COUGARS REPORT

Cougars fall out of the top 10 in the AP rankings

The Cougars have two conference games left. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

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.

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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