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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Men's Basketball

UH hopes solid bench play continues against USF

UH's bench brigade, which scored 44 points in an upset win against No. 21 Memphis, could be a big factor against USF on Tuesday. | Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

UH’s bench brigade, which scored 44 points in an upset win against No. 21 Memphis, could be a big factor against USF on Tuesday.  |  Justin Tijerina/The Daily Cougar

With wins in the last three games, the Cougars are on their longest conference winning streak at a crucial time as the American Athletic Conference tournament looms.

UH will host USF on its senior night Tuesday at Hofheinz Pavilion and hopes to continue its winning streak — it will be an emotional evening.

Before the game, the Cougars will honor their five seniors: J.J. Richardson, Brandon Morris, Tione Womack, Lawrence Paye and Jimmie Jones.

This game is set to be a battle between two top forwards in the American who are coming off good performances. UH is led by junior forward TaShawn Thomas, who leads the Cougars with 16.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game, while USF features senior forward Victor Rudd, who averages 15.7 points, 6.9 boards and 1.9 assists per game.

USF has a solid scoring duo with Rudd and junior guard Corey Allen Jr., who scores 9.2 points per game, but its scoring options stop there. The Bulls score 65.4 ppg as a team and are on a six-game losing streak.

Thomas, however, continues to set milestones, becoming only the fourth UH player to have 1300 points, 800 rebounds and 200 blocks in his collegiate career, but the Cougars have received contributions from different places during the winning streak.

Sophomore point guard L.J. Rose has stepped up and currently leads the American in assists per game, with 5.4. Sophomore guards Danuel House and Jherrod Stiggers have come off the bench to provide stronger scoring options, which is a strategy that has worked thus far for head coach James Dickey. The two combined for 23 points against Temple and have elevated the Cougars’ bench productivity.

“The last few games, we’ve had great bench performers. The guys have come in and really contributed. We had 44 points off the bench (against Memphis). House knows how to make big shots, and he’s not afraid to take big shots,” Dickey said after the Cougars defeated Memphis.

Freshman forward Danrad Knowles also is coming off a flawless shooting performance against Temple, going 7-7 from the field and scoring 19 points.

The American Athletic Conference is one of the toughest conferences in college basketball with four teams ranking in the top 25.

The Cougars are now 15-14 and 7-9 during conference play. They have been playing consistent defense and rebounding the ball well during their run, and they will have to keep it up if they want to finish the season at the .500 mark in their conference play.

Thomas said reaching the .500 mark in conference play has been a goal of the team.

“We’ve been talking about that since we went on our drought. The coaches just said that we’ve got to win out and keep hope alive,” Thomas said.

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