"I thought early in the game we got off to a pretty good start but then we started settling for jump shots. We didn't get the ball inside, we didn't penetrate and we didn't get to the free throw line."
Houston head coach James Dickey after the Cougars win over Florida A&M Friday
The Houston Cougars technically got the job done in getting their first win of the season over visiting Florida A&M but the performance wasn't going to win any beauty pageants. In the end they took care of business and pulled away late in the second half to get the victory.
Early on the Cougars struggled in getting the ball into the post and got away from the inside-out game they wanted to play against the visiting Rattlers. Sophomore TaShawn Thomas and senior Leon Gibson only combined for nine points and nine rebounds in the second half but turned it on in the second to finish with 31 points and 30 rebounds together.
The game stayed close the whole way with Florida A&M owning a 10 point lead at one point in the first half and Houston gaining a seven point advantage at one point down the stretch before putting the Rattlers away in the final minutes.
Houston struggled most of the game with turnovers, giving up a total of 20 in the game that led to 12 points for Florida A&M. They were more successful once they got to the free throw line though hitting them at an 80% clip to Florida A&M's 57%.
The Cougars again got standout performances from their post as Gibson and Thomas carried the team down the stretch with physical play in the paint and on the glass.
HANDING OUT STARS
F Leon Gibson: Gibson edged out freshman Stiggers to lead all scorers with 20 points but did so in a more workman like fashion scoring all of his points off lay-ups and put-backs. He was a force down the stretch in the paint and was the clear senior leader on the floor that Houston needs him to be.
F TaShawn Thomas: Thomas struggled a bit early which had some to do with the way the offense was flowing but like Gibson was a force in the paint when he needed to be and had a tremendous night on the glass with 20 rebounds, the first time for a Cougar to grab 20 boards in nearly a decade.
F Danuel House: The highly touted freshman struggled for most of his 15 minutes, only contributing six points and three rebounds while turning the ball over twice. He didn't really seem to get comfortable in the flow of the game.
Although the guards showed flashed Friday afternoon it still seems to be the weak link on the Cougars team heading into the season. The guards combined to shoot 12 of 44 on the day including Stiggers' five three pointers. They also had nine of the 11 turnovers and only contributed nine assists. The good thing is that three of the five that players were playing in their first game for the Cougars and the other two are a sophomore and a redshirt freshman with almost no experience, so there is likely to be growth at the position.
Houston sets off on their first road trip of the season to face off with San Jose State Tuesday November 13.