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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Men's Basketball

Cougars set to collide with No. 8 Cincinnati


Both the Cougars and Cincinnati average about 40 rebounds per game and will be fighting for every ball on Wednesday. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

After shutting down USF on Sunday night, the UH men’s basketball team is looking to take down their second top 10 opponent in three games.

The Cougars will face the No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats at BB&T Arena on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. in a clash between two of the American Conference’s best teams.

Both teams are coming off of strong defensive performances, as both held their last opponents to under 50 points. It was Houston’s best defensive performance all season, but for Cincinnati it was just another day on the court.

Cincinnati’s Strengths

Cincinnati has the second best defense in the nation, only allowing an average of 56 points per game. The Bearcats allow just 31 percent 3-point shooting and 26 percent overall shooting by opposition

A reason their defense is so strong is because of their rebounding. Cincinnati out-rebounds their opponents by 9 per game, fourth most in the nation, and it earns them a lot of second chances.

The team does not have a star scorer but instead relies on balanced distribution and shares scoring responsibility. Their best scorer only averages 13.7 points per game, so Houston can’t focus on a single player and expect to win.

Pair that with the strong defense, and you get a team that has outscored opponents by over 20.7 points per game, the second highest in the nation.

Cougars’ Goals

Despite the strong scoring margin, Cincinnati’s offense isn’t as strong as Houston’s. From both 3-point range and the field, Houston has more accurate shooting.

If Houston can out-rebound the Bearcats and deny them second chances, the Cougars’ superior accuracy could carry them to a victory.

It is a tough task though, as the Bearcats have a big size advantage. All but one player in Cincinnati’s starting line-up is 6’5″ or taller while three of Houston’s starters are 6’1″.

The Cougars’ starting guard trio of senior Rob Gray and juniors Corey Davis Jr. and Galen Robinson Jr. will need to have their best offensive showings of the year if they want to get past the towering defense of Cincinnati.

One thing to keep an eye on is each team’s stamina. The Bearcats’ starters played a combined 135 minutes on Saturday while the Cougars’ starters played just 99 minutes total on Sunday.

Both teams will have had three or more days to rest since their last games, but after such a taxing game it is something to pay attention to.

If Houston can move the ball a lot, make the Bearcats’ big men chase the ball, and Cincinnati isn’t at one hundred percent, UH could surge past them in the later parts of the game.

No matter how it happens, if Houston wins, they will be in prime position to qualify for the NCAA tournament.

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