) fell by one to Tulsa on Tuesday, snapping a seven-game winning streak.
SMU (6-0, 2-0) has played two games since Dec. 5 but has won them both, including Wednesday’s 79-71 win at Temple. The Mustangs are tied with Wichita State atop the AAC standings with 2-0 records. Houston is among a group of three teams right behind.
The last time these teams played was a classic, with the Mustangs coming out on top by one in overtime back in February. The lead went back and forth four times in overtime before SMU prevailed. This one should be as competitive, making it fun for fans and online bettors alike.
Looking To Bounce Back
Houston is to rebound from its loss to Tulsa and hand the Mustangs their first loss. The Cougars have been winning despite making college basketball news by dealing with problems with COVID-19 in the program that kept them off the court for more than two weeks in December.
When they’ve been on the court, the Cougars have seen junior guard Quentin Grimes playing great, averaging a team-high 18.5 points to go with 7.3 rebounds. Grimes is one of two players in the AAC to rank among the conference’s top 10 in both categories.
Sophomore guard Marcus Sasser has been solid as well, scoring 15 points per game and hitting 3.2 three-pointers per contest. Tramon Mark is the team’s third-leading scorer with 10.1 points per game.
Houston’s defense has been great, holding opponents to just 55.9 points per game, an average that ranks sixth in the nation. Opponents are shooting just 23.8 % from 3-point range (10th in the country) and 36.7% from the field overall (17th).
The Mustangs begin a string of four of their next five games at home and they’re hoping to continue their winning streak and build toward another NCAA March Madness appearance. Coach Tim Jankovich’s squad has won all four of its home games this season and has taken 19 of its last 21 games played at Moody Coliseum.
SMU has been potent offensively, leading the AAC with 84.2 points per game as well as field-goal percentage (.481), 3-point percentage (.382) and assists (18.2 per game). Five players are scoring in double figures for the Mustangs, who have started 6-0 for the second straight season.
Junior Kendric Davis is leading the way with 19.2 points per game, good for second in the AAC. The 5-11 guard is also leading the AAC with 7.2 assists per game while recording 1.8 steals per contest. SMU’s defense has been tough this season, holding five of its six opponents under 40 percent shooting from the field.
These teams are usually fairly well-matched, and this should be no exception. Both take pride on the defensive end, so this one should be tightly contested.
SMU playing at home is a plus for the Mustangs. Both teams won on their home floor against each other a season ago. SMU is also well-rested, with so few games of late, so the Mustangs will put it all out on the floor.
Houston has been good but will take a second straight loss. When making your college basketball picks, take SMU to earn the victory.