The Houston Cougars beat North Carolina A&T, 74-46, in the first game of the Coaches vs. Racism HBCU Roundball Classic. Led by Ja’Vier Francis’ career night, 17 points, and 15 rebounds, Kelvin Sampson’s young bench provided the boost the Cougars needed as UH bounced back from Saturday’s tough loss.
The Cougar offense still seemed to be in a rut, committing more turnovers than points scored in the game’s first five minutes. That caused Kelvin Sampson to sub in his freshmen early, playing Terrance Arceneaux, Emanuel Sharp, and Francis together with starter Jarace Walker for much of the game. Francis woke the sleepy crowd with two slams, and Emanuel Sharp hit a three on his first shot, giving UH a 14-9 lead at the under-12 timeout.
Francis then went on a tear, at one point scoring six straight points, all dunks, to extend the lead to 27-18. A&T’s Kam Woods was single-handedly responsible for the Aggies’ early offense, scoring 17 of the team’s first 18 points.
Kelvin Sampson went on for nearly 30 minutes in the postgame, a whirlwind on freshmen, good and bad advice, the transfer portal, helicopter parents, failure, success, staying in school, recruiting 'experts' rating players, and what you see in games vs. what they see in practice.
— GoCoogs.com (@gocoogs1) December 14, 2022
With just over two minutes to go in the half, Marcus Sasser made his first two field goals, beating the shot clock on a short jumper and hitting another in the final minute. Sasser finished with 17 points in 24 minutes.
Francis and Sharp started the second half, with Sampson seemingly staying true to his desire to develop the team’s young depth, something he stressed after the Alabama game. The Coogs went on a 12-0 run in the first four minutes of the half as the Aggies went over 10 minutes without a field goal, stretching back to the first half.
Sasser was more aggressive in the second half, picking off a bad pass and scoring before hitting a three to extend the lead to 55-25. Then, in the game’s final minute, Francis got a block that set off a fastbreak where Sharp found Ramon Walker on an alley-oop to give the crowd a last chance to roar their approval.
Houston (10-1) will next head to Charlottesville, Virginia, for a Saturday matinee with #2 UVA.