Three things Duke basketball fans should know about Houston

Duke fans may not know a lot about Houston so let's take a deeper look at the Blue Devils' Sweet 16 opponent.

Mar 24, 2024; Memphis, TN, USA; Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson reacts with guard Emanuel
Mar 24, 2024; Memphis, TN, USA; Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson reacts with guard Emanuel / Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports
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Houston does have flaws that Duke can exploit

Reading the previews of this game, one might get a sense that some feel Houston is a nearly perfect team. Many pundits have put the Cougars on a pedestal all season, and rightfully so. However, they are not without their warts.

First of all, they are average at best on offense. They rank just 11th in the Big 12 in field goal percentage at 44.0% as a team. Often, their offense bogs down and Shead has to play hero to beat the shot clock.

When it comes to the 3-pointer, they are nothing special ranking 7th in the Big 12 at 34.9% as a team. They've made 284 3's this year, which is fifth most in the Big 12 but remember, they have played more games than all but two Big 12 teams thus far.

Surprisingly, they aren't a dominant rebounding team either. They were just sixth in the Big 12 in rebounding margin this year and in terms of defensive rebounding percentage, they were last in the Big 12 by grabbing only 69% of available defensive rebounds. That was a problem in their second-round win over Texas A&M when the Aggies had a 14-rebound advantage over the Cougars and grabbed 26 offensive boards.

Finally, they are a bad free-throw shooting team. At just 69.1% as a team, they rank 13 out of 14 teams in their conference.

What's more, they don't get to the line a ton. Averaging just 18.6 free throws per game, they rank just No. 201 in the nation. Therefore, if Duke can be aggressive, get to the line often, and then convert those opportunities into points, the Devils could swing the balance of this game.

Houston might be the best team Duke has played this year (though North Carolina and Arizona might have something to say about that). They play lock-down defense and they are tougher than a two-dollar steak. However, they do have flaws that can be exposed and they barely survived their round-two matchup. So don't let anyone tell you that this is a game Duke can't win.

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