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Houston Cougars vs Kentucky Wildcats: Predictions, Odds & Roster Notes

Written by: Christian Jope
Updated October 14, 2022
6 min read

How to Watch

What: Houston Cougars vs Kentucky Wildcats

Where: Sprint Centre in Kansas City, MO

When: Friday, March 29th at 9:59 PM EST

How (TV): TBS

Houston Cougars

Head Coach: Kelvin Sampson {Record: 33-3 | Conference: 16-2, 1st in AAC}

Expected Starting Five: (G) Galen Robinson Jr – (G) Armoni Brooks – (G) Corey Davis Jr – (F) Fabian White Jr – (F) Breaon Brady

The Houston Cougars continue to be one of the most impressive teams in the tournament. After finishing in the top five in defensive rating as a team during the regular season, Houston has been able to carry that momentum into the tournament. They dominated Georgia State and Ohio State, but will fast a big test in the Kentucky Wildcats.

Houston allowed opponents to shoot just 36% from the field during the regular season, good enough for first in the nation. That includes an impressive first place rating in three-point field-goal percentage allowed at just 28% per game. They are also no slouch on the boards, as they are third in total rebounds in the nation.

A common thread in the losses of the Cougars is their inability to convert from range. While they are excellent on the other side of the ball, they are just average on the offensive end. Their most recent loss was in the AAC Championship against Cincinnati, where they were 8-33 from three. Expect the Cougars to attack the paint aggressively, in order to open up better opportunities for their shooters.

Kentucky Wildcats

Head Coach: John Calipari {Record: 29-6 | Conference: 15-3, 2nd in SEC}

Expected Starting Five: (G) Ashton Haggans – (G) Tyler Herro – (G) Keldon Johnson – (F) Reid Travis – (F) EJ Montgomery

The Kentucky Wildcats have put together another respectable season under John Calipari. After dominating the first round against Abilene Christian, Kentucky came out on the right end of a competitive match with Wofford. While they weren’t able to stop the ball as much as they’d like, Kentucky also struggled to convert from the field especially from the guard position.

While the Cougars defence is the best in the nation, Kentucky can guard the ball almost just as well. Wildcat opposition shoots on average just over 40% from the field, to go along with an impressive rebounding side for Kentucky. It may come down to easy buckets for the Wildcats, as Haggans and Herro will look to have better nights from the field than their last against Wofford.

Keep in mind that John Calipari is 11-3 in the Sweet Sixteen. It will be a grind of a game and both teams are incredibly well matched. Kentucky likely has the benefit on the offensive end, but both squads will get their fair share of shots. If Kentucky can be efficient with possession, it will more than likely go their way.

Houston Cougars Roster Notes

F Justin Gorham – 22 Nov 2018 – Out (Eligibility) – Gorham will be out for the 2018 season due to eligibility issues.

Kentucky Wildcats Roster Notes

F PJ Washington – 19 Mar 2019 – Questionable (Foot) – Washington missed the Wildcats’ last game against Wofford and it is currently unknown if he will dress against Houston.

G Zan Payne – 25 Sep 2018 – Out (Knee) – Payne’s injury will keep him out for the remainder of the 2018 season.

Head-to-Head: Corey Davis Jr (HOU) vs Tyler Herro (KEN)

It will be an exciting head to head matchup when scoring ace Corey Davis Jr matches up against Tyler Herro when Houston and Kentucky meet. Both had fantastic first and second rounds, with room for improvement. With the increased quality of the Sweet Sixteen, we’ll see if they can step up.

Corey Davis Jr

Guard | 6-1, 190lb (185cm, 86kg) | Lafayette High School | Lafayette, LA | Sophomore

17.1 PPG | 2.8 APG | 3.4 RPG | 1.0 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 1.4 TOV | .424 FG% | .381 3P%

Corey Davis Jr didn’t stand out in his second round, he took control. Despite his increased volume since the beginning of the tournament, Davis Jr has still been able to put up points and importantly get to then free throw line. He scored 21 points on 6-15 shooting, 2-9 from three, and 6-6 from the line against Ohio State. His ability to convert from range will be valuable against a collapsing Kentucky defence.

Tyler Herro

Guard | 6-5, 195lb (196cm, 88kg) | Whitnall HS | Milwaukee, WI | Freshman

14.1 PPG | 2.4 APG | 4.6 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 1.6 TOV | .464 FG% | .360 3P%

Tyler Herro was a tale of two players in his last game. Offensively he was incapable of contributing. He posted 9 points on a paltry 2-11 from the field and 1-6 from range. On the other hand, Herro kept Wofford sharpshooter Fletcher Magee 0-12 from three by staying on his hip around the horn and around screens. Davis presents a different problem for Herro, so they will likely send more defenders his way. Regardless, Herro will be the first at the point of attack.

Houston Cougars at Kentucky Wildcats Predictions and Odds

The Kentucky Wildcats are favoured over the Houston Cougars by 3, with Houston at a -117 and Kentucky at a -110.

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Christian Jope

1494 Articles

Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.

Email: [email protected]

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