Houston vs Cincinnati Preview and Prediction
Houston vs Cincinnati Preview
The eighth-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats (19-2, 8-0) are going for their 13th win in a row when they host AAC rival Houston (16-4, 6-2) Wednesday night.
Bearcats head coach Mick Cronin is confident his team will maintain focus and come out sharp every game.
“That’s the danger of not having lost since December 9th (vs. Florida),” Cronin said. “It makes it harder on the coach to hold attention and keep guys sharp. That, and playing some teams that maybe aren’t ranked high. But that’s why they pay me. I’ve got to make sure we get sharp.”
Cincinnati is playing its home games on the campus of Northern Kentucky University this season while on-campus home Fifth Third Arena undergoes an $87 million renovation.
The Bearcats, who have won 12 straight games overall, are 11-0 at home this season and own the nation’s longest active home winning streak at 37 straight, dating to a 77-70 loss to Temple on Dec. 29, 2015.
“All good teams win at home,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “There’s a reason why we’re 10-0 at home. I’m not focused on beating Cincinnati. I want us to get better in certain areas and if we do, we can go and compete. Up to this point, Cincinnati is the best team in our conference and they should be.”
The Bearcats have dominated the series with Houston, leading 29-2, including 15-0 in Cincinnati. The Bearcats won both meetings last season, 67-58 in Houston and 65-47 at Fifth Third Arena.
Cincinnati had a 15-game winning streak in the series snapped when the Cougars won 69-56 win in Houston on March 3, 2016.
Sampson knows what his team is up against on Wednesday night.
“They’re a lot like how SMU was last year,” he said. “Cincinnati has four seniors that have been together for a very long time. Our guys have been together for about five months. If you were to ask me who the best player in this conference was at this time, I’d say (Bearcats forward Gary) Clark.
Get to know Houston
Houston is led by Rob Gray, who averages 18.7 points per game. Like Cincinnati, the Cougars are a strong defensive squad, limiting opponents to 65 points per game. The Bearcats haven’t allowed more than 60 points in eight straight games.
Former Indiana transfer Devin Davis plays well above his listed size of 6’6. Davis is averaging 10.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. He can be a force down-low despite his lack of height,
“We know we have a big game coming up,” Cougars second-leading scorer Corey Davis Jr. said, “but we have to take everything one step at a time. We shouldn’t rush to get to the next step but instead focus on what’s in front of us.”
37 games is a heck of a home court winning streak. SMU had a similar streak a week ago before it was snapped. Houston presents one of the stiffest challenges to this Bearcat streak and I expect the game to be tight throughout.
LINE: -11 CIN
I expect Cincinnati to win the game outright, but if I were to bet on this game I’m taking Houston plus the points.
Cincinnati 62 Houston 55