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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Men's Basketball

Cougars looking for win No. 19 against Pirates


Junior Armoni Brooks has been heavily guarded this season, and whether he can overcome the Pirates’ defense will be a key factor in Wednesday night’s game. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Daily Cougar

The Fertitta Center will host the fight between one of the American Athletic Conference’s best teams and one of the worst at 7 p.m. tonight as No. 17/17 Houston plays ECU.

While ECU has a big star player, Houston’s overall defense and depth will be tough to overcome.

Houston has made its name this season as a tough defensive team with good rebounding. ECU has also out-rebounded most teams this year to give itself second chances, and the team has made a good 43.3 percent of shots, which Houston is just slightly above at 43.5 percent accuracy.

The big difference is in three-point percentages, steals and turnovers. Houston has made 33.5 percent of its threes compared to ECU’s 27.8 percent, and the away team does not have a single shooter making over 35 percent of their threes, while Houston has three such players.

Senior guard Corey Davis Jr. and junior guard Armoni Brooks cannot afford to go cold against the Pirates or one of the Cougars’ main advantages will be lost.

The Pirates are also in the negatives when it comes to turnover and steal differential while the Cougars are well into the green.

ECU’s main star is freshman forward Jayden Gardner. The 6’6″ forward leads the team in rebounds and points and is third in assists and blocks.

Gardner has averaged 19.8 points per game, and the next two best scorers on the team have scored 12.9 and 11.7 points per game.

Stopping one of those three will be a key for the Cougars, but another will be the team’s depth.

Houston’s team is nine players deep, while ECU’s starting five regularly play most of the game. In its most recent game against Temple, ECU’s bench played a total of 21 minutes. Houston’s bench played over triple that in its game against South Florida.

Another trouble of the Pirates has been road games. The Pirates are 0-4 on the road while Houston is riding the nation’s longest home court winning streak.

It could be a close game if Houston’s elite perimeter shooters are stopped, but UH’s depth should push ECU to the edge.

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