Galloping Cougars edge out Mustangs for 71-62 win
Although head coach Kelvin Sampson’s lineup trickery started the game with Houston characteristically turning the ball over three times in three minutes, the tactic worked as the Cougars took down the SMU Mustangs 71-62 Wednesday night at Fertitta Center.
Sampson’s lineup, which came about after he said he wasn’t satisfied with the team’s identity, saw junior DeJon Jarreau and freshman Marcus Sasser start in place of sophomore Quentin Grimes and Caleb Mills.
The Cougars, now 13-4 overall and 3-1 in the American Athletic Conference, held their own to start the game, going up 5-2 early before going back and forth with the Mustangs for much of the first half.
It was not until Grimes came in off the bench right before the 10-minute mark that Houston’s offense would starting rolling.
The sophomore guard, who finished with five points on the night, teamed with Sasser for a quick 8-0 run and a 26-17 Houston lead.
The next few minutes for the Cougars and Mustangs were defined by defense, with the two going on three-minute scoring droughts.
Jarreau, who went down hard earlier in the first half and limped to the bench, made up for the lack of offense and electrified the crowd at Fertitta Center with a block on SMU sophomore guard Kendric Davis that got sent into the stands.
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) January 16, 2020
The score changed only four times for the rest of the half, UH heading into the break leading SMU 31-20.
Whatever SMU head coach Tim Jankovich told his offense in the locker room worked.
Offensively, the Mustangs blew the game open, matching their 20-point first half 10 minutes into the second half.
SMU outscored UH 42-40 in the second half, but strong offensive outings from junior forward Fabian White Jr., who totaled a quiet 17 points to lead the team, and freshman guard Caleb Mills, who had 15 points on the night, kept Houston above water.
The Cougars were also helped out by White on the boards, where they rank third nationally in rebounds.
The big man from Atascocita led UH with 10 rebounds, followed closely by Jarreau and sophomore guard Nate Hinton with eight and nine, respectively.
Houston, gearing up for a road matchup against No. 16 Wichita State, finished the night with 45 rebounds, 30 of them coming on defense.