Conference play unkind to Houston Cougars thus far

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Coogs are still looking for their first conference win of the season after three consecutive defeats.

This hasn't exactly been a dream season for the Cougars so far. Picked to finish dead last in their new conference, Houston looks poised to do just that as we turn the calendar to a new year.

It isn't even that the losses have been particularly bad, losing by as many as 13 and as few as seven, it's that their toughest competition lies ahead of them. Three losses in the bag against Central Florida, South Florida and Rutgers isn't the way interim head coach Wade Scott wanted to begin his in-conference tenure at UH.

Oh yeah, head coach Todd Buchanan resigned in late December due to personal reasons. Things either get better or they get worse; for Houston it might all be semantics at this point.

They outscore opponents in the first half by an average of a point but are outscored in the second half by an average of four. Whether this is because the Cougars run out of steam by the second frame or their opponents click into gear after halftime, it's part of Houston's story this season.

Of course that bit of narrative doesn't come close to touching on the shooting, which was well documented in my last column on the Coogs. Rest assured that Houston is still at the bottom of the table in field goal percentage (35 percent) and despite that they are middle of the pack (sixth) in rebounding.

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Tomorrow's game has a chance to get ugly as they take on the defending champion Connecticut Huskies (15-0) in Hartford. Connecticut just got done pasting Memphis 90-49 and, barring a miracle, will work their magic on the Cougars as well. It could be a great opportunity for Houston to sharpen their skills against one of the best teams in the country -- remember they came close to pulling off the upset over Texas A&M early this season. It could also turn into an embarrassment if the Cougars let the halftime score get the better of them.

If nothing else, Houston fans watching online (the game will be broadcast on ESPN3.com) will get the chance to watch Breanna Stewart play basketball. The sophomore is following up her incredible freshman campaign by averaging 18 points, eight rebounds and three assists a game. Stefanie Dolson is another player to watch. The senior is averaging a double-double a game with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Some fun statistics for you ahead of tomorrow night's game:

  • Connecticut is averaging 84 points a game while allowing 47. That's a margin of 37! (!!!!)
  • Houston is scoring only 59 points a game, but they're only giving up 63. That's almost a positive margin. Scoring more would help.
  • The Cougars are the worst free throw shooting team in The American with a rate of 58 percent.
  • Te'onna Campbell is Houston's leading scorer with 10 points a game. That's good enough for 24th in the conference. Did I mention the Cougars struggle to score?
  • Yasmeen Thompson leads Houston with 8 rebounds a game which puts her sixth overal in the conference.
  • After this contest the Cougars head home for a Saturday contest against Cincinnati.

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