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Saturday, March 25, 2023


Cougars drop third straight game, 12 games left to change standings


Junior guard Ronnie Johnson put up 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in a loss to No. 8 SMU. | The Cougar/Justin Cross

The men’s basketball team has begun the turn-around from last year’s squad under head coach Kelvin Sampson. They’ve made strides toward becoming a good team, but as far as being a top team in the American Athletic Conference — maybe they aren’t there just yet.

Houston fell to the Southern Methodist University Mustangs on Tuesday 73-77. After their third straight loss, which came at the hands of conference foes, the Cougars fall to 13-5 for the season.

Although the Cougars lead the majority of the game, SMU—the only undefeated team in the nation— would not go down without a fight and was able to pull off a win with only a few minutes remaining down the stretch.

The Cougars showed promise. But for many, the Cougars weren’t supposed to win anyway. The Mustangs were a favorite to win the game by double digits. Yet, the Cougars kept it close.

Houston held a lead against SMU for over 30 minutes of the game, which goes to show that they are capable of competing against a top-10 team, but are they capable of winning? The jury’s still out.

We hear about the team’s mistakes and how they are fixable, but these same mistakes are consistently becoming a concern and leave fans wondering whether or not their early success was a fluke.

Either way, work needs to be done, and one area that could have made the difference is the team’s free-throw shooting.

The Cougars could have put an end to the Mustangs’ winning streak, simply by completing their free-throws. They shot 50 percent from the line, going 6-of-12 in the second half.

They’ve also built a reputation of wilting under pressure, things going from bad to worse after they’ve fallen behind, which was no different in Tuesday’s game, however, they kept at it and played until the last minute.

They had the edge in rebounds, 17 to the Mustangs’ five in the first half, but SMU had the edge in scoring second-chance points. The Mustangs also beat the Cougars in points in the paint, as well as points off turnovers, logging 15 points to Houston’s two.

Despite this, the Cougars still had a chance, which proves that they are close. They just need a piece or two to get over the hump.

Whether or not that will happen this season is the question. As of now, the Cougars are sitting in the middle of the conference while other teams are beginning to stand out.

With 12 games remaining in the conference season, they still have the chance to make a statement. They are a work in progress, no doubt, but with more time under Sampson and more games together — they can rise to the occasion.

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