Looking Back: UH men’s basketball top 5 performances of the 2019-20 season
The Houston men’s basketball team had a unique end to its season.
Unlike the other sports, who were in the midst of their 2020 campaign, the men’s basketball team concluded its entire regular season, but in many ways that just made the sting of the abrupt stop hurt a bit more.
The Cougars were on their way to Fort Worth to compete in the American Athletic Conference postseason tournament and were a little over a week away from the beginning of the NCAA tournament before the coronavirus put an end to all of it.
While multiple players and coaches felt like the team had a great chance to make noise in both tournaments, they had plenty of performances during the regular-season that supports their belief of how they would have performed in March.
Here are The Cougar’s top five performances of the 2019-20 season for men’s basketball:
Quentin Grimes and Fabian White shine in regular-season finale
In what turned out to be the final game of the 2019-20 campaign, the Cougars needed to defeat the Memphis Tigers, who they had lost to earlier in the season, in order to have a chance to win the AAC regular-season championship.
With the first half being a back-and-forth battle between the two teams, sophomore guard Quentin Grimes caught fire, scoring 15 of his 17 points in the second half, which provided an offensive spark that the Cougars needed to create separation.
Junior forward Fabian White Jr. made his own impact on the game with an 18-point, 14-rebound double-double while also being tasked with defending Memphis’ Precious Achiuwa, who was the AAC Player of the Year this past season.
The Cougars, behind these two strong performances, clinched their second straight conference regular-season championship for the first time since the Phi Slama Jama era.
Marcus Sasser catches fire in key win against the Bearcats
Freshman guard Marcus Sasser was coming into the game on a bit of a shooting hot streak when Houston faced off against Cincinnati at the Fertitta Center.
The 6-foot-1-inch guard had made three or more 3-pointers in the last three consecutive games for the Cougars when entering the contest.
Against Cincinnati, Sasser scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers and a stretch of nine consecutive points that helped Houston secure the 68-55 win.
Mills scores 17 straight points to open up rout against Tulsa
After suffering a two-point loss to the Golden Hurricane in January, the Cougars were on the hunt for atonement in the second meeting at the Fertitta Center.
After offensive struggles from both teams in the first half, Houston held an eight-point advantage after halftime when freshman guard Caleb Mills exploded, scoring the first 17 points of the period for the Cougars, which put the game out of reach as Houston also held a 17-point edge over the Golden Hurricane.
Mills finished the game with a career-high 27 points and five 3-pointers in the 76-43 win.
Nate Hinton controls the boards against UCF
Sophomore guard Nate Hinton made a loud statement in the conference play opener against the UCF Knights.
The 6-foot-5-inch Gastonia, North Carolina, native secured an absurd 16 rebounds and scored 20 points for the double-double. Hinton also recorded a season-high five steals in the contest.
The Cougars defeated the Knights 78-63.
Hinton’s performance on the boards, while in this game was on another level, was not a one-time occurrence throughout the season.
Hinton led the Cougars in 2019-20 with 8.7 rebounds per contest, and he accrued eight double-doubles throughout the season.
A White Christmas in Hawaii
Basketball on Christmas has long been a tradition, and while the holiday is best known for NBA hoops, in 2019, the Cougars had a shining moment of their own.
Houston battled through Portland and Georgia Tech to set up the game against then No. 21 Washington State in the finals of the Diamond Head Classic.
After facing an early 14-point deficit, the Cougars rallied and were able to complete the comeback.
A big key in the win was junior forward Fabian White Jr’s performance, who had a career-high 19 points, which included the first six of the second half and a perfect 5/5 shooting from the free-throw line.
White was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament after Houston’s 75-71 win.