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How to watch Texas vs. No. 4 Houston

The Longhorns host one of the best teams in the country on Big Monday.

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NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After a two-game road trip to Norman and Provo, the Texas Longhorns are back at the Moody Center for a Big Monday matchup against Kelvin Sampson and the No. 4 Houston Cougars, the fourth game against an AP Top 25 opponent in the last 10 days.

Head coach Rodney Terry’s team is 2-1 in that stretch after a 1-3 start to Big 12 play, but lost on Saturday to No. 21 BYU in Provo, 84-72.

Texas sophomore guard Chendall Weaver has been a spark plug for an underachieving bench over the last games, averaging 13.0 points per game on 52.9-percent shooting, along with 7-of-8 free throws and 4.5 rebounds per game. In the loss to BYU, the UT Arlington transfer posted a season-high 15 points (5-9 FG, 4-4 FT), adding five offensive rebounds boards and two steals in 25 minutes.

At 15-2 overall and 5-2 in Big 12 play, Houston enters Monday’s game on a four-game winning streak with victories over Texas Tech, UCF, BYU, and Kansas State following losses to Iowa State and TCU. Sampson’s team, which has gone to the Final Four, Elite Eight, and Sweet 16 over the last three seasons, is currently ranked No. 1 in KenPom.com’s adjusted efficiency metric behind the No. 1 defense and the No. 14 offense. Ranking 350th in adjusted tempo, this is a Cougars team that plays with an extremely deliberate pace and a defense-first mentality.

Houston struggles with sending opponents to the free-throw line with the No. 310 free-throw rate nationally, but is the best or among the best in the country in a number of different categories — first in effective field-goal percentage (41.2 percent), first two-point percentage defense (40.3 percent), first in block percentage (19.2 percent), third in forced turnover rate (26.0 percent), and seventh in three-point percentage defense (28.3 percent).

Offensively, the Cougars struggle at the free-throw line, shooting 67.5 percent, but protect the basketball with a turnover rate of 14.1 percent, 15th nationally, and crash the offensive glass hard, ranking fifth in the country at 39.9 percent. Houston is reliant on producing baskets with one-on-one plays, but is not reliant on taking three-pointers at a high rate, in part because that’s how Sampson prefers to play and in part because the Cougars simply don’t have to make up points from distance because they defend the arc so well.

It’s a guard-centric team for Houston, led in scoring by Baylor transfer LJ Cryer at 15.2 points per game, followed by Emanuel Sharp at 12.2 points per game, and Manor product Jamal Shead at 11.7 points per game. Cryer paces the Cougars in made three-pointers, hitting 38.7 percent of the team’s total while shooting 38.7 percent from distance. Shead is the team’s floor leader, recording 44.3 percent of the team’s assists at 4.9 per game — no other Houston player averages more than 2.1 assists.

The most remarkable aspect of the Cougars defense is the elite block rate despite mid-major size — the tallest payer on the team is 6’8, but that doesn’t stop Ja’Vier Francis from recording a block rate of 11.8 percent and 6’7 Joseph Tugler from blocking 10.7 percent of opposing shots. Along with 6’7 J’Wan Roberts and 6’6 Terrance Arceneaux, Francis and Tugler are also exceptional offensive rebounders.

The former Southwest Conference opponents are meeting for the first time as members of the Big 12 and looking to break a 32-32 tie in the all-time series. The Cougars won the last meeting 73-72 in Houston in 2013, a first-round contest in the College Basketball Invitational. BartTorvik.com gives Texas a 15-percent win probability with a projected score of 68-59.

How to watch

TV: ESPN

Time: 8:00 p.m. Central

Livestream: WatchESPN

Radio: The Longhorn IMG Radio Network broadcasts every Texas game statewide. Check TexasSports.com for affiliates.

Odds: Houston is a five-point favorite, according to DraftKings.

Odds/lines are subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.