Men's basketball returns to action Sunday afternoon to face the Houston Cougars. The Tigers (4-3) are looking for their fifth win of the year to stay above .500. Houston, members of the American Athletic Conference, lost their first game December 8th at Rhode Island. The Cougars started the season 5-0, with all five victories coming on their home court at the Hofheinz Pavillion.
The Tigers are outscoring their opponents 82.7 to 71.8, but losing the rebound battle 42.9 to 40.6. Some of those numbers may be skewed after LSU defeated North Florida on December 2, 119-108. Not surprisingly, freshman phenom Ben Simmons is leading all LSU scorers so far this season. He is averaging 19.9 points and 14.9 rebounds per contest. Junior guard Tim Quarterman is next in line, averaging 13.7 points and 4.4 rebounds.
The biggest unknown for The Tigers is the return of senior guard Keith Hornsby. He is only expected to play sparingly today, and will likely not be 100%, but he could relieve some of the scoring pressure on Simmons. Hornsby was the leading scorer last season, averaging 13.4 points per game.
This is a must win game for The Tigers, who were ranked in the Associated Press poll to start the season, before losing three straight games in November. It is tempting to be impressed by Houston's 5-1 record, but their schedule is ranked 350th out of 351 schools. A win may get The Tigers some credit, but a loss to Houston will look very bad come Tournament time.
Tipoff is set for 4:30 PM from Houston. The game will be televised on ESPN 2 (WatchESPN Link) and can be heard on 98.1 FM.