Sophomore guard Nate Hinton records double-double en route to the Houston Cougars' blowout victory over the Angelo State Rams

Cougars get blowout victory over Rams in exhibition game

The University of Houston Men's basketball team may be on the verge of something special ahead of the 2019-20 College Basketball season. In their lone exhibition match, the Cougars took a 108-42 victory over the Angelo State Rams on Saturday night inside the Fertita Center in Houston.

It was a wire-to-wire victory as the Cougars jumped out to an early 13-2 advantage that was ignited by forward Brison Gresham, who scored on Houston's opening possession with a hook shot over his left shoulder.

"I take nothing from this game," head coach Kelvin Sampson said after the win. "I don't get carried away with individual performances or scores because it really means nothing. I keep everything in perspective. We have a long way to go before we can get to where we are trying to get too."

While Houston would go on to shoot 64.1% from the field, 46.7% from deep, the Cougars took a 61-25 lead into the halftime break due to their defensive intensity. During the first 20 minutes of the game, the Cougars recorded four blocks and four steals, as well as forced the Rams into 12 turnovers in which they converted into 18 addition points.

Against a team that averaged 80.5 points per game last season, the Cougars held the Rams to 17 points in the second half en route to the win.

"That's the culture of the program," sophomore guard Nate Hinton said. "Defense is what keeps us going, and it is the main focus of this team."

With three steals and one block on the night, Hinton was the defensive anchor for Houston but had an exceptional performance on both sides of the ball. He finished with a double-double of 18 points (game-high) shooting 9-for-16 from the floor, to go along with 13 rebounds.

In his unofficial debut as a member of the Cougars, sophomore guard Quentin Grimes recorded 16 points (6-8 FG, 2-4 3PT), while Marcus Sasser led the bench in scoring with 17 points for Houston. In a losing effort, the Rams were led by guards Paul Williams, who recorded 14 points, and Collin Turner, who poured in 13 for Angelo State.

Following the exhibition win, the Houston Cougars will return to the court on Tuesday to take on the Alabama State Hornets to open their 2019-20 season. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. inside the Fertita Center in Houston.

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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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