Kentucky 62, Houston 58

5 thoughts on the Cougars' loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16

Kelvin Sampson. Getty Images

The Houston Cougars' magical season ended in the Sweet 16 with a 62-58 loss to Kentucky. The Cougars got down early and chased the game throughout. They got close late and took the lead, but could not close the deal. Five quick thoughts on the game:

1) Beaten in the paint

The Cougars have been a great rebounding team all year, but Kentucky's size proved too much. The Wildcats out rebounded the Cougars 37-23 and dominated inside.

2) Defenseless

The Cougars defense, strong all year, could not slow down Kentucky. The No. 1 team in allowing field goal percentage before the game at under 40 percent, the Cougars could not stop the Wildcats, who shot 56 percent in the first half and 47.8 percent for the game.

3) Davis locked down

Corey Davis Jr. has been a great scorer all season, but Kentucky's length and athleticism gave him fits. He forced shots and hit only 5 of 16 (1 of 7 on 3s) for 14 points in his last game as a Cougar. In general, when the Cougars lost this season, they struggled shooting the ball, and as a team they just could not make shots against the Wildcats. Give Kentucky credit for playing great defense, however. They held the Cougars to 40.4 percent shooting.

4) That was foul

The Cougars got in foul trouble with 10 in the first half and 23 for the game. When the Cougars can get by with physical play, they tend to win. But that did not happen against Kentucky. The Wildcats were the most athletic team UH has faced, and they simply did not have the guns to keep up. That led to fouls, which led to the loss.

5) Looking ahead

The Cougars will be really good again next year, assuming coach Kelvin Sampson hangs around. The guess here is he will, and despite losing Davis and Galen Robinson, the Cougars will bring back a strong squad. Maybe not as good as this year's, but they will be contenders in the AAC again. It was a great ride for UH, and it is a shame it ended when it did. The Cougars fought hard and gave themselves a chance late, but came up short. The team captured the imagination of the city and made a great run. Hopefully there is more to come.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

Houston goes up 1-0 in the series

Altuve, Correa help lift Astros to ALCS Game 1 win over Red Sox

Carlos Correa's go-ahead homer in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 1 helped lift the Astros to a 1-0 series lead. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Despite one rough loss to the White Sox in the ALDS, the Astros looked like the dominant team they are capable of being, taking that series 3-1 to advance and taking ownership of home-field advantage in the ALCS against the Red Sox, who upset the Rays. In Game 1, despite trailing for the middle portions of the game, Houston would get more highlight moments from the faces of the franchise to start the series with a win.

Final Score: Astros 5, Red Sox 4

ALCS Series (Best of Seven): Houston leads 1-0

Winning Pitcher: Ryne Stanek

Losing Pitcher: Hansel Robles

Houston strikes first, but Boston sends Valdez to an early exit

Both starting pitchers worked in and out of trouble in the early goings of ALCS Game 1, starting with Framber Valdez in the top of the first. After erasing a leadoff single by inducing a double play, he went on to load the bases on a single and two walks but would strand all three runners to keep Boston off the board. The Astros jumped in front in the bottom half, with Jose Altuve working a leadoff walk, moving to second on a one-out single by Alex Bregman, advancing to third on a wild pitch, then ultimately scoring on a sac fly by Yordan Alvarez to put Houston ahead 1-0 after one frame.

They had a chance to extend their lead in the bottom of the second, taking advantage of a shaky inning by Chris Sale, who loaded the bases with one out as Houston would get two singles and a hit-by-pitch. That flipped the order over to the top, but a great diving catch by former Astro Kiké Hernández would end the inning. Hernández led off the top of the third against Valdez, and he would tie things up with a solo homer.

Things went downhill from there for Valdez and the Astros, as a one-out walk followed by a single gave the Red Sox the go-ahead run in scoring position. On a groundball that likely should have been a double play to end the inning, it would get through Altuve's legs, scoring a run and keeping the inning alive for Boston. They took advantage, getting an RBI double to extend their new lead to 3-1. Valdez would get one more out before Dusty Baker would give him the early hook, bringing in Yimi Garcia, who finished the frame.

A battle of the bullpens, Altuve ties it up

Like Valdez, Sale would also not make it through three innings, getting two outs while putting two on base before Boston would start their bullpen's night as well. Both sets of relievers settled the game down, with the Red Sox stranding two of Houston's runners in the third as well as the fifth, maintaining their two-run lead. After Garcia finished the third, Cristian Javier entered to eat up a couple of innings, and he would do just that by getting through two frames with just one hit, four strikeouts, and no runs.

Next, Phil Maton took over in the top of the sixth and erased a leadoff walk to keep things in striking distance for the home team. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put another runner on base, getting a one-out single by Chas McCormick. Two batters later, with two outs, Jose Altuve provided yet another career postseason highlight, tying the game 3-3 with a two-run home to re-energize the Minute Maid Park crowd.

Astros take ALCS Game 1

Now a brand new ballgame in the top of the seventh, Brooks Raley came in to face three batters, getting two strikeouts while allowing a single before Dusty Baker would move on to Ryne Stanek, who would get the third out. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Carlos Correa continued his march to a monster off-season contract, putting Houston back on top with a solo homer, making it 4-3.

Houston kept the script after Stanek with the new lead in hand, going to Kendall Graveman as the setup man in the top of the eighth. Despite a two-out single, he would get out of the inning with the lead intact, putting Houston three outs away from the victory. After a walk, single, and hit by pitch to start the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded, Altuve would drive in his third run of the game, getting a sac fly to extend the lead to two runs at 5-3.

That insurance run proved pivotal, as closer Ryan Pressly was met with a leadoff solo home run by Hernandez, his second of the night for Boston, to make it 5-4. Pressly refocused and was able to get the next three batters in order, though, wrapping up the win to start Houston off with a 1-0 series lead and putting them three wins away from advancing to the World Series.

Up Next: The two teams will have a moderately quick turnaround, with ALCS Game 2 scheduled to start at 3:20 PM Central on Saturday ahead of NLCS Game 1 between the Dodgers and Braves getting the night slot. The pitching matchup is expected to be Nathan Eovaldi for Boston, who is 1-0 with a 2.61 ERA in his two starts this postseason, going opposite Luis Garcia, who had a rough outing in the ALDS for Houston, giving up five runs without completing three innings in Chicago.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome