The #1 Houston Cougars survived a hard-fought game against Saint Mary’s in Fort Worth, winning 53-48. The Coogs were led by J’Wan Roberts, who finished 15 points and eight rebounds.
The Gaels slowed the game down and made it a half-court, slow-pace slugfest. Head coach Kelvin Sampson has worried about his team’s pace, and Saturday night, they had their fewest possessions of the season (55) but balanced it out with the fewest turnovers of the year (5).
Saint Mary’s shut down Marcus Sasser, Jamal Shead, and Tramon Mark in the second half, limiting the trio to 2/16 shooting. The guards had numerous good looks, but they were not going down, leaving the game in the hands of the UH bigs.
That left it up to Roberts and Reggie Chaney to match Saint Mary’s physicality inside.
“Not everybody can play in a blood bath, a mud bowl game,” Kelvin said about Reggie Chaney.
This team lacks the rebounding prowess of other recent teams, but Sampson says it is a focus in practice. Still, the team survived a neutral court, Tournament-like game and will likely hold onto their #1 ranking as North Florida and #11 Alabama come to town.
“Just ride the wave,” J’Wan Roberts said about being #1. “Keep improving as a team, keep learning every day, just keep getting better.”
Marcus Sasser went out of the game with a shoulder that “popped out and then went back in,” according to Sampson. He said Sasser will be fine.
UH is 8-0 for just the fourth time in school history, matching the 1967-68, 1969-70, and 2018-19 teams.