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USATSI

Houston hasn't opened with the sport's toughest schedule — evidence being that the Cougars' first three games were against teams ranked outside of the top 230 at KenPom.com, and the fourth was Thursday night against a Towson team ranked 136th.

Final score: Houston 65, Towson 49.

It was the fourth straight blowout for the Cougars, who have won their first four games by an average of 33 points. Nobody has played them closer than 16 points.

"It's still early in the season," said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson. "I don't think anybody's looking at their teams as finished products."

Fair enough.

But there are already some statistical indicators, especially on the defensive side of the court, suggesting that Houston is great again despite losing two first-round NBA Draft picks in Jarace Walker and Marcus Sasser from last season's team that was a No. 1 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. The Cougars' leading scorer is LJ Cryer, a transfer from Baylor who is averaging 15.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.5 steals in 30.0 minutes per game. He's among the reasons Houston is No. 7 in Friday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings.

Houston's next game is Friday in the Charleston Classic and will offer a more serious challenge than the first four games provided. That's because the Cougars are playing Utah, which beat Wake Forest 77-70 on Thursday and moved up to No. 32 at KenPom. If Houston wins that game, Sampson's team will advance to the title game of the Charleston Classic and play either Rick Pitino's St. John's Red Storm or Anthony Grant's Dayton Flyers.

Top 25 And 1 rankings

Biggest Movers
Rk
Teams
 
Chg
Rcrd
1 Kansas Hunter Dickinson finished with 27 points and 21 rebounds in Tuesday's 89-84 win over Kentucky. The Jayhawks' next game is Monday against Chaminade. -- 20-6
2 Purdue Zach Edey finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds in Monday's 83-71 win over Xavier. The Boilermakers' next game is Monday against Gonzaga. -- 24-3
3 Arizona Keshad Johnson finished with 17 points and six rebounds in Monday's 97-59 win over Southern. The Wildcats' next game is Friday against Belmont. -- 20-6
4 Duke Caleb Foster finished with 18 points and three rebounds in Tuesday's 74-65 win over Michigan State. The Blue Devils' next game is Friday against Bucknell. -- 21-5
5 FAU Vladislav Goldin finished with 19 points and five rebounds in Tuesday's 100-57 win over Eastern Michigan. The Owls' next game is Saturday against Bryant. -- 21-6
6 Marquette Tyler Kolek finished with 24 points and six rebounds in Tuesday's 71-64 win at Illinois. The Golden Eagles' next game is Monday against UCLA. -- 20-6
7 Houston LJ Cryer finished with 18 points and three rebounds in Thursday's 65-49 win over Towson. The Cougars' next game is Friday against Utah. -- 23-3
8 UConn Cam Spencer finished with 25 points and four assists in Tuesday's 87-53 win over Mississippi Valley State. The Huskies' next game is Sunday against Indiana. -- 24-3
9 Creighton Trey Alexander finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Tuesday's 92-64 win over Iowa. The Bluejays' next game is Saturday against Texas Southern. -- 20-7
10 Miami Matthew Cleveland finished with 23 points and seven rebounds in Monday's 86-80 win over FIU. The Hurricanes' next game is Friday against Georgia. -- 15-12
11 Arkansas El Ellis finished with 17 points and eight assists in Monday's 86-77 win over Old Dominion. The Razorbacks' next game is Friday against UNC Greensboro. -- 13-13
12 Tennessee Dalton Knecht finished with 18 points and three rebounds in Tuesday's 82-61 win over Wofford. The Vols' next game is Monday against Syracuse. -- 20-6
13 Texas A&M Tyrece Radford finished with 21 points and seven rebounds in Tuesday's 79-66 win over SMU. The Aggies' next game is Friday against Oral Roberts. -- 15-11
14 Baylor Jayden Nunn finished with 25 points and four assists in Tuesday's 99-61 win over Kansas City. The Bears' next game is Wednesday against Oregon State. -- 19-7
15 Gonzaga Graham Ike finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds in Tuesday's 123-57 win over Eastern Oregon. The Zags' next game is Monday against Purdue. -- 21-6
16 Kentucky Justin Edwards and DJ Wagner combined to go 1 of 18 from the field in Tuesday's 89-84 loss to Kansas. The Wildcats' next game is Friday against Stonehill. -- 18-8
17 Texas Tyrese Hunter finished with 18 points and four assists in Wednesday's 80-64 win over Rice. The Longhorns' next game is Sunday against Louisville. -- 17-9
18 Memphis Jahvon Quinerly finished with 18 points and eight rebounds in Friday's 70-55 win at Missouri. The Tigers' next game is Friday against Alabama State. -- 19-8
19 N. Carolina Armando Bacot finished with 22 points and 20 rebounds in Sunday's 90-68 win over Lehigh. The Tar Heels' next game is Friday against UC Riverside. -- 20-6
20 USC USC shot 19.0% from 3-point range in Tuesday's 70-60 loss to UC Irvine. The Trojans' next game is Sunday against Brown. -- 10-16
21 Michigan St. A.J. Hoggard missed seven of the eight shots he attempted in Tuesday's 74-65 loss to Duke. The Spartans' next game is Friday against Butler. -- 17-10
22 Illinois Illinois missed 22 of the 33 3-pointers it attempted in Tuesday's 71-64 loss to Marquette. The Illini's next game is Friday against Valparaiso. -- 19-7
23 Alabama Marcus Sears finished with 17 points and five assists in Tuesday's 102-46 win over South Alabama. The Crimson Tide's next game is Friday against Mercer. -- 19-7
24 Iowa St. Keshon Gilbert finished with 16 points and six rebounds in Sunday's 86-55 win over Idaho State. The Cyclones' next game is Sunday against Grambling State. -- 20-6
25 Colorado KJ Simpson finished with 23 points and six assists in Tuesday's 106-79 win over Milwaukee. The Buffaloes' next game is Monday against Richmond. -- 17-9
26 Virginia Ryan Dunn finished with 15 points and five rebounds in Thursday's 62-33 win over Texas Southern. The Cavaliers' next game is Monday against Wisconsin. -- 20-7