The Houston Cougars overcame a sluggish night at the rim by scoring 30 points off turnovers in a 66-56 win at Oregon. UH scored off of 14 of Oregon’s 16 turnovers.
“We didn’t play great, but it’s not time to play great,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “It’s November. November’s about winning and learning, and that’s what we did today.”
In an early HOUNIL video, Jamal Shead and Galen Robinson accurately predicted the fate of Pac-12 teams against the UH intensity.
Marcus Sasser was hampered by foul trouble in the first half and sat for the last 12 minutes of the half. He didn’t make his first shot until 13:10 to play but scored 16 points down the stretch, including the dagger three-pointer with 52 seconds left.
But even Sasser could not outshine Terrance Arceneaux, who came off the bench to spark the Cougars in each half. The freshman from Beaumont had 15 points, five boards, and three steals to lift Houston out of two stagnant stretches.
“At this point, they’re just deeper than us,” UO coach Dana Altman said. “We were bigger; that’s why we outrebounded them, got some blocked shots. But their perimeter game is much better than ours right now. Just got a lot of work to do.”
Oregon outrebounded UH (37-28 and 15-10 offensive glass) while center N’Faly Dante gave the Cougars fits the entire game with his scoring, rebounding, and defense. But Houston knew Dante would not be the ultimate difference in the game. Oregon’s offense feeds through him, and the Cougars worked to deny him the ball. Dante was 6/8 from the floor in 35 minutes, but limiting him to eight shots was a win for UH.
UH shut down Oregon’s two other centers, the 7′ Nate Bittle and 6’11” freshman phenom Kel’el Ware, who combined to go 3/7.
“For the most part, we kept them out of the paint, Kelvin Sampson said. “And our pick-and-roll defense was good.”
Houston singled out Will Richardson’s left-handed move as the point of attack. Jamal Shead and Sasser picked him alive, turning him over seven times. Starting forward Quincy Guerrier met the same fate against Jarace Walker and Tramon Mark, who held him to 2/11 shooting and four turnovers.
“We showed our inability to handle the ball, and that was a pretty big part of it,” Altman said.
Shead reached double-digits in scoring in the first half and finished with 13, to go with four assists and four steals.
The Ducks were able to hang in against UH despite losing their energy guy, Keeshawn Barthelemy, to a foot or ankle injury late in the first half. Staying in the game was aided by the three west coast refs not calling a found on Oregon for nearly 22 minutes of game time. And then, having been called for zero fouls, Oregon could not even get UH into a one-and-one situation when they needed it.
Houston (5-0) will likely move to #2 in the nation on Monday when the AP Poll comes out. In computer polls, UH moved to #2 in KenPom, #1 in Bart Torvik, and #1 in ESPN’s BPI.
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