Houston Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson says lack of experience is what caused a one-point loss

Cougars fall short of comeback in thrilling loss to BYU

Kelvin Sampson. Bob Levey/Getty Images

With five seconds remaining, the Houston Cougars led by one when Connor Harding inbound the ball for the BYU Cougars late in the second half. After nearly trailing the entire game, Houston was seconds away from completing what seemed to be an impossible comeback until the final minute of the game.

Harding made a clean pass to TJ Haws, who drove to the right side of the court and scored off a 15-foot fadeaway jumper at the buzzer. The basket gave the Cougars their first loss of the 2019-20 season in a 72-71 defeat to BYU, Friday night, inside in Fertitta Center in Houston.

"I thought their kids played well all night," Cougars head coach Kelvin Sampson said. "They have a very well discipline team that really understands what they are trying to do, and they did a great job executing."

Ahead of Friday's match against BYU, Kelvin Sampson spoke on the challenges of facing the Cougars on Thursday. In his interview, Sampson discussed the importance of defending the three against a great shooting team. Unfortunately, the problems he foreshowed became a reality.

Jake Toolson, who scored 14 points in the win, opened the game with a triple for BYU, as the Cougars jumped out to a 14 point advantage over Houston. BYU opened the game shooting 50.0% from deep while scoring 14 points in the paint, but more impressively, it was their play on the defensive end that gave way to a 35-28 halftime lead.

BYU forced Houston to commit nine turnovers in the first half, in which they would convert into 11 addition points. As Houston struggled to buy a basket shooting 36.7% from the field, 18.2% from 3-point range, the only bright spot for the Cougars in the first half came from Fabian White, as the junior forward recorded eight points, five rebounds and a block.

With their inability to score from the outside, the Cougars moved away from the 3-point shot attempts and focused their comeback scoring from the inside and picking up their defensive intensity. Midway through the second half, Cedrick Alley rejected a layup attempt from BYU's Alex Barcello, which gave way to an easy fastbreak bucket by DeJon Jarreau — the basket cut Houston's halftime deficit down to one.

Although Houston would have all the momentum on their side, the Cougars never took full control of the opportunity at hand. While they manage to hold BYU 3-point shooting to 28.6% in the second half, Houston gave up 18 points in the paint, as the Cougars scored on 11 layups.

"Hats off to BYU, but we did not play well to win this game," Sampson said. "We just made too many mistakes, and we have to catch up to ourselves. We have keep improving."

While White ended the night with 14 points and five rebounds, Houston was led in scoring by Caleb Mills. The freshman guard recorded a game-high 17 points in a loss, shooting 7-for-13 from the field, 1-3 from deep.

"He was not great on defense, but I was proud of Caleb," Sampson said. "He can score and was dependable in this game. I know the other guys will get better as the season go on, but he is just a talented offensive player."

Following the tough loss, the Houston Cougars will hit the road on Tuesday to face off against the 3-1 Rice Owls, inside the Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 P.M.

Sophomore guard Quentin Grimes scored a career-high 32 points as the Houston Cougars complete comeback victory over the Rice Owls

Second-half surge leads Houston past Rice in dramatic finish

Kelvin Sampson. Getty Images

The Houston Cougars trailed 77-71 late in the second half to the Rice Owls when junior forward Fabian White knocked down two free throws to cut into the deficit. Following a made 3-point field goal by Quentin Grimes, the Cougars ignited for a 21-1 run late in the second half, which led to a 97-89 victory over the Owls Tuesday night inside Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston.

Shortly after the win, Grimes said this game was an example of how great this team can be, calling the Cougars one of the best in the nation. While Houston will be among some of the top teams in college basketball, this game also proves how great Grimes will be on an individual standpoint.

The sophomore guard from the Woodlands put on a show in the Cougars comeback victory, as he recorded a career-high 32 points (11-17 FG, 4-6 3PT), nine rebounds and five assists in the win. While coming up huge in the clutch, Grimes scored 21 of his total points during the Cougars second-half surge.

Despite picking up their second win on the new season, the game for the Cougars did not start on the right note. Following a 3-point basket by Rice guard Trey Murphy, the Owls jumped out to a 5-0 run and held the lead for the entire first half. Rice increased its lead to a 15-point advantage as Houston failed to buy a bucket in the first 15 minutes. Following a timeout by a frustrated Kelvin Sampson, the Cougars ended the half on a 13-5 run but still trailed 39-32 at the halftime break.

As Houston started to connect on the offensive end, the Cougars picked up their intensity on the defensive end after a switch to zone defense in an attempt to slow down the Owls.

In addition to Grimes, several players stepped up big for the Cougars, with freshman guard Marcus Sasser scoring 15 points on 55.6% shooting from the field, 62.5% from deep, in his first career start. Nate Hinton and DeJon Jarreau both added in 15 points of their own, with Caleb Mills pouring in 12 points off the bench.

With the win, the Cougars snapped the Owls four-game win streak and gave them their second loss of the regular season. In a losing effort, Owls were led by senior forward Robert Martin, who recorded 23 points while shooting 50% from the floor. Drew Peterson and Ako Adams both added 16 points apiece for Rice.

Following a comeback win, the Houston Cougars will hit the road for an early-season test against the No. 11 Oregon Ducks on Friday, inside the Matthew Knight Arena in Oregon. Tip-off is slated for 8 P.M. CT.

QUICK TIP-INS:

  • The Houston Cougars made only three triples in the first half before connecting on 10 made 3-point baskets in the second. (13-26 3PT)
  • The Cougars won the battle of the glass, out-rebounding the Owls 47-34, 16-8 in offensive rebounds in the win.
  • After they once trailed by 15-points, Houston once held a lead as big as 11 in the second half.

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