No. 2 Houston earns 20th straight home win, owns Big 12's 1st place after defeating No. 6 Iowa State

ByMatt Guillermo KTRK logo
Tuesday, February 20, 2024
No. 2 Houston earns 20th straight home win, but that's not all
The Houston Cougars' victory over Iowa State means they also sit atop the Big 12 conference. Here's what's next.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The University of Houston Cougars put an exclamation point on their Presidents Day weekend with a crucial win against Iowa State on Monday evening.

No. 2 UH and the No. 6 Cyclones sat atop the Big 12 standings, tied at 9-3 in conference play. However, by the end of the nationally televised contest at Fertitta Center, the Coogs came out on top of a 73-65 victory over the Cyclones.

The Coogs (23-3) extended their home win streak to 20 and avenged a Jan. 9 loss at Iowa State, which was UH's first of the season.

UH's Jamal Shead led all scorers with 26 points. Emanuel Sharp added 20.

Houston got the win despite being out-rebounded, 39-30. The Coogs, though, did their damage at the free throw line, making 24 shots from 32 attempts.

Coogs return to No. 2 after UT win

Head coach Kelvin Sampson and the Cougars left no doubt that they are a team you can't cross, even if you're the University of Texas Longhorns.

Houston got a season-high in points out of L.J. Cryer, who scored 26, and a double-double from Jamal Shead to earn a 21-point victory and a season sweep of the Horns.

Texas was Houston's lone matchup last week, but it couldn't have come at a better time. Last week's No. 2 team in the nation - Purdue - fell to the Ohio State Buckeyes for its third season loss. That was enough to give the Cougars a leap to No. 2 in the Associated Press Top 25 and Coaches polls, matching their highest season ranking from Week 10.

What Houston couldn't earn on Monday was a first-place vote in either poll. The UConn Huskies became the first unanimous No. 1 team in the AP poll this season. They also earned every first-place vote in the Coaches poll.

Odds and bracketology

Houston will have to settle for No. 2 in the polls, but the Men's College Basketball Power Index, or BPI, thinks the Coogs are No. 1.

As of Monday, Houston is the power index's top team in the country, besting the likes of Purdue and the defending national champs, the UConn Huskies.

The BPI measures a team's true strength moving forward in the season by calculating the expected point margin per 70 possessions against an average opponent on a neutral court.

Houston's strength is in its defense. The BPI ranks the Coogs as the No. 1 defensive team in the nation, with Iowa State close behind.

The BPI also projects some good things for Houston heading into tournament time. UH holds the best odds to win the Big 12 Conference at 87%, a 99.2% chance of winning its first game of March Madness, a near-90% to make it to the Sweet Sixteen, a three-in-four opportunity to reach the Elite Eight, and a three-in-five chance to being among the Final Four.

The BPI gives Houston the best odds of winning its first national title at 33.5% odds.

Of course, these numbers fluctuate with Houston's losses and wins, so keep an eye on the BPI.

Elsewhere, ESPN's Bracketology forecasts Houston as a No. 1 seed in the South Region, which would hold the Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight rounds in Dallas. Bracketology projects Houston to open against the No. 16 Sam Houston Bearkats, who would qualify as an automatic qualifier out of Conference USA.

In a twist, UT's loss to Houston may have set them up for a rivalry renewal in the first round. Bracketology projects the Horns as a No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region, opening their tournament against the 9th-seeded Texas A&M.

Remaining UH schedule

  • Feb. 24: at Baylor
  • Feb. 27: Cincinnati
  • March 2: at Oklahoma, airs on ESPN2
  • March 6: at UCF
  • March 9: Kansas, airs on ESPN