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Kelvin Sampson: Cleveland State is very similar to us

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The Saxenian Family

POSTED: March 19, 2021 -- 7:48 a.m. CT

The 2-seed Houston Cougars Men's Basketball team will face the 15-seed Cleveland State Vikings Friday evening in a first round match-up in the Midwest Region of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.

Friday's game will be the first meeting between the two teams.

Cleveland State (19-7, 16-4) won the Horizon League Men's Basketball regular season title and the Horizon League Tournament Title to clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009.

Houston Cougars Head Coach Kelvin Sampson said of the Vikings, "I think what they're really good at -- very similar to us -- they defend; they rebound; they play hard. Very well-coached team."

Dennis Gates is Head Coach of Cleveland State. He's in his second season as Vikings' head coach and has a 30-28 record.

"A very guard-dominant team," Coach Sampson said. "They always play with a five (center).

"They've got a 6'8" / 6'9" kid -- (Algevon) Eichelberger -- transfer from DePaul. The 6'9" kid (Deante) Johnson is really athletic, long, shot blocker, rim protector.

"Their leading scorer is (Torrey) Patton -- 6'4" / 6'5" guard."

Patton was named the Horizon League Championship's Most Valuable Player, averaging 22.3 points, 12.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists on 51.0 fg% while playing nearly 40 minutes per night during Cleveland State's run.

Patton also leads the team in rebounding with 8.0 boards per game.

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"I had some buddies of mine when they saw the draw text me and just rave about the (Tre) Gomillion kid says he the straw that stirs their drink," Coach Sampson remarked.

"The more I watch him on film you can see why," Coach Sampson continued. "He's my kind of player. Tough kid. Hard-nosed. Defensive Player of the Year in their league. (He) knows how to put the biscuit in the basket.

Tre Gomillion has started in every game of his Cleveland State career (58 starts).

Gomillion is not a three-point shooter. He attempted 20 threes this season and made 3. However, he made 107 of his 196 two-point attempts (54.5%).

"Coach Sampson said they play very good when they're down," DeJon Jarreau, Houston's senior guard. "He said they're not frontrunners that means they're very tough with (Tre) Gomillion leading them."

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"The leading scorer is Patton, 6'4 / 6'5," Coach Sampson summarized. "The identity guy is Gomillion - 6'4 / 6'5 guard. Good point guard in (Craig) Beaudion. Shooters in (Alec) Ogelsby and (D'Moi) Hodge.

"Their kid Hodge is like Cam (Tyson) for us. He made 10 threes in a game this year."

Hodge made 10 of 15 three-pointers against Purdue - Fort Wayne on December 20, 2020. He scored 46 points in the game -- including 31 in the first half.

Hodge made a total of 28 three-pointers in the Vikings' other 24 games this season.

"We know they're a tough team," Quentin Grimes, Houston junior guard. "They like to get on you. They're kind of like us a little bit. They rebound. They have really good guards that can shoot the ball really well.

"We got to make sure we're on high alert at all times when we're on the court."

Jarreau added, They're old. They're a veteran team unlike us. We're a young team. We have to come out and take them very seriously. Don't take them lightly."

"Good team. Nobody but good teams left," Coach Sampson concluded. "If you're a good team, you're in this Tournament. If you win A game, that means you had to beat a good team. Cleveland State qualifies. They're a good team."

Game time is 6:15 p.m. Central on truTV.

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