Utah State at Houston
When: Thursday, December 20, 8:00 PM
Where: Fertita Center, Houtson, TX
Utah State Aggies (9-2, 0-0)
Mountain West Conference
FCS Sagarin Rating: 46 (7 in CSJ’s Sagarin HIgh-Major Men’s Basketball Top 25)
Utah State (9-2) takes a pre-Christmas trip to Houston, Texas in a matchup against a Top 25 opponent. The Aggies are tied 1-1 in the all-time series against Houston, with the teams last playing during the 1969-70 season.
Utah State has outrebounded every opponent this season and ranks fourth in the nation in rebounding margin (+13.2). The Aggies lead the Mountain West in both rebounding offense (42.7) and rebounding defense (29.6). Additionally, Utah State is best in the Mountain West in ending possessions, averaging a league-best 32.0 defensive rebounds per game to rank sixth in the nation. They also lead the Mountain West in defensive rebounding percentage (.806).
Key Fantasy Player: The Aggies have gotten great underneath in a hurry in their frontcourt thanks to a Portugese import, C Neemias Queta. This 6’11 240 lb star played on Portugal’s U20 team and he hasn’t missed a beat on Utah State, averaging 10.3 ppg and 8.5 rpg with limited minutes. He also alters plenty of shots (27 blocks) in a game where he might be counted on for plenty of extra minutes.
Houston Cougars (10-0, 0-0)
American Athletic Conference
FCS Sagarin Rating: 34 (4 in CSJ’s Sagarin HIgh-Major Men’s Basketball Top 25)
Scouting Report: Houston enters Thursday’s game on the heels of a pair of tough home wins over LSU and Saint Louis last week. With those wins, Houston remained one of only nine undefeated teams in the na- tion and moved to 10-0 for only the second time in school history and the first time since 1967-68.
The Cougars have won 23 consecutive home games. The sreak is the nation’s secondlongest active streak and trails only South Dakota State (26). Houston’s home loss was a 78-75 setback to Akron in the NIT First Round in H&PE Arena on March 15, 2017.
Houston is also one of nine undefeated teams in NCAA Division I, joining Buffalo, Fur- man, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, St. John’s, Texas Tech and Virginia.
Key Fantasy Player: If Houston is going to win this game, it will have to come from the backcourt, where G Armoni Brooks (15.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg) is going to have to take over. Last time out against LSU, he had a subpar game (3-11 from 3, 13 points) but delivered 9 boards in their victory.
A fascinating matchup awaits in Houston tonight. It’s hard to imaging Brooks being ice-cold two games in a row, but if he does, Utah State has the muscle to win this game down low. At home, I think Brooks gets hot enough to win this game. Houston 65, Utah State 57
Chuck has been writing about Lehigh football since the dawn of the internet, or perhaps it only seems like it. He’s executive editor of the College Sports Journal and has also written a book, The Rivalry: How Two Schools Started the Most Played College Football Series.
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