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Houston basketball exhibits why it is No. 1 in typical UH trend

The University of Houston males’s basketball program moved atop the polls for the primary time in 39 years on Monday. The subsequent evening, the Cougars confirmed why they’re deserving of the No. 1 rating within the nation—and did so in typical UH trend.

They utilized fixed strain from the leap, forcing 5 turnovers within the first 3:38 and 16 for the sport, whereas pushing the tempo offensively in a 100-52 victory over Norfolk State. They rode 16 offensive rebounds to 29 second-chance factors. They held their opponent to 1-of-18 capturing from three, and had seven gamers rating a minimum of seven factors, with senior guard Marcus Sasser pouring in a game-high 25 factors—21 of which got here off seven 3-pointers.

However by way of a single second that encapsulates what UH basketball is all about, it occurred across the 11-minute mark of the primary half.

Sasser pressured a steal on a pick-and-roll, sending a free ball to the opposite finish of the courtroom. Junior guard Tramon Mark dove after it—beating out a Norfolk State participant for possession—and flipped a cross to junior ahead J’Wan Roberts, who threw dwelling a two-handed dunk with authority to carry the Fertitta Heart crowd to its ft.

This play helped spark a 28-4 run by which UH fully seized management and put the blowout into movement. Houston coach Kelvin Sampson was hardly stunned by what he witnessed.

“I see that each day. That is our tradition, it could not have been scripted higher,” Sampson mentioned. “An important hustle play, an unselfish play and a end. That is the way in which we follow. We get on the ground.

“There’s an accountability for these type of performs, and we have been doing that for a very long time round right here. It did not begin this yr or final yr. We have been doing that for a very long time.”

Elite protection and rebounding prowess are trademark traits of the Houston basketball program, one thing that’s an early emphasis of each season and evidenced by the place the staff stacks up statistically on a nationwide stage.

Coming into Tuesday, the Cougars ranked both first, second or third in KenPom‘s adjusted defensive effectivity, block proportion and opponent’s efficient field-goal proportion, 3-point proportion and 2-point proportion. They had been tenth in steal proportion and eleventh in offensive rebounding proportion.

<span class="caption"></p> <p>Houston Cougars ahead J&#8217;Wan Roberts (13) reacts after dunking the ball within the first half towards Norfolk State Spartans on the Fertitta Heart on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022 in Houston.</p> <p></span><span class="credits">Elizabeth Conley/Employees photographer</span>

However after a detailed name on Saturday towards Kent State by which UH scored simply 49 factors whereas capturing 32 % from the sector and 11.8 % on 3-point makes an attempt, Sampson says the Cougars had been “offensive dominant” of their focus throughout their final two practices. The byproduct was evident on Tuesday.

Mark, Roberts, Ja’Vier Francis and Jamal Shead joined Sasser in double-figure scoring, with unselfish play serving as a prevailing theme all through the evening. Shead had a game-high 11 assists, with Houston’s 26 assists as a staff being greater than double its season common.

“We labored on our offense rather a lot the final two practices,” Sasser mentioned. “Simply being in the correct spots, actually. I believe Jamal, Tramon, J’Wan and Jarace [Walker] did a great job of not attempting to power something and simply pulling down the open pictures.”

Mark, who had 16 factors to go together with a season-high six assists and 5 rebounds, echoed this sentiment.

“Simply attempting to get higher at studying defenses, seeing how a protection is enjoying me and enjoying my teammate. Driving and kicking, or driving and making the correct play [to] drive and rating,” Mark mentioned. “Simply attempting to make the correct play within the second.”

Whereas Sampson’s squad strengthened its grip on the No. 1 rating with an overwhelming efficiency on Tuesday, the veteran coach did not go away from feedback he made Monday that he did not consider his staff was the most effective within the nation but, as they’re nonetheless a “work in progress.” He factors to his expertise throughout practically a half-century of teaching and the significance of continuous progress as among the many the explanation why.

“I do not react to good video games or unhealthy video games. I simply do not. I let the uninitiated try this,” Sampson mentioned. “I have been teaching in 5 totally different many years. Take into consideration that, 5 totally different many years. We did not play superb Saturday. You do not throw them away, you go get higher, man. That is what you do.”

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