No. 11 Houston looks to improve on its 8-1 record as it hosts Wichita State (6-2) in a clash of American Conference contenders on Wednesday.
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The game (8 p.m. ET start time) won’t be on regular TV anywhere, but anyone in the US can watch Wichita State vs Houston live on ESPN+ right here:
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Wichita State vs Houston Preview
Houston rebounded from its first loss of the season with a swift response, thumping SMU 74-60, riding a big second half to the victory. The Cougars outscored the Mustangs 42-27 to clinch the victory.
“This was one of those pivotal games that kind of define our program over the last four or five years,” Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “The second half, I just liked our execution, I liked the ball movement and I liked our rebounding. We looked like a Houston basketball team.”
Houston is happy to be home after playing its last three games on the road, which has an added degree of difficulty during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a big win, no question about it,” Sampson said after beating SMU. “Winning two out of three on the road is a huge accomplishment. I’m very, very proud of this team.”
Houston is going to have to make up for the production of sophomore guard Caleb Mills, who stepped away from the program recently. He was averaging nearly 20 minutes per game, scoring 9.8 points.
“I care more about Caleb than I do whether he plays or not. … That’s irrelevant to me in the big picture. I want him to be comfortable,” Sampson said. “Between COVID and his injuries, he’s just had a lot of stuff going on.”
After starting the season 1-2, Wichita State has reeled off five wins in a row, the latest a 83-79 victory over Ole Miss. Tyson Etienne scored a career-high 29 points, making a season-best five 3-pointers to lead the Shockers to the win.
“The key is to have a great attitude,” Wichita State interim head coach Isaac Brown said. “Even when we get down, they stay together. None of those guys point fingers or anything. We got good leadership on the bench. Our leaders, even for the guys that are not playing, they’re constantly telling those guys to clap it up. It was all about when nobody is really thinking about scoring points. Everybody just wants to win the game. And at the end in the locker room, you can just tell the excitement, even from the guys that didn’t play at all, everybody is excited just about getting the win.”
Brown had nothing but good things to say about Houston, which has the last five against Wichita State
“Those guys play hard on another level. They play aggressive. They defend at a high level. They’re relentless on the offensive glass,” Brown said. “They’ve owned us the last couple of years. So this game is going to come down to toughness and competing at a high level. It’s not going to come down to making or missing shots. They’re going to miss some, we’re going to miss some. It’s going to come down to competing, toughness and rebounding.”