During the current run of excellence that has resulted in Houston being the nation’s second-winningest program since 2017-18, the Cougars have built and sustained a reputation for defensive might.
In their season opener against UL Monroe on Monday, the seventh-ranked Cougars fashioned an 84-31 victory. The effort matched the third-fewest points yielded in Houston history and the fewest since the Cougars defeated Texas A&M 38-29 on Dec. 8, 1951.
The defensive performance was as familiar as it was it was stifling for the Cougars (1-0), who will host Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Saturday.
“We’ve been pretty good defensively around here for a long time,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “I think we’re in the top five in the nation, the top 10 in the nation for the last six years.
“The best thing about our defense the other night was we scored 30 points off their turnovers and we held them to only 39 shot attempts.”
Also par for the course for the Cougars: a scoring attack that featured contributions from holdovers and newcomers.
Sophomore Emanuel Sharp scored a career-high 20 points while hitting four 3-pointers, and Damian Dunn, a transfer from former conference rival Temple, added 18 points. Dunn scored 14 consecutive points during one first-half stretch as the Cougars, who returned just two starters and six letter-winners from last season’s 33-win team, methodically pulled away.
Dunn and Baylor transfer LJ Cryer figure to be important cogs as the Cougars mesh during the non-conference part of their schedule. While Jamal Shead and J’Wan Roberts are essentially sure things, Houston will need the likes of Sharp, Terrance Arceneaux, Ja’Vier Francis and Ramon Walker Jr. — all of whom played supporting roles previously — to step forward and assume greater responsibility. That process will continue in earnest on Saturday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
The Islanders (1-0) recorded the largest margin of victory in program history — 65 points — with a 111-46 season-opening win over Southwestern Adventist on Tuesday. The previous largest win for the Islanders — who also tied the program mark for field goals of 46 set against Cal Poly on Jan. 18, 2001 — was a 58-point win over Texas A&M-International on Nov. 21, 2005.
The triumph came in the debut of Jim Shaw, hired as the Islanders’ head coach in late March following two seasons as an assistant.
Jordan Roberts paced four Islanders in double figures with 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting against Southwestern Adventist. Owen Dease chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds, while Shilo Jackson added 11 points off the bench. Garry Clark wound up with 10 points and nine rebounds.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi improved to 18-0 over the past two seasons when holding the opposition to 70 points or less.
The Islanders, 1-6 all-time against the Cougars, earned their lone series win on Dec. 18, 2010, prevailing 81-78 in overtime at home.
Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is seeking its first-ever victory over a ranked foe and their first win over a Power 5 program since a 67-43 decision against Oregon State on Nov. 13, 2009.
–Field Level Media