Men's Basketball Sports

Cougars look to improve first half sense of urgency after Oklahoma State loss

Head coach Kelvin Sampson was critical of Houston after their loss to Oklahoma State, saying the Cougars' defeat came down to their "sense of urgency." | File photo

Head coach Kelvin Sampson was critical of Houston after their loss to Oklahoma State, saying the Cougars’ defeat came down to their “sense of urgency.” | File photo

Following the Cougars’ 61-55 loss to the Cowboys, head coach Kelvin Sampson was vocal with his frustration on the team’s lack of urgency, particularly in the first half.

“You know that Oklahoma State, and the thing that bothers me more than anything else is that they, for 20 minutes, played harder than we did,” Sampson said on Wednesday. “They deserved to win that game. I hate to say it, but they did. We didn’t deserve to win that game.”

Sampson blames Sunday’s first-half performance on the Cougars coming out the gates with a lackadaisical mentality.

“We have a good team that’s not playing good,” Sampson said. “You know, you think about it, we were down 18 the other day, next thing you know, it’s tied. To me, if you get down 18 and comeback, it probably means you’re competing a little bit harder and playing with a sense of desperation.”

“It comes out in your sense of urgency and how you play,” Sampson said. “You know, we just had too many wasted possessions.”

In spite of the disappointing loss, the Cougars are only nine games into the season, and they have plenty of time left to grow, and that is exactly what they plan to do.

“You know, we’re not a great team, long way from that, but we’re not a bad team either,” Sampson said. “We’re probably somewhere in the middle right now. But as a coach, what I focus on every day is to try to get a little bit better, especially when you got young guys. Everybody on this team, I think, is capable of playing better, and I think we will.”

Houston has played a competitive schedule up to this point, and the success of the program over the years has led to many of the opponents to bring their best when they play the Cougars.

Five of the Cougars’ nine games have been decided by single-digits this season.

“The thing that I noticed is that I don’t think our kids understand how hard teams are going to play against us,” Sampson said. “Now we’ve got a big bullseye on our back. We’ve been a national program right here for two years, but we’re not that team right now. We’re the same program, and teams are preparing that way, but that’s not who we are right now. We’re still trying to get to that point.”

UTEP and the upcoming competition at the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic will be the latest tests for Houston.

“You know,” Sampson said, “this team’s just got to continue to build and build and build and build.” 

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