Shockers stun Cougars in Wichita blowout
Wichita State’s conference home owner resulted in a thrashing for the Houston Cougars. The No. 9 team in the country dominated the Cougars, winning 81-63.
It was a perfect storm the Cougars faced Thursday night. The Shockers brought a pressing defense that prevented the Cougars from getting open shots and allowed them to get defensive rebounds. On the opposite end, the Cougars struggled to get stops on defense and the Shockers seemed to score on every opportunity.
The first 3 minutes were the only time the game could have been called close. At that point, the game was tied at six. But by the time head coach Kelvin Sampson had called his first timeout, the Shockers had a ten point lead.
Late in the first half the Shockers simply embarrassed the Cougars. In the span of a little over two minutes, the Shockers scored five straight three pointers from four different players. At that point, the Shockers were leading 21-46 and never looked back.
That ability to spread the ball and score proved dividends for the Shockers, something the Cougars could not replicate.
By halftime the Shockers had four players with double digits. The Cougars had none. Simply put: The defensive effort from the Shockers prevented the Cougars from developing any rhythm or consistency on offense.
For the game the Shockers only had a slight statistical advantage over the Cougars, 45 percent shooting to 41. But when the Shockers scored, they scored in bunches, creating a hole the Cougars were unable to escape.
The second half was not much better for the Cougars. Even when they managed to force stops on defense, they were unable to score on their opportunities. Bad possessions saw the ball turned over several times.
Redshirt senior guard Rob Gray Jr. led the Cougars in scoring with 13 points. But his counterpart, Landry Shamet for the Shockers, led his team with 18 points on 6-8 shooting. Gray shot only 6-11.
With the win, the Shockers improve to 66-1 at Charles Koch Arena over the last five seasons and 12-2 on the season, putting them firmly in control of their own destiny in conference play.
This loss will sting for Sampson’s squad, but it will also give him a lot to look over. The Shockers travel to H&PE Arena on Jan. 20, and by that point, Sampson should have shown his athletes where they need to improve in their game.
For now, the Cougars return home and will play the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Jan. 11. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at H&PE Arena.