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Friday, April 10, 2020

Men's Basketball

Sampson: Houston’s goals still ‘right there’ for the taking


Junior forward Fabian White Jr. (left) hands the ball off to junior guard DeJon Jarreau (right). Houston is still in the AP top 25 despite Saturday's loss to the Bearcats. | Kathryn Lenihan/ The Cougar

Junior forward Fabian White Jr. (left) hands the ball off to junior guard DeJon Jarreau (right). Houston is still in the AP top 25 despite Saturday’s loss to the Bearcats. | Kathryn Lenihan/ The Cougar

Head coach Kelvin Sampson went on his weekly radio show and reflected on Houston’s early-season goals and the progress the team has made to achieve those goals on Monday evening.

“Every goal we had at the beginning of the season is still right there for us,” Sampson said.

According to the head coach, the players came together and set their sights on winning the American Athletic Conference championship again.

“These kids have positioned themselves to repeat,” Sampson said. “It’s right there for them.”

Nine games into conference play and the Cougars are tied with Cincinnati for second place in the AAC and are only a half-game behind Tulsa.

Despite the heartbreaking loss to the Bearcats on Saturday, Sampson believes the team is in a great position to reach their goals.

“You’re gonna stay in the conference race as long as you win your home games,” Sampson said. “(The American teams) are going to continue to cannibalize each other… the good thing is that Tulsa and Cincinnati have to come back to Houston.”

Even though Houston is primed to compete for the conference title, there are still plenty of mistakes the team has to clean up and a lot of those errors came back to bite them against the Bearcats.

“The biggest obstacle for us in the last nine minutes at Cincinnati was two-fold,” Sampson said. “We could not stop them from the free-throw line, and we had too many live-ball turnovers.”

Houston turned the ball over nine times and sent Cincinnati to the free-throw line 31 times in the loss.

“When you turn the ball over a lot, it means you are playing two teams,” Sampson said. “You’re playing yourself, and you’re playing your opponent.

“It’s hard enough to beat one team, much less two.”

Out of 12 teams, the Cougars are eight in The American in turnover margin (-0.18), which means that Houston is on average, slightly committing more turnovers than its opponents every game.

The Cougars will have a chance to clean up the turnover issues and atone for Saturday’s loss when the Tulane comes to town on Thursday night.

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