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No. 14 Houston takes swarming D into Wichita State matchup

No. 14 Houston got back on track in its latest outing and hopes to ride that momentum into a visit to Wichita State on Sunday.

The Cougars (21-4, 10-2 American Athletic Conference) had won 12 in a row before taking back-to-back losses earlier this month against SMU and Memphis. However, coach Kelvin Sampson's team was back to its normal self against UCF on Thursday, limiting the Knights to 28.3 percent shooting in an 70-52 triumph.

"Every team is going to have ups and downs during the course of the season," Sampson said. "That's why I try to educate people about not getting too high when you win games and certainly don't get too low when you lose them. Playing in these leagues, especially with what these kids have been through this year, you're going to lose games."

The Cougars placed four players in double figures against UCF, led by Taze Moore (14 points), who has scored at least 10 points in five straight games and has shot at least 50 percent from the field in three of his past four outings.

Moore was just 1 of 5 from 3-point range against UCF -- part of a 7-of-23 long-distance shooting performance by Houston -- although Sampson did not appear overly concerned.

"They zoned us tonight," Sampson said. "I thought our shot selection was outstanding. ... For the most part, I don't think we took but one bad 3, and that got blocked. Every other 3 was wide open. If we made four more of those, that's a good shooting night."

Wichita State (13-10, 4-7) also is coming off a tough 3-point shooting performance. The Shockers shot 5 of 18 from long distance against Cincinnati their last time out, and the host Bearcats connected on 11 of 19 from outside while prevailing 85-76.

"The game was lost on the defensive end," Shockers coach Isaac Brown said. "They didn't feel us. They just chopped us up and got whatever they wanted. We couldn't guard them."

Tyson Etienne and Dexter Dennis each had 14 points to lead Wichita State, which had won four of its previous six games. However, the up-and-down Shockers still find themselves in eighth place in the 11-team league.

"It can still be turned around. We still have a little time left," Dennis said. "It's going to take everybody on the squad to look themselves in the mirror and ask what they could have done better and what can each person do better on this team individually."

Sunday marks the second meeting between the teams this season. Houston topped visiting Wichita State 76-66 on Jan. 8 as Josh Carlton recorded 22 points and 12 rebounds. The Shockers committed 14 turnovers in losing for the seventh time in their past eight meetings with the Cougars.

"We just didn't do a good job of taking care of the basketball," Brown said that day. "Too many easy baskets led to 26 points in transition, and big boy (Carlton) was a handful inside. We couldn't guard him."

Etienne and Dennis shot a combined 8 of 26 in the first meeting, totaling 21 points.

--Field Level Media

Updated February 18, 2022

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