The 2018-2019 college basketball season is in full swing. It has now hit the point of the season where teams start to separate into pretenders and contenders. Houston has been dominant all season and especially at home where in-conference they are must-win games. Houston has added transfers to existing talent and put together a very solid team that is looking to make some noise in the upcoming months.
If it’s at all possible, Houston may be the closest thing in college basketball to the Golden State Warriors. The Houston Cougars play almost position-less basketball and shoot lots of threes at a high percentage. The Cougars are running all over the American Athletic Conference. They are beating some of the best teams on the road, which is a big advantage when it comes to playing on a neutral court in March. Houston’s biggest win is beating a 7-3, now 17-3 LSU tiger team. Anytime an AAC team can get a win against an SEC team it’s crucial.
Houston is 1-0 against the SEC and 1-0 against the Big 12 notching a 10 point win on the road against Oklahoma State. They also beat a ranked Oregon team at full strength with Bol Bol. It’s no secret that their Oregon win looks a little less enticing now that they have fallen out of the top 25 and have struggled as of late. A large amount of those struggles are from losing a sure-fire first-round pick in the NBA draft for the entire season. Bol Bol has since been sidelined, however, Houston did play a tough ranked Oregon team with Bol and that should be noted when it comes to strength of schedule out of conference.
Houston not only averages 76 points a game, but they are also sixth in the country in points allowed. They give up a little under 61 points per game and for a smaller team, rebound the ball well averaging nearly 42 rebounds a game.
Playing through conference play:
Three of their toughest tests are in the coming days. Temple is coming to Houston and they are Houston’s only loss on the year. They beat Houston by four and are looking to sweep the season series. In that game, they played pretty even besides the free throw shooting difference. Temple was +14 in points from the free throw line and attempted 11 more free throws than Houston did. If Houston can limit their fouls and continue to shoot the ball at a high level they should easily handle Temple at home.
They then have to play UCF on the road and then come home to play Cincinnati in a battle of the top two teams in the conference. If they can get through that three-game stretch 3-0 or even 2-1 they will more than likely be the leader in the American Athletic conference come the second week of February.
The scoring breakdown for Houston is unique because they almost have two tiers of scorers. They have the top tier that consists of Armani Brooks and Corey Davis Jr. with both averaging 14.8 and 14.6 per game respectively. Then, they have what seems like everyone else, with five scorers that average between 6.9 and 8.2 points per game.
They have nine guys that play at least 15 minutes which is impressive in itself. The three most important of all those players all shoot 36% or above from three as well, meaning that they are far more versatile than on paper. The team splits they have are 44 percent from the field as a team, 74 percent from the free throw line and 35 percent as a team from three. They shoot the ball very well and a combination of both scoring and defending goes a long way in the NCAA tournament.
During a coaching change at the University of Massachusetts, last season the Houston Cougars gained some major pieces. The two UMASS transfers that made their way to Houston were now-junior guard Dejon Jarreau and now junior forward Brison Gresham. The two of them are two of the eight Houston players averaging over 15 minutes per game this season. They account for over 11 points and over seven rebounds. They are a huge boost to a Cougar team that needed to get over the hump and into contender status.
Featured image from UHCougars.com.
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