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Friday, April 16, 2021

Men's Basketball

UH ‘coming together at right time’ as postseason nears


UH guard DeJon Jarreau waits for a screen from senior forward Justin Gorham. Kelvin Sampson and his team have now gone six straight seasons with 20 or more wins. | Andy Yanez/The Cougar

UH guard DeJon Jarreau waits for a screen from senior forward Justin Gorham. Kelvin Sampson and his team have now gone six straight seasons with 20 or more wins. | Andy Yanez/The Cougar

The Houston men’s basketball team exploded offensively again on Sunday afternoon, going on a 47-10 run in the first half that left the South Florida Bulls well done and out. 

Junior guard Quentin Grimes, who was coming off a career-night against Western Kentucky, still had ammunition left in the tank. He torched USF with 22 points, which included 16 straight for UH by himself. From turnaround stepback jumpers to catch-and-shoot 3-pointers and even contested reversed layups, Grimes could not miss the basket. 

“It’s really amazing to watch,” said senior guard DeJon Jarreau on Grimes’ performance. “I don’t even want the ball (when he gets it going) like I just want him to keep shooting because that is a show. I enjoy watching it. The whole team enjoys watching it.”

For UH head coach Kelvin Sampson, any shot Grimes took, he was OK with. Not because of the outcomes, but because Grimes had earned it. Jarreau did a little bit of everything for UH too, finishing with 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists. 

“Quentin can’t take a bad shot,” Sampson told reporters postgame a Zoom call. “DeJon has earned the right to make mistakes. Early on, last year, he didn’t, but this year he has learned to play the game of basketball. You can look at his body language and confidence. Our kids are very confident.”

With February in the rearview mirror and the Cougars once again approaching the American Athletic Conference and NCAA Tournaments, they feel like things are starting to click.

“Going into March with this team, we’re coming together at the right time,” Sampson said. “That is where we want to be.”

With the demolishment of USF, the Cougars hit the 20-win mark for the sixth consecutive season. An accomplishment, which has become routine for the UH program, but has not lost its significance for Sampson, especially in a year marred by COVID-19 and other acts of nature.

“We’re 20-3,” Sampson said. “It is an amazing thing to be that in this year. I’m proud of them. … (There are) so many variables you can’t control, but we really work hard to control our team. The way we practice, prepare, there is no deviance. No ups and downs. We work every day and I think that has to do with consistency our program has had year-to-year.”

Despite the milestone, UH has bigger plans in mind for March and even April. 

When the dust settles, the Cougars’ win on Sunday afternoon over the Bulls likely won’t be remembered much, but they hope that it is a sign of things to come. 

Now that Indianapolis is around the corner, everything that UH has mentioned in its journey up to this point is about to see a payoff, and the Cougars can’t wait to see how it all culminates.

“We’ve been talking about March,” Jarreau said. “Been talking about how important it is and talking about seeding and winning and losing and how important it is. … We know how important it is. Now that March is here, you get the type of feeling that it is here now.”

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