Marcus Sasser expected to play in No. 1 Houston's matchup against No. 9 Auburn
Houston Cougars guard Marcus Sasser is expected to play against the No. 9 Auburn Tigers in the second-round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, according to a report from Stadium's Jeff Goodman.
Sasser strained his groin last weekend in the American Athletic Conference tournament semifinals. Sasser surprisingly started in the No. 1 seed's 63-52 win over No. 16 Northern Kentucky in the first-round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday, but he exited the game after 14-minutes after reaggravating his injury.
The move to start Sasser in the first-round matchup only five days removed from his injury was heavily criticized for potentially jeopardizing his future availability. But Sasser said there's no question that he's playing when the Cougars take on No. 9 Auburn in Birmingham, Alabama, only a two-hour drive away from the Tigers' home arena.
"I’m playing 100%. It’s not a game-time decision," Sasser said Friday, acknowledging that it's a risky move. "You can reinjure it. You re-aggravate it , but that’s not in my head no more. I’m just saying my prayers and just to go out there and play to my full strength."
OPINION: Houston ruined its title hopes by playing Marcus Sasser before he was ready
Sasser averaged 16.7 points, 2.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists during the regular season, but the senior was not as effective during Thursday's game, scoring only five points and two rebounds before exiting just before halftime.
Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said he left the decision to play Thursday up to Sasser and the team's trainers."I trust Marcus and I trust our trainer. I leave those (playing) decisions up to them," Sampson said postgame. "He wanted to give it a try because he thought he was at a high enough percentage to go."
And if Sampson carries that same mentality into Saturday, expect to see Sasser suit up.
The Cougars earned the No. 1 seed for the second time in school history, joining the 1982-83 team. Houston made it to the Elite Eight last year.