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Houston Cougars vs. Central Florida Knights Pick & Prediction JAN 29TH 2022

Logo Houston Cougars
Logo Central Florida Knights

-6 -116
138.5o -110



First, it was senior center Josh Carlton who took it upon himself to carry the offensive load for Houston after the Cougars lost two key cogs just before the start of the American Athletic Conference schedule.

Of late, senior guard Kyler Edwards has helped fill the void. Edwards averaged 24 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists in victories over South Florida and East Carolina last week to earn his second consecutive AAC Player of the Week honor.

Edwards is sure to play a vital role Saturday as the seventh-ranked Cougars (17-2, 6-0 American) travel to face UCF, seeking to extend their winning streak to 10 games.

With guards Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark lost to season-ending injuries, Edwards has assumed a greater role orchestrating the Cougars' pick-and-roll offense. The nuances of the task came gradually for Edwards, but with each game, he has become more effective and efficient.

"Kyler, starting with the USF game, started getting comfortable," Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. "But, also, when kids know they're going to play 35 minutes, 37 minutes, I think there's a calmness that comes over them.

Houston Cougars

"Kyler is an unselfish kid. He's a good basketball player. He's pretty good at just about everything."

The heavy workload has yet to undermine Edwards or others in the Cougars' short-handed backcourt. That doesn't alleviate concerns moving forward, especially as Houston prepares for a rugged stretch that features games at Cincinnati and SMU. With its depth compromised, Houston will be challenged to stay in the fight for 40 minutes game after game.

"That's going to be our question the rest of the year: How can we finish games?" Sampson said. "With our lineup, there are so many variables beyond our control: foul trouble, who's on the floor, fatigue. I think we can keep our front line fresh. The biggest thing is the backcourt."

UCF (12-6, 4-4) had won three of four games before an 84-79 setback at Wichita State on Wednesday. The performance represented a step back for the Golden Knights defensively, with the Shockers recording the highest point total in regulation this season against UCF in conference play.

Beyond their struggles to defend without fouling against the Shockers, who hit 31 of 40 free throws, UCF surrendered 15 offensive rebounds in the defeat. Those are foreboding trends with Houston next on the slate.

"We have to make sure to get our minds right," UCF coach Johnny Dawkins said. "We have to learn from this game, get better from it. I thought there were some positives we'll take away from the second half that we'll show our guys, and we'll show our guys some things we've got to improve in.

"We can't give up 84 points; that's not who we are defensively. It starts on that end of the floor. Between that and defensive rebounding, closing the possessions out, we have to get better in those areas -- and that's what we're going to focus on."

With the Golden Knights' leading scorer on the season, Darin Green Jr., limited to nine points on 4-of-12 shooting against the Shockers, senior Brandon Mahan put up 20 points and a career-high 13 rebounds.

--Field Level Media

Houston Cougars
Central Florida Knights

Houston Cougars vs. Central Florida Knights Recap DEC 26TH 2020

Corey Davis Jr. scored 26 points to lead No. 12 Houston to a 77-68 victory over UCF on Thursday night in Orlando, Fla., despite getting whistled for 23 fouls.

The Cougars (22-1, 9-1 American Athletic Conference) won their seventh consecutive game. UCF (16-5, 6-3) had its 10-game home winning streak snapped.

The Cougars smothered the Knights' offense for much of the game and paid for it in fouls, but UCF finished just 14 of 27 from the free-throw line.

UCF, taking advantage of missed foul shots by the Cougars down the stretch, outscored Houston 27-16 over the final 7:10. However, Houston's 20-point lead -- its largest of the game -- was too much to overcome.

The Cougars' backcourt of Davis and Armoni Brooks (14 points) outscored UCF's leading scorers, guards BJ Taylor (21 points) and Aubrey Dawkins (13). Taylor scored 16 in the second half.

Galen Robinson added 12 points for Houston.

Dawkins shot just 5 of 15 and didn't hit his first 3-pointer until the 11:07 mark of the second half.

UCF's 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall had 13 points and six rebounds.

The Cougars took a 40-25 lead into halftime on the strength of a 23-8 run over the final 10 1/2 minutes of the half.

After UCF's Frank Bertz hit consecutive 3-pointers to tie the game at 17, the Cougars held the Knights to just two field goals the rest of the half.

Davis led all scorers with 13 first-half points.

Fall played just seven minutes before the break after picking up his second foul just three minutes into the game.

UCF, which came into the game 335th in the country in free-throw shooting, shot just 8 of 17 from the line in the half. The Cougars made 9 of 10, with Davis going 5 of 5, and they wound up 20 of 28. Davis finished 9 of 12 on free throws.

The Cougars return home to play No. 25 Cincinnati on Sunday while UCF hits the road for a game at SMU on Sunday.

--Field Level Media


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