Cougars struggle with loss of Rose
After going into halftime with a 3-point lead, everything began to go wrong for the Cougars in the second half as they fell to the Cincinnati Bearcats 63-53 Saturday night at Hofheinz Pavilion.
Although the Cougars led by as many as 10 points in the first, things began to fall apart after junior point guard L.J. Rose limped to the sideline with an injured foot, leading to a cold finish by Houston as they were unable to score in their last seven shots.
“Rose will likely to miss the remainder of the season with a broken foot after hearing a pop,” said head coach Kelvin Sampson after the game.
“We’re not set up to play without L.J. (Rose),” Sampson said. “I don’t know if L.J. is the best point guard in this conference. You can make an argument for the kids from SMU, Tulsa and Connecticut. They’re pretty good, but there is no argument that the most valuable point guard to his team in this league is L.J. Rose.”
With Rose returning after halftime wearing a protective boot, momentum shifted, and the Bearcats attacked the Cougars with two quick steals, giving them a 29-28 lead that never faltered for the remaining duration of the game.
“The second half when I heard he was in the boot, it was a factor in the game, no question,” said Cincinnati head coach, Larry Davis. “As soon as I heard he was in the boot, I told my guys, ‘Okay they have no point guard. We have to go after them.’ That’s how we came out of the gates so quick.”
Cincinnati was able to build a 51-44 lead, and Cougars continued to fight and answered with a layup by freshman guard Wes Van Beck and a 3-pointer by sophomore forward Danrad Knowles, bringing the Cougars to 51-49.
On the following Cincinnati possession, Sampson raised his arms to ignite the crowd to get into the game, prompting a defensive stop by Houston.
The optimism stopped there.
Houston had trouble finding the basket, getting outscored by Cincinnati 12-4.
Forward Danrad Knowles had 16 points on the game while junior forward Devonta Pollard and junior guard Jherrod Stiggers each posted 13 points. Stiggers is now four points shy of becoming the Cougars’ 45th 1,000-point scorer.
With the loss, Houston falls 1-13 in the American Athletic Conference and 9-17 on the season, with four games remaining in their regular season schedule. They will go back on the road to face the Temple Owls at 6 p.m. Thursday inside the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.