Why the Houston Cougars basketball team feels its offense is not close to its ceiling yet

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP/Shutterstock (13722007a) Houston guard Tramon Mark (12) drives to the basket against Tulane guard Jalen Cook (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in New Orleans Houston Tulane Basketball, New Orleans, United States – 17 Jan 2023

Why the Houston Cougars basketball team feels its offense is not close to its ceiling yet

The Houston Cougars basketball team is the No. 1 team in both national polls, has a comfortable cushion in the American Athletic Conference, and yet, there is still plenty of room left to grow, particularly on offense.

During Tuesday’s game against Tulane, the Houston Cougars turned the Green Wave into a green puddle, outscoring them 26-11 to close out the contest. UH scored 80 points against the Green Wave, marking the fifth game in the last seven that the Cougars have scored 80 or more points.

Despite the strong showing for the offense, the Houston Cougars basketball team feels like they still have a lot of room left to grow on that side of the court.

“I still don’t think we are even close to our ceiling, really,” Houston senior guard Marcus Sasser said. “We are still learning how to jell and play together with each other. I feel like that is what can make us so dangerous. Everybody is a weapon. Everybody can do something good.”

The Cougars are averaging 76.2 points per contest, which ranks 83rd in the nation and fourth in the AAC behind Tulane, Memphis, and Cincinnati.

Where Houston runs away from its opponents is with its defense. The Cougars hold foes to just 53.26 points per contest, which is first in the country, resulting in Houston having the best scoring margin in the nation as well. UH is beating teams by an average of 22 points per game.

This season, the Cougars have run a starting lineup most nights of Sasser, junior point guard Jamal Shead, redshirt sophomore guard Tramon Mark, junior forward J’Wan Roberts, and freshman forward Jarace Walker.

Outside of Shead, the other four players did not start for Houston during last year’s conference slate due to injuries, having a different role, or in the case of Walker, still being in high school.

The starting five, along with all the other key contributors, who, outside of junior center Reggie Chaney are playing consistent minutes in a college rotation for the first time as well, are still learning each other’s tendencies, Shead told Gallery Sports on Tuesday night.

“We are all still learning from each other, but we are getting there,” Shead said. “We still got a lot of room to grow, but we are getting there.”

Houston has shown throughout the course of the season that it has multiple weapons across every position in its rotation, not just its starting five, which makes the team’s additional offensive potential real, potent, and dangerous for opposing teams.

Freshman guard Terrance Arceneaux made plays at Oregon. Walker and Mark helped the team close out Virginia, Sampson said. Shead showed out against South Florida.

Freshman guard Emanuel Sharp scorched McNeese and Tulsa with his 3-pointers. Sasser has shown his offensive firepower in the past two games against Tulane and South Florida, while Roberts and sophomore big man Ja’Vier Francis have both shown their offensive versatility throughout the season as well.

The greatest asset for the Cougars, however, is that they have no ego. Whoever has the hot hand will get the ball because they love to see everyone eat, both Shead and Sasser said after Tuesday’s game.

“I feel like each night, you don’t ever know who is going to go off,” Sasser said.

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