Freshman guard Marcus Sasser scores 14 points, as the Houston Cougars record their first victory of the new season at the expense of the Alabama State Hornets.

Cougars win big in season opener against Alabama State

Kelvin Sampson. Bob Levey/Getty Images

The University of Houston Men's Basketball team kicked off their 2019-20 season with an 84-56 victory over the Alabama State Hornets Tuesday night inside the Fertitta Center in Houston.

It was an all-around team effort for Houston as five players scored in double figures in the win. Marcus Sasser recorded 14 points shooting 5-for-9 from the floor, 4-for-7 from behind the arc, as the freshman guard led the Cougars in scoring during his debut for Houston.

"I saw a lot of things I like, and a lot of things we have to continue getting better at and keep working on," Cougars Head Coach Kelvin Sampson said. "I thought we did a lot of things pretty good. At one point, I was sitting there and had to remind myself, 'you have to be patient with this bunch.' We have a lot of young guys out there."

Fabian White scored a layup on the opening tip to put the Cougars on the board for the first time in the new season. The layup that was scored by the junior forward capped off an early 13-2 run for Houston.

What looked to be an early blowout in the first six minutes quickly turned into a competitive game, due to the Cougars' inability to stop the Hornets' hot 3-point shooting. Alabama State shot 6-for-13 (46.2%) from behind the arc in the first half, and once cut their 16 point deficit down to nine.

Following a timeout by Sampson, the Cougars ended the first half on a 10-3 run, which gave way to a 41-25 lead into the break. After a slow start to the game, reigning AAC Sixth Man of the Year winner, DeJon Jarreau, got into a rhythm in the second half to provide some much-needed offense for the Cougars. He scored seven of his 11 points early in the second period to help Houston gain a 21 point advantage.

Although the Cougars shot 52% from the field, a large portion of their second-half surge came as a result of their defense. After allowing the Hornets to hit six triples in the first half, Houston's defense held Alabama State to one 3-point field goal in the second, as they shot 12.5% from deep.

"They hit some tough shots and scored most of them out of our 1-2 defense," Sampson said. "We were not recovering to them fast enough, and they were getting some wide-open looks. Once we adjusted to man-to-man defense, they [Alabama State] were no longer getting those wide-open looks."

In his first official game after transferring from Kansas, sophomore guard Quentin Grimes had a solid debut with 13 points and five rebounds in the win. Junior forward Justin Gorham recorded 11 points, four rebounds and a steal nearly two years since his last college game.

"It was good," Gorham said. "I felt that the Italy trip this past summer helped a lot. But coming out here playing in front of the fans and buying into the culture, I knew my game was going to take care of itself."

Following the win against the Hornets, the Houston Cougars will return to the court on Friday, when they host the BYU Cougars inside the Fertitta Center in Houston. Tip-off is slated for 7 P.M.

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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