Challenges against Houston

Houston plays at a much slower pace than any other opponent so far. As Jimmy has documented, transition offense contributes significantly to our sparkling offensive efficiency, and Houston has statistically been one of the best transition defenses in the nation this season. We may get to find out whether we can grind out a win on the road.

The Coug’s formula this year has been to make treys, give up little inside, win the TO battle, and dominate the boards. They aren’t a great ballhandling team, but they get the possessions back at the other end. Houston isn’t a big team either. It’s impressive how well they have rebounded at both ends. They seem to punch above their weight class like Tennessee. By raw numbers they are the best offensive rebounding team that we have faced. Keeping them off the glass can take away a big chunk of their O.

One note, Houston’s schedule has been light, however. Their best win is over a defensively challenged Wake Forest club.

In theory Arkansas has a big advantage at the line. Houston hasn’t gotten to the line a lot, shoots a low percentage when they do, and fouls a lot. In their gym those weaknesses figure to be mitigated. Our bigs could be an important advantage in this game. If we can hurt them inside on the glass and off of cuts, Houston will have a difficult time guarding us as long as we have an average night for us from the arc. I don’t know if Houston has an answer for Gafford if he can stay on the court. Likewise, Trey’s playmaking may be important in a halfcourt slog. The danger is if they bog us down in the halfcourt like UNC did, and we don’t run enough offense while they hammer us from the arc. They are much smaller than UNC, though.

Our kids have got to trust the offense if it gets into a half court slug fest.