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Houston (17-15) vs. (5) Louisville (27-5)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Friday, March 14, 7 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: FedExForum (18,119) -- Memphis, Tennessee. Television: ESPN. Home Record: Houston 12-4, Louisville 16-2. Away Record: Houston 3-9, Louisville 9-2. Neutral Record: Houston 2-2, Louisville 2-1. Conference Record: Houston 7-10, Louisville 15-3. Series Record: Louisville leads, 15-5.

GAME NOTES: A surprising matchup will get the American Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals started, as the Louisville Cardinals receive a challenge from the Houston Cougars.

In a major upset in the tournament, Houston knocked off SMU, 68-64, in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Both teams had received a bye in the first round, but the Cougars, who were routed in a 104-83 final in the regular-season finale by UCF, were the better unit, earning their fifth win in the last six games overall.

The second-seeded Cardinals, who actually tied for the regular-season title, but lost out on the top seed due to a coin flip, made quite a statement in the quarterfinals, blowing past seventh-seeded Rutgers, 92-31. They have now won 10 of their last 11 games, with the only loss in that time being a 72-66 setback to Memphis at FedExForum.

An already uphill battle is made that much tougher for Houston, considering it was defeated by an average of 27 points in a season series sweep versus Louisville this season. The Cardinals have won 15 of 20 all-time encounters, with the victor this time advancing to the AAC title game against either Cincinnati or Connecticut.

Houston trailed by 10 points early in the second half against SMU, but it clawed its way back and claimed a five-point lead with 4:37 to play on a Thomas jumper. The advantage was dropped to three with 31 seconds to play following free throws from SMU's Nic Moore. The Mustangs fouled on the ensuing inbounds play, but Danuel House missed the front end of a one-and-one, opening the door for SMU. However, TaShawn Thomas shut it at the other end when he blocked Markus Kennedy's layup attempt.

Thomas (15.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 86 blocks) is normally the force that powers the Cougars, but he was out of sorts at the end of the regular season, finishing with only eight points in the final two contests. He woke up for 14 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks to lead the way against SMU. Lending scoring support are House (13.7 ppg) and Jherrod Stiggers (11.2 ppg). L.J. Rose (9 ppg, 5.6 apg) is also an important part of the offensive attack, as he leads the AAC in assists. Rose had 16 points against the Ponies, and House chipped in with 11.

Louisville was devastating on defense against Rutgers on Thursday. The Cardinals outscored the Scarlet Knights 44-5 off of turnovers, collecting 19 steals and forcing 31 miscues in all. Chris Jones scored 18 points and Russ Smith added 16 to lead five players in double figures.

Smith (17.5 ppg, 4.8 apg) is extremely dangerous as a scorer, finding ways to get shots off from all over the court. He was an important piece of last year's national title run and has excelled this season, ranking fourth in the AAC in scoring and third in assists, showing great strides in sharing the ball. Montrezl Harrell (14 ppg, 8.2 rpg) has been dominating opposing teams in the paint all season, hitting a league-best 61.1 percent of his shots from the floor. The talent-rich squad, which leads the league in scoring (82.1 ppg), also gets plenty of help from Luke Hancock (11.9 pg) and Jones (10.5 ppg). The Cardinals are much more than an offensive juggernaut, however, limiting teams to 60.8 ppg on just 39.3 percent field goal efficiency.

The Cougars deserve credit for an impressive win over SMU. However, the Cardinals are firing on all cylinders with one goal in mind, and Houston is just another team in the way.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 83, Houston 67

03/14 10:32:53 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14
 
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
Final
SFG 11
KAN 4
8:07pm Tonight
SFG
KAN
 
Final
WISC 52
MD 7
Final
SMU 10
MEM 48
Final
ILL 28
MINN 24
Final
RICE 41
UNT 21
Final
NEB 42
RUTG 24
Final
KST 23
TEX 0
Final
ARK 45
UAB 17
Final
UVA 27
UNC 28
Final
EMICH 17
NILL 28
Final
NAVY 41
SJST 31
Final
BST 35
AKR 21
Final
GASTATE 31
GASO 69
Final
TOL 42
UMASS 35
Final
WMICH 42
OHIO 21
Final
COL 37
UCLA 40
Final
UMO 10
KSU 3
Final
WAKE 17
BC 23
Final
BUF 14
CMICH 20
Final
MARS 35
FATL 16
Final
PITT 28
GT 56
Final
SMISS 20
LATU 31
Final
MSU 35
MICH 11
Final
KENT 31
MSST 45
Final
STAN 38
ORST 14
Final
TCU 82
TTU 27
Final
OKST 10
WVU 34
Final
WKENT 66
ODU 51
Final
UTST 34
UNLV 20
Final
MIZZ 24
VANDY 14
Final
UCF 34
TEMPL 14
Final
WASU 37
ARZ 59
Final
CLEM 16
SYR 6
Final
LAMON 18
TXST 22
Final
TXSANANTO 0
UTEP 34
Final
COLST 45
WYO 31
Final
LSU 10
MISS 7
Final
TENN 20
ALA 34
Final
AUB 42
SCAR 35
Final
PSU 24
OSU 31
Final
UTAH 24
USC 21
4th
WASH 10
ARST 17
 
Half
HAW 10
NEV 6
 
Final
SJS 1
BUF 2
Final
TOR 1
BOS 4
Final
NYI 7
DAL 5
Final
PHI 4
DET 2
Final
OTT 2
NJD 3
Final
MON 3
NYR 1
Final
STL 3
CHI 2
Final
NAS 0
PIT 3
Final
MIN 7
TAM 2
Final
ARI 2
FLA 1
Final
CAL 1
WAS 3
3:00pm Today
WIN
COL
 
4:00pm Today
LOS
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHI
OTT
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
SJS
 
9:30pm Tonight
VAN
WAS
 
9:30am Today
ATL
DET
1:00pm Today
CIN
BAL
1:00pm Today
NYJ
BUF
1:00pm Today
NEP
CHI
1:00pm Today
TEN
HOU
1:00pm Today
JAC
MIA
1:00pm Today
TAM
MIN
1:00pm Today
CAR
SEA
1:00pm Today
KAN
STL
4:05pm Today
ARI
PHI
4:25pm Today
PIT
IND
4:25pm Today
CLE
OAK
8:30pm Tonight
NOS
GBP
Final
NCCU 42
SAVST 14