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.

Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson says lack of experience is what caused a one-point loss

Cougars fall short of comeback in thrilling loss to BYU

Kelvin Sampson. Bob Levey/Getty Images

With five seconds remaining, the Houston Cougars led by one when Connor Harding inbound the ball for the BYU Cougars late in the second half. After nearly trailing the entire game, Houston was seconds away from completing what seemed to be an impossible comeback until the final minute of the game.

Harding made a clean pass to TJ Haws, who drove to the right side of the court and scored off a 15-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer. The basket gave the Cougars their first loss of the 2019-20 season in a 72-71 defeat to BYU, Friday night, inside in Fertitta Center in Houston.

"I thought their kids played well all night," Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson said. "They have a very well discipline team that really understands what they are trying to do, and they did a great job executing."

Ahead of Friday's match against BYU, Kelvin Sampson spoke on the challenges of facing the Cougars on Thursday. In his interview, Sampson discussed the importance of defending the three against a great shooting team. Unfortunately, the problems he foreshowed became a reality.

Jake Toolson, who scored 14 points in the win, opened the game with a triple for BYU, as the Cougars jumped out to a 14 point advantage over Houston. BYU opened the game shooting 50.0% from deep while scoring 14 points in the paint, but more impressively, it was their play on the defensive end that gave way to a 35-28 halftime lead.

BYU forced Houston to commit nine turnovers in the first half, in which they would convert into 11 addition points. As Houston struggled to buy a basket shooting 36.7% from the field, 18.2% from 3-point range, the only bright spot for the Cougars in the first half came from Fabian White, as the junior forward recorded eight points, five rebounds and a block.

With their inability to score from the outside, the Cougars moved away from the 3-point shot attempts and focused their comeback scoring from the inside and picking up their defensive intensity. Midway through the second half, Cedrick Alley rejected a layup attempt from BYU's Alex Barcello, which gave way to an easy fastbreak bucket by DeJon Jarreau — the basket cut Houston's halftime deficit down to one.

Although Houston would have all the momentum on their side, the Cougars never took full control of the opportunity at hand. While they manage to hold BYU 3-point shooting to 28.6% in the second half, Houston gave up 18 points in the paint, as the Cougars scored on 11 layups.

"Hats off to BYU, but we did not play well to win this game," Sampson said. "We just made too many mistakes, and we have to catch up to ourselves. We have keep improving."

While White ended the night with 14 points and five rebounds, Houston was led in scoring by Caleb Mills. The freshman guard recorded a game-high 17 points in a loss, shooting 7-for-13 from the field, 1-3 from deep.

"He was not great on defense, but I was proud of Caleb," Sampson said. "He can score and was dependable in this game. I know the other guys will get better as the season go on, but he is just a talented offensive player."

Following the tough loss, the Houston Cougars will hit the road on Tuesday to face off against the 3-1 Rice Owls, inside the Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 P.M.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome