Nate Hinton scores a career-high 24 points in a win over the Huskies.

Career Night for Nate Hinton leads to blowout victory for Houston Cougars

Kelvin Sampson. Getty Images

Nate Hinton knocked down a 3-point field goal attempt early in the first period to give the Houston Cougars a 15-2 lead within the first five minutes of the game. Hinton's three was an early sign of things to come, as the Cougars picked up their third victory of the season in a 112-73 win over the Houston Baptist Huskies, Tuesday night inside the Fertitta Center in Houston.

It was a wire-to-wire victory as the Cougars bounced back from a disappointing outing against the Oregon Ducks last Friday.

"Win the game and set the tone early was my mindset heading into this game," Hinton said after the win. "We gotta get back to who we are as a team by playing hard and playing Houston Cougars' basketball. We had some poor performances, but it is all good moving forward."

The Cougars came out firing on all cylinders in the first half, as Houston shot 45.9% from the field, 50% from behind the arc. Hinton led the way for the Cougars offensively, as the sophomore guard scored 22 of his career-high 24 points (6-11 FG, 3-4 3PT) in the first half, to go along with a career-best 15 rebounds in the win.

While Houston proved to be too much for the Huskies to handle on the offensive end, the Cougars made their presence known on defense as they recorded seven blocks in the first half and forced seven turnovers, in which they converted into 11 additional points. Houston led by as many as 17 points midway through the first half before the Huskies cut their deficit down to eight with 6:35 left in the half. The Cougars overcame Houston Baptist's run by responding with a 20-5 run, to lead 56-33 by the halftime break.

"I thought offensively we played good at Oregon, but the scoreboard keeps track of points not attempts," head coach Kelvin Sampson said. "The only difference is, the ball went in tonight for us."

Although Hilton cooled off in the second half, the Cougars' grew their lead up to a 42-point advantage due to a second-half surge by Quentin Grimes and Marcus Sasser. Grimes, who received the American Athletic Conference Honor Roll of the Week, scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, while Sasser put on a 3-point shooting display with six buckets coming from downtown for 18 points.

Still recovering from an early-season hand injury, junior guard, DeJon Jarreau, scored a season-high 14 points to go along with six assists.

"As my hand keeps getting better, just going into this game with more confidence was important for me," Jarreau said. "Just doing the things I know I can do to help the team win and playing like a mature point guard."

In the loss, Myles Pierre led the Huskies with 15 points, while Ian DuBose recorded 13 points and five rebounds. Following the win, the Houston Cougars will look to make it two straight on Wednesday, as they host the Texas State Bobcats inside Fertitta Center in Houston. Tip-off is slated for 7 P.M. CT.

QUICK TIP-INS:

  • The Cougars recorded 11 blocks in the win against the HBU, which marks the first since their 76-49 victory over Nicholls in 2015 that Houston recorded 10 or more blocks.
  • After shooting 10% from deep in a loss against the Ducks, the Cougars shot 52.4% from 3-point range in the win against the Huskies.
  • The Cougars outrebounded HBU 48-36 in the win..

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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