Houston Cougars earn No. 1 spot in Basketball Power Index after road win at Oregon

UH Head Coach Kelvin Sampson's program also earned blowout wins against Oral Roberts and Texas Southern over the last week.

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Monday, November 21, 2022
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HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's early in the season, but the Houston Cougars men's basketball program deserves your attention.

A combination of a couple of blowout wins, a road victory at a power conference team, and a little help by the Texas Longhorns propelled UH atop the Basketball Power Index (BPI) on Monday.

The Coogs also moved up one notch from No. 3 to No. 2 in both Associated Press and coaches' polls for Week 3. It's the highest the team has been ranked in both polls in nearly 38 years, when Phi Slama Jama dominated the college basketball landscape.

The BPI currently predicts the Cougars will earn a No. 1 seed in next March's NCAA tournament. It also gives Houston a 15.5% probability of winning the national championship. Fans should note, though, that the BPI is a fluid ranking.

Coach Kelvin Sampson's program swept three victories over the last week to improve to 5-0 on the season. The Coogs blew out Oral Roberts and Texas Southern by 38 and 35 points, respectively.

The video above is from an October 2022 story before the season.

Houston then traveled up to the Pacific Northwest, passing its first test of the season by taking down the Oregon Ducks, 66-56, on Sunday. The Coogs forced 16 turnovers while shooting 50% from beyond the three-point line.

Sampson, who had four players scoring double digits against the Ducks, called the victory a "great road win" despite what he described as a subpar performance.

"It is still early and there is not one part of the game we are not going to get better at. It was our fifth game, not our 25th," Sampson said. "We didn't play great, but this is not the time to play great, it's November. November is about winning and learning and that is what we did tonight."

The Coogs got a boost up the AP and coaches' rankings by Gonzaga's loss at the Texas Longhorns last week. The Bulldogs were ranked in front of UH when they lost.

Houston has just one game scheduled in the next week: a home matchup against Kent State on Saturday. The team's next four after that include Norfolk State at home on Nov. 29; Saint Mary's on Dec. 3 in Fort Worth; North Florida at home on Dec. 6; and a rematch at home with Alabama on Dec. 10, which you can watch on ABC13.

The Cougars open conference play in Tulsa on Dec. 28.

SEE ALSO: Houston Cougars sophomore Jamal Shead praised for picking up trash spilled after loss at Alabama

Sasser earns player of the week honor

Houston guard Marcus Sasser (0) drives the lane as Oregon center Nate Bittle (32) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Nov. 20, 2022, in Eugene, Ore.
AP Photo/Andy Nelson

Marcus Sasser is indeed playing like he wants the Coogs to make it to the Final Four, which NRG Stadium is hosting next spring.

Sasser garnered player of the week in the American Conference for the fourth time in his career.

The 6-foot-2 senior out of Dallas is leading the team in points and steals per game.

He was already named to the AP Preseason All-American Team.

SEE ALSO: NCAA boss reveals 1 change Houston's 2023 Final Four will have compared to 2016 event

It's eight months away, but the planning for the NCAA Final Four is in overdrive. The man calling the plays for Houston's turn as host city explains one change that will be in place compared to the other times H-Town hosted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.