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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Men's Basketball

Winning streak on the line against Fairfield


Junior guard Corey Davis Jr. and his teammates will look to make it six wins in a row against Fairfield on Wednesday and build off their win against Arkansas. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

The Cougars are flying high after their 91-65 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday night.

With a career night from redshirt senior forward Devin Davis, who led the team with 28 points, the Cougars have now won five in a row and three straight at Texas Southern University’s H&PE Arena. The team will look to continue the streak when they host the Fairfield Stags on Wednesday.

The Cougars will still be riding the momentum of their win against Arkansas — their first win against a Southeastern Conference team since 2015. In that game, the team jumped out to an 11-0 lead and never trailed, showing an ability to defend the ball and score without starting guard Rob Gray Jr, who was left on the bench for a large portion of the game.

Davis shared that he had some extra motivation going into the game.

“Personally, it was a payback game because I missed a lot of games from (last year’s) injury (suffered against Arkansas),” Davis said. “It was a blessing tonight because our team played crazy good.”

Head coach Kelvin Sampson, while proud of his team’s performance, is cautiously optimistic about what he has seen this year.

“We’re getting better,” Sampson said, “and this was a good win for us, but there is a lot of basketball left this season.”

While games are not played on paper, the Cougars should not have much of an issue with the visiting Stags. The Cougars are outperformed Fairfield in every major statistical category and have done so against a tougher slate of opponents, according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index

The teams best wins have come against Arkansas, ranked 39th on ESPN’s BPI, and Pennsylvania, ranked 120th.

But this game has the makings of a trap game. The Stags have yet to win a game away from George Bisacca Court and are averaging 10 points less than the Cougars — 71.3 points per game to 81.4 points per game.

Those stats, however, are misleading. In three of their four losses this year, the Stags’ average margin of defeat was less than four points. Their only major loss was a 106-64 blowout loss to the Purdue Boilermakers.

With the Cougars coming off their best win this season, the team might risk letting this matchup get away from them if they focus on future foes. But on paper, the Cougars are the favorite.

Tipoff is at 11 a.m. Wednesday at H&PE Arena. The game will be televised on ESPN3.

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