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Friday, August 14, 2020

Men's Basketball

Hinton’s 25-point outing lifts Houston past UT-Arlington, extends win streak


Sophomore guard Nate Hinton has contributed greatly to the Cougars' four game win streak, including a 25-point performance against the Mavericks on Wednesday night at Fertitta Center. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

Sophomore guard Nate Hinton has contributed greatly to the Cougars’ four game win streak, including a 25-point performance against the Mavericks on Wednesday night at Fertitta Center. | Trevor Nolley/The Cougar

The Cougars are riding a four-game winning streak and a big reason behind the success has to do with sophomore guard Nate Hinton, who has also seen his level of play pick-up tremendously during the same four-game stretch.

The 6-foot-5-inch guard from North Carolina struggled during the first four games of the season, averaging only 7.3 points a game on 32.4 percent shooting from the field.

The Cougars split those four games.

Hinton’s first breakthrough game, and the first of the recent string of strong performances, came against Houston Baptist where he scored 24 points, which was previously his career-high

“I wasn’t thinking anything about myself,” Hinton said after the win against HBU. “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.”

Hinton’s statement after the game turned out to be a foreshadow of what was to come because he would follow up his 24-point performance with a 14-point showing against Texas State, and a 17-point outing against South Carolina.

On Wednesday night against the Mavericks, Hinton set a new career-high with 25 points and added to his performance with 10 rebounds for the double-double.

Despite the triumphs on offense, Hinton did not want the focal point to be on his numbers, and he quickly shifted the attention to the other side of the ball.

“Trying to focus more on defense,” Hinton said. “If I come to the game thinking about offense then it isn’t going to be good. I try to focus on defense and rebounding and being the leader of the team.”

Since the Oregon loss, Hinton is averaging 20 points a game on 54.5 percent shooting. Houston is a perfect 4-0 in those games.

Like the sophomore himself, Sampson did not focus on the offensive numbers and instead highlighted Hinton’s rebounding numbers, and saw that as the more impressive achievement.

“Do you know how hard it is for a guard to average almost 10 rebounds a game,” Sampson said.

The culture Sampson has created in Houston puts the emphasis on the details of the game. It seems like no one in the organization cares much for the gaudy offensive numbers, and for good reason.

“Offense, I don’t want to speak too much on,” Hinton said. “I can miss shots every day.”

Regardless of whether Hinton wants to focus on the points that he is putting up on the scoreboard, it is clear that he is a crucial part to this Cougars’ team.

“Nate is the heart and soul of this team,” Sampson said.

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