UH-Cleveland State rundown: What to know about the Vikings
For two-seeded Houston, the NCAA Tournament has arrived and the Cougars will take on Cleveland State on Friday evening in the first round.
UH (24-3) is coming off clinching its first-ever American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship, and first conference tournament title since 2010.
Junior guard Quentin Grimes shined throughout the event, averaging 19 points and 4.33 rebounds per game in route to being named the AAC Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Senior guard DeJon Jarreau also dazzled last weekend, specifically last Friday when he garnered the first triple-double in program history since 1993 with 15 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Sophomore guard Marcus Sasser also showed his shooting ability as he hit two or more 3-pointers in all three games.
Despite entering Friday’s contest as the favorite, the Cougars are prepared for a hard-fought battle against Cleveland State. Throughout the week leading up to the game, both UH head coach Kelvin Sampson and players have talked highly of their opponent.
A look at the Vikings
Cleveland State (19-7) enters its matchup as Horizon League Champions after defeating the Oakland Golden Grizzlies on March 9.
Senior guard Torrey Patton leads the team in both points (14.9) and rebounds (eight) each game.
“They play very good when they play down,” said Jarreau of the Vikings on Thursday. “Coach Sampson says they’re not frontrunners. They’re very tough. With (Tre) Gomillion leading them (and) No. 24 Patton. They’re a very (veteran) team … We just need to come out and not take them lightly.”
While not leading the Vikings in either category, junior guard Tre Gomillion averaged a solid 10.5 points and 5.2 rebounds for the season and is known for his tough defensive presence on the court.
“(Gomillion) is the straw that stirs their drink,” said Sampson he was told of the Augusta, Georgia, native. “Watching him on film, I see why. He is my kind of player. Tough kid and hard-nosed. (The) defensive player in their league and knows how to put the biscuit in the basket … Identity guy.”
As a whole, Sampson described the Vikings as a guard-oriented team that can defend, rebound and plays hard.
In addition to Patton and Gomillion, junior guard D’Moi Hodge is a potential threat as a 3-point shooter. He hit 10 3-pointers in a single game against Purdue Fort Wayne in December.
“They kind of play like us a little bit,” said Grimes of Cleveland State. “They rebound. They have really good guards. They can shoot the ball really well. We have to make sure we’re on high alert against them at all times.”
How to watch
Friday’s game between UH and Cleveland State will tipoff at 6:15 p.m. on truTV and will also be on KPRC 950 AM radio.
For more on The Cougar’s coverage of UH’s run in the NCAA Tournament, click here.