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Sunday, December 8, 2019

Men's Basketball

Cougars ready to tipoff regular season after dominant exhibition game


Freshman guard Marcus Sasser shoots from inside the paint during the Angelo State exhibition game, which Houston won 106-42. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The Cougars have all their attention set for Tuesday’s regular-season opener against the Hornets following their 106-42 mauling of Angelo State in Saturday night’s exhibition game.

In the rout, Houston found huge success running a half-court trap that forced the Rams to cough up the ball 12 times in the first half.

“It’s something we are trying to use to utilize our size,” head coach Kelvin Sampson said following the team’s practice on Monday afternoon. “We are longer in the backcourt than we have been in years past. The other night we started three 6 feet 5 inch guys.”

Despite coming off of a win, Sampson reiterated that the team has a lot to work on.

“We’ll get a lot better,” Sampson said. “We are still learning. We are as far from a finished product as you can be. We’re gonna be doing this until March. We are really inexperienced.”

Even though Angelo State was far from the strongest opponents UH will play this season, there still were positives the team took away.

“We came out with great intensity, that’s what we did really good,” said freshman guard Marcus Sasser.

Sasser himself had a good performance on Saturday night, scoring 17 points and dishing out five assists.

“I was impressed with the zero turnovers,” Sampson said. “That’s indicative of how solid he is. Marcus is going to be a really good player here. His role as a freshman is to just be solid, don’t force things. Just move the ball and take what they give you.”

Although Sasser made a good first impression, he is still a freshman, and like every first-year student, he has had to make adjustments.

 “Coach Sampson sets a standard for us every day in practice and it transfers to the game,” Sasser said. “My biggest transition was playing very hard for all 40 minutes.”

With Tuesday’s match beginning the regular season, Sampson does not expect a completely smooth game, but he will be looking at what his team can control.

“Just play to our identity, every team has one good or bad,” Sampson said. “How hard our kids’ play, our toughness and all aspects of the game that come under that umbrella. Loose balls, rebounding, cutting, all those things is why our program has been really good for a long time.”

The Cougars are filled with anticipation and ready to tip off the new marathon after a long offseason.

“It’s going to be packed,” Sasser said. “Just coming out and playing hard and showing the fans what we’ve been working for all summer, showing them how good we are this year.”

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