Houston faces tough stretch against UCF, Cincinnati

“Very tough stretch,” Sampson said. “For us, it’s just an opportunity. It’s not the end of the world if we lose, and no medals are going to be given if we win.”

The back-to-back games are part of a tough stretch in February that includes four of six games on the road. After Cincinnati, the Cougars play at Connecticut on Feb. 14.

A sweep against the top challengers could allow the Cougars to take control of a tight AAC race, not to mention make a case for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Most bracketology projections list the Cougars as a No. 3 or 4 seed.

“This is definitely going to be a challenge,” UH center Breaon Brady said. “There are no easy games. If you slip up or you are slacking or not prepared, or you are disrespecting the game by not coming in every day and working hard, it’s hard to win a game.”