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Friday, February 21, 2020

Men's Basketball

Cougars’ sense of desperation has been key this week, players say


Junior forward Fabian White Jr. hands the ball off to DeJon Jarreau. White said team played with greater 'desperation' after the game in the win against SMU. | Kathryn Lenihan/ The Cougar

Junior forward Fabian White Jr. hands the ball off to DeJon Jarreau. White said the team played with greater “desperation” after the game in the win against SMU. | Kathryn Lenihan/ The Cougar

Following the 71-62 victory over the Mustangs on Wednesday night, junior forward Fabian White Jr. noted a difference in the energy level the Cougars had in that contest compared to their previous one, which was a loss to Tulsa.

“We had a lot more heart and desperation in this game than last game,” White said.

The 6-7 forward, who led the team in the win with 17 points and 10 rebounds, credited the change in mindset as the factor in the different outcomes, and he said how the team will do well if they can bottle up that sense of urgency.

“As long as we keep progressing and keep having that desperation and don’t lose it, we should be fine,” White said.

On Thursday evening, White’s teammates double-downed on his comments.

“We had to treat it like an NCAA tournament game,” sophomore guard Nate Hinton said. “Win and advance kind of. (SMU) had their back’s against the wall, they were treating it like a great opportunity, and we just lost, so having that desperation and having that game of just playing hard and having that desperation.”

For the Cougars, playing with that frantic mindset has been a huge part of trying to avoid another disappointment like the one the team went through in Oklahoma, and the reality is, they are right. Every game from this moment forward is like a must-win game, because they are all conference games.

The American Athletic Conference has zero undefeated teams remaining, and Houston is tied with Memphis, Wichita State and Tulsa as the only teams in the conference who have only one loss.

The Cougars already dropped a game to one of those three teams in the Golden Hurricane, and their next opponent is against the Shockers, who are another one of those one-loss teams. For the team, having that siren in the back of their minds has been crucial.

“Desperation has been a big key for us,” freshman guard Marcus Sasser said. “We got to do a better job coming out the second half, but yeah desperation is a big word we’ve been using lately to try to get better as the season goes on.”

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