Marcus Sasser Thrills Fans in Houston's NCAA Tournament Win vs. Auburn Despite Injury

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMarch 19, 2023

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA - MARCH 18: Marcus Sasser #0 of the Houston Cougars reacts during the second half against the Auburn Tigers in the second round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Legacy Arena at the BJCC on March 18, 2023 in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Marcus Sasser was a major question mark entering Saturday, but the All-American was a major reason No. 1 Houston survived an upset bid from No. 9 Auburn.

Sasser scored 22 points as the Cougars earned an 81-64 come-from-behind win in the second-round matchup. It was especially impressive considering he was dealing with a groin injury that limited him during the first-round game.

Ari Alexander @KPRC2Ari

Marcus Sasser being "60%" according to Kelvin Sampson on the CBS broadcast is not a good sign.

Sasser was up and down during the game, sitting for long stretches because of foul trouble. However, he was there was Houston needed him at the start of the second half with the Cougars overcoming a 10-point halftime deficit.

Fans loved what they were seeing from the senior:

Briana Jones, M.S. @BrianaJTV

Sasser's groin injury seems to be just fine

SH @SHtalkssports


Bake @cbaker__25

Sasser is so good

The Field of 68 @TheFieldOf68


Shia @ShiaLaBarner

Sasser is him with all due respect

Raza @razau__

but how special is marcus sasser

Chris Williamson @CWilliamson44

Sasser is tough!!!

Erik Andersen @erikandersennn

Marcus Sasser is nastyyy🤟🏻🤟🏻

When Auburn began creeping back in the final minutes, it was Sasser who made the clutch three-pointer to keep Houston in control:

Dr. BacarDEE (Hurricane Specialist) @Gatorcwboyfan

Marcus Sasser is the truth!!

Starns Leland @StarnsLeland


Cody gendason @GendasonCody

sasser jus kissed auburn goodnight

Jack Crosby @JCrosbyCBS

Marcus Sasser just put this one to bed

Claudia Chakamian @C_Chakamian

Marcus Sasser three. Dagger.

Tramon Mark scored a team-high 26 points, but it was Sasser who came through in the game's biggest moments. The guard's 5-of-9 three-point shooting was especially valuable to avoid the upset.

March Madness had already been living up to its name over the first three days of this year's event. No. 1 seed Purdue was eliminated by No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson in Friday's first-round game, while No. 8 Arkansas knocked out No. 1 Kansas earlier on Saturday.

With No. 15 Princeton advancing to the Sweet 16, nothing was really going to surprise fans as the second round continued.

Auburn still impressed at the start of Saturday's matchup against Houston, building a 41-31 lead over the top seed in the Midwest region. The offensive play turned heads against one of the best defensive teams in college basketball.

It was enough to make this a potentially historic NCAA tournament:

Chris Fallica @chrisfallica

If Houston fails to comeback vs Auburn, it would mark the first time 1 or 0 No. 1 seeds reached the Sweet 16.

Houston still rallied in the second half, needing about seven minutes to take over the lead thanks to Sasser's hot shooting. The defense and depth was key down the stretch as the Cougars pulled away, but it's clear they need their star healthy to make a deep run in the tournament.

Houston now advances to the Sweet 16 for the fourth tournament in a row and will face the winner of Indiana and Miami on Friday in Kansas City.

Make your picks: Play the NCAA March Madness Men's Bracket Challenge and Tournament Run.