COUGARS REPORT

Coogs heading to 3rd straight NCAA Tournament appearance, here's how they did it

The Cougars play their next game on Friday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

Houston went into the American Athletic Conference Tournament as the No. 2 seed because Wichita State had a higher conference winning percentage during the regular season. Even though Houston and Wichita State split the regular season series 1-1, the Shockers had the better overall record on paper to secure the No. 1 seed.

"At 14-3 this year, we felt like you could have called us regular-season champions," head coach Kelvin Sampson said. "But (AAC officials) decided before the season started how they were going to do that."

It ended up working in favor of the Houston Cougars as they played three teams they have not lost to this season.

The AAC tournament started on Friday for the Cougars as they awaited the winner between Tulsa and Tulane.

The Green Wave got the best of the Golden Hurricanes and defeated them 77-70, setting up a Friday night date with the Cougars.

Houston played Tulane twice this season winning by 21 and 23 points respectfully.

Friday night's contest was no different from their regular season meetings, as the Cougars bested the Green Wave by a score of 77-52. It was not a very close contest but DeJon Jarreau did something historic.

The senior guard finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and a career high 10 assists to finish with a triple double. This was the first triple double by a Houston Cougar since Bo Outlaw had one in 1993 against Texas A&M.

"The fact that it happens very seldom in college tells you how special the guys are who do get them," Sampson said. "I'm so happy for him because that's going to be a memory. His unselfishness, his toughness, those are the things that show in triple-doubles."

Their next game against Memphis proved to be their most difficult contest of the tournament.

The Tigers defeated UCF 70-62 to advance to the AAC semifinal.

Memphis and Houston played each other less than a week ago where Tramon Mark hit a last minute buzzer beater to secure a 67-64 victory for the Cougars.

The first half was all Houston as the Cougars took a 41-29 lead into halftime.

Boogie Ellis and the Tigers wouldn't give up as they fought their way back and cut the Cougars' lead to two points in the second half.

However, Houston's stellar defense was able to keep them in the game.

The Cougars forced the Tigers to commit 14 turnovers and Quentin Grimes led the way with 21 points. Justin Gorham added 15 points and Marcus Sasser contributed 14 as well.

The final was a 76-74 victory for the Cougars as Memphis struggled from the free throw line shooting only 55.6% and Houston shot 86.4% from the line.

Their final matchup was their third consecutive AAC tournament final against Cincinnati.

The Bearcats defeated SMU and Wichita State to reach their 4th consecutive AAC championship game.

Cincinnati won the previous two championships over the Cougars in 2018 and 2019. (2020 tournament was canceled due to COVID-19 reasons.)

The 2021 AAC championship game was not a close contest by any means. Houston took a 41-27 lead at halftime and didn't look back. The final 5 minutes of the game saw coach Sampson empty his entire bench.

This title mirrored that of the Cougars and Bearcats regular-season matchup three weeks earlier, when Houston won 90-52 at home.

The largest margin of victory in AAC tournament history was when SMU beat Cincinnati by 15 points in 2017. That record has now been shattered as Houston defeated the Bearcats 91-54. (A 37 point margin.)

For the second consecutive game, Quentin Grimes was the leading scorer with 21 points and was named MVP of the AAC tournament as well.

The Cougars are off to their third consecutive NCAA Tournament.

Just a few hours after Houston cut the nets down in Fort Worth, it was announced that the Cougars would be a No. 2 seed in the tournament and will face the Horizon League champions Cleveland State Vikings.

That game will be played Friday, March 19th at 6:15 CT on truTV.

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Houston loses in San Francisco

Astros drop back-and-forth middle game to Giants to even series

Houston's offense couldn't keep up with the Giants on Saturday. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images.

With the impressive win in the opener to start the series, the Astros entered Saturday's middle game against the Giants with an opportunity to not just secure the series but surpass San Francisco for the best record in the league. They'd have to wait to take that crown, as the Giants would out-slug the Astros to even the series.

Final Score: Giants 8, Astros 6

Astros' Record: 64-41, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Jay Jackson (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Blake Taylor (2-3)

Teams trade blows early, Giants chase Greinke out early

The teams traded blows early in this one, with the Giants tagging Zack Greinke with six runs, all on homers. The first was a solo shot in the bottom of the second to start the scoring before hitting one in each inning through the fourth: two-run blasts in the third and fourth, then a go-ahead solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, putting them ahead 6-5 at the time. Greinke would face one more batter, allowing a single to end his lackluster day: 4.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4 HR, 93 P.

Houston's offense kept things close to try and keep Greinke in a position to win, going up 3-1 in the third on a two-run Aledmys Diaz homer and another coming in on an error. After San Francisco scored four unanswered to make it 5-3, Diaz homered again in the top of the fifth to cut the deficit to one run before Yuli Gurriel would tie it with an RBI double.

Astros stay in it, but Giants even the series by winning the slug-fest

With Greinke exiting with no outs in the fifth, Houston handed the ball to Phil Maton, acquired in the recent Myles Straw trade, to make his debut for his new team. He worked himself into a jam, allowing a single and hitting a batter to load the bases with one out, but was able to get back-to-back strikeouts to strike out the side and strand all three runners, keeping it a one-run game.

That proved pivotal in the top of the sixth, as with two outs, Martin Maldonado would launch a game-tying solo homer, making it 6-6. Blake Taylor took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the inning but would face just three batters, getting two outs while leaving one on as Dusty Baker moved on to Cristian Javier. Javier would watch the Giants retake the lead, getting back-to-back singles to bring in a run and make it 7-6.

Javier stayed in the game in the bottom of the seventh, allowing a leadoff single but erasing it by striking out the next three batters. Still a 7-6 game in the bottom of the eighth, Yimi Garcia made his Astros debut but did not keep the score there, allowing a leadoff solo homer to make it a two-run game. The 8-6 score would go final as Houston's offense came up empty again in the top of the ninth, setting up a rubber game in the finale.

Up Next: The series finale will get underway at 3:05 PM Central on Sunday in San Francisco. Luis Garcia (7-5, 3.19 ERA) will take the mound for Houston, going opposite Logan Webb (4-3, 3.36 ERA) for the Giants.

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