Men's Basketball Sports

Breaking down No. 7 UH basketball’s toughest matchups in 2023-24

J’Wan Roberts looks to lead Houston in its first season in the Big 12 Conference. | Anh Le/The Cougar

As the college basketball season looms on the horizon, all eyes are on Houston as the No. 7 Cougars make their Big 12 debut. 

After the last several seasons under head coach Kelvin Sampson, Houston has established itself as a perennial contender in March Madness, earning five straight Sweet 16 appearances. 

Let’s take a look at some of the toughest teams that stand in the Cougars’ way in the 2023-2024 season.

Xavier University Musketeers

The Xavier Musketeers had a good run last season with a 27-10 record, securing second place in a tough Big East Conference. 

With a roster added by key additions from the portal, including guard Quincy Olivari and forward Abou Ousmane, Xavier is gearing up for a season of breakthroughs. 

Ending the previous season at No.13 and ranking 10th in the nation in scoring offense, the Musketeers aim to pose a challenge against the longstanding tough Cougars’s defense. 

The Cougars will face off against the Musketeers in Cincinnati on Dec. 1, in the Big East–Big 12 Battle. 

Texas A&M University Aggies

The Texas A&M Aggies are on a mission to rewrite their tournament narrative. Sporting a 25-10 record and a 2nd place finish in the SEC, the Aggies are determined to overcome a disappointing first-round exit in the tournament last year. 

With portal additions like guard Eli Lawrence and returning All-SEC guard Wade Taylor IV, are looking for a deeper run and ready to make a lasting impact in the postseason.

With the addition of senior guard LJ Cryer and graduate Damian Dunn as well as returning veteran point guard Jamal Shead, it should be a battle of the backcourts for UH against the Aggies.

Houston will face the Aggies on Dec. 16 in the Toyota Center in The Halal Guys Invitational. 

University of Texas at Austin Longhorns

The Texas Longhorns are coming off an impressive 29-9 season under then-interim head coach Rodney Terry. The team finished third place in the Big 12, setting their sights on more. 

The addition of guard Max Abmas and forward Kadin Shedrick through the transfer portal along with the return of start guard Tyrese Hunter signifies that the Longhorns’ are ready to build on their recent success. 

Having reached the Elite Eight last season, Texas is ready to pick its game up and compete against Houston. The hype builds up as many other sports playing Texas have been sold out. 

With the addition of muscle and height of freshman forward Joseph Tugler and center Jacob McFarland as well as the return of senior forward J’Wan Roberts and junior center Ja’Vier Francis, UH will need to rely on its big guys to keep the Longhorns out of the paint.

Houston goes head-to-head with the Longhorns on Jan. 29 on the road and Feb. 17 at home this season.    

Baylor University Bears

After a loss against Baylor in the Final Four in 2021, Houston is ready for their revenge. The No. 20 Bears this past season had a 23-11 record and a third-place finish in the Big 12. 

The Bears, known for their aggressive play, have added to their roster with notable portal additions, including guard Jayden Nunn and guard RayJ Dennis. Baylor is also returning starting forward duo Jalen Bridges and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua.

Fresh off a Round of 32 appearances, Baylor is determined to make a deep postseason run under head coach Scott Drew.  

Houston will take on the Bears on Feb. 24 in Waco, Texas, a homecoming for senior UH guard LJ Cryer, who transferred to UH from Baylor this past offseason.

University of Kansas Jayhawks

The Kansas Jayhawks, who come in at No. 1 in the AP Preseason Poll, had impressive offensive stats last year, averaging 75.4 points per game with notable portal additions such as center Hunter Dickinson. 

Dickinson is a 7’2″ powerhouse from Michigan, and the 2022 National Champions aim to utilize Dickinson’s height, weight and scoring ability. Add returning veterans in forward K.J. Adams Jr. and guard DaJuan Harris Jr. and head coach Bill Self’s Jayhawks are a huge challenge for any team

The Cougars will play the Jayhawks on Feb. 3 in Lawrence and March 9 in the Cougars’ regular-season finale in Fertitta Center.  

If Houston can find a way to keep Dickinson out of the paint while keeping him busy on defense, Houston has a good shot of shutting him down.

Other Big Games

Houston will play their first game on Nov. 6 against the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

UH’s first rivalry game will come on Dec. 6 when cross-town enemies Rice University Owls come to Fertitta Center.

Then, after New Year’s, the Cougars will open up their Big 12 schedule with a home game against West Virginia Mountaineers on Jan. 6 before embarking on a road trip against tough teams at Iowa State University and Texas Christian University.

The Texas Tech Red Raiders will also visit Fertitta Center for the first time on Jan. 27, looking for a bounce-back year. In perhaps one of the most intriguing games of the year, head Kelvin Sampson will visit his old team in Norman, Oklahoma as the Cougars travel to face the Oklahoma Sooners on March 2.

As Houston gears up for the upcoming season, fans can expect a rollercoaster of emotions and unforgettable moments in a historic season.

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