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The Houston Cougars will have their star player for Saturday’s second-round gameagainst the Auburn Tigers.
Marcus Sasser, Houston’s leading scorer, will start on Saturday without a minutes restriction, according to a report by Stadium.
Houston Cougars guard Marcus Sasser (0) celebrates hitting a key 3-pointer during a game against the Tulane Green Wave at the Fertitta Center Feb 22, 2023, in Houston. (Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Sasser injured his groin in the AAC tournament and did not play in the Cougars' championship game loss to the Memphis Tigers.
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On Thursday, Sasser played but appeared to aggravate the injuryin the first half against No. 16 seed Northern Kentucky, finishing the game with just 14 minutes.
Sasser, who averages 16.7 points, said Friday he’ll be playing come tipoff Saturday against the Razorbacks.
"I’m playing 100%. It’s not a game-time decision," Sasser told Fox26 Friday. "I’m going to go through practice today, go through warmups tomorrow and just be ready.
Marcus Sasser (0) of the Houston Cougars looks to shoot in the first half during the first round of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at Legacy Arena at the BJCC March 16, 2023, in Birmingham, Ala. (Andy Hancock/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
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"You can reinjure it," he added. "You reaggravate it, but that’s not in my head. I’m just saying my prayers. And just got to try to go out there and play to my full strength."
Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson told reportersFriday he’d leave the decision to play to Sasser and the Houston training staff.
Houston guard Marcus Sasser brings the ball up during the first half of a first-round NCAA Tournament game against Northern Kentucky in Birmingham, Ala., Thursday, March 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
"I deal with his injury like I've dealt with every injury of a kid that we've had. … I don't make any decisions," Sampson said, according to ESPN. "People said, 'Why did you play him?' I didn't. I play him if he's healthy. The trainer thinks he can go, and the kid thinks he can go. I trust Marcus. ... If Marcus is hurt, he'll say, 'Coach, I can't go,' and then I won't play him. If he's out there and he can play, then that means he can play. So he'll play as many minutes as he can tomorrow night. I don't know how many minutes that'll be, but that'll be up to Marcus.
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"He's our best player, I know that. But I don't treat him any different than I treat anybody else if they're injured. I treat them all the same."
The No. 1 seed Cougars and the No. 9 seed Auburn Tigers tip off at 7:10 p.m. ET in Birmingham, Alabama.
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