Alabama’s JD Davison (3) tries to drive past Gonzaga’s Julian Strawther (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
- #9 Alabama is a 1.5-point home favorite over #14 Houston on Saturday night
- Houston is third in the nation in offensive rating and sixth in defensive rating
- The matchup and odds can be found below with a pick
Coming off its best victory of the season, #9 Alabama hosts #14 Houston at 10pm ET Saturday at Coleman Coliseum at Tuscaloosa.
Alabama (7-1, 4-0 home) beat then #3 Gonzaga 91-82 last Saturday in what was basically a road game in Seattle. The Crimson Tide has won three games in a row since its lone loss of the season against Iowa.
Houston (8-1, 0-0 road) is on a four-game winning streak since falling to Wisconsin.
In a game that will be televised by ESPN2, Alabama is a slim favorite.
Alabama vs Houston Odds
|Houston Cougars||+106||+1.5 (-110)||Over 143.5 (-110)|
|Alabama Crimson Tide||-128||-1.5 (-110)||Under 143.5 (-110)|
Odds as of December 11th at FanDuel.
Houston is having a strong season on both ends of the floor. The Cougars are third in the nation in offensive rating with 120.4 points per 100 possessions and sixth in defensive rating with a 79.4 mark.
Junior guard Marcus Sasser is leading the way after helping Houston reach the Final Four last season. He is averaging 17.7 points, 2.9 assists and 2.6 steals a game while shooting 48.5% on three-pointers and 74.1% from the free throw line.
I’ve seen so much promise from Marcus Sasser as a jump shooter, but got a look at his defensive tendencies and passing flashes in Monday’s game against Alcorn State…along with the phenomenal shooting of course.
Sasser had 17 PTS (5 3PT), 2 AST, and 6 STL for Houston on Monday. pic.twitter.com/ev8ZsA2L3Q
— Aram Cannuscio (@AC__Hoops) December 8, 2021
Sasser has made 15-of-27 shots from beyond the arc in the last three games.
He had a career-high six steals Monday in a 77-45 rout of Alcorn State and ranks 14th in the country in that category. He also scored 17 points to reach double figures for a fifth straight game.
Sophomore guard Tramon Mark led Houston on Monday with 18 points and three steals as the Cougars turned 20 turnovers into 30 points. He is averaging 11.8 points a game for the season – 17.3 in his last three games after 6.3 in his first three games.
Houston is forcing turnovers on 26.1% of opponents’ possessions, the 19th-best rate in the nation.
Senior guard Kyler Edwards finished with 12 points and seven rebounds. The transfer from Texas Tech has season averages of 13.0 points and 5.7 rebounds.
— Houston Men’s Hoops 🏀 🐾 (@UHCougarMBK) December 7, 2021
Senior forward Josh Carlton, a Connecticut transfer, also had 12 points and sophomore guard Jamal Shead tied a career high with 11 assists, raising his season average to 5.3.
Houston limited Alcorn State to 31.3% (15-for-48) from the field and 21.1% (4-of-19) from three-point range. The Cougars also held a 34-16 edge in points in the paint.
Houston got off to a slow start, making just two of its first 10 shots. However, the Cougars then went on a 20-7 run to end the first half and take a 39-19 lead.
Junior guard Jaden Shackelford rose to the occasion against Gonzaga with 28 points and nine rebounds. He made 6-of-8 three-point attempts and scored 20 points in the first half when Alabama built a 51-35 lead.
ALABAMA IS UP 16 AT THE HALF OVER GONZAGA‼️
Jaden Shackelford with a 20-PIECE going into the break 🔥 pic.twitter.com/HcOGdjMrJ9
— ESPN (@espn) December 5, 2021
Shackelford has scored in double digits in all eight games this season and is averaging 19.3 points and 6.8 rebounds.
Freshman guard JD Davison also gave Gonzaga fits as he had 20 points, five rebounds and four assists. He was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
In his first collegiate season, Davison is averaging 9.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists.
Junior guard Jahvon Quinerly (14.9) and senior guard Keon Ellis (12.1) are averaging a combined 27.0 points a game. Quinerly is also dropping 3.9 dimes a game while Ellis is averaging 6.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals.
Have fun defending Jahvon Quinerly on the point of attack pic.twitter.com/yT5w048rYm
— Hunter Cruse (@HunterCruse14) December 5, 2021
They have helped Alabama rank 29th in offensive rating at 114.4.
Alabama led Gonzaga by as many as 18 points in the second half before the Bulldogs rallied to cut the deficit to 76-72 with 5:35 left. However, Davidson and Quinerly hit back-to-back threes to push Alabama’s lead to 10 points with 2:43 remaining.
Houston vs Alabama Prediction
The teams haven’t met since the 1979-80 season in the old Sun Bowl Tournament in El Paso, Texas. Houston won that game 80-73.
This has the makings of an outstanding game. In the end, look for Houston’s strong defense to be the deciding factor.
The Pick: Houston moneyline (+106)
John Perrotto has been covering and writing about sports for various outlets for over 40 years. His work has appeared in the likes of USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com, Forbes.com, The Associated Press, Baseball Digest, and more. John is based out of Beaver Falls, PA.