Houston Cougars vs. Texas State Bobcats Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 21st 2023

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The third-ranked Houston Cougars won a grudge match against an old conference rival on Saturday, but the victory came at a significant cost.

The Cougars (11-0), who will host Texas State on Thursday, lost sophomore guard Terrance Arceneaux to an Achilles injury in their 70-66 win over Texas A&M, marking their first measure of injury adversity this season.

Arceneaux logged six minutes before sustaining the injury in the first half. He is scheduled to undergo surgery this week and is likely to miss the remainder of the season. Arceneaux is tied for sixth on the team in minutes (18.4 per game), seventh in scoring (5.5 points per game) and third in rebounding (4.5 boards per game).

“Terrance is one of their brothers,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said of his players. “He’s really, really, really well-respected and loved. These kids love, love, love Terrance Arceneaux. That was a tough moment, but not having him physically on the floor was tougher than losing him at the moment.

“But that’s part of dealing with an injury, that’s part of it. It’s not the first time we’ve had an injury and it won’t be the last time. Injuries happen. They’re not going to cancel the schedule. We’ve still got to play that game Thursday night.”

While acknowledging the work ahead in finding a replacement for what Arceneaux provided, Sampson tabbed junior guard Ramon Walker Jr. as the leading candidate for the role. Walker is averaging just 2.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game.

However the Cougars handle the absence, expect them to be prepared by Thursday to keep their undefeated start rolling.

“So, what will we do? We’ll have a plan,” Sampson said. “And I’m looking forward to getting our guys in our plan, and we’ll move forward.”

Texas State (6-5) shot a season-best 66.7 percent in its 110-68 home victory over Division III LeTourneau on Monday. It was the Bobcats’ best shooting performance since they converted 69.9 percent from the floor against Bethany on Dec. 15, 2019.

The Bobcats’ offensive objective against LeTourneau was clear and will be unchanged against the Cougars on Thursday. Junior forward Brandon Love scored a career-high 21 points in the win, while sophomore guard Jordan Mason paired 18 points with a career-highs eight assists plus seven rebounds, which matched his career best.

Freshman guard Kaden Gumbs added nine points and four assists.

“In the past, we’ve been an equal opportunity offense,” Bobcats coach Terrence Johnson said. “We’re somewhat like that, but not so much this year. We know where we’re getting our shots from, and we know who’s shooting them. And then after (establishing) the lead, I’ll allow guys to play a little more freely and (let) other guys get shots.

“Early on, clearly we’re trying to establish Brandon Love, we’re trying to establish Kaden Gumbs with his ability to play in space, and then Jordan Mason with his decision-making and ability to get to his spots, rise up and knock down shots. Those are the guys that we’re trying to establish.”

–Field Level Media

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