Tonight the Bearcats will play a Houston team coming off a tough loss at home to Tulane. They are coached by Kelvin Sampson who is well known throughout the Midwest for stripping the cupboards bare in Bloomington, Indiana. Houston features three players that can score, all of whom struggle to string consecutive good games together.
Against Tulane, Houston was led by Chicken Knowles, a 6’10” (SF/PF) four-star recruit. Chicken scored 31 points that night, but scored only 8 points against Memphis two games prior.
Likewise, Houston’s other top two scorers – Jherrod Stiggers (SG) and Devonta Pollard (PF) – both average double figures in scoring, yet struggle with consistency. Against Tulane, Pollard scored 16. Against Memphis, 4 points. Stiggers scored 6 against Tulane and 5 against ECU, yet he started the season by hitting for 17 against Murray State.
Houston is really an unpredictable team led by an all-world coach. I guess if all three of their scorers got hot tonight, it could be troublesome. However, I doubt that will happen for a variety of reasons. First, UC can match Houston’s athleticism. Chicken Knowles is a 6’10” slasher. So what? Octavius Ellis is a 6’10” glass-eating, shot-blocking machine. In other words, Chicken ought to avoid the lane or risk his shot being swatted to the Gaslight District.
Second, Houston has struggled against good defensive teams. Houston scored only 44 points against Memphis. Good news Bearcat Nation, our kids can play some defense. I’ll be surprised if Houston scores more than 50.
Third, UC is a young, emotional team. They had a big win on Saturday in front of a packed house. They will be hyped for tonight’s outing. Cobb shoots better at home, Troy leads better in Clifton, Ellis seems to jump higher inside 5/3rd Arena, Young Gary Clark is more aggressive in Cincinnati, Shaq plays smarter in the 513, and DeBerry is a moose inside the city limits. And Jermaine Sanders is pulling it together – let’s hope he continues his forward momentum.
Fourth, Houston lost to ECU. Yes, that ECU team that we walloped by 21. Assuming the Bearcats can keep their defensive energy up, get some early shots to fall, and not let their success go to their heads, they should win big tonight. Prediction – Bearcats by a mile.
By Brian Fox