Bench aids Cougars to roll past conference rival Bulls
Walk-on guard Wes Van Beck seized his opportunities Sunday and propelled the Cougars to a 72-55 win over the Bulls.
“We give guys opportunities,” head coach Kelvin Sampson said.
Sampson allowed the freshman to join his team this season, and in Sunday’s game against USF, Van Beck showed that he was worth that opportunity.
“I really appreciate Coach (for putting me in),” said Van Beck.
“The reason we keep fighting is because he keeps fighting. He never gives up on us. He’s never given up on anybody on this team. As long as we show that we believe he’s going to continue to fight for us.”
The 6-foot guard from Westside High School came off the bench hitting four 3-pointers to finish with a career-high or 12 points after entering the game with five 3s on the entire season.
“I just try to stay ready,” said Van Beck. “I try to shoot the most I can – to keep my shot right, keep my form right. As coach said, credit to Jherrod (Stiggers) and Devonta (Pollard) who found me open. I had the easy job of making the open shot which I do a hundred times each day, so credit to those guys.”
In regards to the players who had time before Van Beck, Sampson knows that everyone has their rough patches.
“The guys that have played in front of Wes have had their opportunities,” Sampson said.
“I’ve given Wes opportunities. He has turned the ball over a little bit too much, but we keep running him out there, and today he found his groove. Our guys kept fighting for open shots. Wes did what he could do.”
It was a team effort Sunday as four Cougars contributed double digits in the win, including a double-double from junior forward Devonta Pollard, 15 points and four rebounds from junior guard LeRon Barnes while junior guard Jherrod Stiggers contributed 11 points, four rebounds and tied his career-high seven assists.
The Cougars held a halftime lead for the sixth time in the last seven games, and this time they pulled off a win.
“Our game plan during the week was to come out and hit them in mouth early,” said Sampson. “We lead everybody at halftime. Cincinnati is really good, and we led them twice. We outplayed them, but obviously they wore us down with their depth. Today we wanted to do something a little different, instead of sitting in our zone and trying to keep guys out of foul trouble.”
The Cougars take their final road trip of the regular season to take on their American Athletic Conference rival the Tulane Green Wave at 7 p.m. Wednesday.