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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Men's Basketball

Defensive improvement ‘most important’ takeaway from Houston’s win over Texas State


Senior center Chris Harris Jr., much to head coach Kelvin Sampson's delight, recorded a season-high six blocks in Houston's 68-60 win over Texas State. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

Senior center Chris Harris Jr., much to head coach Kelvin Sampson’s delight, recorded a season-high six blocks in Houston’s 68-60 win over Texas State. | Kathryn Lenihan/The Cougar

For much of Houston’s young season, head coach Kelvin Sampson has pointed out his team’s inexperience and has emphasized how much of the Cougars’ youth can be seen on the defensive side of the ball.

But in Wednesday night’s 68-60 win against Texas State, UH showed  some signs of defensive improvement.

“I thought our defense was better tonight, and that’s the most important thing,” head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “We shot 35 percent from the floor, and that’s going to happen. I’m not disappointed in that. I’m a coach. I understand that’s part of it, but when you shoot 35 percent and you can win by eight, that says your team’s growing.”

Against Texas State, Houston picked up their first win of the season in which they did not score over 80 points.

One of the highlights of the team’s defense against the Bobcats showed up on the stat sheet in the form of blocks. Houston had 10 in the game, all coming in the second half.

“I thought our size was a factor at the rim,” Sampson said. “They were trying to shoot balls at the rim, and Chris is a very good shot blocker. DeJon is 6’5″ and long.”

Senior center Chris Harris Jr. and redshirt junior DeJon Jarreau combined for nine of those 10 blocks.

“I feel like I did what the team needed me tonight,” Harris said. “Brought energy and did my job.” 

The lone block that did not come from either Harris or Jarreau, came from sophomore Quentin Grimes, who got his deflection off of a late-game shot attempt from Texas State senior guard Nijal Pearson, which could have brought the game within three in the late stages.

The block essentially sealed the victory for the Cougars.

“We had four really good days leading up to this game,” Grimes said. “We are starting to stay disciplined and not really gamble as much. Trust our feel, what coach says all the time, just kind of make plays for everybody and our brothers and if somebody gets beat we are there to help.”

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