Houston turns switch, rallies to burn out Auburn

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.– Houston coach Kelvin Sampson didn’t sense panic in his players as they trailed Auburn by 10 points at halftime in the second round of the NCAA competition. So he chose not to light into his team as it gathered in the locker space.

“In some cases it’s not constantly about fussin’ and cussin’ and hollerin’ at them,” Sampson stated. “I didn’t do that. I simply stated, ‘If we play our defense, we can get back in this game.'”

And he was right. The Cougars’ defense dialed up the pressure and the Tigers wilted, going cold from the field and ice cold from the totally free throw line. No. 1 seed Houston required just 7 minutes to take the lead in the 2nd half and ended up running away with an 81-64 win over No. 9 seed Auburn.Editor’s Picks

2 Associated Sampson explained that the Cougars didn’t make a ton of modifications to the game plan throughout the intermission. He said he challenged injured guards Marcus Sasser (groin) and Jamal Shead (leg)to worry less about their health and more about competing.” The most significant adjustment remained in our mindset,”Sampson said.

“Often that’s the most crucial thing.” But, schematically, the Cougars did change more on

defense and contested more shots. They finished with 4 takes and 12 blocks. Auburn was 4-of-24 on field goal efforts in the 2nd half.On offense, Sampson stated they ran less designed plays, spreading the

floor and maximizing individually opportunities.When Sasser, the American Athletic Conference Gamer of the Year, went to the bench with four fouls, junior guard Tramon Mark thrived in isolation, taking advantage of his size against the smaller Auburn protectors and racking up a team-high 26 points.”I simply understood I could get anything I wanted,”Mark said.”Coach trusted me, and I continued to go after

them.”Sasser stated it was exactly the sort of efficiency he anticipated from Mark. He too saw a modification in mindset from his colleagues coming out of halftime.”We didn’t wish to go home, “Sasser said.” We desired this season to go on as long as possible.”Auburn coach Bruce Pearl acknowledged that his team”didn’t respond” when Houston went on its run in the 2nd half, stating the Tigers weren’t prepared for the Cougars ‘aggressive play.Going 19-of-36 from the free toss line was particularly frustrating. “However what’s more frustrating is it’s something you can’t control, “Pearl said.Pearl stated the plan entering into the game was strong.” I kind of dream it was a 20-minute game instead of 40,”he stated.

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