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.

No. 1 Baylor Bears and No. 10 LSU Tigers extend their winning streak as conference play continues.

College Basketball Report: Week 11

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TEXAS LONGHORNS (12-6), (2-4)

Last week: (1-2): W - Oklahoma State 74-64, L - Kansas 66-57, L - West Virginia 97-59

This week: Saturday vs. LSU

The start of the Big 12 Conference has not been kind to the Texas Longhorns with a below .500 record. After recording a 12-point victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys, the Longhorns dropped back-to-back games against the Kansas Jayhawks and the West Virginia Mountaineers.

The 38-point loss to the Mountaineers proved to be the Longhorns' worst performance of the season, as UT allowed West Virginia to shoot 51.4% from the floor, 42.9% from behind the arc and trail 45-20 heading into the halftime break.


With one game on the schedule, the Longhorns will look to bounce back in a home match against the hot LSU Tigers.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES (8-8), (2-3)

Last week: (0-2): L - LSU 89-85, L - South Carolina 81-67

This week: Tuesday vs. Missouri, Saturday vs. Oklahoma State

The Texas A&M Aggies hit a rough patch last week and are currently riding a two-game losing streak heading into their match against the Missouri Tigers on Tuesday, before taking on the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday.

The Aggies dropped a heartbreak overtime loss in a game against the LSU Tigers, where they fought their way back from 10 down at the half. Unfortunately, A&M could not carry over their second-half surge against the Gamecocks, as South Carolina shot 48.3 % from the floor, 53.3 % from 3-point range.

Senior forward Josh Nebo led the Aggies in scoring both games averaging 19.0 points and 2.5 blocks per game.

Houston Cougars (12-4), (2-1)

Last week: (2-0): W - SMU 77-62, W- Wichita State 65-54

This week: Thursday vs. UConn, Sunday vs. USF

Winners of eight out of their last nine games, the Houston Cougars swept through their opponents picking up wins against the SMU Mustangs and the Wichita State Shockers.

In the win against No. 16 Wichita State, the Cougars had one of their best defensive performances of the season, as Houston recorded nine blocks and held the Shockers to 32.2% shoot from the field, and 20% from behind the arc. Following the win, the Cougars will come into Thursday showdown against UConn tied with Wichita State atop of the American Athletic Conference.

RICE OWLS (9-11), (1-6)

Last week: (0-3): L - Louisiana Tech 72-56, L- Southern Miss 81-68, L - North Texas 79-59

This week: Thursday vs. UTEP, Saturday vs. UTSA

Loser of seven of their last eight games, the Rice Owls are currently riding a three-game losing streak after a winless week.

The Owls suffered a blowout defeat in all three games, losing by an average margin of 16 points, with their worst coming at the hands of North Texas on Monday. Up next, Rice will look to end their worst skid of the season on Thursday in a CUSA showdown against UTEP.

BAYLOR BEARS (16-1), (6-0)

Last week: (3-0): W - Iowa State 68-55, W - Oklahoma State 75-68, W - Oklahoma 61-57

This week: Saturday vs. Florida

While improving their national rank to No. 1, the Baylor Bears extended their conference play winning streak to six with wins against Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma over the past week.

In the win against Oklahoma, Macio Teague led the Bears to a close win with 16 points and three steals. Following their overall 15th straight victory, the Bears will put their winning streak on the line against Florida on Saturday.

TCU HORNED FROGS (12-5), (3-2)

Last week: (0-2): L - West Virginia 81-49, L - Oklahoma 83-63

This week: Tuesday vs Texas Tech, Saturday vs Arkansas

After riding a four-game winning streak, the TCU Horned Frogs dropped two consecutive conference games in a loss against West Virginia and Oklahoma last week. In both games, the Horned Frogs lost by an average margin of 26 points, which indicates their two worst two-game stretch of the season.

Up next, TCU will look to return to their winning ways against the No. 18 Texas Tech Red Raiders on Tuesday, before taking on the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday.

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS (12-5), (3-2)

Last week: (2-0): W - Kansas State 77-63, W - Arkansas 72-52

This week: Tuesday vs TCU, Saturday vs Kentucky

After dropping two of their first three conference games, the No. 16 Texas Tech Red Raiders had a prefect week picking up wins against the Kansas State Wildcats and Iowa State Cyclone.

Against Iowa State, the Red Raiders finished the game shooting 54.3% from the floor and connecting on nine 3-point field goals in the win. Sophomore guard Kyler Edwards registered a career-high five 3-pointers and finished with 22 points inside the United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas.

Up next, Tech will look to extend their winning streak against the TCU Horned Frogs on Tuesday.

SMU MUSTANGS (13-4), (3-2)

Last week (1-1): L - Houston 71-62, W - Temple 68-52

This week: Wednesday vs ECU, Saturday vs Memphis

The SMU Mustangs opened the week dropping their second straight game in a loss to in-state rival, the Houston Cougars. In the loss, the Mustangs did not have an answer for Houston's Fabian White Jr., as the junior forward recorded 17 points and 10 rebounds in the win.

Following the loss in Houston, SMU returned to their winning ways in a home victory over the Temple Owls, a game in which Tyson Jolly had one of his best performances of the season with 25 points and 14 rebounds, two steals and a block in the win.
The Mustang will stay home for an AAC showdown against ECU on Wednesday before traveling to Memphis to take on the Memphis Tigers on Saturday.

LSU TIGERS (13-4), (5-0)

Last week (2-0): W - Texas A&M 89-85, W - Ole Miss 80-76

This week: Tuesday vs Florida, Saturday vs Texas

No. 10 LSU Tigers continued their hot start in conference play and extended their winning streak to six last week.

Both games went down to the wire as the Tigers needed an additional five minutes to pull off a win against the Aggies, a game where LSU nearly blew a 10 point lead at the half. Five players scored in double-digits for LSU with Trendon Watford and Skylar Mays each scoring 19 points apiece.

The Tigers will return home on Tuesday for a match against Florida before a Big-12 showdown against the Texas Longhorns on Saturday.

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