Playing the Ponies

Sam Houston Race Park selections for Saturday, Feb. 2

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Sam Houston Race Park

Here are my selections for Saturday night. These are not meant to be in exact order, but merely the four horses I think have the best chance to win. For beginners, I suggest exacta boxes with three horses, using two of mine and one of your own. And you can always pick up a copy of Acing Racing 2016 to learn everything you need to know. If the races come off the turf due to rain, check out Twitter and I will update the picks. (These are the picks and format that are available on the free tip sheet at SHRP). I will be at the track from 7-9 p.m. in the special ESPN section so if you are out drop by and say hello.

FIRST
1-6-3-2
DANCE WITH ME BW has an experience edge in this group

SECOND
1-3-9-2
BIG BEN AA picks up Sasha and could turn the tables on RB TEXAS HOLDEM

THIRD
2-5-6-3
COWBOY BLING did not seem to like the Delta surface; good record here

FOURTH
7-2-1-5
WAVE OF PERFECTION has been inconsistent but best effort wins this

FIFTH
5-11-1-4
FRILLY FRILL has a sharp work for debut and should handle the grass

SIXTH
4-6-1-3
PAULAS BUDDY seems to be better at this distance and might get it done

SEVENTH
6-8-11-10
BLOWIN SMOKE has been competing on some difficult circuits

EIGHTH
1-2-5-6
Overwhelmed in last, but ALEX'S BOURBON was sharp before that effort

NINTH

11-9-2-7

Will try to get out with a long shot in MIDWATCH who should fare better sprinting

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Houston beats Cincinnati, 67-59. Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images.

L.J. Cryer scored 22 points, J’Wan Roberts added 15 and top-ranked Houston won its sixth straight game by beating Cincinnati 67-59 on Tuesday night.

One day after ascending to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 for the first time this season, the Cougars (25-3, 12-3 Big 12) extended their conference lead to 1 1/2 games over Iowa State.

“We’ve got a chance,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “That’s all it is — we’ve got a chance to win the Big 12. That’s our goal. We’d like to win the Big 12 because we have a chance.”

The Cougars have won 21 consecutive home games, the longest active streak in the nation.

Cryer had 15 points in the first half and Houston led 26-17 at the break. He finished 7 of 15 from the field and was 4 for 10 on 3-pointers.

Emanuel Sharp scored 11 and Jamal Shead had nine points and 11 assists for the Cougars, who shot 39% from the floor and went 18 of 27 at the free-throw line.

“L.J. had a really good night,” said Shead, who shot 2 for 11. “I tried to find him a lot. … My shot’s not falling, but I’m not the offense. We have four other guys out there, so just trying to get them involved and be the best I can on defense.”

Viktor Lakhin and Simas Lukosius each scored 11 points for Cincinnati (16-12, 5-10), which has lost five of six. The Bearcats shot 40% and went 5 of 19 on 3s. They also committed 19 turnovers.

“I think our guys can really compete against anybody,” coach Wes Miller said. “I believe they can compete with Houston’s team. I think they’ve shown that in the two games (this season), but we've got to get a little better to get over the hump and win the game.”

Leading 30-21 early in the second half, Houston went on an 8-0 run capped by consecutive 3s from Sharp with 17 1/2 minutes remaining to open a 17-point lead.

After trailing 59-46 with 2:47 left, Cincinnati used an 8-1 spurt to close within six on a layup by Dan Skillings Jr. with 1:26 to go. Cryer made two free throws with 1:12 remaining, and the Bearcats got no closer than six the rest of the way.

“Win the game,” Sampson said. “This is not a funeral. We are 25-3 and 12-3. This time of year, the last thing you do is evaluate.”

BIG PICTURE

Cincinnati: The Bearcats dropped to 3-8 in Quad 1 games and 4-6 on the road this season. … The 17 first-half points were a season low for any half.

Houston: The Cougars improved to 14-3 in Quad 1 and 2 games. … Houston won its 11th straight over Cincinnati. … It was the 11th time this season the Cougars held an opponent under 20 points in a half.

UP NEXT

Cincinnati: Will host Kansas State on Saturday.

Houston: Plays at Oklahoma on Saturday.

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