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Friday, September 22, 2023

Men's Basketball

DeJon Jarreau embraced defensive matchup vs. Boise State

UH guard DeJon Jarreau brings the ball up the court during the Cougars matchup against SMU during a 2019-20 season in Fertitta Center. | Mikol Kindle Jr./The Cougar

UH guard DeJon Jarreau brings the ball up the court during the Cougars matchup against SMU during a 2019-20 season in Fertitta Center. | Mikol Kindle Jr./The Cougar

The Houston men’s basketball team spent a good portion of its Thanksgiving Day watching film from Wednesday’s matchup against Lamar and looking at scouting reports and clips of its next opponent, Boise State.

By the end of the holiday, senior guard DeJon Jarreau, who UH head coach Kelvin Sampson described as a film watcher, knew who his defensive assignment was going to be for Friday afternoon — Broncos senior guard Derrick Alston Jr.

Not only did Jarreau know his matchup, but he embraced it, and was ready to go out and perform, Sampson said, which was exactly what the 6-foot-5-inch guard did.

“The job DeJon did on Alston was admirable,” Sampson said. “That set the tone for us.”

Alston entered Fertitta Center coming off a 2019-20 season, in which he averaged 17.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists. After playing against the Cougars in his 2020-21 debut, he left the court scoreless on 0-6 shooting from the field and two turnovers. 

For the UH head coach, the stellar defensive performance by Jarreau was just another sign of the growth he had made since joining UH in 2018.

“DeJon’s a competitor,” Sampson said. “He’s a tough kid, and he has improved in almost every area since he has been here.”

Jarreau has been like a second coach on the floor for UH, junior guard Quentin Grimes, who had a strong game himself tallying up 25 points on 9-15 shooting, which included a strong flurry to end of the second half, said.

“He’s definitely the most improved player for sure on the team,” said Grimes of Jarreau. “Just from a leadership standpoint.”

Another freshman shines

Redshirt freshman J’Wan Roberts also had a good game for the Cougars as he hauled in 14 rebounds against the Broncos, which is what Sampson said impressed him the most in Friday’s win.

After the game, Roberts got to speak with reporters for the first time in his time with UH, and from his words, he made his mindset clear.

“I feel like that’s what gets me going,” Roberts said. “My role is not to score 15 points a game. I’m the guy to get them second points cause we’ve never been a first-shot team.”

Cleaning up errors

While UH was able to defeat a Boise State team that is expected to win a lot of games this season and be a top player in the Mountain West Conference by double digits, not everything was smooth sailing for the Cougars.

UH, who at one point had built up a 20-point lead, allowed for the Broncos to cut the deficit to just seven points with just under four minutes left in the second half.

“The last nine minutes, I didn’t think anything was real good,” Sampson said. 

During the Broncos’ run, the Cougars had a few possessions where they ended in turnovers. UH finished with 17 for the game. Despite that, Sampson is not overactive on the ending of the contest and is looking forward to seeing it on film.

The mistakes were nothing that cannot be cleaned up, the head coach said.

“I want us to get to a point where we can play for 40 minutes. Obviously, we’re not ready to do that yet,” Sampson said. “… Our team has a long way to go, but whatever our team is not good at yet, it’s OK. It’s Nov. 27. I think we’re going to get better as we go.”

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