Cougars proud but focused on maintaining defensive performance after rout of Shockers
The Cougars’ defense has turned up the intensity the last few games and Sunday’s contest against the Wichita State Shockers was no exception as Houston held them to only 18 first-half points and just 43 total, which is the fewest allowed by the Cougars all season long.
Houston won the game against Wichita State by 33 points (76-43) and the suffocating first-half performance from the defense was a big reason for the team’s dominant victory, which has become the norm in the past number of contests for the Cougars.
For head coach Kelvin Sampson, however, Sunday’s win was nothing special regardless of how lopsided it was.
“I have no idea what statement it makes,” he said. “I could care less about statements. We’re not here to make statements. We’re here to win games.”
Sampson’s mentality is also the team’s mindset, which is why the Cougars, as they did after the loss to Cincinnati, are not marinating in the outcome of the game and instead have moved on to try and elevate their performance in future contests.
“If it happens once, it’s an accident,” junior forward Fabian White Jr. said on the defensive performance against the Shockers. “If it happens twice it’s a coincidence; if it happens three times, it’s a habit.
“It’s only happened once, so we have to keep moving forward and keep improving on defense.”
Although Houston has not beat down every team as it did to the Shockers on Sunday afternoon, the team’s first-half success in shutting teams down has not been a one-off occurrence.
The Cougars have held four of their last five opponents to 23 points or less in the first half of games, and they have won all four of those contests by double-digits.
“I feel like every individual is starting to buy into the system more, and we are maturing day-by-day,” said senior Chirs Harris Jr., who had four blocks against the Shockers.
With Sunday’s win, Houston has created separation from itself and the rest of The American as the team holds a one-game cushion over second-place Cincinnati, but for Sampson, Sunday’s win means little at the moment, and he is already onto the next game against South Florida.
“There’s nothing to gloat over,” Sampson said. “They don’t give you a parade for winning your ninth conference game or a medal for winning No. 19 … for a young team, it’s just a step in the right direction, and it’s our job to keep them focused and continue to get better.”