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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Men's Basketball

Stifling defense, limited turnovers signs that Houston’s ‘buying into the culture’


Junior forward Fabian White Jr. had 11 points and three rebounds in Houston's 68-49 win over the Bulls on Sunday afternoon at the Fertitta Center. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Junior forward Fabian White Jr. had 11 points and three rebounds in Houston’s 68-49 win over the Bulls on Sunday afternoon at Fertitta Center. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The Cougars defeated the USF Bulls in a 68-49 rout, which was fueled by a stifling defense that held USF to the lowest point-total a Houston opponent has scored this season, on Sunday afternoon at Fertitta Center.

“Sometimes we don’t shoot the ball well, it looks you’re not playing good,” head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “That (for Sunday’s game) cannot be further from the truth. We played good today. We didn’t make a lot of shots, but we did a lot of good things.”

Outside of the strong defensive performance, the Cougars did a great job of taking care of the ball, committing only nine turnovers in the game.

“Up until the end, we only had one turnover in the second half,” Sampson said. “We took care of the ball better. I’m proud of our effort today, and we move on.”

Sampson also credited his assistant coaches for being a big factor in the success of the Cougars against the Bulls.

“My staff does a great job at breaking film down,” Sampson said. “We are very analytical in how we approach scouting reports. They really work at it, so our kids knew the actions, so then it comes down to executing principles.”

The Cougars forced the Bulls to turn the ball over 15 times in the win, which had players touting about an improvement in their mental fortitude when it comes to handling the adversity that occurs during a game.

“Coach talks to us a lot about how sometimes we let our missed shots dictate how we play defense,” redshirt freshman Caleb Mills said. “But today we showed a lot of maturity. Tonight, we didn’t make a lot of shots but we continue to defend.”

Houston has now won four-straight games and kept pace with Tulsa to be atop The American with a 6-1 record, which is likely to move them up a few spots in the AP Top 25 again this week.

“The biggest difference from earlier in the year and now is that we started listening to coach and actually hear what he is saying,” junior forward Fabian White Jr. said. “It’s just buying into the culture and trusting the system.”

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