Cougars bury Miners in 77-57 rout
It was a block party in Fertitta Center Thursday evening as the Cougars recorded 11 blocks in their 77-57 victory over the UTEP Miners.
Both teams started off the game playing sloppy. Through the first four minutes the teams combined for seven turnovers, six fouls, and went 0-9 from the field including three airballs.
The only points in the first four minutes came from the free throw line, as redshirt freshman Caleb Mills and junior Fabian White Jr. combined to go 3 for 4 from the charity stripe, putting the Cougars up 3-0.
Then a 3-point shootout began. With 15:59 left in the first half, sophomore guard Nate Hinton hit a 3-pointer, the game’s first field goal, to put Houston up 6-0.
UTEP responded with two 3-pointers of their own to tie the game at six. Caleb Mills would answer back, hitting a 3-pointer to give Houston the lead back.
The Miners responded again, hitting their third 3-pointer in a row. Nate Hinton capped off this 3-point shootout when he hit his second triple of the game to put the Cougars up 12-9 with 13 minutes left in the half.
Over the next four minutes, Houston went on an 11-0 run to build a 14 point lead with a little over nine minutes left in the first half.
UTEP answered the Cougars run with their own 16-5 run to cut the Houston’s lead to 28-25 with three minutes left in the first half.
The Cougars closed the last three minutes of the half with a 9-2 run, capped off by a Nate Hinton layup at the buzzer, to go into the locker room with a 37-27 lead.
Mills led Houston in scoring with nine first-half points. Hinton also had a strong first half, scoring eight points and grabbing seven boards.
Over the first 10 minutes of the second half, the teams went back and forth trading baskets. Midway through the second half Houston led 50-41.
UTEP crawled their way back into the game by hitting a couple of 3-pointers and cut Houston’s lead to five with 7:50 left in the game.
After the Miner’s cut the lead to five, Houston’s exploded offensively and played lockdown defense. The Cougars went on a 16-0 run over the next four minutes and had a block party on defense. Houston led 70-49 with 3:58 in the game.
UH controlled the ball the rest of the game, improving to 7-3 on the season.
The Cougars had three players score double digits. Hinton led the way, posting his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 17 and pulling down 10 rebounds. Mills also scored 17 points.
Redshirt junior Brison Gresham had his best game of the season, posting a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Gresham also had a team-high 6 blocks.
The Cougars return to action Dec. 22 when they travel to Hawaii to compete in the Hawaii Airlines Diamond Head Classic.