Tuesday, November 30

No. 6 Houston hopes to regain top form against Cincinnati


The Houston Cougars have lost their grip in first place in the American Athletic Conference, and their top-10 ranking is likely to follow as well.

The Cougars (17-3, 11-3 AAC), one of the best defensive teams in the nation, allowed host Wichita State to score 10 3-pointers during Thursday’s 68-63 loss, the second in their last three conference games. . Wichita State now leads Houston by one game in the loss column for the conference leadership.

No. 6 Houston will try to bounce back at home, where it is 11-0 this season, when it hosts Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon.

The Bearcats (7-7, 5-4) have won four in a row, all by one possession, after a 25-day hiatus due to COVID-19 cases. They have been running well on both ends in the final moments of each game.

“Confidence is only earned through performance,” said Cincinnati coach John Brannen. “I can’t inject confidence into you. I can inject support and love. But your performance will ultimately lead to your confidence. And our guys are now understanding what it takes to be successful.”

If cougars are to regain their identity, they must start from the inside. They were rebounded 35-33 by Wichita State.

“They were tougher than us on the boards,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “I don’t know how many times I’ve said that in the last six years. Not many. But they were difficult.”

DeJeon Jarreau led the Cougars with 16 points, Quentin Grimes finished with 13 and Justin Gorham added 10. But Houston blew a 12-point lead in the first half.

Cincinnati isn’t a good three-point shooting team, hitting just 28.6 percent of their attempts this season. But again, the Shockers weren’t either before beating Houston when they entered the game shooting 32.3 percent from 3-point range, ranking 246th nationally.

“They made some tough shots,” Sampson said. “I mean tough shots. And if you hit 10 3-pointers at home, you’re probably going to win.”

The Bearcats outscored UCF 69-68 at home Sunday behind 14 points apiece from Keith Williams and David DeJulius. Williams also finished with eight rebounds. Mason Madsen was also in the clutch, hitting the lead free throw with 2.1 seconds left.

“We weren’t playing Cincinnati basketball (at the beginning of the year) and we weren’t playing hard,” DeJulius said. “We were playing basketball individually. We had to come together and really figure out what kind of team we were on.”

Williams leads the Bearcats, averaging 14.7 points per game, while DeJulius averages 10.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists.

Cincinnati lost a key contributor from the bench this week when second-year guard Zach Harvey chose this week to opt out for the remainder of the season. Harvey averaged 6.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game in his 12 games.

Houston got an unexpected boost when senior forward Fabian White, who was listed as a red jersey for this season, returned to action against Wichita State.

White, who tore his right anterior cruciate ligament in May, has played 99 games, including 52 starts, in his career with the Cougars.

Grimes leads Houston this season with an average of 16.7 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Gorham is at 8.3 points and 9.9 rebounds, and Jarreau is averaging 10.3 points and 4.2 assists.

–Field level media




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