NCAA Basketball

No. 17 Houston aims for 20th win versus Tulsa

(AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

No. 17 Houston looks for its 20th victory on Sunday when it travels to Tulsa to take on the Golden Hurricane in an American Athletic Conference matchup.

The Cougars (19-1, 6-1) are off to the second best start in program history and tied atop the AAC standings with Cincinnati. Only the Elvin Hayes-led 1967-68 Houston team, which started 31-0, enjoyed a better 20-game start.

Houston is looking for its fifth consecutive victory, and a victory Sunday would give the Cougars the season sweep over Tulsa. Houston defeated the Golden Hurricane 74-56 at home on Jan 2. Tulsa is a stellar 10-1 at home.

The Cougars are coming off a 94-50 victory over East Carolina on Thursday in a game that saw the Cougars drain 16 3-pointers.

Junior Guard Armoni Brooks hit five from behind the arc, senior guard Corey Davis hit four, as did redshirt freshman forward Cedric Alley Jr. off the bench. The Cougars pulled their starters with 11 minutes remaining in the runaway contest.

"We shot the ball well tonight, but look at who was shooting them," Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Armoni Brooks is an outstanding shooter. Corey is an outstanding shooter."

Tulsa enters the game 12-8 and near the bottom of the AAC standings at 2-5. The Golden Hurricane have dropped two straight, both games on the road. They lost their most recent outing to Cincinnati, 88-64 on Thursday.

"Our communication on the defensive end was really poor, the worst we've had all year," Tulsa coach Frank Haith said afterward. "But they did a really good job. A lot of it was they made some really tough 3s, too."

The Golden Hurricane are led by senior forward DaQuan Jeffries, who is averaging 13.4 points per game and 5.7 rebounds.

Senior point guard Sterling Taplin leads the team in assists at 4.6 per game and needs just 23 more to move into the top 5 in program history. Taplin also needs just 76 points to become the 38th player in Tulsa history to reach 1,000 career points.

Junior forward Martins Igbanu is second on the team in scoring at 12.0 points per game.

But they'll be up against a Houston defense that is one of the best nationally.

Houston is ranked No. 2 in the country in field goal percentage defense (36.1 percent) and 3-point field goal percentage defense (25.9 percent), and it enters the contest No. 6 in scoring defense at 60.0 percent.

The Cougars held East Carolina to just two 3-pointers in Thursday's rout, one in each half.

Davis leads Houston and ranks 12th in the AAC in scoring at 15.1 points per game. Davis is also top 10 in the AAC in both 3-point field goals made per game and 3-point field goal percentage. His 91.8 percent shooting from the free-throw line is top 10 in the country.

Sunday's game is the 54th all-time between Tulsa and Houston, with the Golden Hurricane holding a 27-26 lead in the series, including a 15-8 record in Tulsa. However, the Cougars have won the past four and five of the past six.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 27, 2019

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