With tournament games up next, Houston Cougars basketball looks to grow from regular-season finale

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Karen Pulfer Focht/AP/Shutterstock (13793627a) Memphis Kendric Davis (3) drives the ball around Houston Marcus Sasser (0) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, in Memphis, Tenn Houston Basketball, Memphis, United States – 05 Mar 2023

With tournament games up next, Houston Cougars basketball looks to grow from regular-season finale

The Houston Cougars basketball team walked away with a thrilling win on Sunday afternoon, beating Memphis on a Jamal Shead buzzer-beater.

Despite the excitement and impressive accomplishment of going undefeated on the road this season, No. 1 Houston is hoping the regular season finale served as a good test run for what March tournament games are all about.

“I think a game like this is needed before the tournament just so we don’t go in having a big head,” Houston senior big man Reggie Chaney told Gallery Sports. “We know that you got to play. If we don’t do certain things, then we can go home early.”

Sunday’s game was a great win, but Houston was not happy with its inability to keep Memphis from clawing back into the game.

The Cougars had too many unforced errors against Memphis, such as stepping out of bounds and throwing the ball away in the final seconds of the game, Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson said. Houston had 14 turnovers, eight of which came in the second half.

While Memphis is good at traps and pressures, it was the unforced errors that had the head coach’s eyes twirling, Sampson added.

Heading into the conference and NCAA Tournaments, Houston knows it has to play better with big leads, Shead said. Throughout the season, there have been times when Houston has built up an advantage and allowed opponents to rally.

The most glaring example of the season came in December against Alabama. Houston led by 15 in that game against the Crimson Tide but allowed them to rally and leave Fertitta Center with the win. Now that tournament play is beginning, UH knows it needs to clean up that area.

“Every possession matters,” Houston sophomore guard Tramon Mark said. “That second half, we got off to a slow start. We came out the half with a nine-point lead, and it just went away. I think we can learn from that definitely.”

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