Cougars first in AAC after career night from Caleb Mills against Tulsa
Houston stands alone atop the American Athletic Conference totem pole after Caleb Mills’ electric second half that saw him score 22 of his career-high 27 points led the Cougars to a dominant 76-43 victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane on Wednesday night at Fertitta Center.
Houston, fueled by the 22 second-half points from the freshman guard, took sole possession of first place in The American after the UCF Knights stormed into Cincinnati and took down the Bearcats 89-87. The Cougars improved to 21-6 and 11-3 in the AAC
Much of the night’s first half was uneventful, with both teams going on lengthy scoring droughts before hitting the locker room with UH leading 26-20.
But when the Cougars took the court to start the second half, Mills laid down a beating that crushed the Golden Hurricane.
Mills started the best 20 minute of his career so far with a jumper, followed by a 3-pointer. Then another and another.
The 6-foot-3-inch guard scored 19 to start the second half for Houston, the streak breaking only when sophomore guard Nate Hinton knocked down a couple free throws before the 13-minute mark to put the Cougars up 47-28.
Less than a minute later, however, things got ugly when Tulsa senior forward Martins Igbanu dug his shoulder into Fabian White Jr.’s chest, knocking the junior forward to the ground.
Golden Hurricane junior forward Elijah Joiner rushed to Igbanu’s defense in the ensuing scuffle, the officials tossing him with a flagrant 2 technical foul almost immediately.
Igbanu and White were issued offsetting double technicals, but the Houston continued its strong offensive showing.
Over a five-minute period in the second half, the Cougars went on a 24-4 run.
Sophomore guard Nate Hinton also contributed on offense, ending the night with 15 points that included 10 from the foul line.
As a whole, the Cougars outscored the Golden Hurricane 50-23 in the second half, keeping Tulsa 1 of 6 from behind the arc and causing 11 turnovers.
With the win, Houston is now 6-0 after a loss in 2019-20 and have yet to lose back-to-back games.