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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Zack Greinke earned his 10th win of the season in Sunday's finale agains the Rangers. Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

With the first two wins of the series under their belt, the Astros entered Sunday looking to take care of business before heading on the road. Despite the Rangers taking the first lead of the day, the Astros responded on offense and defense to erase the deficit to get the victory.

Final Score: Astros 3, Rangers 1

Astros' Record: 61-39, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Zack Greinke (10-3)

Losing Pitcher: Dennis Santana (0-1)

Greinke, with some help, notches a quality start

Zack Greinke was doing well in the early goings of Sunday's finale. Despite allowing back-to-back singles to start the game, he stranded both runners to finish the top of the first. He followed that by erasing two more runners in the second, starting a stretch of eight straight batters which he would retire to make it through one out in the top of the fifth without allowing a run.

Texas finally added a blemish to his day at that point, getting a solo homer to grab their first lead in weeks. Greinke rebounded from it, sitting down the next two batters to finish the frame, then posted a 1-2-3 sixth. He returned for the top of the seventh, but would end his day with a struggle, loading the bases with no outs on a single, hit batter, and walk. That prompted Dusty Baker to bring in Cristian Javier, who saved Greinke's stat line by getting a strikeout and double play to keep the Rangers from scoring. Greinke's line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR, 86 P.

Houston grabs the lead

Houston's starter would leave in line for the win, thanks to the work of Cristian Javier, but also some timely offense in the two innings prior. With not much going for them in the first four innings, the Astros tried to take advantage of Chas McCormick being on base in the bottom of the fifth, sending him for a potential hit and run with Abraham Toro swinging.

That turned into two runs, with McCormick able to slow his run as Toro would launch a two-run go-ahead homer to erase the Rangers lead quickly. They extended the lead to two runs in the next inning, with Yordan Alvarez working a walk and then later scoring on an RBI single by Kyle Tucker, making it 3-1.

Astros finish the sweep

After cleaning up the inherited mess in the top of the seventh, Javier remained on the mound in the top of the eighth and made it through a 1-2-3 inning to give him six outs against five batters. With it still a two-run game in the top of the ninth, Ryan Pressly entered for the save opportunity. He notched it, sitting down the Rangers 1-2-3 to finish the sweep, handing Texas their twelfth straight loss.

Up Next: The Astros will head out west for an eight-game road trip starting with a three-game set with the Mariners kicking off at 9:10 PM Central on Monday. In the opener, Luis Garcia (7-5, 2.86 ERA) for Houston is slated to go opposite Darren McCaughan (0-0, 1.80 ERA), who will make his second career appearance and first start for Seattle.

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