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Friday, April 23, 2021

Men's Basketball

UH-UCF rundown: Caleb Mills expected to return, Knights’ player to watch


UH men’s basketball guard Caleb Mills holds his follow through as Tulane’s K.J. Lawson’s closes in during the 2019-20 season at Fertitta Center. Mills is expected to make his return for UH versus UCF on Saturday. | Mikol Kindle Jr.

UH men’s basketball guard Caleb Mills holds his follow through as Tulane’s K.J. Lawson’s closes in during the 2019-20 season at Fertitta Center. Mills is expected to make his return for UH versus UCF on Saturday. | Mikol Kindle Jr.

The Houston men’s basketball team will continue its conference schedule on Saturday when it travels to Florida to take on UCF at noon on ABC.

The Cougars (6-0, 1-0 American Athletic Conference) are coming off another double-digit win when they beat Temple by 26 points on Tuesday. 

While UH has played two games since its 15-day layoff due to COVID-19 issues, it is still working through some rust after the pause as multiple players return to the court.

“There’s no substitute for playing basketball games,” UH men’s basketball head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “You can’t simulate a game with the emotion, the adrenaline and how that zaps your energy when you come back from that.”

Heading into the weekend prior to the Alcorn State game, the Cougars practiced with only six players, and have slowly worked in more student-athletes as they have gotten cleared.

Sophomore guards Caleb Mills and Marcus Sasser both missed the Alcorn State game with Mills also missing Tuesday’s game.

Tramon Mark, J’Wan Roberts and Brison Gresham have all played since the Cougars returned but have been limited as they try to capture a rhythm. 

All three were cleared to rejoin the team the Friday before the Cougars hosted the Braves, Sampson said, and they had not had a chance to do much in practice prior to the Temple game.

Mills is expected to return to the UH lineup after being out since halftime of the matchup against Texas Tech due to an ankle injury. The Cougars have not said whether Mills’ missed time has been due to only the injury. 

Turning to UCF

The Knights (3-1, 1-0 AAC) enter Saturday’s matchup off two straight wins against Cincinnati and No. 15 Florida State.

Sampson spoke highly of UCF on Thursday in a Zoom call with reporters, noting the team’s versatility, star power and its resumé. The Knights’ only loss so far in 2020-21 came at the hands of Michigan.

When it comes to UCF’s key players, Sampson pointed out two players in sophomore forward C.J. Walker and senior guard Brandon Mahan.

Mahan, specifically, has the UH head coach’s eye heading into the UCF contest. He’s a threat to get 20-25 days especially because of his ability to shoot, Sampson said.

“He’s legit,” he said. “He would be arguably the best player we have played so far.”

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