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6:00 PM PT7:00 PM MT8:00 PM CT9:00 PM ET2:00 PM GMT10:00 PM 北京时间7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST, Feb 17, 2022
Fertitta Center, Houston, Texas  Attendance: 6,957

No. 14 Houston looks to bounce back vs. UCF

Houston had shown impressive resolve, overcoming season-ending injuries to standout guards in Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark, and then reeling off 12 consecutive victories to stand alone and unbeaten atop the American Athletic Conference standings.

That air of invincibility came to an end last week for the 14th-ranked Cougars, who lost on the road to SMU on Feb. 9 and then saw their 37-game homecourt winning streak snapped with a 69-59 setback to Memphis on Saturday. After the two losses, the Cougars fell eight spots in the AP Top 25 Poll.

Now, Houston will aim to get back on track Thursday when it hosts the UCF Knights at the Fertitta Center.

Houston (20-4, 9-2 AAC) has shown signs of vulnerability recently via its lack of depth, with a rotation compromised by injury fighting against fatigue in the latter stages of both of its recent losses.

Without Sasser and Mark, the Cougars have leaned heavily on guards Kyler Edwards, Taze Moore and Jamal Shead. That trio logged 32, 39 and 38 minutes, respectively, and combined for 10 turnovers against Memphis.

Based on what Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said, the trio will likely see heavy minutes against UCF (15-8, 7-6) too.

"We don't have a lot of options over here," Sampson said. "We play Central Florida on Thursday and I'm going to roll Jamal, Kyler and Taze out there. Hopefully, we take care of the ball a little bit better. Hopefully, I do a better job of getting our kids ready to play.

"Our team is what it is; there are no excuses here. We've just got to play better."

The Knights are playing better, recording their third win in four games with a 76-67 victory over Tulsa last Saturday. UCF had gone 3-5 in its previous eight games, including a 63-49 home loss to Houston on Jan. 29, but recent results seem to suggest the Knights have righted their ship.

"We're getting there," UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. "It's that time of year where you want to be playing well and we've historically been playing well during this time of year, and we hope to continue that. But to do that we have to go one game at a time. That's all it takes, one game at a time, staying focused on your next opponent and taking that approach, and I think our guys have done that. "

For the Knights, that means defending with vigor against Houston. UCF hit 43.5 percent of its 3-pointers against Tulsa on Monday and made 29 of 58 field goals overall, but according to Dawkins, the best shot the Knights have for a road win against the Cougars is concentrating on defense.

"We have to make sure we come in with a defensive mindset," Dawkins said. "You can't go into a game like that thinking about going 10 for 23 from 3. That would be great but if you go in there with that type of mindset that's the wrong focus. To win on the road you have to defend very well and you have to take care of the basketball. That gives you a chance to win."

--Field Level Media

Updated February 15, 2022

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