NCAA Basketball

No. 6 Houston ready for challenge vs. SMU

(AP Photo/Michael Wyke)

What kind of season has this been for No. 6 Houston?

Consider what happened Thursday night at Tulane. Reserve guard Cameron Tyson, who appeared in just seven games and played just 59 minutes in the Cougars' first 14 games, exploded for a career-high 31 points in an 83-60 American Athletic Conference win.

Tyson's encore Sunday, when Houston hosts SMU in another conference game, might resemble the cameo roles he picked up over the season's first half. Leading scorer Quentin Grimes, who sat out at Tulane after spraining his ankle in practice earlier in the week, is expected to return against the Mustangs.

However, Tyson's big performance exemplifies the depth developed by the Cougars (14-1, 9-1), as well as the fact he was a 42.9 percent 3-point shooter at Idaho two years ago. He canned 9 of 15 from the arc against the Green Wave, surprising no one in the Houston program with his outburst.

"It's something we see every day at practice," forward Justin Gorham said of Tyson. "We know Cam's a great shooter. We knew when he got this opportunity he was going to make those big threes. His time was coming, and we're proud of him for that."

Houston coach Kelvin Sampson saluted Tyson's teammates for recognizing he had the hot hand and working to find him over and over.

"They wanted him to just keep shooting," Sampson said. "So happy for Cam. The kid came here and hadn't had a lot of opportunities, but he certainly made the most of tonight."

Tramon Mark, who drew the start for Grimes, scored 16 points, and Gorham ripped down 15 rebounds, marking his seventh straight double-figure game on the glass. The Cougars led 44-14 at halftime and cruised through the second half.

Meanwhile, SMU (9-3, 5-3) is coming off a 67-65 home win Thursday night against Memphis. The Mustangs blew a 16-point, second-half lead but recovered down the stretch as Yor Anei supplied a pair of key baskets.

Feron Hunt scored 17 and Emmanuel Bandoumel added 15 as the Mustangs survived an off-game from their best player, Kendric Davis. He was 2 of 13 from the field and scored only six points, far under his average of 17.3 per game.

"We have ups and downs, but we're trying to keep it stable," Bandoumel said. "Not too high, not too low. We're just trying to keep our composure, and I think that's what we did."

SMU has gone 2-1 without coach Tim Jankovich, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. Jankovich missed the team's 78-65 victory at UCF on Jan. 23 after experiencing symptoms. It's not known if Jankovich will be able to coach at Houston.

The Mustangs' keys will be getting a more normal performance from Davis, who also averages 7.7 assists per game, and standing toe to toe with Houston on the glass. In the Cougars' 74-60 win on Jan. 3 in Dallas, Houston controlled the boards 45-32, with Gorham, a senior, pulling down a career-high 19.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 31, 2021

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