Houston Basketball Is Taking Over the Top Spot in the Country
The University of Houston's men's basketball team has taken over the top spot in the country. This is the first time a UH program has been ranked at the top of the polls in 39 years. In fact, this year the Cougars are 10-1, the same record as last season, and just two wins from being unbeaten. Houston Basketball
The Cougars are not the biggest team in college basketball, but they have a lot of talent. They've got four players with more than 1,000 career points, and one of them is a junior who averages more than 13 points. That's not the only reason they're on the rise.
Houston has been a storied program in the past, with teams that have been to the Final Four a number of times. They've also been enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. But until Kelvin Sampson arrived in 2014, the program hadn't made the NCAA tournament in more than two decades.
In addition to the new players, the Cougars' roster is deep and experienced. Those returning include Taze Moore, Kyler Edwards, and Josh Carlton. Meanwhile, newcomers like Marcus Sasser and Ja'Vier Francis are ready to make an immediate impact. And the UH defense is among the best in the country.
Houston has made four straight trips to the Elite Eight, and the Cougars are in the hunt for their third straight AAC championship. As they continue to climb the ladder in March, the optimism for the team's season is rising.
One of the biggest things that are changed with the Sampson era is that the Cougars have become relentless on the floor. Not only did they hold their opponent to 1-of-18 shooting from three-point range on Saturday, but they rode 16 offensive rebounds to 29 second-chance points.
Even though the Houston Cougars aren't the best team in college basketball, they've been the most productive on the floor. Several players have reached double digits in scoring this season, and the Cougars are averaging over a hundred points a game.
Another key piece of this season is the lateral quickness of the entire team. Regardless of the position, the Cougars use their speed and movement to suffocate their opponents. For example, they've held Norfolk State to just 1 of 18 shooting from three-point range.
The Cougars are averaging nearly 30 points per game in the first half of their games, and Emanuel Sharp is averaging over 18 per game. He has made at least five triples in six of his first seven games this season.
While the Cougars aren't the most well-known basketball team in recent memory, they've been a consistent, talented team since Sampson took over in 2014. His style of coaching is a rarity, but it is admired by many bigger schools.
It's no secret that Sampson has turned the program around. His players are playing better, and the frenzied defense is allowing them to win.
On Wednesday night, the UH basketball team took down McNeese State by a score of 100-52. After trailing for much of the first half, the Cougars put together a 28-4 run, putting the game out of reach. At the end of the game, the team's averaged 26 assists, more than their season average.