Hinton, Cougars ‘set the tone’ in blowout win over HBU
After suffering their first loss of the season to BYU at the buzzer that spoiled Houston’s Homecoming game, and sobered the team after two relatively easy wins (one exhibition) to begin the campaign, head coach Kelvin Sampson took a deep breath and calmly uttered a short but impacting statement.
“If I was going down a dark alley, on this team, the one guy I would take with me is Nate Hinton,” Sampson said after the loss. “I would go to war with that kid any day. I love that kid.“
The 6-foot-5-inch sophomore guard from North Carolina had only four points off of a lowly 1 of 5 shooting and two turnovers that night against BYU.
The following game against the cross-town rival Rice, Hinton raised his scoring to 15 points, but only shot a sub-par 6 of 14 from the field.
In Eugene, Oregon, against the Ducks, Hinton struggled again, managing to put up only six points on 2 of 9 shooting.
“My mind was on other things, and I had to reel myself back in,” Hinton said on his struggles to begin the season. “Coach reeled me back in. I took a step back and said, OK, at the end of the day we want to win, and that’s the only thing on my mind, and that’s the only thing we need to do.”
On Tuesday night against another cross-town rival in Houston Baptist, Hinton finally bursted out of his struggles, scoring a season-high 22 points and 10 rebounds in the first half.
“I thought Nate was our most valuable player in the first half,” Sampson said.
Hinton ended the 112-73 win with 24 points and 15 rebounds, which were both career-highs for him.
“I wasn’t thinking anything about myself,” Hinton said. “I was just thinking alright, we’ve got to go in there and set the tone. We’d had some poor performances, but it’s all good moving forward.”
Despite the focus now on Texas State and the rest of the schedule going forward, Sampson’s comments after the tough loss to BYU have not gone unnoticed.
“It does,” said Hinton on if Sampson’s comment after the BYU loss motivated him. “Coach has your back. Knowing that you have a coach that has your back. It’s the same vice versa. I’d run through a brick wall for Coach.”