‘We’ve won nothing’: Cougars focused on winning last two games of regular season
The Cougars enter the final week of the regular season tied with the Tulsa Golden Hurricane for the No. 1 spot in the American Athletic Conference, but the landscape of the conference can be drastically changed depending on the outcome of the final two games.
“We’ve won nothing,” head coach Kelvin Sampson said after the win against Cincinnati. “Championships are destinations. This journey that we are on is not over.”
The Cougars, who are 12-4 entering Wednesday evening, end the season with a trip to Connecticut to take on the Huskies on Thursday and will host the Tigers on Sunday morning.
The matchup against UConn will be a critical one for Houston, who will look to remain in the No. 1 spot it shares with Tulsa as both teams are 12-4.
Cincinnati, who defeated South Florida on Tuesday evening, also has 12 wins, but it is a half game behind of both Houston and Tulsa at the moment as the Bearcats have five losses.
Tulsa ends the year with two road games against Temple on Wednesday and Wichita State on Sunday while Cincinnati ends the year at home against Temple.
“We got a big game coming up Thursday, and I think we are more focused on the process,” Sampson said after Sunday’s win against Cincinnati. “If you start getting ahead of yourself, you’re losing sight of why we start in June and (why) our kids work so hard.”
If Houston wins on the road, it gets a step closer to the No. 1 seed in the AAC tournament as it gains an advantage over both Tulsa and Cincinnati, who each split the regular-season series with the Huskies, which could become a factor in a potential tiebreaker once all the games end.
Looking past UConn
Houston ends the regular season at home in a rematch against Memphis, who defeated the Cougars back on Feb. 22.
Besides looking to get even with the Tigers, Sunday’s game also is crucial when it comes to the potential tiebreakers because if Houston loses, it will also lose a possible tiebreaker advantage to both Tulsa and Cincinnati as both teams defeated the Tigers earlier in the season.
In the previous meeting, Memphis and Houston went down to the wire, in which redshirt freshman guard Caleb Mills had the chance to hit the go-ahead basket in the waning seconds of the game but couldn’t deliver.
After the contest, Sampson and the players reiterated that the mental mistakes such as the turnovers and fouls on the other side of the court were the reason for the loss, which led to the team focusing on those errors during their idle week.
The worst-case scenario for the Cougars in terms of seeding for the conference tournament is finishing as the No. 3 spot. The best-case scenario is the No. 1 seed. If the Cougars can win the conference tournament, they would get an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament.