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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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Kelvin Sampson: "I think as our program continues to grow, I think our schedule will begin to grow."

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December 1, 2018 -- 8:05 a.m. CST

HOUSTON, TX (Guy V. Lewis Development Facility) -- The Houston Cougars (5-0) are hours away (8 p.m. Central Time on ESPN2) from playing in the first game inside the $60-million Fertitta Center. Tonight's match-up will pit the Coogs from the American Athletic Conference against the Oregon Ducks (4-2) from the Pac-12.

Houston Head Coach Kelvin Sampson provided a scouting report on the Ducks:

"Just ridiculously talented. We've been delving into them the last two days. They've got an outstanding, heady, tough, really, really good point guard in Payton Pritchard. You cannot duck behind screens; cannot slide screens; you can't get caught over-helping on the weak side. He's a push-push point guard -- a lot like Galen. You take away the Iowa game, just one game, he's probably shooting 60 percent from the three. There's good shooters; and, then, there's great shooters. This kid is a great shooter.

"Bol Bol. I don't know how you describe his game because there's nothing he can't do. He's freshman. I still think he's finding his way a little bit; but, when you're gifted like he is, you can do just about anything. It's hard to define his game right now. Difficult to scout. He shoots behind the NBA (three-point) line. Our fives: Chris (Chris Harris), or Breaon (Breaon Brady), or Brison (Brison Gresham) will have a hard time going out there to guard him. Fives don't guard fives outside.

"Biggest difference on there team is (Kenny) Wooten. He only played six minutes the other night (Monday against Texas Southern). I think he's the one that gives them their identity. Their physical, tough presence. He got hurt in that game and only played six minutes. Watching him in their earlier games against Syracuse, Iowa, Green Bay, and those games, he's huge. He's about 6'9" and 240. Bol is 7'2". Wooten is 6'9". Paul White is 6'9". Two kids off the bench: one is 6'9"; one is 6'7".

"Every team needs a guy that binds them together; and, I think that's what Wooten does. Pritchard is their heart and soul; but, Wooten gives them their identity."

Wooten bruised his left knee in Monday's game against Texas Southern; however, he participated in practice Wednesday and Thursday and is expected to play versus the Coogs.

Coach Sampson is appreciative of Oregon Head Coach Dana Altman, his friend and coaching colleague, to agree to the match-up and participating in the first game in the Fertitta Center.

"I really appreciate Dana (Oregon Head Coach Dana Altman) doing this: willing to come here and helping us open the building. It's a good game for both teams. Four, five years ago, we may not have been a good game for some people because we just weren't very good. A lot of times the way coaches judge teams are 'Are they a good win? or Are they a bad loss?' I think losing to us is not what it used to be; and, beating us is not what it used to be either."

Sampson believes the Coogs' basketball program will continue improving and, as a result, the Coogs' non-conference will get tougher.

"But, I think as our program continues to grow, I think our schedule will begin to grow. Although, I don't know how much more I want it to grow. I was looking at this murderer's row we have coming up here with Oregon, Lamar, Oklahoma State, LSU, Saint Louis, Utah State. Everybody knows how good Oregon, Oklahoma State, and LSU are. Their names speak for themselves; but, Saint Louis and Utah State each one may win their league. But, this is a good schedule for us. We're looking forward to getting Fabian back here pretty soon. Looking forward to getting DeJon back here pretty soon. When we get our team complete, we want to be as good as we can be heading into conference. Try to win as may as these non-conference games as you can; but, everybody's goal is to compete for a conference championship."


Click here to read about the Clear Bag Policy at Fertitta Center.

The 3D court projection for the game is scheduled to start at 7:53 p.m.

Here's an example of the floor projector light show:

CLICK HERE for news and info about the Coogs' men's basketball team.

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