|5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 PM GMT9:00 PM 北京时间6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST, Dec 20, 2018
Fertitta Center, Houston, Texas Attendance: 6,264
No. 21 Houston, Utah State prepare to play board game
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Prowess on the glass has led to success so far this season for Houston and Utah State, two of the nation's best rebounding teams, and the squad that wins the battle on the boards will likely come out on top when the No. 21 Cougars host the surprising Aggies on Thursday at the Fertitta Center in Houston.
Utah State (9-2), which began this week fourth in the nation in rebounding margin at plus-13.2, is sixth in defensive rebounds per game, averaging 32.0.
The Aggies have outrebounded every opponent this season and enjoyed double-digit advantages on the glass in eight of their 11 games. First-year Utah State coach Craig Smith said the attention to hard work on the boards has been a focus for his team.
"We spent a ton of time this summer on boxing out," Smith told The Herald Journal in Logan, Utah. "People kind of look at you like, 'Well, that's old school.' No, that's rebounding. It's not old school. I'm not sure it's always taught anymore. A shot goes up and guys just go get it."
Houston (10-0) is similar to Utah State as it is among the nation's best rebounding teams with a plus-7.5 margin and an average of 28.4 boards per game on the defensive end.
With wins in their first 10 games, the Cougars are off to the second-best start in school history. The 1967-68 squad, led by Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes, holds the record with 31 straight wins to begin a season.
Houston remained undefeated with a rousing 68-64 win over Saint Louis on Sunday helped by Corey Davis Jr.'s 3-pointer with 25 seconds left. Davis Jr. led the Cougars with 17 points, with Armoni Brooks adding 13 points and eight rebounds for Houston, which extended the nation's second-longest home winning streak to 23 games.
Galen Robinson Jr. had 13 points and DeJon Jarreau finished with 10 for the Cougars.
Robinson Jr. was honored Monday as the American Athletic Conference player of the week after leading the Cougars with 15.5 points per game and hitting 52 percent of his shots from the field and 4.5 assists. This season, Robinson leads the Cougars and the American Athletic Conference with 5.9 assists per game and ranks third in the league with a 3.3 assist-turnover ratio.
Thursday's game against Utah State is the third of a season-long, seven-game homestand for Houston, which -- despite its success this season -- is staying focused and hungry. Four of Houston's victories, including the past two, have been by six points or fewer.
"When we play these teams, we anticipate a close game," Houston coach Kelvin Samson said. "Just because our record says 10-0, we didn't all of a sudden become Duke. We're a team that's going to have to fight, scrap and claw for just about everything that we get."
The Aggies have won their past two games and four of their last five and are 2-1 on the road this season. In Utah State's most recent action, it jumped out to a 44-28 lead at halftime against Alabama State and never looked back in an 86-48 home victory on Saturday.
Sam Merrill posted a game-high 16 points, Neemias Queta hit for 15 points, Dwayne Brown Jr. added 14, Crew Ainge totaled 11 and Diogo Brito scored 10 for the Aggies.
As well as Utah State has been playing, it will be moving up in weight class against Houston and will have to be even better.
"When you watch us play, I like to think we do a pretty nice job of making hits and boxing out," Smith said. "I know when you watch Houston play, they box out. They play with a level of physicality that way."
The two teams have met twice before, splitting the all-time series. This is the first meeting since Jan. 31, 1970.
Updated December 19, 2018