Eight turnovers as Cougars blow lead against Cincinnati
The No. 8 Cincinnati Bearcats extended their home winning streak to 38 games after mounting a huge comeback to beat the Cougars 80 to 70.
Despite a great start, the Cougars’ foul troubles plagued them all game and ultimately caused their downfall.
The Cougars scored early, but junior forward Breaon Brady quickly picked up two fouls and forced head coach Kelvin Sampson to replace him with senior forward Nura Zanna.
Zanna has experienced foul problems all season, and he earned a pair of fouls in just 32 seconds of play. He had to be replaced with freshman forward Fabian White Jr.
Luckily for Houston, Cincinnati turned the ball over six times in the first eight minutes — they usually average only 12 per game. The turnovers allowed the Cougars to jump out to a lead off the back of superb accuracy as they made 60 percent of their shots in the first 10 minutes.
White Jr. also made the best of his chance to play and scored 10 points to help earn the Cougars an 18 point lead.
But in the last 10 minutes of the first half, the Cougars’ shooting accuracy plummeted to 41 percent and the fouls caught up to them. White gained two fouls and had to be taken out, but Zanna and Brady then earned another foul each, sending Cincinnati into the bonus.
Houston’s foul trouble allowed Cincinnati to go to the free-throw line six times in the last five minutes, and they made all of them.
Senior forward Gary Clark led the comeback for Cincinnati, scoring 10 points as the Bearcats cut Houston’s lead from 17 to three in the last five minutes of the half. The score was 40-37 with the Cougars barely hanging on, but Cincinnati had all of the momentum.
Beginning the second half, Houston’s Brady fouled out within a minute, and the team earned four fouls in the first two minutes.
The Bearcats quickly took the lead 52-49 with a three-point from junior guard Jacob Evans, and for a little while after it was a back and forth game.
But slowly, the Bearcats’ pulled away due to near stellar play from senior forward Kyle Washington, who scored his season high of 19 points. Washington nailed three three-pointers, his season high for a game, when he had only made nine previously all season.
The Bearcats ended the game with 27 free-throw opportunities and made 18 of them while Houston only made four of their 11 chances.
Junior guard Corey Davis Jr. and senior forward Devin Davis were the best performers for Houston. They had a combined 33 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists. UH’s leading scorer, senior guard Rob Gray, scored just nine points but did earn six rebounds and six assists.
Houston will have just two days to reflect and recover before heading off to Orlando to take on the UCF Knights at 11 a.m. on Saturday.