Cougars fall out of the top 10 in the AP rankings
After a tumultuous week for the city of Houston and the entire state of Texas, the Houston Cougars were able to provide somewhat of a distraction to what Texans dubbed as the "snow-polcalypse".
The No. 6 ranked Cougars first game was on the road against Wichita State who had the 2nd best record in the American Athletic Conference.
This is the first time a top six ranked opponent played a game at Charles Koch Arena since 1992.
The game started off in favor of the Cougars as Wichita State couldn't get any kind of offensive momentum going. At one point Houston took a 12-0 run to go up 20-9.
Everything seemed to be going Houston's way and Tramon Mark and Marcus Sasser were the leading scorers during this run. Senior forward Fabian White Jr. made his season debut after recovering from offseason knee surgery. He made one 3-pointer and played 9 minutes, but it was good to see him back on the court.
The Shockers wouldn't give up without a fight. Wichita State made a 24-14 run of their own to cut their deficit to a one point game. The halftime score was 34-33.
The Shockers were able to ride their momentum into the second half and Tyson Etienne and Alterique Gilbert each scored 16 points to bolster Wichita State's lead.
Houston tried to retaliate which small runs of their own, but they just could not sustain any kind of offensive rhythm.
DeJeon Jarreau led the Cougars with 16 points. Quentin Grimes added 13 points and Justin Gorham 10.
In the end the Cougars were beat at their own game. Wichita State switched up their defensive strategy after halftime and played shut down D in the paint, which forced Houston to take bade shots from behind the arc.
For the first time all season, Houston's opponent out rebounded them 35-33. That combined with Houston shooting an abysmal 33% (8-24) from three all but secured Houston's inevitable defeat.
Wichita State won the game 68-65 and all three of Houston's losses have come on the road.
Houston did keep it close towards the end of the contest when Grimes hit a three to make it a one point game. But, Wichita State's stingy defense was able to prevent the Cougars from scoring the rest of the game.
Justin Gotham was ejected with less than a minute left to go in the contest after her was charged with a flagrant-2 foul. His first ejection this season.
Tyson Etienne (who the Cougars had no answer for in the second half) put the game away when he hit two consecutive free throws to secure a Wichita State victory.
This victory propelled the Shockers to first place in the AAC.
You could say the Shockers shocked the Cougars… (I'm sorry I couldn't resist).
This past week wasn't a total loss for Houston, for they had one of their most impressive wins of the season Sunday.
Cincinnati came to town riding a four game winning streak and looked to kick the Cougars while they were down. They were in for rude awakening.
The game started off in favor of the Bearcats for they made their first four field goal attempts (three of which were 3-pointers).
Houston may have stumbled out of the gate, but it took them no time at all to come back and take control of the game.
DeJon Jarreau had a steal early on that he converted into a quick bucket that shifted the momentum in favor of the Cougars.
Houston didn't look back once they took an early lead. They outscored the Bearcats 32-7 over the final 11 minutes of the first half to take a 50-26 lead at the break. DeJon Jarreau scored nine points and Tramon Mark had nine points during this first half run.
The Cougars shot 9 for 18 from the field which was much better than their previous performance and hit 13 of 13 from the free-throw line during their run. Cincinnati on the other hand was 2 of 15 from the field and did not have a field goal for the final 5 minutes of the half.
The second half was much of the same as the game turned into a contest of backups and reserves with 10 minutes left to go.
Houston trounced Cincinnati 90-42 and this was the Bearcats' worst loss since they lost to Notre Dame in 2011.
This was the second time Houston has hit or gone above the 90 point threshold. The first time they surpassed this mark was when they crushed Our Lady of the Lake 112-46
This was a statement game to say the least and Houston has now won 22 consecutive home games.
Rankings Update: Houston fell six spots from 6th to 12th in the AP Rankings Monday.
Up Next: The Cougars have two conference games left against USF and Memphis, but they did add Western Kentucky on Thursday. Baring anymore schedule changes, these will be the final tuneup games before the AAC tournament starts on March 11th.