Kelvin Sampson has Houston in prime position to contend for an NCAA Tournament bid

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It’s January, and besides the Game of Thrones-like cold we’ve all been experiencing outside, it’s also that time of year when college hoops fans might start to scroll down the standings page.

An early January look at the standings always results in a few raised eyebrows, but which teams have been most pleasantly surprising?

Houston stands out. The Cougars, who’ve made the NCAA Tournament just once since 1992 (and that was a 16-loss squad that won the C-USA tourney in 2010), appear primed to make a real run at the Big Dance.

Kelvin Sampson has steadily built this program up since 2014, reaching the NIT twice, and is now off to a 12-2 start after an impressive non-conference run.

The Coogs own wins over Providence, Wake Forest, and Temple, and they absolutely obliterated Arkansas, 91-65, in December. They’ve got a bad loss– to 6-8 Drexel, but their only other defeat came at 9-3 LSU in Baton Rogue, after a ridiculous block by do-everything freshman Tremont Waters.

The Cougars have a prodigious scorer in 6-1 senior Rob Gray (19 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3.4 rpg) and some other guys who can put the ball in the hole, like Devin Davis (11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and Corey Davis Jr. (11.1 ppg).

They’ve got a reliable offense, and though they don’t have the star power of the top teams in the AAC, they’ve got a tremendous home-court advantage, and one of the league’s best coaches.

The Cougars have a real chance to contend in the top-heavy AAC, which counts Wichita State, SMU, Cincinnati and maybe Tulsa and UCF as NCAA Tournament contenders. (Notice UConn is conspicuously absent from that list).

Houston will face its toughest test of the year on Thursday, when it travels to No. 6 Wichita State, and we’ll probably learn a lot more about the Cougars then.

For now though, there’s a sense of hope around the men’s basketball team Houston hasn’t had since Guy Lewis.

It’s not quite Phi Slamma Jamma, but the Coogs will take it.


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  1. Pingback: Campbell's Chris Clemons, Marcus Burk set NCAA record with 10 threes each in win over Liberty - ROUNDBALL DAILY

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