Busting Brackets

Houston Basketball: 3 keys to victory for Cougars vs. Duke in Sweet 16 matchup

Texas A&M v Houston
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The Duke Blue Devils are coming off a very impressive win of pure dominance against James Madison. Freshman Jared McCain dropped a game-leading, 30 points for the Blue Devils, and now Duke will get the opportunity to head to Dallas, Texas, to take on the Houston Cougars as an underdog. 

Houston had quite the scare late Sunday night. Texas A&M forced overtime at the buzzer, and Houston entered overtime with two out of the five starters fouled out of the game. One being the leading scorer, LJ Cryer. After the Cougars regained a prominent lead in the period, they lost Emmanuel Sharp, who led the team in scoring with 30 points, and Jamal Shead, both to foul trouble, putting four of the five starters on the bench for the final minute.

This forced Kelvin Sampson to finish the game with Ramon Walker and Ryan Elvin, two players who didn't play all night and haven't played in weeks for the Cougars. However, both came up big late to help seal the deal and Houston escaped with a 100-95 victory. Now the Cougars will meet a surging Duke squad in the Sweet 16. Here are three keys to victory for the one-seeded Houston Cougars. 

3 keys to victory

3. Get off to a fast start

Against James Madison, Duke got off to an extremely fast start. Jared McCain, in particular, hit multiple three-pointers in the first five minutes. Houston preys on their ability to play defense at a high and efficient level, and Texas A&M had their way against them. 

Some tough shot-making always plays a part, which Wade Taylor and Tyrece Radford Jr. both did. But Duke is even more offensively gifted than the Aggies are, and if the Blue Devils get out to an early lead with their ability to score, Houston could be playing catch-up the entire game. 

If the Cougars can maintain a consistent lead and force Duke into tough shots, it could play a vital role in helping them come out on top. Fast starts for teams have been a recipe for success over the first two rounds. More often than not, the team that is leading at halftime has come out on top when it's all said and done. Getting LJ Cryer, Jamal Shead, and Emmanuel Sharp going out the gate will be key for the team in red.