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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Men's Basketball

Houston opens Fertitta with close win over No. 18 Oregon


Junior guard Armoni Brooks led the Cougars with 23 points on 7-for-14 shooting and six three-pointers. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

The Fertitta Center debut gave Houston a jolt of energy on opening night, and UH defeated  No. 18 Oregon 65-61 with some late-game heroics.

Houston’s defense sputtered out near the end, but the team was able to overcome Oregon, which came roaring back in the second half after a huge halftime deficit.

“There is only one first night. Only one opening night,” said head coach Kelvin Sampson. “Now that we have the Guy V. Lewis facility and Fertitta Center, we can play big-time basketball.”

Junior guard Armoni Brooks made the first basket in the Fertitta Center with a signature three-pointer. He scored another a minute later right over the defender to give the Cougars the lead, and the team never looked back.

Brooks, freshman guard Nate Hinton and senior guard Corey Davis Jr. were hot all night from the three-point line and combined for eight three-pointers in the game.

Hinton and Brooks finished the half with 14 points each, and the team went into the half up 37-18.

Houston started the second half slow, and Oregon scored six unanswered points to start, but senior Galen Robinson Jr. stemmed the tide with a rare three-pointer of his own.

It was a sign for things to come, as Oregon kept rallying to close the lead and Houston would make a basket to extend it a bit.

Off the back of 7’2″ freshman center Bol Bol, who had 16 points in the second half and 23 points total, the Ducks closed the lead down to two points.

It was a back-and-forth final minutes, but the Cougars managed to hold on and cling to the win thanks to clutch free-throw shooting by Brooks.

“When your teammates have confidence in you, it gives you tremendous confidence,” Brooks said.

Brooks led the Cougars with 22 points and nine rebounds in the game, while Robinson led with seven assists.

It was Houston’s sixth win in a row this season and 20th consecutive home win, and the team will have a chance to extend it to 21 against Lamar on Tuesday Dec. 4 at the Fertitta Center.

One negative that nearly cost the Cougars the game was its shooting accuracy. Houston had just 33.3 percent accuracy in the game, which is far below its previous average of 48.3 percent.

“When a team is coming back on you, (it is in your control to stop them). This is a game we can learn from, and it can help us down the road,” Sampson said.

Sampson credited the win partially to depth, as the team’s starters got tired and with backups injured they had to play through the fatigue.

Some of that can be attributed to jitters or extra energy from opening a new arena, and the Cougars will likely clean up its play against the Cardinals.

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