Will Houston’s Marcus Sasser play vs. Auburn?

Health concerns have overshadowed the University of Houston’s 1-0 start at the NCAA tournament, but Cougars fans received some positive news prior to Saturday’s Round of 32 game against Auburn.

Senior guard Marcus Sasser suffered a groin injury during last weekend’s American Athletic Conference tournament semifinals and missed the championship game, a loss to Memphis, as a result. Sasser returned to the starting lineup for the opening round of March Madness, as UH beat Northern Kentucky 63-52. But he only played 14 minutes, registering five points and two rebounds, and did not see the floor in the second half.

The television broadcast and the team’s official Twitter account reported Sasser had “aggravated” his groin issue, though Houston coach Kelvin Sampson was adamant when speaking with the media Friday that he “did not reinjure himself.” This, coupled with comments from Sasser—as well as point guard Jamal Shead, who is dealing with “a bad knee”—should lift the spirits of the UH faithful as they head into what is a truly a road game in Birmingham, Alabama, a little over two hours northwest of Auburn’s campus.

“I’m playing 100 percent,” Sasser said Friday, via FOX 26’s Mark Berman. “It’s not a game-time decision.” Sasser added, “You can reinjure it, you can re-aggravate it, but that’s not in my head.”

Shead made similar comments after Thursday’s win when asked about his status for Houston’s game against Auburn.

Head coach Kelvin Sampson of the Houston Cougars talks with Jamal Shead #1 during the second half against the Northern Kentucky Norse in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Legacy Arena at the BJCC on March 16, 2023 in Birmingham, Alabama.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

“It was just bugging me, I kind of had a limp [against Northern Kentucky]. But if I can go, I’m going to go,” he said. Shead proceeded to shoot down any doubts about his availability for Saturday. “I’m playing,” he remarked.

Tipoff for Houston and Auburn’s Round of 32 matchup is scheduled for 6:10 pm CT. The game will be broadcast on TBS, with live streaming options also available.

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