It may not be Phi Slamma Jamma, but Kelvin Sampson has something special brewing with his iteration of the Houston Cougars.
Behind 21 points from Corey Davis Jr. and 13 points, five assists and five steals from Galen Robinson, the No. 3-seed Houston Cougars advanced to the program’s first Sweet 16 in 35 years with a 74-59 win over the 11th-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes on Sunday evening.
Houston will advance to take on No. 2-seed Kentucky.
The names that you read there, the leading scorers and the players that will go down in the recaps as the stars of the game, are Houston’s guards. They have a bunch of them. Davis is the best of the bunch and Robinson has been a rock solid lead guard all year, but Armoni Brooks and Dejon Jarreau – neither of whom were particularly great on Sunday – are both capable of popping off for big games on the right night.
In fact, the top five scorers on the Houston roster are all perimeter players.
But they are heading to the Sweet 16 thanks in very large part to their very large men.
Ohio State’s strength is that they have Kaleb Wesson. He’s their leading scorer, their leading rebounder, one of their best passers and the guy that Chris Holtmann runs his offense through. He finished with 15 points, six boards and a pair of assists — his average on the season — but he was no where near as effective as we have come to expect out of the all-Big Ten center. To get a sense of just how in check he was, think about this: Wesson attempted just a single two point field goal on the night. Kelvin Sampson’s crew double-teamed him to perfection, with Breaon Brady, Fabian White and Brison Gresham doing everything that you can ask of them.
They are going to need that heading into the next round, as they will take on a Kentucky team that may or may not be getting P.J. Washington back from the foot injury that has kept him out since the SEC tournament.
Whatever happens in the Sweet 16 is besides the point by now.
Houston is back in the Sweet 16.
Everything from here on out is playing with house money.