Houston (9-2) vs Providence (8-3)
When: Wednesday, December 20th 2017
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT
Time: 7:00 ET | TV: ESPNU
Opening Odds: Houston -3/146
The Houston Cougars are coming off consecutive 20-win season under coach Kelvin Sampson and were expected to drop a little this season with the loss of some key players, but Houston looks for another resume-building victory when they play the Providence Friars in the Hall of Fame Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. Houston is off to a hot 9-2 start, including 2-1 against teams from major conferences, and is coming off a 92-72 win over Prairie View A&M on Sunday. Sophomore guard Armoni Brooks scored a career-high 24 points including three-straight 3-pointers during a key stretch midway through the second half as the Cougars ended the close contest on a 31-10 run. Providence overcame a double-digit second-half deficit to defeat Stony Brook 62-60 on Sunday as freshman Nate Watson scored a career-high 15 points, while junior Isaiah Jackson added 13 and had five rebounds. Rodney Bullock drained a couple of free-throws late to seal the victory. Houston defeated the Friars 102-89 in the only meeting between the schools in 1965.
Junior point guard Corey Davis Jr. was an All-American last year at San Jacinto Junior College in Texas and is averaging 11.0 points and 46.6% long range shooting in his first year withe Cougars. Davis finished with 15 points Sunday, draining 4-of-7 from beyond the arc. The Cougars are led by senior guard Rob Gray (20.4 points per game, 3.9 assists, 44.2% 3-point shooting), who led the AAC in scoring last season at 20.6 points and has reached double figures in 41 straight games. Senior forward Devin Davis, the only frontcourt returnee from last years 21-win squad, is second on the team in scoring (12.9) and leads the Cougars in rebounding (7.4).
Former walk-on Tom Planek played a key role in the Friars comeback win against Stony Brook, spear-heading the full-court press when the Friars fell behind by 11, and although he didn’t score and registered just one steal in five minutes, the Friars scored 12 straight points to take the lead for good. Head coach Ed Cooley was forced to go to Planek in that situation due to three guards missing with injuries. Bullock leads the team in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (6.5), but the Friars will be in trouble if guards Alpha Diallo (11.4 points, 5.0 rebounds) and Kyron Cartwright (9.4 points, 6.0 assists) can’t return from ankle injuries. Diallo and Maliek White are already ruled out, while Cartwright is listed as questionable.
The Cougars look to be a legitimate threat in the AAC this season and are not afraid to play the big schools. Look for Houston to take full advantage of the Friars backcourt injuries and come away with a victory and cover here.
Pick: Houston -4
- Cougars are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after scoring more than 90 points in their previous game.
- Cougars are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Cougars are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Cougars are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 non-conference games.
- Cougars are 3-13 ATS in their last 16 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Cougars are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 neutral site games.
- Cougars are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Friars are 16-7 ATS in their last 23 neutral site games.
- Friars are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Friars are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Friars are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
- Friars are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Wednesday games.
- Friars are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
- Friars are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 non-conference games.
- Over is 6-1 in Cougars last 7 Wednesday games.
- Under is 4-1 in Cougars last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Over is 11-4 in Cougars last 15 games following a straight up win.
- Over is 17-8-1 in Cougars last 26 neutral site games.
- Over is 7-1 in Friars last 8 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Over is 13-3-1 in Friars last 17 non-conference games.
- Over is 8-2 in Friars last 10 overall.
- Under is 12-4 in Friars last 16 neutral site games.
- Over is 5-2 in Friars last 7 Wednesday games.
- Over is 5-2 in Friars last 7 games following a straight up win.