Wes Miller Previews Houston

Cincinnati will look to end a nine-game losing streak to Houston on Saturday afternoon when the Cougars (19-3, 6-3) visit Fifth Third Arena for a 4 pm tip off.

Wes Miller spoke to the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the first half of the Big 12 schedule as well as the upcoming match-up against Kelvin Sampson and Houston. 

" It's the best league in America," Miller told reporters when asked about his first impression of the league. "You do your research and preparation, you certainly believe that. Experiencing is something different. It's every night, every possession. Every team has great players. Every team is well coached. Being in this league, it's awesome. It's going to improve our program, it's going to improve this team. I believe that more emphatically now."

Following Saturday night's thrilling road win over 15th-ranked Texas Tech, Cincinnati was able to enjoy a much needed week long break before taking on a Houston team that currently ranks as the best defensive team in the country. 

Kelvin Sampson's team ranks first in the country in scoring defense (54 ppg) and field goal percentage defense (36.9 percent) , eighth in steals per game (10) , tenth in turnovers forced per game (16.45), and eleventh in three-point percentage defense (28.9 percent).

When asked how Miller simulates the type of pressure that Houston puts on an offense, Miller had a simple answer.

"If you could mimic what Houston does on defense, other people would be doing it in games. There's a reason they're the best defensive team in college basketball. They have been. They continue to be."

Miller has faced Kelvin Sampson and Houston six times during his first two seasons. The Bearcats' most recent meeting with Houston was a humbling 69-48 loss in the American Athletic Conference Tournament. 

" You can't simulate it in practice but you got to try to do a good job of figuring out a good game plan and how to execute against a unique style." 

With the amount of close games that Cincinnati has been apart of in the Big 12 - they're one of only two teams to have all Big 12 losses by less than five points- Wes Miller's squad should be battle tested and ready come Saturday afternoon.

"So many games come down to one or two possessions," Miller told reporters. "What are you doing every day as a team to try to get one possession better in the areas you can control. As you go back and you review all these tapes or you coach these games, the teams that control what they can control to win one or two or three extra possessions, that's the difference."

For Wes Miller and Cincinnati, it's all about the little things.

"You can control execution, you can control your defensive assignments, you can control sprinting back on defense, you can control your rebounding effort assignments."

Houston has built their program on similar core values and principles under Sampson and it hasn't been lost on Miller.

"The mentality to rebound and defend and give relentless effort every possession, you know, I resonate with that. I want to get to a place with this program where people talk about us doing that at the highest possible standard. People nationally talk about Houston right now in that way and I want us to get to a point we're doing that in our own Cincinnati way."

One thing that Miller has mentioned several times throughout the season and off-season is that he wants his players to do everything with intent and purpose. 

"That's the difference in a lot of these games beyond the surface level stuff that everybody's aware of."

You can watch the full press conference below. Other topics covered include:

- John Newman and his play to date

- Simas Lukosius and what he means to this team

- Day Day Thomas and his defensive presence 

- Jamille Reynolds and his play so far

- CJ Fredrick and his status moving forward- realistic expectations

- Viktor Lakhin and his recent struggles and what he needs to do to come out on the right side

(Video: Cincinnati Athletics Production)

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