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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The Houston Texans have just a couple of practices before their preseason debut. Here are 11 observations from Tuesday’s workout.

1.The offense stunk on Tuesday. It was inconsistent and resembled more of last year’s disappointing performances than any other practices in this training camp.

2. Davis Mills and his receivers had a few miscommunications on Tuesday. Mills sailed a pass to nobody when he and Brandin Cooks weren’t on the same page. There were some other throws to nowhere in the day. It was something that hadn’t been present at all in training camp to this point.

3. There were a few “good coverage” notes on Tuesday. Not to say there was one specific player, but a handful of team-level efforts that led to the note.

4. It wasn’t all wrong from the offense. After a pass to nowhere Davis Mills and the offense bounced back. It was a second down during a team drill and Mills fired a pass to Chris Moore for six yards. Rex Burkhead would pick up a first down on a rush a play later. A non-positive play last year on first down doomed this team. That hopefully won’t be the case for this year’s team.

5. Chad Beebe is going into his fifth season in the NFL, his first with the Texans. The former Vikings pass catcher has flashed a few times in training camp. He has an uphill battle being new to the team but is trying to make himself a factor.

6. Phillip Dorsett had a big catch over the middle. Davis Mills stood back and delivered as the offensive line held up and Dorsett reeled it in for a huge gain. No defenders were around him. It is between Dorsett and Chris Moore for the chance to be the slot wideout opening day. With Dorsett’s return to practice, it is becoming a fun camp battle.

7.Speaking of returns to practice, Tytus Howard was back. Howard has his reps managed and after practice, offensive line coach George Warhop Howard was “getting his wind” back. When Howard was having his reps managed rookie tackle Austin Deculus played at right tackle. Deculus looks much more consistent than minicamp and OTAs.

8. Kenyon Green is still out with an injury. It is getting to a critical time where the time missed might prevent the first-rounder from starting week one. Max Scharping hasn’t looked bad in his chances with the first team. Offensive line coach George Warhop said they believe in Green and his ability and he has been in meetings to stay up to date.

9. Ka’imi Fairbairn was perfect in one of the special team periods. He drilled all five kicks, each further than the last, and was crushing the football.

10. Derek Stingley was very sticky in some early reps on Nico Collins. The third overall pick is so smooth when he is working. Later his coverage forced a throw from the offense that had no chance of being completed.

11. The play of the day was made by Derek Stingley. The offense was about five or six yards out of the end zone needing a touchdown to win. With six seconds left on the clock, any completed pass that wasn’t a touchdown was game over. Davis Mills dropped back a step and fired to Nico Collins who Stingley covered. The rookie kept the second-year player out of the end zone to earn the defense a win. This was one of the better Stingley days and he did a lot of work. At one point, it looked as though he and Rex Burkhead had some words and almost led to an offense and defense scuffle, but it stayed to just some shouting. The rookie shined today.

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