While there’s been no shortage of standout performers during No. 3 Houston’s blazing start to the season, another player has joined the party.
Coming off an 18-point performance, freshman guard Emanuel Sharp will look to continue carving out a role in the Cougars’ offense Saturday against visiting Cincinnati in American Athletic Conference action.
Houston (19-2, 7-1) slipped out of the top spot in the poll after falling 56-55 to Temple on Sunday, but Sharp scored 18 points to lead five scorers in double figures in an 82-71 victory over UCF on Wednesday.
“He’s been due for a game like that,” Cougars coach Kelvin Sampson said. “He played with no fear. You give your shooters the green light, and he certainly has one.”
Sharp made 4 of 6 3-pointers against the Knights and has been on fire from beyond the arc lately, canning 8 of 15 shots from distance (53.3 percent) over his past four games. He is shooting 43.3 percent from 3-point range for the season.
One of the few players in the AAC shooting the deep ball better than Sharp is Landers Nolley II, who finished with 18 points and six rebounds against his old team as Cincinnati fell 75-68 to Memphis on Sunday. Nolley is hitting 44.3 percent of his 3-pointers.
Viktor Lakhin paced the Bearcats (14-7, 5-3) with 22 points and 10 rebounds on 11-of-14 shooting against the Tigers, who snapped Cincinnati’s three-game winning streak.
“I am disappointed in how we played; we did not play well,” Bearcats coach Wes Miller said. “I think we have been playing good basketball and that was not the case (Sunday).”
Although it wasn’t the result he wanted, Miller is wasting no time dwelling on the setback.
“It’s conference play. You’re going to have some ups and downs,” Miller said. “You evaluate the film, learn, try to grow from it and move forward. And that’s what we did.”
Cincinnati will be forced to move forward against a stingy Houston defense. The Cougars allow just 54.2 points per game, second fewest in the nation, and only three opponents have managed to eclipse the 65-point mark.
Saturday marks the second meeting of the season between the teams. The Bearcats fell 72-59 on Jan. 8 in the first contest, extending their losing streak against Houston to seven games. Despite the skid, Cincinnati still holds a 33-12 advantage in the all-time series.
Jarace Walker led the Cougars to that victory with a game-high 21 points, while Marcus Sasser chipped in 16. J’Wan Roberts notched 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Mika Adams-Woods supplied 19 points and Lakhin contributed 16 to go along with six rebounds for the Bearcats. Adams-Woods’ performance had marked his sixth consecutive in which he scored in double figures, but he has since experienced a cold spell, scoring just seven points on 3-of-18 shooting over his last two games.
–Field Level Media