Cougars climb to their highest ranking in 36 years

The Coogs keep rolling. Photo via: UHCougarMBK/Twitter/Screenshot

Editor's note: University of Houston announced on Tuesday that they are pausing basketball activities due to positive COVID tests.

The University of Houston men's basketball team was without both Kelvin Sampson and Assistant Coach Kellen Sampson when they played South Carolina last Saturday. Both of the coaches were impacted by COVID-19 contact tracing protocols, thus they had to miss their first game of the season.

Cougars' assistant coach Quannas White was given the opportunity to take up the reins as head coach during the game, and the Cougars got off to a shaky start. However, timely points and great defensive stops secured a Houston victory and prevented their first loss of the season.

The first half was atrocious for the Cougars and seemingly none of their shots were going in. Their shooting percentage was 33% and were 1 of 13 on 3-pointers. At one point, the Cougars went 8½ minutes without a field goal.

South Carolina out played the Cougars and took a 35-31 lead at halftime. This was short-lived, for Houston took over the game with their trilogy of success; tough defense, good rebounding and taking care of the ball in the second half.

Houston had a 14-2 run early in the second half and recaptured the lead 48-42 with 14 minutes remaining. South Carolina kept it close and cut the lead back to a one point game 50-49. However, Houston used a 12-3 run to take a 10-point lead and never looked back.

Junior guard Quentin Grimes truly came alive in the scored half where he scored 19 of his 23 points and went 12-13 from the free throw line.

Injuries did play a part in this game, for Houston was without both Caleb Mills and their leading scorer Marcus Sasser on Saturday. Both players were inactive for the game and both were wearing walking boots on the bench.

This is the second game Mills has missed including Houston's first game of the season against Lamar on Nov. 25 with an injury.

The Cougars reached a new peak for this season as they climbed 3 spots to No. 7 in the country, according to the Associated Press Top 25.

This is the program's highest ranking in 36 years. The last time the Cougars were ranked this high was during the 1983-84 season. They finished 5th in the country that year.

Their next game is on Wednesday against Sam Houston State and the Cougars will once again be with out both Sampson coaches as they continue their continued COVID-19 contact tracing.

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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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