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San Jose State (2-6) at Houston (6-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 7, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Hofheinz Pavilion (8,479) -- Houston, Texas. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: SJSU 1-0, Houston 5-0. Away Record: SJSU 1-4, Houston 1-1. Neutral Record: SJSU 0-2, Houston 0-2. Conference Record: SJSU 0-0, Houston 0-0. Series Record: Houston leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: The Houston Cougars will play host to the San Jose State Spartans in a non-conference bout at Hofheinz Pavilion on Saturday.
The Spartans' start to the campaign has not been a very successful one as they are just 2-6 entering Saturday. San Jose State is currently on a two-game skid with setbacks against Portland (86-69) and Weber State (72-55) in the first two parts of this three-game road trip.
The Cougars have had a more fortunate start to the year but have been slumping recently. On Wednesday night the Cougars tangled with Texas A&M in College State and were run over, 74-57, for their third loss in the last four games. Houston is now 6-3 overall and has yet to lose in five chances at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Last year at the Event Center these squads mixed it up for the first time ever. Houston pulled out a 77-75 victory in the matchup thanks to a 17-point, 10-rebound double-double from TaShawn Thomas.
San Jose State kept pace with Weber State from beyond the arc with eight 3- pointers, but could not make enough shots to pull off the victory. The Spartans hit just 32.3 percent of their field goal attempts and were also done in by a 19-7 deficit from the free-throw line. In fact, the Spartans had 23 fewer attempts from the foul line than the Wildcats.
Missing too many shots has been a common problem for the Spartans, who are hitting on just 37.7 percent of their field goal tries this season. Rashad Muhammad (16.5 ppg) is both part of the solution and the problem for the Spartans. Muhammad is the top scorer on the roster but he his shooting below 40 percent for the season. Muhammad tallied 17 points against Weber State but went 5-of-16 from the floor and also had a game-high four turnovers. Jaleel Williams (13.1 ppg, 6.4 rpg) is a versatile forward due to his shooting range, though he is far too inconsistent. Against Weber State, Williams hit just a single 3-pointer on 10 tries. The duo represent the only double-figure scorers on the roster.
Thomas posted another double-double against Texas A&M but once again was let down by his supporting cast. J.J. Richardson finished with 11 points as the only other double-figure scorer during a loss in which the Cougars connected on just 33.9 percent of their attempts from the floor.
While the rest of the roster has not always been consistent, Thomas is as reliable as they come. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging a double-double on the year (17.1 ppg, 10.3 rpg), while also finding time to block four shots per game. Against the Aggies, Thomas had 16 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and a season-high four assists. It was his third game with at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks this season. Normally Danuel House (15.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and L.J. Rose (10.7 ppg, 5 apg) contribute, but House is out indefinitely after a knee injury and Rose had only three points on 1-of-9 shooting.
Even without House, having Thomas on the inside will be enough to carry the Cougars over the Spartans.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Houston 75, San Jose State 66
12/07 10:38:27 ET