Preview: Eastern Illinois at Houston

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[December 19, 2015]  SportsDirect Inc.
 Houston coach Kelvin Sampson had a feeling newcomer Rob Gray Jr. could be the leading scorer for the Cougars after a successful summer. Gray has proven his coach right while scoring in double digits in each game this season for Houston, which hosts Eastern Illinois on Saturday as part of the Global Sports Classic.

Gray leads the American Athletic Conference with 18.9 points, coming off the bench for the high-scoring Cougars. "He has the mindset to come off the bench," Sampson told the Houston Chronicle this week. "He doesn't need four to five possessions to get going. As soon as he touches the ball, his light is green." The Cougars - who stand 7-0 at home - are tied for 13th nationally in scoring at 86.1 points. The Panthers have lost back-to-back games and have been outscored by 17.3 points in four road losses.

TV: 4 p.m. ET, ESPN3

ABOUT EASTERN ILLINOIS (2-6): Senior wing Trae Anderson leads the Panthers with 15.8 points and 4.8 rebounds. Junior guard A.J. Riley adds 14.4 points after scoring in double figures in five straight games. The Panthers, who average 65 points, have struggled on the boards and ranked 344th out of 346 Division I teams with a minus-12.5 rebounding margin.

ABOUT HOUSTON (7-1): Gray is shooting 50 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from behind the 3-point line. Devonta Pollard adds 15 points and 6.8 rebounds and Ronnie Johnson chips in with 12.6 points per contest. Damyean Dotson leads the team with 7.5 rebounds and adds 11.9 points while freshman guard Galen Robinson Jr. is tied for seventh nationally with a 5.2 assist-to-turnover ratio.

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1. Houston is 7-1 for the first time since the start of the 2008-09 season.

2. Eastern Illinois sophomore G Cornell Johnston (9.1 points, 3.9 assists) has 19 assists and four turnovers in his last four games.

3. The Cougars finish the Global Sports Classic at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas, playing Grand Canyon on Monday and either Marshall or Wyoming on Tuesday.

PREDICTION: Houston 78, Eastern Illinois 62

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