Houston continues to dominate conference play

Houston continues to dominate conference play
Houston moved up to the No. 5 ranked team in the county. Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images.

The Cougars headed to the Big Easy Thursday, Jan. 28th and celebrated a blow out victory without one of their best players.

Quentin Grimes was out of action against Tulane after spraining his ankle in practice earlier in the week. Tramon Mark started in his place.

Normally guys like Marcus Sasser, DeJon Jarreau, or Justin Gorham would have stepped up in Grimes' absence, but this game an unlikely star shined bright in New Orleans.

Seldom-used transfer guard Cameron Tyson had a career night with 31 points and hit a career-best nine 3-pointers.

Tyson, a reserve in his first season with Houston since transferring from Idaho, entered the game having played in just seven contests and was averaging only three points per game.

Tyson attempted 15 of his 18 shots outside the 3-point line. He also tied a Houston record for 3s in a game. For the first time all season, neither Grimes nor Sasser were the leading scorer for the Cougars.

Houston took a 44-14 lead at halftime and never looked back. It turned into an open gym style game at the YMCA towards the end of the contest.

The Cougars secured an 83-60 victory over the Green Wave and continued their quest to conquer the American Athletic Conference.

Houston's next game proved to be more challenging against their in-state rivals SMU.

Defense was a major factor in the first half, for neither team could get any kind of offensive rhythm going. The Cougars were slightly better offensively and took a 28-24 lead into halftime.

It was as if SMU ran out of gas on the defensive end in the second half, as Houston scored 42 second half points en route to a 70-42 victory and remain undefeated at home this season. This is the second time the Cougars held the opponent's scoring to under the 50-point threshold. Their first time was when they held Lamar to 46 points on their opening day.

Marcus Sasser led the way with 19 points for the Cougars after only score 3 points in his previous game against Tulane.

Justin Gorham also contributed with 9 points and 17 rebounds. This is his 8th straight game with 10 or more rebounds.

"Rebounding is heart, and nobody's heart is bigger than Justin's," Coach Kelvin Sampson said. "Justin has gotten better. He has fully embraced rebounding. It couldn't have been a better match."

Houston out rebounded SMU 45-33 and committed 10 turnovers.

The holy trinity of Houston Cougar basketball continues to be commanding defense, out rebounding opponents, and superior guard play. If they continue to play to their strengths, this team can compete with anyone.

ONE THING TO NOTE: SMU scored the first two points of the game which made it the first time Houston trailed in over 189 minutes. Before Sunday, the Cougars last trailed with 13:02 remaining in the first half against Tulane on Jan. 9. Houston had not trailed in 5 games before the Mustangs hit this shot.

MOVING UP: With Texas losing to Oklahoma last week, Houston moved up to the No. 5 ranked team in the county. As it stands the Cougars are 15-1 (10-1 CONF) and are three games ahead of Wichita State for first place in the AAC.

UP NEXT: Houston hits the road to take on East Carolina Wednesday night.

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They clearly know how this game is played. Composite Getty Image.

The biggest news from Astros spring training in West Palm Beach has been the arrival of muscle-packed third baseman Alex Bregman, who’s in the final year of his contract with free agency looming.

Facing a battalion of microphones, Bregman has been saying all the right things – all the right things that Astros fans are happy to hear.

“I feel like I’ve never been in better shape in my life.”

“I expect to have the best season I’ve ever had.”

“I absolutely love every single second here. Being able to put on this jersey is an absolute honor and a dream come true for me as a kid. When it comes to the contract, I just let Scott do that.”

"Scott" is Bregman’s cold-blooded agent Scott Boras who is known for taking his clients to free agency and playing hardball with owners. Bregman, who will be 30 at the end of the season, is expected to draw offers perhaps as rich as $250 million over seven or eight years.

When I watched Bregman talk about his love for Houston and how he’d love to stay an Astro, I was half looking for an earpiece like the Impractical Jokers wear, with Boras whispering to Bregman what to say.

At the same time, but not the same place, Astros general manager Dana Brown was gushing over the Astros third sacker.

“He’s locked in. He is a special talent.”

“I’m expecting he’s going to have a really good season. I’m excited.”

“He has the heartbeat of a champion.”

The way Bregman and Brown are talking … I’ve heard less flirty prom invitations.

Now cue the scary music from horror movies. When Bregman was asked, have the Astros approached you with any offer of an extension, he answered a simple “no.”

When pressed for a timetable on a Bregman extension, Brown admitted, “at some point we’ll put together an offer. But right now we’re not engaged in an offer.”

In other words, both sides are talking. But not to each other.

Spring training is in full swing. Often players say if they don’t have an extension by the start of the season, they’ll shut down contract talks. They don’t want to think about a contract when they’re in the batter’s box and the games count. We don’t know if that is Bregman’s position, but it’s Boras’ modus operandi. It’s looking more and more like hello free agent Alex Bregman.

If Bregman is looking for a long-term deal at $200 million-plus, that’s more than Astros have ever offered a player. It could be too costly for owner Jim Crane’s blood.

Where do you stand on the Astros-Bregman dilemma? If you were Jim Crane, what would you do?

Break the bank and pay the man? After all, Bregman is a key piece of the Astros lineup. He’s been a dependable, hard-nosed player, a bit of a lovable wise ass and a huge part of the Astros’ dynastic run since 2017. Last year Bregman played 161 games, batted .262 with 25 homers, 98 RBI and 103 runs scored. He was a Gold Glove finalist at third base. He’s well liked in the clubhouse and adored by Astros fans. He has his own line of condiments.

Or let Bregman walk and save the money to make a run at keeping Kyle Tucker? As old school sports writers would say, you can look it up. In 2019, his career year so far, he batted .296, belted 41 homers, drove in 112 runs and led the league with 119 walks. He finished second in MVP voting behind Mike Trout. He hasn’t made an All-Star Game since then. His numbers, while not in free fall, have dwindled the past four years. He still is an above average player, though. Some team looking to go deep in the postseason will offer him big bucks at season’s end.

If it were up to you, would that team be the Astros?

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