A 33-point victory over the Wichita State Shockers leads to the largest win of the season for the Houston Cougars.

Defense leads to Cougars largest win of the season against Wichita State

Defense leads to Cougars largest win of the season against Wichita State

The University of Houston Men's basketball team (19-5, 9-2) took a 76-43 wire-to-wire victory over the Wichita State Shockers (17-6, 5-5), Sunday afternoon, inside the Fertitta Center in Houston. The 33 point victory by the Cougars was their largest margin of the season while handing the Shockers their worst defeat since February 2003.

Making his return to the starting lineup in back-to-back games, sophomore guard Quentin Grimes scored a game-high 14 points (6-9 FG), to go along with six rebounds and five assists in the win.

"The most important thing our kids can do in our program is to surrender to our culture," head coach Kelvin Sampson said after the win. "The effort it takes to play here, the toughness that we required is not easy to do — especially for our young guys."

Early in the first half, the No. 25 Cougars set a tone defensively that would carry over throughout the game. At the 10:41 mark, Caleb Mill completed a chase-down block on Wichita State's Tyson Etienne, which led to a made 3-point field goal by the freshman guard.

Mill's rejection of Etienne summarized what could have been the Cougars' best defensive performance of the season. During the first period, Houston recorded 14 points off turnovers, eight steals and two blocks, while holding the Shockers to shoot an unpleasant 25.0% from the floor.

An exceptional defensive performance by the Cougars led to a 38-18 halftime led over Wichita State — Houston's lowest points allowed by any opponent this season.

"That was a tough game for Wichita St. today coming off back-to-back losses against Tulsa and Cincinnati," Sampson said. "We came out sharp on the defensive end, and since we are not a good jump-shooting team, we had to find a different way to win. One team was playing uphill while the other was playing down hill."

In his first game back after serving a one-game suspension, DeJon Jarreau helped the Cougars' second unit record a season-high 30 points, as the junior guard from New Orleans registered a dozen on 60% shooting from the field and seven rebounds off the bench.

"Every individual is starting to buy into the system more, and we are maturing more and more day by day," senior big man Chris Harris Jr said. "We are believing in our principals to become a better defensive team."

During their worst game in 17 years, Wichita St. was led by sophomore guard, Dexter Dennis, who finished with a team-high 10 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Up next, the Cougars will hit the road on Wednesday to face off against the (11-12, 4-6) UCF Bulls inside the Addition Financial Arena in Orlando, FL. Tip-off is slated for 8 P.M. CT.

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The Astros rotation looks like a strength moving forward. Composite Getty Image.

The Houston Astros are coming off a much-needed series win over the White Sox, but have a quick turnaround as they host the Orioles on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

The 'Stros dropped the first game of the series with Framber Valdez on the mound, but were able to rebound with Hunter Brown and Spencer Arrighetti starting the final two games.

Brown was brilliant once again, and Arrighetti bounced back after a disastrous start against the Tigers over the weekend. Despite all the injures to the Astros staff this season, their young pitchers are stepping up when they need them the most.

Brown has six consecutive quality starts and is beginning to show signs that he can be the top of the rotation pitcher the club always hoped he could develop into.

Arrighetti has stepped in and shown that he belongs in the big leagues, and has provided innings Houston desperately requires with so many pitchers on the injured list.

Speaking of which, with Justin Verlander on the IL, Double A prospect Jake Bloss will make the start for Houston on Friday night. Bloss has quickly progressed through the farm system, having been drafted just a year ago.

We'll see how he performs in his MLB debut, but the club seems to have a lot of quality pitching options moving forward, especially with Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers scheduled to return in late July and early August respectively.

And as we look at the Astros rotation moving forward, perhaps they will go back to a six-man rotation during certain stretches in the second half of the season.

Which could prove to be vital to the team's success. As good as Ronel Blanco has been, he's never pitched as many innings as he'll be asked to pitch this year. Same goes for Arrighetti. And let's face it, sending Verlander out to pitch on four days rest consistently at 41 years old doesn't sound like a wise decision. He's already been on the IL twice this year.

While some see Garcia and McCullers as wild cards to help the team this season, Astros GM Dana Brown doesn't see it that way. He told the Astros flagship station this week that he's counting on those guys to make big contributions when they return. And he's counting on their postseason experience should they get there.

Keep in mind, Garcia has a 3.61 career ERA and has been durable outside the Tommy John surgery. And McCullers has always been good, it's just the health that causes concern.

Garcia is also an example of how a player can skip Double A and Triple A and have success right away in the big leagues. Hopefully, Bloss can follow in his footsteps, since he's bypassing Triple A to make his first start.

So what's the short and long-term outlook for the Astros rotation? And should we expect Verlander to return in 2025?

Be sure to watch the video above as we address those questions and much more!

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