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Texas A&M sees No. 4 Houston as title contender ahead of matchup

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No. 4 Houston faces one of its toughest tests of the early season when it hosts Texas A&M in the second game of a doubleheader showcase on Saturday afternoon in Houston.

The Cougars (10-0) enter off a dominating 89-55 win at home over Jackson State last Saturday. Emanuel Sharp led Houston with a career-best 25 points while LJ Cryer added 21 points, 16 of them in the second half. Cryer has scored in double figures in the Cougars’ past nine games.

Mylik Wilson scored 10 points and Terrance Arceneaux grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds for the Cougars. Houston forged a 47-25 rebounding advantage and turned 24 offensive rebounds into 19 second-chance points.

Most of that damage was done in the second half as the Cougars sprinted away from a eight-point advantage at the break to lead by 21 when Wilson scored with 10:18 left.

“When a coach is upset at his team, the answer is not always to scream, holler and fuss at them,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “Sometimes you can have a much better effect by saying nothing. That’s the approach I took.”

The Cougars also forced 24 turnovers, resulting in 31 points.

“We are trying to apply what Coach has told us ever since June, July, August,” Sharp said. “He’s implemented all the aspects of our culture — playing hard, our attitude. It’s up to us.”

This is just the third team in Houston history to win its first 10 games to open a season. Only the 2018-19 squad (also under Sampson) and the 1967-68 team accomplished that feat.

The gritty Aggies (7-3) head southeast to Houston after an 81-75 home loss to Memphis on Sunday. The loss snapped Texas A&M’s 14-game home winning streak and was the team’s first home loss in nearly a year.

“This is just an awakening for us,” Texas A&M guard Tyrece Radford said. “We’re not going to do anything different. We’re going to prep for every game, same as we’ve been doing in the past. We’re not going to get in our head about it. We have to wake up tomorrow, come here, take care of our bodies and practice, or whatever the case may be.”

Manny Obaseki scored a career-best 21 points off the bench to lead Texas A&M and was its only player in double-figure scoring. Andersson Garcia grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds in the loss.

Wade Taylor IV, the Southeastern Conference preseason player of the year and the Aggies’ leading scorer coming into the contest, had only nine points on 3-of-14 shooting from the floor.

The Aggies made just 39.1 percent of their shots from the field and went 6 of 33 from beyond the arc. Texas A&M used a 12-2 run in the final two and a half minutes to claw back to within four points with 7.7 seconds left but could get no closer.

“Houston is better than Memphis,” Texas A&M coach Buzz Williams said. “They have the No. 1 defense and are No. 1 at offensive rebounding. Houston has held eight teams to under 40 points. They are good enough to win the national championship. We will have to respond better in every possible way.”

Houston owns a 53-32 all-time edge against Texas A&M. Saturday’s contest will be the first between the programs since December 2013.

–Field Level Media

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