Houston To Christen ‘New’ Arena By Beating Ranked Oregon

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, November 29, 2018 5:39 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 5:39 PM UTC

It’s the biggest home game of the year for the University of Houston on Saturday as it reopens its renovated arena against No. 18 Oregon.

No. 18 Oregon (4-2, 3-3 ATS) at Houston (5-0, 2-2-1 ATS)Saturday, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN2)Free NCAAB Pick: Cougars ATSBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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It’s almost as if the top NCAA basketball programs around the country knew better than to schedule a marquee non-conference opponent this Saturday opposite the conference championship games around college football.

In this writer’s opinion, the best matchup is No. 18 Oregon at Houston. It’s extra-special for the Cougars as it’s the first event in the renovated Fertitta Center. The formerly-named Hofheinz Pavilion started a $60 million renovation in March 2017. If you are wondering who Fertitta might be, that would be Tilman Fertitta, the billionaire owner of the Houston Rockets. He is the owner of restaurant corporation Landry's, Inc. and also owns Golden Nugget Casinos and Hotels.

It’s the first time Oregon and Houston have played since December 1970, when the Ducks were 81-68 losers in Houston. As of right now, the Ducks are the only ranked team on UH’s entire regular-season schedule, but Oregon is likely to fall out on Monday and I’m sure a school or two will be ranked in the AAC when Houston faces it.

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Bol Bol's 32 points are the most by a UO freshman since Tajuan Porter scored 33 against UNLV on March 23, 2007, in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game.

— Oregon Men's Basketball (@OregonMBB) November 27, 2018
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Oregon Shocked By Another Houston School

As noted, the Ducks may not be ranked in the Top 25 on Monday unless they win big here because they were stunned 89-84 at home by Texas Southern on Monday – ironically, that is a Houston-based school from the SWAC. Texas Southern, an NCAA Tournament team the past two seasons, already had been crushed by Gonzaga, San Diego State and Evansville this year but did win at Baylor, and Oregon led by as much as 13 in the second half. It was just the fourth non-conference loss at Matthew Knight Arena (72-4) for the Ducks.

“That was a very poor performance" Oregon coach Dana Altman said after. "Defensively, we gave up 57 points the second half, they shot 58 percent, 54 from 3, we got outrebounded by nine, took bad shots, just was not a good performance."

The Ducks have one of the top freshmen in the country in 7-foot-2 Bol Bol, the son of the late Manute Bol. The frosh had a career-high 32 points along with 11 rebounds in the loss to TSU and is averaging 21.3 points and 10.0 rebounds. Oregon was without starting power forward Kenny Wooten for the entire second half due to what the school said was a bruised left knee.

Houston was an NCAA Tournament team last year and knocked off No. 11 San Diego State 67-65 in the first round. You no doubt remember the Cougars’ gut-punch 64-63 loss to eventual national runner-up Michigan in the second round on a ridiculous buzzer-beating 3-pointer. Three starters are back from that team, all guards: Corey Davis Jr., Galen Robinson and Armoni Brooks. Davis is the leading scorer this year at 20.0 ppg.

The best team Houston has played this year has been BYU, which it beat 76-62 in Provo. The Cougars won their 19th straight home game -- obviously not in this building but H&PE Arena on the campus of Texas Southern; it’s still the nation’s second-longest home winning streak – on Wednesday with a 58-53 victory over UT Rio Grande Valley in what might have been a look-ahead effort. UH is 5-0 for only the 11th time in school history. It’s one of the best defensive teams in the country in allowing 58.4 ppg.

  • Ducks are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 road games.
  • Cougars are 6-0 ATS in their last 6 Saturday games.

Ducks may be down Wooten again, and it’s a rare sellout crowd for the grand re-opening. All the intangibles point toward Houston for a Saturday NCAAB pick.

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