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Here’s what they say about UH:
Four players who were on the initial Wooden Watch list – Keyontae Johnson (Florida), Caleb Mills (Houston), Chris Smith (UCLA) and Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia) – are not going to play again this season. Which of their teams can best withstand that absence and make some noise in March, and which is in the biggest trouble?
Borzello: I’ll go with Houston. I think the Cougars are clearly the class of the AAC, with or without Mills, and that likely means they should head into the NCAA tournament in the best shape in terms of seeding. Kelvin Sampson is also loaded on the perimeter. Quentin Grimes is having the type of season we all expected coming out of high school a few years ago, Marcus Sasser is terrific and DeJon Jarreau is a jack-of-all-trades type. Freshman Tramon Mark has had his moments, too.
I actually think all four teams should survive the absences and make the NCAA tournament, but Florida might be in the most trouble. Keyontae Johnson was the best player of the four aforementioned absentees, and while transfers Anthony Duruji (Louisiana Tech) and Colin Castleton (Michigan) have played well in recent games, I’m most concerned about the Gators.
Medcalf: I also think Houston will be fine. Mills’ role was changing for an excellent Cougars squad that didn’t need him to log the minutes he played a year ago. We’ve watched Justin Gorham (12.5 PPG over the last two games without Mills) do more on offense to help his team beat SMU and Wichita State in back-to-back games. Sampson has depth with this group.
I, too, think that Florida took the biggest hit on this list. Johnson was trending as a potential first-round pick when he collapsed against Florida State in the year’s scariest incident. Plus, the SEC looks like a more complicated race than it appeared to be entering the season.
Gasaway: Houston certainly appears to be doing fine without Mills. The Cougars are a basket away from being undefeated, and, as it is, we’re likely to see this team end the regular season with an exceptionally small number in the loss column. Mills was the featured scorer last year, but he wasn’t the last word in efficiency. In his absence, Grimes has filled that role capably, and UH is overwhelming American opponents with offensive boards and trips to the line.
Lunardi: The knee-jerk answer is Houston, for all of the reasons articulated above. But West Virginia’s epic comeback at Oklahoma State is still top of mind, and Bob Huggins seems more than happy to ride it out with Derek Culver as the lone wolf up front. I think the Mountaineers will be fine and, sadly, the biggest loss will turn out to be Keyontae Johnson of Florida.