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By the Numbers: Kentucky vs. Houston

Friday night the Cats will take on the Houston Cougars in Kansas City for the final spot in the Elite 8. Houston has an impressive 33-3 record and won both its opening rounds games by a double-digit margin.

Here’s the group that will tip off with the Cats in the Sweet 16 this weekend:

Houston’s starters average 50.6 points a game, with Davis Jr. and Brooks leading the charge. The Cougars average 76.2 points per game (half a point less than UK, which averages 76.5), meaning the 3-seed’s bench accounts for nearly 25.6 points a game (for reference, UK’s averages 15). Given that number, it’s reasonable to assume we will see Houston coach Kelvin Sampson rotate players in and out with great frequency. Here’s the numbers for the Cougars’ bench, listed in descending order of minutes averaged:

A name (or two) you’ll hear Friday

Corey Davis Jr. — The senior shooting guard and leading scorer set an American Athletic Conference record for three-pointers made in an NCAA Tournament game by draining seven in the Cougars’ opening round against Georgia State. He followed that outing up by dropping 21 on Ohio State in the Round of 32. Davis Jr. loves to let the triples fly; throughout the month of March (eight games) he shot an average of 10 threes and connected on 33 percent. With the rate the Davis Jr. shoots, that percentage can and has been very effective.

Armoni Brooks — The 6-foot-3 junior guard is second on the team in scoring, but leads the Cougars in rebounds with 6.6. Brooks has nabbed 226 boards this season, 71 more than the next Houston player.

Some things to note

Houston’s backcourt rebounds better than its frontcourt — The Cougars’ starting bigs only average 8.1 rebounds. Brooks is first on the team with 226 rebounds for the year, and second is sixth man Nate Hinton with 155. Starting forward Breaon Brady is next with 145, and fellow big man Fabian White is not far behind with 119. How are these numbers possible? Well…

Houston’s frontcourt is run by committee — The Cougars have no PJ Washington or Reid Travis (both of whom average nearly 30 minutes a game). Without a superstar, Sampson keeps a constant rotation of bigs. While the 6-foot-5 Cedrick Alley Jr. may come off the bench, the freshman leads all forwards in minutes per game (18.7). White Jr. and Brady both start, but neither play more than 18 minutes. Center Chris Harris Jr. rounds the group out and averages nearly 11 minutes per game. Keeping such a balance of frontcourt minutes means each player’s averages are low, but the unit is solid when looked at as a whole. Interestingly enough, Houston averages 41.2 boards a game — 2.8 more than Kentucky.

The Cougars shoot like Wofford — If you thought the three-point party ended in Jacksonville with the Terriers, think again. Houston has attempted 838 threes this season (Wofford’s number was 874), and has connected on 305 for a mark of 36.4 percent. To put that number in perspective, UK is 199/547 from behind the arc this year. Expect the shots to be flying yet again.

The Cougars play fast — Part of the reason Houston launches so many threes is Sampson’s coaching strategy. He wants his team to average over 70 possessions a game and maintain spacing on offense so that they are always one pass away from a corner three.

Houston is a good defensive team – The Cougars allow only 60.8 points per game, a mark that is sixth best in the nation. That statistic has sustained in the NCAA Tournament, too — neither Ohio State nor Georgia State (both teams that score 69 and 76.5 points a game, respectively) surpassed 60 points. It’s fair to say UK’s offensive attack has more firepower than either of the Cougar’s first two opponents, but the Cats only managed an uncharacteristic 62 points against Wofford.

Final Thoughts

UK finished the season ranked 7th in the AP poll. Houston was 11th.

The Cats opened up as a 2.5-point favorite over the Cougars, but that line could shift in a big way when more news on PJ Washington’s availability comes out later in the week.

It seems as though UK’s defense will be tested again by another boom-or-bust offense. Herro stepped up in a big way against Wofford, and a similar defensive effort from him or another Wildcat could go a long way in helping UK make its 38th Elite 8 appearance.

This marks Houston’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 1984. The Cougars won’t go down easy, but neither will the Wildcats.

It’ll be a cat-fight in Kansas City Friday night. Tip is set for approximately 10 p.m. on TBS.

May the better feline win.


Article written by Ty Schadt

45 Comments for By the Numbers: Kentucky vs. Houston

  1. Alex90
    12:05 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    Great post! Love the way you break down the important info and stats

  2. Skooms
    12:07 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    I would be looking forward to this game SOOOOO much more if it was in the Yum instead of KC. Our fans travel very well obviously, but KC is much closer to Houston than Lex. If you really think about it, the 3 seed got a better hookup than the 1 and 2 in the Midwest.

    • gherald7
      12:25 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      KC to Houston is 740 miles. KC to lex is 579 miles… UNC definitely did get screwed but I don’t even think they deserved a one seed to be honest.

    • nocode96
      1:17 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Check your geography skooms. My 9 year old son is doing this now in 4th grade if you need help.

    • AtlKatFan
      2:06 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      yep, when I lived in Dallas ( north of houston) I drove to KC to visit relatives and it was a LONG gruelling boring drive.

  3. UKBigBlueForever
    12:17 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    Yep…even Ohio St got a hookup… They just played in Columbus and they were a 11 seed…. how is that even fair? I know they lost. But still. An 11 seed got to play in their hometown

    • gherald7
      12:28 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      They played in Tulsa

    • Mc12
      1:07 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      I always read Tulsa backwards when I see it. It makes for some funny sentences.

    • mashburnfan1
      4:41 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      What do you people see? OSU played no where close to Columbus. Houston is farther, by a ways, to KC than Lex is. Virginia is the team that got the shaft. They win and they get Purdue or UT in Loserville which is a few hours closer to either UT or Purdue than it is UVA.

  4. dbake
    12:23 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    I already hate them for the simple reason their UH looks like our UK!! Be a tough battle without PJ. Hope he can go. We will sure need him from here on out.

    • BigJohnC
      12:26 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      I have a feeling pj will play. He also has a LOT of rest compared to others. Time for a 30 point 15 rebound game from him!

  5. BigJohnC
    12:25 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    Well they’re not exactly lights out from deep. But if they shoot 30 threes they’re making 12 at least. And if we don’t make several ourselves and also get to the free throw line and make more than they even attenpt, we have a L. But I think cal will plan this one well. Run them off the 3 line and make them take tough twos. Don’t foul every time they drive and we win with D and shootin 45%

    • runningunnin.454
      12:33 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Guess I’m in the minority; but, I think UH is a good team. Without PJ, we have to get scoring from someone.
      Saturday was a very poor shooting game. Cal may have to rethink the opinion that this is his best shooting team. Very stagnant offense unless PJ and Reid are both on the floor.

    • BigJohnC
      12:34 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink


    • Bobbum Man
      12:42 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Crazy u can foresee their shooting percentage… what will the final score be?

    • BigJohnC
      2:02 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      79-73 UK

    • runningunnin.454
      12:46 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Here you go Bob, 71-69….guess whoooooo?

    • BigJohnC
      2:03 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      I say…79-73

    • BigJohnC
      2:03 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      I am THE Nostradumbass lol

    • Fitz
      1:46 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      UH is a very good team. PJ will be needed if we are to win. I don’t give the Cats much of a chance without him.

    • mashburnfan1
      4:51 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      With Wofford you could play D in their chest, they had no quickness to get by you often. Houston will be able to drive right by us if we close in on them like that. All BBN griped about the NCAA always cheating us, well last year we had easiest bracket and this year we got 2nd easiest. Lets see we finish 3rd in SEC yet our 1st place team has to play Big 10 1st place. UT was SEC #2 and has Purdue. We are 3rd and get Houston. We have the easiest sweet 16 draw outside of Virginia, and only because Oregon is without Bol Bol who was averaging 21/10. With him I would like their chances at the F4. I am not saying Houston is an easy win, any team can have “that 1” great game but they are the easiest non SEC team left. UCF played their best game of the year, shot 50% from 3 yet dUKe survived them, guarantee we lose that game had we played UCF and they played that well. And stop with the REFS blame, Tako mugged Zion with 10 minutes left and no call, would have been foul 4 and changed the game more than likely. If he does what he did on the street he is arrested for assault, was an obvious foul 2 or 3 times but no call. We had Wofford play one of their worst 3 games of the year and we win by just 6 and they have 0 NBA guys to our 5-6 that played. dUKe has 4 NBA guys that played but UCF has at least 2 and maybe a 3rd makes it and played great.

    • dcforuk
      7:24 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Survive and advance! No description on a scorecard! My son’s first ever birdie was a worm burner on a par three “The First Tee” golf course. He worm burned two feet from the hole and made the birdie putt which was written as a two just the same way a two would have been written had I wedged it 10 feet past the cup and spun it back 8 feet. But, “if ifs and buts were candies and nuts we could have one heckuva party!”

  6. BigJohnC
    12:33 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    Andy Katz of has ranked the Sweet 16 and he has Kentucky at No. 13 of the remaining 16 teams in the NCAA Tournament.

    Katz has the Wildcats behind Auburn, Tennessee and LSU from the Southeastern Conference. The only teams lower than Kentucky are Houston, Virginia Tech and Oregon

    • bluetide
      1:03 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      That’s INSANE! Overreacting to PJ’s unknown status and one bad shooting game much, Katz?!

    • mikeintn
      2:15 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      I bet he will move us up after Friday, because there only be 8 left, and the CATS will be one of them!

    • mashburnfan1
      4:59 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Well we are 1-3 vs UT and LSU so can’t argue them ahead of us. Auburn they must figure is on a run and us without PJ is only thing I can imagine. If we have PJ I’m sure they have us ahead of Auburn and maybe UNC since we beat them. I would rank UK {with PJ} behind dUKe, UNC, UVA, Gonzaga, UT, MSU, Purdue so I guess 8th-9th right there with FSU. I think we are better than LSU and Auburn. Without PJ we could be 14-16. And he has the team we have to play behind us, we don’t have to beat everyone in front of us anyways as they will knock each other out.

  7. Wildfelinebeeline
    12:34 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    Rule of 71!

  8. gasman01
    12:38 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    We will have an extremely hard time winning this game without PJ. We only have 8 guys we can play right now and Houston rotates 10. They are more athletic than Wofford. The last 5 minutes of the game will be tough if we try running with them.

    • Alex90
      2:17 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      If they’re playing 10 that means the first 5 aren’t that good. You think Houston’s recruiting is so good that they have 10 great players? It’s like when a football team plays 2 qb’s…if you gotta play 2 that means you don’t have 1 good one

    • mashburnfan1
      5:08 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Alex I can’t agree as maybe he does have 10 guys that are not that far apart, don’t have to be 5 stars. May have 10 three stars that he can go with who is hot, I don’t know as I have not followed them much. I know they beat LSU and beat Oregon back when Oregon still had Bol Bol who averaged 21/10 and got hurt the game or 2 after Houston game. I know they don’t have 6 or so NBA prospects but may just have 8-10 good college basketball players, that does happen from time to time.
      On the QB thing a few of the really good teams have 2 high quality qb’s. They normally transfer but look at UGA, Clem, Bama, OSU, Sooners.

  9. BigJohnC
    12:41 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    It will come down to officiating. Book it!

    • mashburnfan1
      5:15 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      yea we never once fouled a guy according to BBN. Never lost a game either, all losses were fault of refs or game time or schedule because NCAA is out to get us. Do you morons know UK makes he NCAA more money in basketball than any other team. You add up ratings{ad fees go up with high ratings}, tix sales{BBN is usually there although not in Jax for some reason}, merchandise sold{who buys more gear than BBN} so the NCAA would want us to win every year as all 3 of those money makers go way up with BBN a part of it.

  10. dukeisking
    12:43 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    Pj needs to get ready for the draft. Why risk further injury. UL season ends in KC

    • runningunnin.454
      12:51 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      UL is already out. Did Zion get ready for the draft? Is the world flat?
      And, you, like millions of basketball fans around the country, know Dook received a striped shirt, gift wrapped victory…with a big bow on top.
      dukeisking of cheat. How are the Williamsons liking that new home?

    • runningunnin.454
      12:53 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      BTW, this is not a UL site, dumba$$.

    • catsarerunnin
      1:04 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      I think you meant BJ since you mentioned UL.

    • speaksthetruth
      2:06 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Why play in the SEC tourney then?

  11. UKLugo
    1:00 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    Sounds a bit like Auburn.

    • runningunnin.454
      1:03 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Auburn is plain nuts. Turn down an uncontested run-out layup to throw out to the corner for a three?
      They can get a big lead if they fall; they can blow a big lead just as fast if they don’t.

    • catsarerunnin
      1:09 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Their game against KU reminded me of a Wake Forest vs UK tourney game in the mid 90s . The Cats were on fire from 3 and the next day the headline read “Can’t See the Forest for the Threes”. Not sure of the year.

  12. clarks
    1:03 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    Without a PJ it’s a toss up with him we advance.

  13. Melvit
    1:33 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    I’m not as worried about this one as I was Wofford. Wofford could hit those BS shots and that scared me. I watched that game yesterday and came away unimpressed. It is a sweet 16 match, so it will still be a close game.

  14. Swizzle
    1:36 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    No team is allowed to start 3 dudes that are named junior. Its dumb and its being stopped Friday. Also these dudes seemed very unlikable last night. I already hate them

  15. jaws2
    3:27 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

    Man those logo’s look mysteriously the same! Only difference is one’s blue! Thanks Mitch.

    • catsarerunnin
      4:22 pm March 25, 2019 Permalink

      Most folks can tell the difference between a red H and a blue K. Thanks Mitch.