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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
PHI 91
CHA 109
Final
PHI 91
CHA 109
Final
ORL 94
UTA 101
Final
CLE 95
BRK 91
Final
BOS 114
MIN 98
Final
DET 100
TOR 110
Final
MIA 103
WAS 105
Final
MEM 97
CHI 103
 
1st OT
SAN 104
POR 99
 
3rd
DEN 64
LAC 67
 
1st
LAL 0
OKC 0
 
Final
YOUNG 92
WILB 71
 
Final
TULA 56
JST 49
 
Final
RAD 76
SIENA 66
 
Final
BUCK 88
CASEWEST 65
 
Final
LIB 94
CPNC 65
 
Final
SCAR 68
CLEM 45
Final
CMICH 97
CONC 60
 
Final
MIAMI 44
EKENT 72
Final
GWEBB 91
HIWASSEE 71
 
Final
ODU 60
MDES 43
 
Final
BUF 88
NIAG 62
 
Final
KSU 71
NCAT 57
 
Final
FAM 65
UNF 83
 
Final
NORST 81
NARZ 62
 
Final
DART 58
NILL 55
 
Final
MORE 60
NKENTUCKY 83
 
Final
UCSB 69
SDCHR 46
 
Final
STJ 53
GAELS 47
Final
ALA 69
STILL 49
 
Final
HAMP 66
TENST 54
 
Final
TENN 61
TENT 58
Final
WMARY 86
WSHMD 46
 
Final
MERC 67
COOK 46
 
Final
FLGC 83
FUR 78
 
Final
CALST 49
SDKST 53
 
Final
MTST 68
CHAT 58
 
Final
NDAK 78
DICKINSON 48
 
Final
LAMON 76
LSUALEX 71
 
Final
PRIN 77
LIP 55
 
Final
LAM 80
MLGN 53
 
Final
MINN 92
SEAT 57
 
Final
LOYC 73
SUTAH 57
 
Final
SELA 81
WINT 71
 
Final
SILL 52
NO 56
 
2nd
MARQ 77
ALAAM 42
 
2nd
TTU 53
ARKPB 38
 
2nd
DEN 67
COLST 76
 
2nd
CREI 69
TXPA 51
 
1st
CAL 29
EWASH 24
 
1st
UTST 26
IDST 20
 
11:00pm Tonight
UTEP
ARZ
11:59pm Tonight
CHAM
HAW
 
Final
NJD 3
TAM 2
Final
OTT 6
ANA 2
Final
DET 1
NYI 2
Final
WIN 2
BOS 1
2nd Intermission
CAL 1
DAL 2