Although Virginia came into Houston no longer ranked after an embarrassing opening night loss at home to Navy, it didn’t make Tuesday night’s college basketball game any less of a statement for the Houston Cougars. After all, any team with Tony Bennett at the helm is far from an easy out. Houston basketball had a tall task containing Kihei Clark and a long Virginia Cavaliers team, but boy did they deliver, winning 67-47.
After needing overtime to beat Hofstra to begin the season, Houston looked like a team ready to contend for a title. With plenty to unwind, here are the takeaways from a big win for Houston basketball.
Kelvin Sampson Outcoaches Tony Bennett
It’s never easy for a coach to go head-to-head with Tony Bennett. Not only did Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson do it, but one could argue he outcoached him all game. Houston has always been a great defensive team, but they turned it up to another level against Virginia. The Cougars did what few can do in making Virginia panic on offense. The Cavaliers turned the ball over 17 times.
With a team like Virginia, which leans on ball movement so much, it is crucial for a team to be constantly rotating and picking up multiple different defensive assignments each possession. While some is natural talent, most of it is coached, and it is a credit to Sampson and his staff. The only question that can be asked of Sampson is why he left his starters in for so long. With multiple players picking up injuries, it’s a wonder he left others in with such a big lead.
Marcus Sasser, Kyler Edwards and Others Banged Up
Time will tell just how serious some of the injuries suffered during the game are. With that in mind, it is still far from ideal this early in the season. Center Josh Carlton looked to turn his ankle not once but twice in a game where he was contributing nicely off the bench. Starting forward Reggie Chaney also suffered an injury during the game to his left hand early in the second half. Chaney looked to be in some serious pain on a hand that was already partially wrapped up.
Unfortunately, the injuries didn’t stop there for the Cougars. Star guard Marcus Sasser seemed to tweak his ankle as well in the second half. The most concerning injury for Houston, however, was Kyler Edwards and the status of his knee. While playing defense on the perimeter, it looked like his right knee gave out as he planted. He did, however, return to the bench area for the Cougars.
With a long way to go, Houston basketball fans will have to hope this isn’t a sign of things to come.
Kyler Edwards and Marcus Sasser Lead Houston Basketball
It is no secret that Houston loves to shoot the ball. In the past, as seen against Hofstra, it can come back to bite them if the shots aren’t falling. In a big game, the big-time play of Kyler Edwards and Marcus Sasser revealed itself yet again, as they combined for 37 of Houston’s 67 points. Virginia, as a team, only put up 10 more than those two combined. When these two are feeling it, there isn’t a thing anyone can do about it.
Not only did Sasser and Edwards score seemingly at will, but they did it as efficiently as you could ask. They combined to shoot 11-for-24 from the field and an absurd 69% from behind the arc. No matter the defense, it seemed the ball was destined to go in the basket. That shooting only fed into their confidence which makes them and this Houston offense even more lethal than it already is.