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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Men's Basketball

Takeaways from Cougars’ 105-98 win over LSU


Sophomore guard Rob Gray, Jr. led the Cougars in scoring once again, notching 31 points in the 105-98 overtime win over LSU. | File photo/The Cougar

The Cougars men’s basketball team hosted the Louisiana State University Tigers in the best game of their season so far and came away with the 105-98 win.

With UH getting its most important win of the season, and an easy schedule for the rest of its out-of-conference season, let’s take a look at what helped the Cougars capture their seventh win of the year.

Rob Gray Jr. leading the pack again

As he has for much of the season, sophomore guard Gray led the Cougars in scoring en route to the win, recording 31 points.

Gray had 11 more points than the next highest Cougar, junior forward Danrad Knowles, who had 20 points.

After tallying just four points in the first half, Gray exploded in the second, scoring 18 points as the Cougars and Tigers headed to overtime. Arguably his biggest contribution came in the second half when he got hot early, hitting a three to start the extra frame, leading to nine points in overtime.

Despite being a relatively new addition, transferring in before the season, Gray has already shown that he has a good grasp on head coach Kelvin Sampson’s offense and has been a consistent scoring threat for UH, averaging almost 20 points per game this season.

Sampson utilizing his depth

Coming into the season, Kelvin Sampson said transfers finally gave the team the depth he needed, but with so many new faces on the team, the question was the extent of that depth.

Sampson put just about every player on the court in the Cougars’ first few games to assess what talent he had. The question remained: how many of those players would continue to get minutes when UH started to play better teams?

If the game against LSU was any indication, Sampson seems happy to run a deep bench, having utilized 10 of the 13 players at his disposal.

Of those 10 players, eight of them played at least 17 minutes, a far cry from last season, when Sampson would run a six or seven-man rotation for much of the season.

With the added depth this season, the Cougars have been playing at a scorching pace at times, with UH scoring at least 90 points in five of their eight games and over 100 points in two of those games.

Added talent is showing for the Cougars

Sampson also talked about how he expected this team to improve over last season’s 13-19 record, and the improvement is already showing.

The Cougars have started the season 6-1, with a big win against LSU. Their only loss so far has come on the road against the tough University of Rhode Island team.

While the win against the Tigers isn’t as impressive now as some thought it might be at the beginning of the season, the Cougars were able to contain LSU’s explosive forward Ben Simmons.

Simmons, a highly-touted prospect with a chance to be the top pick in next year’s NBA Draft, was contained to just 13 points against the Cougars although he picked up 14 rebounds and five assists to add to that.

The Cougars are heading into the end of their out-of-conference season, with only five games left before beginning play in the American Athletic Conference.

The Cougars plan to fine tune their schemes before heading into conference play in the tough AAC. If they continue to play well, they have a good chance to compete in the American.

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