For UH, key to rally vs. Wichita State was getting back to its identity
Just as the game clock ticked down past the five-minute mark in the first half, Houston freshman guard Jamal Shead threw a cross-court pass that was intercepted by Wichita State’s Dexter Davis.
Davis rushed to the other end of the court and took flight, meeting the rim with an authoritative dunk that shook the entire basket and even got awe’s from the limited capacity crowd inside of Fertitta Center.
“Jamal threw the best pass he has all year. The problem was it was to Dexter Davis, who got a highlight-reel dunk right off it,” UH head coach Kelvin Sampson told reporters after the game. “It hit him right in the numbers. Got him on the run. Couldn’t have thrown a better pass.”
Davis’ slam broke a standstill on the scoreboard, giving the Shockers a two-point lead. It was also two of 14 points off turnovers, which was the problem for the Cougars in the first half, and a spark of a WSU spurt that sent No. 11 UH trailing by six into the halftime break.
Once the second half began, the Shockers built on their momentum, scoring the first four of the period, until UH senior forward Justin Gorham knocked down a 3-pointer.
A defensive stop later and the ball found the hands of the 6-foot-7-inch Maryland native again. This time he knocked down a long two.
Gorham’s baskets were followed by two from junior guard Quentin Grimes and then a layup from DeJon Jarreau. Gorham’s two shots had quickly turned into a 16-0 run, which UH used as fuel towards victory.
“We came into halftime down, so you know Coach Sampson doesn’t like that,” Gorham said. “He’s going berserk in the locker room. We were playing like we were tired in the first half. We had to get back to ourselves and play Cougar basketball.”
Despite the scoring shift in the second half by the Cougars, it was the defense by the team that fueled the rally, which is what the program has become synonymous with — defensive stops and rebounds.
The Cougars held the Shockers to only 34.6 percent shooting from the field and 30.8 percent on 3’s in the second half while giving up only two points off giveaways in the final 20 minutes.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best shot,” Sampson said. “Everybody we’ve played. … all these teams are really getting after us.”
On the offensive side of the ball, Grimes flipped the switch, scoring 20 of his 22 points in the period and hitting four 3-pointers.
“I knew in the second half, I had to assert myself and be in attack mode at all times,” Grimes said.
In addition to Grimes’ 22, both Gorham and Jarreau finished the game with double-doubles, and sophomore guard Marcus Sasser finished the game in double-figures offensively.
“Everybody is excited when everybody does good,” Grimes said. “The whole team is happy. When everybody has success, we love it for each other.”