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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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Carlos Correa had a big home run Saturday night. Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

With four wins in a row, including the first two of this series, Houston had a chance to keep their momentum going to lock up a series win on Saturday in this four-game set. Although Texas would make it interesting late, the Astros would hold them off to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 6, Rangers 5

Astros' Record: 23-17, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Luis Garcia (1-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dane Dunning (2-3)

Action in the first

After getting trounced the night prior, the Rangers managed to grab early momentum with a run to start the scoring Saturday night against Luis Garcia. It came after a one-out triple set up a sac fly, giving Texas a 1-0 lead. Houston quickly took control back in their favor, though, putting up four in the bottom of the inning on a two-RBI single by Alex Bregman and a two-run homer by Carlos Correa, making it 4-1 Astros.

The scoreboard went quiet after that inning, with both teams slowing down at the plate. Garcia put together a decent night, allowing just the one run over five innings of work, erasing some runners throughout the night. His final line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 HR, 94 P.

Rangers tighten it up late

Bryan Abreu was the first reliever to enter for Houston, taking over for Garcia in the top of the sixth. He worked around a leadoff single, keeping it a three-run game, then returned for a 1-2-3 top of the seventh. Correa led off with a double in the bottom of the inning, setting up a two-run Kyle Tucker homer, extending his recent hot streak and the lead to 6-1.

Ryne Stanek took over on the mound for Houston in the top of the eighth but worked himself into trouble with a single and walk to set up a three-run homer by Joey Gallo to make it a two-run game at 6-4. He would manage just one out before a walk would prompt Dusty Baker to move on to Brandon Bielak. Bielak would allow a run while getting the final two outs, making it 6-5.

Astros secure the series

After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, Ryan Pressly would try to notch another save and close the door on the Rangers. He would get the job done, sitting the Rangers down in order, keeping Houston's winning streak intact.

Up Next: The finale of this four-game set will start at 1:10 PM Central on Sunday. Lance McCullers JR. (3-1, 3.10 ERA), fresh off of a recent gem, will look to continue his success for the Astros, while Kyle Gibson (3-0, 2.28) will try to stay perfect on the season for the Rangers.

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