Mar 18, 2023; Birmingham, AL, USA; A fan of the Houston Cougars holds a flag before the second half against the Auburn Tigers at Legacy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Van Chancellor: Cougars are a complete basketball team

Van Chancellor is a former head coach of women’s programs at Mississippi, LSU, and the Houston Comets. He won four WNBA titles with the Comets, won a Gold Medal as an Olympic team coach, and reached five Elite Eights and a Final Four in college basketball.

The dream is still alive. Houston will advance to the Sweet 16 with a thrilling come-from-behind win over Auburn 81-64. (At least I got the 64 number right in my previous prediction – just the wrong team with it).

The Cougars overcame a 41-31 halftime deficit with a suffocating defense in the second half. Holding Auburn to only 23 second-half points shows just how effective that defensive change was. Changing to a tight, in-your-face man and stopping penetration shut Auburn down. J’Wan Roberts and Jarace Walker had a block party with five and six blocks each. Auburn was going to the basket with one eye on the goal and the other looking for Roberts and Walker.  

Like a true All-American player, Marcus Sasser put the Cougars on the scoreboard with nine points in the first five minutes of the game. When Sasser and Jamal Shead got in foul trouble in the second half, Tramon Mark stepped up and shouldered the load offensively. Having all of these offensive weapons and a tenacious offensive rebounding team make the Cougars a hard team to beat.

The Cougars showed in the game against Auburn why I think they can survive and advance all the way to NRG. They have prolific scorers; when one struggles, another steps up. They can suffocate you defensively and possess a mental toughness that allows them to never be out of a game, regardless of the scoreboard.

All characteristics were on display in their game with Auburn. The Cougars are a reflection of their coach. Coach Kelvin Sampson is old school – play my way or hit the highway. The players have bought in completely to his coaching style and play with a mentally tough, team-oriented concept. Their coach teaches TTW – Toughest Team Wins. They did.

This attitude resonates with a lot of people, and Mack is one of those people. Mattress Mack, as he is widely known, believes in working harder than the other fellow. He is also known for helping others in their time of need, like opening his Gallery Furniture store during the hurricane for food and shelter to Houstonians. However, Mack is also known for putting his money where his mouth is in his large wagers on his Houston sports teams. A true Cougar fan, Mack lives and dies with every play like all the other Cougar faithful. Hats off to the coaching staff and players for giving us fans another opportunity to show up and cheer. SURVIVE AND ADVANCE ON TO KANSAS CITY.

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