The BYU Cougar Basketball team knew they were in for a challenge as they entered the Big 12. However, BYU has surprised the nation as they have vaulted themselves into the AP Top 25 rankings through 18 games. Of the 4 new Big 12 schools Houston’s success has been the least surprising. We will analyze the Houston Cougars squad as they head to Provo for a Tuesday night matchup for a battled of two ranked conference foes.

A big time power

Houston has been a power in college basketball both historically and recently. The Cougars have an extensive history in the NCAA Tournament. This includes 6 Final Four appearances with the most recent coming in 2021. Houston has finished within the AP Top 25 15 times to go along with their 24 NCAA Tournament births.

In recent years, the Cougars have been apart of the past 5 NCAA Tournaments and advanced to the Sweet 16 for 3 consecutive years. In that time period they have amassed a record of 109 wins and only 16 losses. This level of success has them ranked no. 5 in the AP when they meet BYU.

Differing approaches with similar results

The BYU Basketball team has had incredible success offensively this as they lead the Big 12 Conference in average points per game with 85.7. The Houston Cougars counter that with the top defense in the Big 12 holding their opponents to an average of only 51.5 points per game. It truly seems to be an immovable object versus an unstoppable force type of scenario.

Statistically speaking both teams sit atop the conference in many categories. Houston and BYU are the top 2 teams nationally in point differential. BYU leads the conference in rebounding while Houston sits two spots behind them at 3rd. BYU also sits at 3rd in the Big 12 defensively surrendering only 63.6 points per contest. Houston also has impressed with their rim protection as they are ranked 2nd in the Big 12 in blocked shots averaging 5.5 blocks per game.

These impressive numbers have led both teams to be ranked in the top 5 of the NCAA NET Rankings with Houston being the No.1 team nationally and BYU coming in at No. 5.

Balanced rosters

Houston, like BYU, has found much success with their team depth this season. The Cougars have 10 players who currently average more than 10 minutes of court time per game. They are led in scoring by the impressive guard trio of L.J Cryer, Emanuel Sharp, and Jamal Shead who average 15.2, 13.1, and 11.2 points per game respectively. Senior forward J’Wan Roberts has also played a huge part in Houston’s success as he leads the Cougars in rebounds per game to go along with 8.6 points per game. Shead also leads the team in assists and steals from his guard position.

Series history

Tuesday’s matchup will be the 9 meeting between the two programs. BYU holds a 3-5 record against Houston with the last meeting coming in November of 2019. In that game BYU guard T.J Haws hit a game winning shot at the buzzer to give his team a 72-71 victory on the road. Following BYU’s loss at No.25 Texas Tech this home matchup could have massive implications against on of the premier programs in college basketball.

This will be the 3rd straight game for BYU a against a a top 25 team as Houston is ranked No. 4 in the most recent A.P Poll. BYU is also ranked No.21 nationally setting fans up for a rare opportunity to watch too of the nations elite teams square off in the Marriott Center.

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