No. 6 Cougars bounce back with 90-52 rout of Cincinnati.
After dispiriting loss to Wichita St., Cougars rebound to rout Bearcats
Three things are certain: death, taxes and a bounceback win for the University of Houston.
Coming off a crushing loss at Wichita State, the sixth-ranked Cougars throttled Cincinnati 90-52 on Sunday afternoon at Fertitta Center.
Quentin Grimes had a game-high 20 points to lead five players in double figures for UH, which has gone 124 straight games without back-to-back losses, the longest active streak in Division I. The last time the Cougars had a losing streak was at the end of the 2016-17 season.
“Even though we lost, we didn’t fall off the map,” Grimes, who also had eight rebounds, said of the Cougars’ 68-63 upset loss three days earlier at Wichita State. “We needed this game to show people we are still the Houston Cougars, and we’re still one of the best teams in the country. I think we showed that.”
UH’s 38-point margin of victory was the largest by either team in a series that dates to 1957, topping a 115-78 win by the No. 3 Bearcats on Dec. 22, 1998.
UH (18-3, 12-3) remained percentage points — .818 to .800 — behind first-place Wichita State in the American Athletic Conference.
“All respect to (Cincinnati coach) John (Brannen) and his program, but this game was more about us,” said coach Kelvin Sampson, adding “our intensity level and
how hard we play, it was good to see us get back to that level.”
The way the Cougars lost to Wichita State, notably being outrebounded, was most disappointing to Sampson. Upon arrival back at campus after midnight Friday, Sampson had the team watch a brief film session.
“We took that personal,” Sampson said. “We have to rebound to live. We can’t win without rebounding.”
Sunday, the Cougars dominated the boards 47-31, held the Bearcats to a season-low 30 percent shooting, scored 40 points in the paint, and totaled 22 points off turnovers. UH shot 47 percent.
“We know that if we lose, we come in the next day, and it’s going to be a pretty tough day on the court and in film (session),” Grimes said. “You know when you come into that game you have to be on your P’s and Q’s at all times, because you don’t want to have another day that happens when you lose.”
Cincinnati (7-8, 5-5 AAC) led 19-18 midway through the first half, starting off hot with three 3-pointers, among them tough contested shots by Jeremiah Davenport. It was a familiar script from losses to East Carolina and Wichita State this season.
“Oh, my goodness, we’re going to see that again,” Sampson said.
The Cougars flexed their muscles with a 32-7 run over the final 11 minutes. UH made 50 percent (9 of 18) of its shots and was 13 of 13 from the free-throw line during the stretch.
Cincinnati went without a field goal for a 7½-minute stretch straddling the first half and opening minutes after halftime.
“Bottom line is when you play a team that’s national championship good — really, really talented that Sampson has built over seven years — you can’t make mistakes,” Brannen said. “They took advantage of every one of them. It was an uphill battle pretty much after the eight-minute mark of the first half.”
During the decisive run, the Cougars received contributions from throughout the lineup, with DeJon Jarreau (nine points), Tramon Mark (eight) and Fabian White Jr. (seven) carrying the load as the Cougars built a 50-26 halftime lead.
White had 10 points — including his first career 3pointer — and nine rebounds in 20 minutes in his second game since returning from an offseason knee injury.
“I’m 100 percent confident in my knee now,” White said.
Mark finished with 12 points, Jarreau added 11, and Marcus Sasser chipped in 10, all in the second half, as the Cougars extended their home winning streak to 22. Looking for some early energy, Sampson made a lineup change at one of the forward spots, inserting Reggie Chaney for Brison Gresham.
Grimes hit a pair of 3s to begin the second half, and Sasser shrugged off his scoreless first half with a pair of 3s and a layup as Houston’s lead swelled to 43 points.
UH also corrected another area that plagued it in the loss to Wichita State, going 19 of 21 from the free-throw line.
Overall, it was just the type of performance the Cougars have come to expect after a loss.
“Usually when we lose, it’s that we are not playing to the culture,” White said. “Whenever we lose, Coach gets us back going, and we start playing to the culture again.”
No. 6 Houston 90
CINCINNATI (7-8) Vogt 1-2 0-2 2, Davenport 4-13 1-1 11, DeJulius 2-9 4-4 8, Saunders 1-2 3-4 6, Williams 1-10 4-8 6, Adams-Woods 0-3 0-0 0, Eason 3-6 3-6 10, M.Madsen 2-3 2-3 7, Diarra 1-2 0-0 2, Banks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-50 17-28 52. HOUSTON (18-3) Chaney 2-3 2-2 6, Gorham 3-6 2-2 9, Grimes 6-14 5-5 20, Jarreau 4-7 3-3 11, Sasser 4-9 0-0 10, Mark 4-10 4-4 12, White 4-9 1-2 10, Gresham 0-0 0-0 0, Shead 2-3 0-0 4, Roberts 0-0 2-3 2, Tyson 1-3 0-0 3, Powell 0-1 0-0 0, Elvin 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 31-66 19-21 90. Halftime: Houston 50-26.
3-Point Goals: Cincinnati 5-21 (Davenport 2-8, Saunders 1-1, Eason 1-2, M.Madsen 1-2, Diarra 0-1, Adams-Woods 0-2, DeJulius 0-2, Williams 0-3), Houston 9-23 (Grimes 3-8, Sasser 2-5, Elvin 1-1, White 1-1, Gorham 1-2, Tyson 1-3, Jarreau 0-1, Mark 0-2). Fouled Out: Saunders. Rebounds: Cincinnati 24 (Eason 5), Houston 44 (White 9).
Assists: Cincinnati 9 (Vogt 3), Houston 13
(Grimes, Mark 3).
Total Fouls: Cincinnati 21, Houston 22. A: 1,859 (8,479).