COUGARS REPORT

Houston falls to No. 8 after a tough loss to ECU

Kelvin Sampson took the loss personally. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images.

With football coming to an end, basketball is now on the minds of most fans. With conference tournaments and March Madness approaching, Houston is gearing up for a deep run. However, they hit a speed bump in Greenville, North Carolina Wednesday night.

Houston moved to No. 5 in the AP Top 25, marking their second time there this season. This is also the program's highest ranking since the 1983-84 season. But it was a short-lived stint in the top 5 as East Carolina University pulled off the upset against the heavily favored Cougars.

Houston had their worst defensive performance as the Pirates scored 82 points in their victory. This is the largest amount of points this Cougar team has given up this season.

Their loss can be attributed to poor performances on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Sure they scored 73 points and DeJon Jarreau matched his career high with 25 points to lead the Cougars and Marcus Sasser added 17 points, but they couldn't seem to get anyone else rolling offensively.

Quentin Grimes had 7 points his 2nd lowest scoring output of the season and second consecutive game in which he scored less than 10 points.

Justin Gorham extended his rebounding streak to 9 consecutive games with 10 or more rebounds, but was limited offensively.

No other Cougar scored more than six points and their bench was nonexistent.

Before this game, East Carolina had lost five straight contests. The Pirates were also without starter Brandon Suggs due to injury and lost reserve guard Tyrie Jackson during the game to an apparent leg injury.

Houston didn't get many stops and made just 8 of 31 shots after halftime.

Kelvin Sampson took the loss personally and blamed himself for their poor performance.

"At the end of the day, you know what it is?" Sampson said. "It comes down to the coach, man. The coach has got to do a better job of getting his team ready to play."

The Cougars' nine game win streak against the Pirates came to an end and East Carolina snapped a 33 game losing streak against AP Top 25 teams.

Houston needed a bounce back game and were able to schedule NAIA school Our Lady of the Lake last minute.

It was not a close contest by any means and not a single starter played for the Cougars.

Cameron Tyson was the leading scorer with 32 points. Tramon Mark and Jamal Shead each scored 22 and 20 points respectively.

It was a game Houston needed to build some confidence on their way to a third straight AAC title and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

UP NEXT: The Cougars travel to Tampa to take on the University of South Florida Bulls.

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Kyle Tucker had a big day at the plate on Sunday. Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

After splitting the first two games of the series, with one team or the other putting on a solid offensive performance in each, the Astros tried to win their fourth series in their last five by taking the rubber game on Sunday against the Blue Jays. Thanks in part to a big day from Kyle Tucker, who played a significant role in the early offense they used to power to the win, they would accomplish their mission.

Final Score: Astros 7, Blue Jays 4

Astros' Record: 18-16, second in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Nate Pearson (0-1)

Kyle Tucker helps lead the offense to seven unanswered runs

Houston did not go easy on Nate Pearson in his 2021 debut. After a scoreless first, the Astros loaded the bases on two walks and a single, then brought the first run of the day home on an RBI walk by Michael Brantley. Another walk opened the door in the bottom of the third, and Kyle Tucker capitalized with an RBI triple to make it 2-0, followed by an RBI single by Robel Garcia to make it a three-run lead, ending Pearson's day one out into the bottom of the third.

Things didn't get easier for Toronto's pitching in the next inning, as Jose Altuve would lead off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer. A single and a walk then set up another big hit for Kyle Tucker, a three-run dinger to make it seven unanswered runs and giving Tucker four RBI on the day.

Blue Jays pound Greinke in the fifth

After four shutout innings to start his day on the mound, working around a few hits along the way, Zack Greinke tried to cash in on his team's offense to get another win on his record. He wouldn't be able to get it done, though, as Toronto would get after him in the top of the fifth. They would score four times amongst five batters that came to the plate, with a solo homer by Rowdy Tellez, a two-RBI double by Bo Bichette, and an RBI single by Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

That made it a 7-4 game, and with Greinke still not having recorded an out in the frame, Dusty Baker would lift him at 88 pitches in favor of Bryan Abreu, who would get a pop out and a double play to end the inning and keep the lead at three runs. Greinke's final line: 4.0 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 88 P.

Houston takes the series

No more runs would come on either side the rest of the way, with Kent Emanuel working around a single for a scoreless sixth, Ryne Stanek getting a 1-2-3 seventh, and Andre Scrubb doing the same in the eighth to set up Ryan Pressly for the save. Pressly would get the job done, sending the Blue Jays down in order, including two strikeouts to wrap up the win and giving Houston the series victory.

Up Next: The Astros will stay at home to continue this homestand, welcoming in the Angels for three games starting Monday at 7:10 PM Central. The opener will feature a pitching matchup of Alex Cobb (1-2, 5.48 ERA) for Los Angeles and Luis Garcia (0-3, 3.28 ERA) for Houston.

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