Cougars rebound for decisive victory
After losing by nearly 40 points in a road contest against defending national champion Louisville, UH responded with a decisive home victory against Rutgers.
The Cougars’ high-flying offense and attacking defense led them to a 77-55 win.
The Cougars (11-7, 3-2) gave up a 35-28 lead at the start of the second half when the Scarlet Knights (8-10, 2-3) went on a 10-0 run to take the lead 38-37.
Rutgers’ lead was short-lived, as the Cougars played with a lot more energy, turning this around into an 18-point lead. At the 15:55 mark, UH broke out on a quick 11-0 run in just over two minutes. Sophomore guard Jherrod Stiggers had a tip dunk heard ’round the world during a 22-3 run in a seven-minute span, which UH needed after surrendering a first-half lead.
“The coaches told us that it’s not fun if you’re not winning, and it’s exciting that we can go out on a run together and share the ball and play team basketball,” said sophomore forward Danuel House.
UH snapped a two-game losing streak as freshman forward Danrad “Chicken” Knowles got the first start of his collegiate career. Knowles made an immediate impact, contributing 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.
UH knew that Rutgers would be a physical rebounding team that had some size, which is why head coach James Dickey added Knowles into the starting lineup.
The Cougars had five players score in double figures, as junior forward TaShawn Thomas and senior guard Brandon Morris contributed 12 points apiece. Stiggers had 11 points and three 3-pointers, and Danuel House had 14 points and six rebounds.
“It’s kind of hard to find fault in a game like this, except for in the offensive rebounding — more guys have to rebound. We didn’t have anybody in double figures in rebounding,” Dickey said.
UH was outrebounded 49-38 and gave up 23 offensive rebounds.
The Cougars shot 50 percent from the field and made 11 total 3-pointers as a team. Their depth shined as UH scored 35 bench points.
“The team chemistry is really improving, and it showed today with the 21 team assists, and I thought our team defense was really good as well,” Dickey said.
News and notes
For sophomore forward Danuel House and sophomore guard L.J. Rose, the 77-55 win against Rutgers was a long-awaited homecoming. Both starters were on the floor at the same time during a home game for the first time since House injured his knee in early November. House said the team has blended well.
Head coach James Dickey was impressed with House and Rose in their second game back from injury.
“They came in today and really blended in well and didn’t try to do too much, which is really a credit to those guys who can come in and contribute in multiple areas and not just focus on scoring,” Dickey said.
The Cougars went 4-4 while House, the Cougars’ second-leading scorer, was absent.
Bowser gets first playing time
Sophomore forward Tyus Bowser earned his first playing time of the season. The 6-foot-3 Bowser was a standout along the defensive end for the football team this season. He provided size and depth for the defensive line.
Bowser entered the game with 1:10 left, but has fit in with his teammates, sophomore guard Jherrod Stiggers said.
“He’s been fitting in real well and has been crashing the glass,” Stiggers said. “That’s a big boy, and he’s a very coachable guy.”