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Oklahoma State to face balanced No. 14 Houston

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Dec 14, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson reacts during the second half against the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns at Fertitta Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 14, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson reacts during the second half against the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns at Fertitta Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

With a trio of regulars sidelined by injury, including a pair of double-digit backcourt performers, Houston freshman Ramon Walker Jr. made his collegiate debut Tuesday against Louisiana.

In seven minutes, Walker recorded just one counting stat — a personal foul — while missing all three of his shots, including a pair of 3-pointers. Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson offered an in-depth assessment of the performance, along with some good-natured ribbing of his young guard.

“He took two wide-open 3s, but he did what he was supposed to do in that game, which is miss them,” Sampson said. “You always pick out one or two games a year where you say, ‘You know, we’re not going to make a 3 tonight. Let’s chuck 21 of them up there and see if we can miss 19 of them.’

“So, he got with the game plan there early.”

The Cougars survived shooting 2 of 21 from behind the arc and overcame the absences of Marcus Sasser, Tramon Mark and Reggie Chaney to beat Louisiana 71-56. Sampson did not offer an update on that trio’s availability for Saturday when the 14th-ranked Cougars (9-2) face Oklahoma State in the Hoop Hype XL College Basketball Showcase at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

The win over the Ragin’ Cajuns was a testament to the Cougars’ depth. Sasser leads the Cougars in scoring (18.4) and Mark has been instrumental as a volume scorer off the bench (10.1 ppg). The Cougars share the responsibility, with all five starters reaching double figures in points.

Sampson gushed about the makeup of his roster, one emblematic of the gradual changes Houston has enjoyed as a program. The Cougars’ ability to play together was on full display.

“We’re blessed that way,” Sampson said. “We have great, great kids in this program. I don’t think you can have sustainability with any kind of success without character kids. So we’re proud of that.”

Oklahoma State (7-3) snapped a two-game skid with a 98-93 overtime victory over Cleveland State on Monday, a win punctuated by the dynamic play of Bryce Williams and Avery Aderson III.

Williams and Anderson scored 29 points apiece and combined to score 22 of the Cowboys’ final 24 points in regulation. The duo shot a combined 21 of 34, with Williams making a career-best five 3-pointers en route to his career-high point total. Anderson recorded 21 points over the final 25 minutes, including six in overtime, while missing only four shots.

Williams, a Mississippi transfer in his second season with the Cowboys, and Anderson are averaging a combined 24.3 points per game. Their outburst against Cleveland State could prove foreboding for future opponents, particularly considering what both guards provide defensively.

“When (Williams is) in a good place, when he’s focused and he’s playing his best, I really believe we can compete with anybody,” Cowboys coach Mike Boynton told The Oklahoman. “I wouldn’t be afraid to play any team in the country.

“And, if we can get Avery to continue to come along, then we’ve got a pretty good dynamic backcourt in terms of scoring and defending.”

–Field Level Media