Upsetting No.1 seed Arizona in Sweet 16 could come down to this for UH Coogs
After defeating both UAB and Illinois in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, the Houston Cougars have advanced to their third straight Sweet 16 and have a date with No. 1 seed Arizona.
The Cougars obtained their first two victories with great defensive performances, effective rebounding and timely scoring from a multitude of players.
Their previous game against Illinois saw Taze Moore and Jamal Shed take over from a scoring perspective.
Moore tallied a season high 21 points, seven rebounds and two steals, and Shed contributed an additional 18 to push the Cougars past the Fighting Illini.
Senior guard Kyler Edwards has been shooting lights out as well. The Texas native has made at least three 3-pointers in 14 games, and has scored at least 15 points in three of his last four contests.
Houston’s leading scorer seems to heating up at the right time and has been the team’s go-to 3-point shooter as of late.
Other starters Fabian White Jr. and Josh Carlton were contained throughout most of the Illinois contest, but Houston was able to adjust without their bigs by establishing scoring outside the paint.
White made some key shots at the end of the game, but the Fighting Illini defense held Houston’s all-time winningest player to obtain only six points.
The Cougars however didn’t need to have a stellar offensive showcase to win, as they dominated Illinois with some elite level defense holding them to 34% shooting, and forced 17 turnovers.
Houston's next game against Arizona will be their toughest of the season so far, but head coach Kelvin Sampson may have a few tricks up his sleeve to keep his team’s title hopes alive.
In their previous game against Illinois, Houston had to adjust their offense from the paint to the perimeter due to the Fighting Illini playing great interior defense.
Coach Sampson has changed his offense in-game with great success throughout this season, and can give Arizona a run for their money if they are unprepared.
Even though the Wildcats are favored to win, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Houston advance past the No.1 Seed.
Arizona’s tournament run saw them defeat Wright State and survive a narrow overtime victory over TCU.
The latter was a result of the Horned Frogs containing top-10 NBA Draft prospect Bennedict Mathurin early before the Wildcats eventually mounted a comeback to win the game.
Houston is a vastly superior defensive team compared to TCU, and has done a good job limiting guards over the course of this season.
Players like Shed, Edwards and Moore will likely take turns defending the Pac-12 Player of the Year and look to limit his production from the perimeter where he is extremely efficient.
If the Cougars can contain Mathurin’s scoring, play an elite level defense and have timely scoring, there’s reason to believe Houston will be advancing to their second consecutive Elite Eight.
The game tips off at 8:59 p.m. at AT&T Center in San Antonio and will be televised on TBS.