BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — For major-seeded Houston, any hope of winning a national title may possibly come down to Marcus Sasser’s ailing groin.
Not to be concerned, Sasser mentioned Friday.
He’s certainly playing in the Cougars’ subsequent NCAA Tournament game.
“It’s not a game-time choice no additional,” Sasser mentioned, sitting at his locker in Legacy Arena, the similar spot exactly where the outlook seemed so a lot bleaker much less than 24 hours earlier. “I really feel excellent. I really feel superior. I really feel regular.”
The All-American guard pulled himself out of a tough-fought victory more than 16th-seeded Northern Kentucky in the March Madness opener, casting critical doubts on his status for a second-round game Saturday against Auburn.
Specially when Sasser mentioned afterward that the discomfort felt “around a seven out of ten.”
But the groin felt greater prior to he went to bed. When he awoke, it seemed just fine.
Sasser now wonders if he was getting a tiny also cautious for the reason that he didn’t want to threat a additional critical trouble.
“When I very first woke up, I walked about and I didn’t really feel no discomfort,” he mentioned. “I was like, ‘I’m going for confident.’”
But Sasser conceded that the higher stakes of the game definitely had an influence on his choice. He most likely would’ve regarded as sitting out, just to be on the protected side, if this was a meaningless contest in December.
Groin injuries can be notoriously difficult when attempting to establish if an athlete is completely recovered, which prompts trainers to be in particular mindful to the threat of reinjury.
“This a win-or-go-house game,” Sasser mentioned. “I’m going to go out and give it my all. You definitely do not know when your final game is. Plus, this is my final year of college, so I certainly want to go out with a bang.”
Coach Kelvin Sampson didn’t express any regrets about beginning Sasser 5 days immediately after he injured his groin in the American Athletic Conference Tournament, saying he left the choice in the hands of the instruction employees and his star player.
“It’s not the very first injury I’ve dealt with,” Sampson mentioned. “I deal with his injury like I’ve dealt with every single injury of any kid we’ve had for 34 years. It is up to him and the trainer. I do not make any choices. They say, ‘Why did you play him?’ I didn’t. I play him if he’s wholesome, if the trainer thinks he can go and the kid thinks he can go. I trust Marcus.”
Sasser didn’t sound all that hopeful immediately after playing much less than 14 minutes against Northern Kentucky. He scored 5 points — nicely under his group-top 17.1 typical — and didn’t return immediately after halftime.
He mentioned the discomfort returned in his groin when he went up on a jumper, the final of only 3 5 shots he attempted on the evening.
Sampson mentioned it will be up to Sasser to establish how lots of minutes he plays against Auburn.
“He’s our finest player, I know that,” Sampson mentioned. “But I do not treat him any distinctive than I treat anyone else if they’re injured. ′
Point guard Jamal Shead mentioned he didn’t have any doubts that Sasser would be prepared to play against Auburn.
“I was quite confident he’d play. It is win or go house now, and he’s a challenging dude,” mentioned Shead, who has been bothered by a sore knee. “If this was our final game collectively and he didn’t play, that would haunt him a tiny bit.”
Sampson conceded that the Cougars are a distinctive group when they do not have Sasser top the way in the backcourt.
That was evident in the way Houston struggled against Northern Kentucky, which came in as an 18 1/two-point underdog but was tied with the Cougars 5 minutes into the second half.
Houston (32-three) at some point pulled away for a 63-52 victory, but it hardly looked like a group that can make a deep run in the tournament with no Sasser.
“The group we had on the floor is not the group we played (most) occasions this year,” Sampson mentioned. “Everybody sort of shifts about and you have to reassign roles, all that stuff.”
Sasser was injured final Saturday in an AAC semifinal victory more than Cincinnati. He didn’t play the following day in the conference championship game, merely watching as the Cougars had been upset by Memphis.
Sasser got the subsequent two days off, and only did a light exercise the day prior to the NCAA opener. Shortly prior to tipoff against Northern Kentucky, he was announced as a starter.
In retrospect, it seemed like the incorrect move.
But Sasser felt it was essential to get back on the court as quickly as achievable, “just to have that game feeling once again.”
“I felt like it was a optimistic and a adverse,” he mentioned. “I was back out there on the court, moving once again, moving complete speed, and it sort of gave me self-confidence for tomorrow’s game.”
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