A second-half block party leads to a Cougars' victory over the Bobcats.

Houston Cougars get hard-fought win over Texas State

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Texas State guard Mason Harrell drove to the lane with the intent to score an easy layup for the Bobcats in transition. Unfortunately for Texas State, DeJon Jarreau rejected Harrell's layup in his attempt to cut into the Cougars' lead late in the second half. Jarreau's block on Harrell was one of 10 second-half rejections that played a tremendous factor in the Cougars 68-60 win over Texas State, Wednesday night, inside the Fertitta Center in Houston.

After a subpar defensive performance in the first half, the Bobcats held a 29-28 lead over the Cougars into the break. Houston's defense allowed Texas State to connect on 39% of their shots from the field, 43% from behind the arc. They picked up their defensive intensity in the second half, as the Cougars held the Bobcats to 30% shooting from the floor, 11% on 3-point field attempts.

"Texas State is a hard team to play against, and I'm not sure we could have played this well [in the second half] a month ago," head coach Kelvin Sampson said after the win. "We were trying to figure out how to win the game, and they bought into in the second half."

Jarreau, the junior guard from New Orleans, ended the night with three blocks, to go along with 12 points and five rebounds in the win. Although Jarreau made a few key stops down the stretch, Houston's most impactful defender came from big man Chris Harris Jr. Despite ending the game scoreless, Sampson called Harris the best player on the court, as the senior center recorded a career-high six rejections (all in the second half) and 12 rebounds on the night.

"I feel like I did what my team needed me to do, which was block shots and rebound," Harris said. "I honestly don't think about scoring when I go into the game because my main focus is to rebound and blocks shots every night."

The Cougars outscored the Bobcats 40-31 thanks to a second-half surge by sophomore guard, Quentin Grimes. He scored 16 of his 21 points in the second period, where he shot 6-for-17 from the floor in 37 minutes of play. Forward Fabian White had another productive night, as the forward recorded 15 points (5-11 FG) and six rebounds for the Cougars.

With their fourth game win streak coming to an end in Houston, Nijal Pearson led the Bobcats in scoring with 17 points on 5-for-16 shooting before fouling out in the final minute of the game.

Following the win, the Houston Cougars will hit the road to Columbia S.C. for a Sunday showdown against the South Carolina Gamecocks. Tip-off is slated for 11 A.M. C.T.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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