Houston extended its winning streak to seven games on Thursday, and improved to 14-1, with an 83-60 victory over Tulane that was never in doubt thanks to an out-of-nowhere performance from Cameron Tyson.
How out-of-nowhere was it?
Consider that before Thursday, Tyson had only appeared in seven games this season, never played more than 15 minutes, never taken more than six shots, and never made more than three. He was averaging 3.0 points per contest. And then, against Tulane, Tyson played 26 minutes, took 18 shots, made 11 of them, and finished with 31 points.
"Our kids did a great job of finding him, and they were reveling in his success," said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, noting that Tyson finished 9-of-15 from beyond the arc. "They wanted him to just keep shooting. So, just happy for Cam. The kid came here and hadn't had a lot of opportunities, but he certainly made the most of it tonight."
Sampson, after a recent win, mentioned that his teams tend to get better as the calendar turns, which has definitely been the case this season. His comment piqued my interest. So I went and looked it up.
Here's what I found:
- 2015-16: Houston started 128th at KenPom, finished 61st.
- 2016-17: Houston started 85th at KenPom, finished 52nd.
- 2017-18: Houston started 64th at KenPom, finished 18th.
- 2018-19: Houston started 39th at KenPom, finished 12th.
- 2019-20: Houston started 29th at KenPom, finished 14th.
- 2020-21: Houston started 21st at KenPom, is currently sitting at 5th.
There's an undeniable pattern. For six straight seasons, Houston has exceeded preseason expectations by consistently improving as the season progresses. Incredibly, the Cougars have not lost consecutive games in more than four years. And it's all just a reminder that the school's decision to invest in Sampson, lure him back to college from the NBA, and then pay big to keep him, was a smart move that's turned what was a forever-struggling program into one of the nation's most consistent winners.
Houston is No. 5 in Friday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The Cougars' next game is Sunday at SMU.
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Friday's Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Gonzaga's perfect record includes double-digit victories over Iowa, Virginia and Kansas. The Zags have won their seven West Coast Conference games by an average of 25.9 points.||--||31-5|
|Baylor's perfect record is highlighted by victories over Kansas, Texas Tech and Illinois. The Bears have won 13 of their 15 games by double-digits.||--||23-11|
|Villanova is 2-0 with wins over Seton Hall and Providence since returning from a COVID-19 pause. The Wildcats will take an eight-game winning streak into Thursday's game at UConn.||--||17-17|
|Michigan is 8-1 in the first two quadrants with double-digit wins over Minnesota, Wisconsin and Purdue. The Wolverines' lone loss came at Minnesota.||--||18-16|
|Houston is 5-1 in the first two quadrants with a double-digit victory over Texas Tech. The Cougars will take a seven-game winning streak into Sunday's game with SMU.||--||33-3|
|Texas was missing three of its top eight players, and coach Shaka Smart, in Tuesday's loss to Oklahoma because of COVID-19 issues. The Longhorns are 6-3 in the first two quadrants with all three losses coming in the first quadrant.||--||28-8|
|Iowa's five-game winning streak was snapped Thursday by Indiana. The loss dropped the Hawkeyes' record in the first two quadrants to 7-3.||--||19-14|
|West Virginia added a third Quadrant 1 win Monday via a final-minute victory over Texas Tech. All four of the Mountaineers' losses have come in the first quadrant.||--||19-15|
|Alabama's 10-game winning streak is highlighted by double-digit wins over Florida, Arkansas, LSU and Kentucky. The Crimson Tide is alone atop the SEC standings with a three-game lead in the loss column.||--||31-5|
|Virginia's seven-game winning streak is highlighted by double-digit wins over Syracuse and Clemson. The Cavaliers are alone atop the ACC standings with a one-game lead in the loss column over Florida State.||--||25-8|
|Ohio State is 5-1 in its past six games with victories over Wisconsin and Illinois. The Buckeyes will take a two-game winning streak into Sunday's game with Michigan State.||--||16-19|
|Texas Tech's resume is highlighted by a road win at Texas. Three of the Red Raiders' five losses are to teams ahead of them in the Top 25 And 1.||--||16-16|
|Missouri's body of work is highlighted by five Quadrant 1 wins - among them victories over Illinois, Tennessee and Oregon. The only team with more Quadrant 1 wins is Gonzaga.||--||25-10|
|Wisconsin is 8-4 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Badgers' resume is highlighted by victories over Minnesota, Louisville, and Loyola Chicago.||--||20-14|
|Kansas is 6-5 in the first two quadrants with all five losses coming in Quadrant 1. The Jayhawks are 5-4 in the Big 12 heading into Saturday's game at Tennessee.||--||28-8|
|Florida State's five-game winning streak includes victories over Clemson, Louisville and North Carolina. The Seminoles are 2-1 in Quadrant 1 opportunities.||--||9-23|
|Illinois owns four Quadrant 1 victories -- among them wins over Minnesota and Purdue. Four of the Illini's five losses qualify as Quadrant 1 defeats.||--||20-13|
|Creighton's 3-1 record in Quadrant 1 opportunities is highlighted by wins over Seton Hall and UConn. The Bluejays will take a two-game winning streak into Saturday's game at DePaul.||--||23-12|
|Tennessee has two Quadrant 1 victories -- specifically wins over Missouri and Colorado. All three of the Vols' losses have come inside the first quadrant.||--||25-11|
|Oklahoma's four-game winning streak includes victories over Texas and Kansas. All four of the Sooners' losses have come inside the first quadrant.||--||15-17|
|Minnesota is 4-4 in Quadrant 1 opportunities (with one loss outside of the first quadrant) after Saturday's loss to Maryland. The Golden Gophers are 1-3 in their past four games.||--||9-22|
|UCLA's seven-game winning streak was snapped Saturday at Stanford. The Bruins remain atop the Pac-12 standings with an 8-1 league record.||--||31-6|
|Clemson is 6-4 in the first two quadrants with zero losses outside of the first quadrant. The Tigers' resume is highlighted by victories over Alabama, Florida State, Purdue and Louisville.||--||23-11|
|Purdue's body of work includes three Quadrant 1 wins - among them victories over Ohio State and Indiana. Five of the Boilermakers' six losses are inside the first quadrant.||--||29-6|
|Louisville's 5-3 record in the first two quadrants includes victories over Duke, Virginia Tech, Pitt and Kentucky. Three of the Cardinals' four losses have come inside the first quadrant.||--||4-28|
|North Carolina is 6-1 in its past seven games with victories over Syracuse, NC State and Pitt. The Tar Heels will take a three-game winning streak into Tuesday's game at Clemson.||--||20-13|