Commentary: uncharacteristic outing sees UH fall to UConn
UH men’s basketball is off to a pretty good start this year, considering where they were at this point last season, but the next few weeks are going to be very important for head coach Kelvin Sampson and the Cougars.
So far, Sampson and his team have recorded as many wins as they did throughout the entirety of last season, while suffering just four losses all year this season, five fewer than the same point last year.
The Cougars are coming off a 69-57 loss against a University of Connecticut Huskies team they very well could have beaten, and one they have beaten at home the last two seasons.
The loss to UConn is the second loss in a row for UH, both of them coming by double digits, but both also coming at the hands of a couple of pretty good teams, the first of the two being the University of Cincinnati.
A big reason for the loss against UConn can be attributed to something that hasn’t happened much this season: the shots just weren’t falling.
UH shot an uncharacteristic 33.3 percent from the field during the game, including a sickly second half with a shooting percentage of just 29.6.
The Cougars’ starters shot a combined 14 of 46, a conversion rate of 31 percent, including 4 of 17 from behind the three-point line.
In contrast to the shooting woes for UH, UConn’s field goal percentage was stellar at 46.3 percent, with 93.3 percent shooting from the free-throw line, in comparison to the Cougars 53.8 percent.
Many of the other key categories that often determine the game were pretty closely contested, including fast break points, second chance points, turnovers and points off of turnovers.
One of the many areas of difficulty from last season resurfaced against the Huskies, as the Cougars were outscored in the paint by double digits, 38 to 24, with the Cougars two starting big men, Kyle Meyer and Devonta Pollard, playing a combined 29 minutes.
Another irregularity that played against the Cougars was the shooting woes of Pollard, who went 0-7 from the field and just 2-4 from the free-throw line, totaling just two points, five rebounds and zero blocks, while collecting four fouls, an off game by his standards.
Despite all of this, the Cougars took a seven-point lead into halftime, but UConn looked much better after half, converting four threes and getting to the free-throw line 12 times, 11 of which were made, to pull away from a cold-shooting Houston team.
Sophomore guard Rob Gray Jr. led all UH scorers with 15 points, but did it on 6 of 19 shooting, and 2 of 6 shooting from three, while only two other Cougars even eclipsed the double-digit points line.
All of this to say, this game was an outlier as far as the Cougars season is concerned, and you shouldn’t expect this to be a trend, if Sampson and UH have shown us anything early on this year.
The Cougars still have the bulk of their conference season to impress and continue to improve, but in just year two of the Sampson era, it’s fair to say that he has the program back on the right track and earlier than some had expected.