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Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Men's Basketball

Cougars extend home win streak with takedown over No. 5 Bearcats


Junior center Valentine Sangoyomi was all smiles with fans after they rushed the court to celebrate the team’s victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats. Barring a complete collapse in the final stretch of the season, men’s basketball will likely head to its first NCAA Tournament since 2010 after taking down another top ranked opponent. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

After one of their worst starts this season, the Cougars came back to defeat the No. 5 Bearcats 67-62 at home Thursday night.

Senior forward Devin Davis and junior guard Corey Davis Jr. led the team with 16 points each and a combined 14 rebounds to lead the Cougars to the win. According to some polls, it was their first  over a top five opponent since 1996.

Davis set the tone for team with a block and rebound right out of the gate, the latter being one of the main reasons the Cougars were able to hang with the Bearcats.

The game was incredibly reminiscent of Houston’s road loss against Cincinnati two weeks ago, but with roles reversed. 

Déjà Coog

This time, Houston fell behind early but made a comeback to close the lead to just three points, just like Cincinnati did two weeks ago.

Houston turned over the ball seven times and shot just 36 percent from the field during the first 10 minutes of the game, while Cincinnati shot with 50 percent accuracy, nailing three 3-pointers, four field goals, and two free throws to take a 19-6 lead. 

The Cougars came alive in the last ten minutes of the second half, improving their accuracy to 46 percent and losing the ball just twice more. Meanwhile, the Bearcats’ accuracy plummeted to 36 percent.

The Bearcats did not lack effort, but they were uncoordinated and struggled to put together passes and set up plays. 

Sophomore guard Armoni Brooks was a spark off the bench for the Cougars, scoring seven of Houston’s 24 points in the first half.

Another thing that kept the Cougars in the game until their shooting improved was rebounding. Particularly, when the Bearcats missed, the Cougars could pounce, and Houston took 12 boards to Cincinnati’s three.

Second chance

The second half was also similar to the last meeting, with each team fighting tooth and nail before the victor jumped out to a large lead in the closing minutes.

Houston put Cincinnati into the bonus halfway through the second half, which hurt the team down the stretch. Cincinnati scored nine free throws before entering the bonus and scored another 15 after, keeping it in the game despite just 38 percent shooting accuracy. 

Senior guard Rob Gray came alight in the final minutes, scoring a 3-pointer to give the Cougars a two point lead and spark the crowd.

Brooks would add to the fire with a three of his own, then Davis Jr. stole the ball from Cincinnati and ran it up the court for a layup, turning the flame into a wildfire.

After that, Cincinnati tried to use foul tactics to spread out the clock, but it was burned by missed free throws while Houston players made theirs, sending the Bearcats home with their third loss of the season.

This loss ends their 16-game winning streak, while Houston’s home winning streak extends to 13 games.

Next up for the Cougars are the Temple Owls, who have taken down three ranked teams this season but also lost to four of the worst teams in the nation. The teams play Sunday at 3 p.m. at Temple’s Liacouras Center.

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