What To Watch For In Temple Game Plus The NCAA NET


Today against Temple, the #1 Houston Cougars are trying to go 19-1, and 7-0 in American Athletic Conference play. UH MBB teams that have started 7-0 in conference play:

1982-83: (16-0)
1983-84: (15-1, won first 15)
2021-22: (15-3, won first 9)

End of list.

The Cougars have been in a conference (Lone State, Gulf Coast, MVC, SWC, C-USA, American) for 68 seasons.

This week in practice, Kelvin Sampson stressed turnovers and focus. That was predictable after the Cougars turned it over 14 times in New Orleans and also struggled for long stretches against the Green Wave (despite a 20-point win). Watch today to see if either area is improved.

This is still a young team, learning to take everyone’s best shot, but Sampson knows this is the point in the year where you tighten it all up so that, a month from now, the team can really hit its stride.

Temple’s Damian Dunn (#1) gets to the FT line about as well as any guard in the country. He’s #10 in free throws made nationally, scoring 5.25 ppg from the line. In his last two games (Memphis, ECU), he’s gotten to the line 29 times (26/29).

That’s something the staff is keyed on: How Temple feeds Dunn, especially with 6+ fouls on the board for the Coogs, and how he likes to drive to the basket.

Khalif Battle (#0) will take a lot of shots (averages 15) but is less than a 40% shooter. But earlier this week, Kelvin Sampson called him a “little keg of dynamite” and an elite scorer.

It’s now 49 days til Selection Sunday. Houston will play 12 regular-season games and, likely, three more in the AAC Tournament before Selection Show.

The Cougars have clean-swept ratings that have significance: #1 in the NET, #1 in Ken Pom, #1 in ESPN BPI, #1 in Torvik, and #1 in Sagarin.

This is a big week for UH’s NET:

Today: a home game with Temple (143 in NET) is a low Quad 3 game;
Wednesday: Road game at UCF (56 after loss to USF Saturday. They were 43): Quad 1 game;
Saturday: Home game vs. Cincinnati (78) high Quad 3, but they should be Quad 2 after that game.

UH is just 3-1 in Q1 games, so a win at UCF would be huge. Getting to 5-6 Q1 wins before Section Sunday is vital to secure a #1 seed but that probably means UH has to run the table: at UCF, at Memphis, and possibly Memphis in the AAC Tournament are Houston’s only remaining chances for Q1 wins.

Kelvin Sampson talks a lot about how the head coach should schedule games, not some administrator. He studies its opponents, looking for the right blend for the NET – good NET teams that will come to Fertitta, a quad one-type for a neutral, and 2-3 quad one road games.

Currently, Alabama is #3, Saint Mary’s is #6, Virginia is 13, and Oregon is #60, all quad one games. Kent St is 35, on the edge of a Q1 home win (1-30 are quad-one wins at home). Oral Roberts is 49 and would need a lot of help to slide into Q1.

This graphic is pretty cool from BartTorvik.com. Similar resumes to this Houston team from years past:

Seven of the ten teams made the Final Four, four were national champions, and another made the national title game. Does it mean anything? Nope. Is it fun to see? Yep.

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