Tulane temporarily shuts men’s hoops amid virus outbreak

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NEW ORLEANS — Tulane is temporarily shutting down its men’s basketball team because of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Tulane in a statement released Saturday afternoon said the Green Wave is canceling upcoming games against Texas A&M on Dec. 14 and Grambling State on Dec. 18.

The team also will not hold any meetings or practices during the shutdown. The university did not specify how many players or members of the coaching staff have tested positive for COVID-19 or when the positive tests were performed.

Tulane said the Green Wave expects to play its next game on Dec. 21 at home against New Orleans.

Jarreau gets triple-double, No. 7 Houston tops Tulane in AAC

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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FORT WORTH, Texas — DeJon Jarreau was headed to the locker room after the first triple-double for Houston in almost 30 years when coach Kelvin Sampson echoed what other coaches have been telling him.

They thought the senior guard could get one before he left.

Jarreau finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists, leading the No. 7 Cougars to a 77-52 victory over Tulane in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament on Friday night.

It was the first triple-double for the Cougars since Bo Outlaw had 10 points, 14 rebounds and 10 blocks against Texas A&M on Feb. 17, 1993. The feat was also a first for the American tournament, which is being played for the seventh time.

“The fact that it happens very seldom in college tells you how special the guys are who do get them,” Sampson said. “I’m so happy for him because that’s going to be a memory. His unselfishness, his toughness, those are the things that show in triple-doubles.”

Quentin Grimes scored 15 points and Marcus Sasser added 14 as each connected on four 3-pointers to help the Cougars (22-3) recover from a cold-shooting first half from long range.

Justin Gorham had 11 points and seven rebounds for Houston, which will play the UCF-Memphis winner in the semifinals Saturday night.

Kevin Cross scored 11 points for the 10th-seeded Green Wave (10-13), who stayed with a Top 10 team into the second half after beating seventh-seeded Tulsa 77-70 in the first round.

“I thought the second half they just came out and just wore us down,” coach Ron Hunter said. “We’ve gotten better. The future is bright for these kids. We don’t have enough right now, but we will one day.”

While Houston never trailed, the nation’s third-best team in scoring margin had trouble building a comfortable lead because of 13 misses in its final 15 attempts from 3-point range in the first half, including eight in a row.

The Cougars were 6 of 22 from 3 when Grimes made one for their first 10-point lead at 48-38. On Houston’s next possession, Sasser hit another shot from long range for a 51-40 lead.

Sasser, who was 4 of 8 from 3-point range while Grimes went 4 of 9, later connected for a 60-42 lead with seven minutes remaining as the Cougars outscored the Green Wave 44-23 in the second half.

Grimes and Sasser combined to make five of six from long range in the second half, and Jarreau assisted on the first three.

“I always love to see my teammates score,” said Jarreau, who had nine assists four times previously. “Makes me feel like I score. When I pass the ball and I think it’s a good shot, I’m even yelling to shoot it. I think that gives them confidence as well, alongside their work.”

Jarreau was a rebound shy of a triple-double when he re-entered the game with 4:16 to go. Shortly thereafter, his 10th defensive rebound secured the first triple-double in the conference in two years.

“Even when I thought Houston was struggling early, he made every single play to kind of keep them around until they could blow the game open,” Hunter said. “If he can play this way, I think they’re hard to beat.”

BIG PICTURE

Tulane: The Green Wave wrapped up a seventh straight losing season with a freshman and three sophomores in their starting five. When he took the Tulane job two years ago, Hunter had one losing record in his previous 18 seasons at IUPUI and Georgia State. The first-half showing against the Cougars offers hope that Tulane’s losing run can end in 2021-22.

Houston: The Cougars entered the game leading the nation in field-goal percentage defense at 37% before Tulane made five of six shots to start the game. It didn’t last for the Green Wave. They ended up at 37% for the game. Tulane was 8 of 18 on free throws.

JOINING THE OUTLAW

A reporter told Jarreau after the game he had just talked to Outlaw, who wanted to congratulate the New Orleans native. Jarreau responded by saying a member of the coaching staff had been mentioning Outlaw to him.

“They were always kind of reminding me because they thought I was capable,” said Jarreau, who had teammates counting down the rebounds for him in the second half. “Tell him I appreciate it, and I’m happy I was the next one to do it.”

NO BREAKTHROUGH

Tulane had two chances in the first half to take what would have been its first lead when trailing by a point. Tylan Pope missed from inside the arc on the first, and R.J. McGee later couldn’t connect on a 3.

UP NEXT

Houston is looking for a third straight trip to the American championship game.

NC State, Texas A&M move up in women’s AP Top 25; UConn tops

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
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UConn remained the No. 1 team in The Associated Press women’s college basketball poll after blowing out its two opponents last week.

The Huskies received 28 of 30 first-place votes on Monday from a media panel after holding St. John’s and Xavier to 32 points apiece in routs.

North Carolina State returned to the No. 2 spot and Texas A&M climbed to third after South Carolina and Louisville – the previous second- and third-ranked teams – lost games. The Wolfpack had a two-week run at No. 2 last month.

It’s the highest ranking for the Aggies (20-1), who received one first-place vote, since the 2008-09 season, when they were third for three weeks. Coach Gary Blair’s team can win the Southeastern Conference regular-season title with victories over Alabama on Thursday and South Carolina on Sunday. The Gamecocks fell to fifth after losing to Tennessee.

Stanford received the remaining first-place vote and moved up to No. 4 in the poll. The Cardinal have a huge Pac-12 showdown against No. 9 Arizona on Monday night.

Louisville dropped to No. 6 after losing at Florida State on Sunday. The Cardinals were followed by Baylor, Maryland, Arizona and UCLA.

The Bruins had an impressive 27-point victory over then-No. 13 Oregon on Friday night but lost to Oregon State by seven on Sunday.

Rutgers entered the poll for the first time this season at No. 25 while Northwestern fell out. The Scarlet Knights have won all five of their games since returning from a five-week pause due to coronavirus issues. They’ve won those games by average of 22.5 points and scored at least 70 in all of them, the first time the school has done that since the 1997-98 season.

The Scarlet Knights play at Michigan State and Penn State this week.

Here are a few other tidbits from the poll.

STREAKING BULLS

No. 13 South Florida matched the best start in school history with victories over Tulane and Cincinnati to go 13-1 on the season. The Bulls, however, lost a spot in the poll after 11th-ranked Indiana jumped them with a victory over No. 12 Michigan.

SNAPPED

No. 21 Gonzaga saw its 17-game winning streak end with a 61-56 loss Thursday at BYU. The Zags’ previous loss came in overtime against South Dakota State on Dec. 6. The Bulldogs dropped five spots in the latest poll. They close out the regular season at home against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount this week.

GAME OF THE WEEK

South Carolina at Texas A&M, Sunday: The regular-season championship should be on the line when the top two teams in the conference meet Sunday. This game could go a long way in determining a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. South Carolina, Mississippi State and Tennessee are the only teams to win the regular-season crown since the Aggies entered the conference in 2012.

Mnunga sends No. 12 S. Florida women past Tulane 78-69

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TAMPA, Fla. — Bethy Mununga scored 17 points and grabbed 17 rebounds and No. 12 South Florida pulled away from Tulane for a 78-69 victory on Saturday night.

Sydni Harvey scored 16 points and Elena Tsineke 13 for South Florida. The Bulls have won three straight following a stretch of seven postponements and one cancellation due to COVID-19 protocols.

Arsula Clark made a pair of free throws to bring the Green Wave within 69-65 with 2:48 left. But Harvey sank a pair of foul shots and Elisa Pinzan and Mununga made layups in consecutive possessions and the Bulls (13-1, 10-0 American Athletic Conference) were never threatened again.

Tulane led 21-18 after the first quarter, but Shae Leverett scored three layups in four possessions to start the second and the Bulls never trailed again. After a 30-all tie at intermission, Tsineke sank a 3-pointer and South Florida led the rest of the way.

Jerkaila Jordan scored 29 points for Tulane (14-7, 10-6). Clark scored 20 points and made all 12 of her foul shots. Dynah Jones had 12 points.

Tulane made 26 of 29 foul shots.

Tulane heads to Tennessee to face Memphis on Tuesday. South Florida travels to Philadelphia to take on Temple on Wednesday.

Sasser scores 26, No. 8 Houston defeats Tulsa, 86-59

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HOUSTON — Marcus Sasser scored 26 points, Quentin Grimes added 18 points and seven rebounds and No. 8 Houston avenged its only loss with an 86-59 win over Tulsa on Wednesday night.

Sasser, who scored 18 points in the first half, finished 8 of 15 from the field, including 6 of 12 on 3-pointers. Tramon Mark had 11 points and six rebounds for the Cougars.

Houston (12-1, 7-1 American) shot 43%, including 13 of 32 on 3-pointers. The Cougars outrebounded Tulsa 52-24, which included a 25-6 advantage in offensive rebounds. Houston had a 26-7 advantage in second-chance points.

“The more you miss, we are going to send four to the glass,” Houston forward J’Wan Roberts said. “I think that wears teams out when we get two, three, four possessions back-to-back. The more we crash (the glass) and do what we have to do, we are going to get a big lead every time.”

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said the Cougars made a concerted effort to work this week on guards grabbing the defensive rebound to speed up the offensive pace.

“When you work on something and you emphasize it, it just makes you feel great when you can carry it over to the game,” Sampson said. “Our possessions have been down lately, and we made a concerted effort to play faster.”

The Cougars won their fifth straight since falling to the Golden Hurricane 65-64 in Tulsa on Dec. 29. Houston has not trailed in 114 minutes, dating back to the first half against Tulane on Jan. 9, a span of nearly three games.

“As time goes by, you should be getting better,” Sampson said. “During the basketball season, your team is a lot like an elevator. You’re either going up or you’re going down, but you’re never standing still. One of the things that our teams have been known for forever really is we get better as the season goes on.”

Brandon Rachal scored 18 points, and Keshawn Williams added 10 points for Tulsa (8-5, 5-3). The Golden Hurricane shot 37% and were 7 of 22 on 3-pointers.

“Tough, tough night for us,” Tulsa coach Frank Haith said. “That first couple minutes of the ballgame, they set the tone. They were way more tougher, physical, played faster and it showed. We just didn’t compete like you needed to compete against a team like this on the road.”

Houston used a 23-3 run over an eight-minute stretch of the first half to open up a 29-9 lead, punctuated by a 3-pointer by Sasser, who had 13 points in the stretch.

The Cougars ended the first half on a 7-0 run, capped by a dunk by Brison Gresham and took a 45-19 lead into halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Tulsa: Houston’s 86 points were the most allowed by Tulsa this season. The Golden Hurricane entered as the second-best defense in the American, allowing 60.9 points per game. Tulsa’s 19 first-half points tied for the lowest the Golden Hurricane has scored in the first half this season.

“They were very aggressive,” Haith said. “They scored in transition. They kept us off the glass. They kicked our butts.”

Houston: Sasser’s 26 points were the most a player has scored against Tulsa this season. Houston forced Tulsa into 18 turnovers, which the Cougars turned into 26 points. Houston committed 15 turnovers. The Cougars had a 32-20 advantage in points in the paint.

TECHNICALS ISSUED

Following a scrum for a loose ball less than two minutes into the second half, Gresham was issued a technical foul, and after another battle for a loose ball 10 minutes later, DeJon Jarreau and Elijah Joiner were each issued technical fouls. The teams combined for 35 fouls.

UP NEXT

Tulsa: Hosts Tulane on Saturday.

Houston: Travels to Temple on Saturday. The Cougars’ originally scheduled game against Cincinnati on Saturday was postponed due to positive COVID-19 cases and contact tracing at Cincinnati.

Sasser scores 28, No. 11 Houston beats Tulane 71-50

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Marcus Sasser scored 20 of his career-high 28 points in the first half to lead No. 11 Houston past Tulane 71-50 on Saturday.

Sasser shot 7 of 9, including 6 of 7 on 3-pointers, in the first half as the Cougars (10-1, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) built a 12-point halftime lead.

“They were leaving me open a little bit, and coach (Kelvin Sampson) gives me confidence to shoot the ball,” Sasser said. “Every time I shot it, it was going in. I feel like that was the hottest I’ve been.”

Sasser finished with a career-high eight 3-pointers.

“I thought we did a good job of executing our stuff, moving it and finding Marcus,” Sampson said. “We’ve had some gifted shooters come through here over the years, and Marcus is right in that class with those guys.”

Quentin Grimes scored 14 points. Houston shot 44%, including 15 of 36 on 3-pointers.

The Cougars outrebounded Tulane 48-26, which led to an 18-9 advantage in second-chance points.

Jordan Walker scored 13 points and Jaylen Forbes had 11 for Tulane (6-3, 1-3).

“I thought there were stretches where our kids played well,” Tulane coach Ron Hunter said. “(Houston) shot the ball well today, probably the best they have shot it all year. Again, this is the standard. As I told our guys, if you want to learn to compete, this is how you compete.”

The Green Wave shot 29%, including 6 of 19 on 3-pointers.

“We’re just not mature enough that when they make runs, we can end it,” Hunter said. “Then, they get confident. Sasser made six 3-pointers in the first half, and I think on three of them, we just flat out lost him, something we hadn’t done all year.

“When they make shots like that from the perimeter, I’m not sure how you can beat them,” he added.

Houston used a 16-5 spurt to take a 34-21 lead on a layup by DeJon Jarreau with 2 1/2 minutes left in the first half. Sasser had eight points in the run.

Houston led 37-25 at the half.

The Cougars extended the lead to 43-27 on consecutive 3-pointers by Grimes with 16 minutes remaining and never let Tulane get closer than 12 the rest of the way.

BIG PICTURE

Tulane: The Green Wave last defeated a ranked opponent on Dec. 22, 1999, when Tulane beat then-No. 25 NC State. Tulane won the turnover battle for the eighth time in nine games this season, forcing Houston into 14 while committing 10. Tulane finished 14 of 17 from the free-throw line.

“Their physicality wears you out, and it wears you out not physically but mentally,” Hunter said. “That’s what it ended up doing to my young kids because again, the physicality was too much for us.”

Houston: The Cougars won its fifth straight at home against Tulane. Justin Gorham led Houston in rebounding with 11, which was his third consecutive game with at least 10 boards. The Cougars got 19 points from their bench.

“We’re getting much better,” Houston center Brison Gresham said. “I still feel like we have a way higher ceiling. I think we should be 11-0. Defensively, I think we could get way better.”

HE SAID IT

“I think he’s got a Final Four team. I’m not trying to put pressure on (Sampson), but I’ve been around a long time. That is a really, really good basketball team.” -Hunter on the Cougars.

UP NEXT

Tulane: Travels to Cincinnati on Jan. 16.

Houston: Travels to South Florida on Thursday.