FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) – When Marcus Sasser’s foot fell awkwardly on the court after slipping out from under him while dribbling past midcourt, Houston coach Calvin Sampson knew exactly what happened. , even without noticing that something was wrong.
“If Marcus goes down, it means he’s injured,” Sampson said. “We always say pain is an opinion. Some kids have high opinions. Some kids have low opinions. But Marcus doesn’t go down. He never skips a practice, never skips a rep. He’s always there .
Sasser, the American Athletic Conference player of the year, suffered an apparent groin injury with about 6 1/2 minutes left in the first half of the top-ranked Cougars’ 69-48 victory over Cincinnati in their AAC Tournament semifinal game .
Houston (31-2), which led throughout, was up eight when Sasser suffered an injury that extended the lead to 15.
Sampson said Sasser will be reevaluated but indicated the senior guard probably won’t play when the two-time regular season champion Cougars try to win their third consecutive AAC tournament title against Memphis on Sunday.
“That’s how important next week is, so I would probably make a mistake leaving him out,” Sampson said. “But the most important thing is Marcus … his healthy moving forward is the most important thing here.”
Jamal Shade had 16 points and nine assists for the Cougars in the AAC semifinals, matching the two teams going to the Big 12 the following season. Ja’Vaun Roberts had two second chances in the first minute of the game to put Houston ahead to stay. He finished with 16 points and eight rebounds, while Jarius Walker had 13 points.
Roberts said, “Just knowing that Marcus comes out of the game and we still have teammates we know come off the bench and come in with the same energy, it says a lot about our team.” shows something.” “It just shows that everyone has each other’s backs and never turns away from what we’re doing, just sticks together.”
Houston is a sure bet to be the No. 1 seed when the NCAA Tournament bracket kicks off Sunday, regardless of what happens in its fifth straight AAC Tournament championship game.
Landers Noli II had 14 points for Cincinnati (21–12), shooting a season-worst 25.5% (13 of 51) from the field.
After the Cougars scored 30 points on Friday, Sasser had four points in nine minutes against Cincinnati before suffering a non-contact injury. He was dribbling between the conference logo and the 3-point line when his right foot appeared to slip, unbalancing him before his left foot also slipped, causing an awkward split.
Sasser was a starter on the Cougars’ 2021 Final Four team, but missed last year’s NCAA Elite Eight before Christmas after breaking a bone in his left foot. He did not talk to the media after the match.
Cincinnati was within 44–35 on a 3-pointer by Noli with about 15 minutes left—the only time the Bearcats were within single digits after halftime. Shedd then began a 17–3 run with a jumper, and had seven points in the spurt that extended Houston’s lead to 61–38.
Bearcats coach Wes Miller said, “Obviously, they’re the No. 1 ranked team in the country for a reason, and they’re a tough team to score.” “It was a tough night for us, because we didn’t score and we didn’t defend well. That’s how you get that kind of one-sided margin.”
Cincinnati: The Bearcats will not play in the NCAA Tournament again, their last appearance was 2019, their ninth in a row. … For the second straight day, Cincinnati was down by 10 points with less than seven minutes left in the game. But there would be no comeback like Friday’s 84-54 win over Temple for the Bearcats’ largest margin of victory ever in a conference tournament game. Instead, they lost by more than 20 points for only the second time this season.
HOUSTON: The Cougars bounced back from Friday’s season-worst shooting game (28.1% overall, 16 of 57). He nearly doubled that in the semifinal game, shooting 50.9% (29 of 57). … Houston is 11-0 at Dickey Arena, and has still not won away from home this season.