The 11-point win over UCF was perhaps the best win of the season for the Houston Cougars. Not the biggest – Saint Mary’s is currently #6 in the NCAA NET – so that was a much “bigger” win. But the road win at UCF is a Quad 1 win and did a lot for the psyche of this team.
Here’s why it was a big deal:
1. Bounce-back: UH took it on the chin Sunday. No other way to say it. That’s going to happen every year to every team – a real “WTF” game. But how do those teams respond? In their first chance to respond, UH did some things very well and beat a solid team on the road in a tough atmosphere.
2. Movement: After rough offensive games vs. Kent State and Alabama, the Cougars looked different in the next game: crisp ball movement – and, just as important, good body movement. Houston passed it well and found the open man. They made the extra pass in Orlando that got them the right shot. Fourteen assists on 23 made shots is good but playing for the best shot won the game.
Jamal Shead, fighting his game for the last few weeks, had ten assists to one turnover. Huge.
3. Outstanding Offensive Board Effort: This one was a big deal in practice and meetings this week: UH looked lost on the offensive boards vs. Temple. They rebounded just 12 of 37 missed shots and had struggled the last four games on the offensive boards, getting to only 33%.
Wednesday night, Houston rebounded 16 of their 28 missed shots. But, going back to St Joe’s, in the seven games away from home before the UCF game, UH was mediocre on the offensive glass, at least by the standards of this program:
|Opponent||Offensive Boards||Missed Shots||% Rebounded|
UCF was a huge step forward.
4. The turnaround: The Coogs got a “break” last week, but they play three games in 7 days this week. A week of home, road, and home games is rough. There’s no time to rest your legs in one of the hardest grinds of the year. The fact that UH came back from a slow start and ran away from UCF at the end is a testament to this team.
Another quick turnaround before Cincinnati will be difficult, but a win would set the Cougars up perfectly in the AAC title race. UH still needs to clean up the free throws, but they were 10/14 (71%) in the second half.