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Friday, December 8, 2023

Men's Basketball

Northeast roadtrip comes to fruitless end

During the Cougars’ northeast road swing, the team was unable to win against both Connecticut and Rutgers.

Two key factors that have kept the Cougars in this losing slump are their lack of defense and allowing teams to score on turnovers.

“It was loud, and (we) couldn’t really hear anything in the gym, but I feel like it kind of did affect us, because we weren’t really used to playing in these loud environments,” said junior forward TaShawn Thomas.

The Cougars are on a four-game losing streak and lost three of their last four on the road, being outscored by 30.5 points per game.

UConn was able to fend off UH for an 80-43 win on Thursday night, and Rutgers got its revenge in their second match-up, getting a 93-70 win.

Against UConn, the dynamic backcourt in Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright combined for 34 points.

Freshman Danrad Knowles led the Cougars with 10 points and eight rebounds. Thomas had 23 points after UH defeated Connecticut on New Year’s Eve, but contributed only four points in this meeting.

UH was unable to score early on, and UConn came out of the gates hot, taking a quick 18-3 lead. The Huskies led by 29 at the half, and the Cougars never really challenged them in the second.

The Cougars were out-rebounded, 55-40, even without UConn’s top rebounder, DeAndre Daniels.

The Cougars have been playing hard, but technique-wise, they are still striving to get better defensively, said head coach James Dickey.

“We’re disappointed that we didn’t perform better, but against Rutgers, I thought our guys ran the offense better, but we just gave up way too many points,” Dickey said.

Against the Scarlet Knights, it was a tale of two meetings. In the first match-up, the Cougars blew out the Scarlet Knights, but on Saturday, Rutgers evened the season series by defeating them 93-70.

This was a high-scoring affair between the two clubs, combining for 163 points, which is the most scored in an American Athletic Conference game this season.

Thomas led the Cougars in scoring with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Four Cougars scored in double digits, but their balanced attack wasn’t enough, as they committed 14 turnovers.

“We’re having too many turnovers that lead to direct baskets, and that has been a problem for us on the road, and we certainly have to defend and take care of the ball,” Dickey said.

For Rutgers, J.J. Moore scored a career-high 27 points, and Myles Mack added 25 points and six assists. Kadeem Jack also contributed 16 points.

UH is now 11-11 and 3-6 in conference play, but its biggest blemish is its 2-6 record on the road.

The Cougars know what their weaknesses are, and if they work on them, a midseason turn-around is possible.

“We haven’t been playing defense at all lately, but if we focus in on that, we can get out of this slump,” Thomas said.

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