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
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.