The Houston Cougars record a season-high 11 blocks in a blowout victory over the UTEP Miners.

Cougars defense tops Miners in blowout victory

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It did not take long for the Houston Cougars to pick up where they left off during the second half of their previous game. Playing with high energy on both ends of the floor, the Cougars took a 77-57 victory over the UTEP Miners, Thursday night, inside the Fertitta Center in Houston.

With the win, the Cougars improve to 7-3 on the season while the Miners suffered their second loss of the year with an 8-2 record.

"We keep getting better and believing in what we are doing," head coach Kelvin Sampson said after the win. "This team is still learning how to play with each other, and we gotta keep fighting and getting better."

Although they had a solid night on the offensive end shooting 43.9% from the floor, and 50.0% from behind the arc, the Cougars' performance on the defensive end is what led to a wire-to-wire victory. UH recorded a season-high 11 blocks with junior big man Brison Gresham leading the way with a career-best six rejections to protect the paint. In addition to recording 10 points, Gresham also received his first double-double of the season with 12 rebounds.

"It's the way I practice," Gresham said. "I put in a lot of work over the past two days and I feel like my energy carried over to the game."

Houston led by double figures for the majority of the game, but the Miners went on several runs in a come back attempt. UTEP's biggest stretch came late in the first half on a 12-0 run to cut their 15-point deficit down to three. The Cougars withstood the Miners' surge to take a 37-27 lead into the half.

Following a career performance against the OSU Cowboys on Sunday, Caleb Mills scored 17 points (7-17 FG, 2-2 3PT) in his first career start in the win. With his fifth double-double of the season, sophomore guard Nate Hinton added 17 points of his own to go along with 10 rebounds.

"Nate [Hinton] is one of those guys you take for granted because he does it every night," Sampson said. "The most impressing thing about Nate tonight, he had 17 points on six shots — very efficient."

In the loss, the Miners were led by junior forward, Bryson Williams, who scored 17 points while shooting 7-for-19 from the field (37%), 3-for-6 (50%) from deep. The only other player to score in double figures for UTEP was Souley Boum, who recorded 13 points.

Following the win, the Cougars will hit the road to compete in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic inside the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu on Dec. 22-25.

Quick Notes:

  • After going scoreless in his last game, Quentin Grimes scored four points shooting 2-for-8 from the floor.
  • The Cougars won the battle of the boards out-rebounding the Miners 49-34.
  • The Cougars scored a total of 34 points in the paint.

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Houston is falling down the rankings

Tigers pound Odorizzi, Astros with homers as Houston drops fourth in a row

The Astros have not looked great in their last four games. Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

After watching their hot start of 6-1 cool down to a 6-4 record with three straight losses, the Astros returned to Minute Maid Park on Tuesday night, looking to do a better job at home against a beatable Tigers team.

Recent games' woes would continue, though, with Houston's pitching getting blasted by the opposing offense and their own bats primarily quiet.

Final Score: Tigers 8, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-5, tied for second in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Matthew Boyd (2-1)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-1)

Astros score first, then Tigers unload on Odorizzi

Houston looked to have something brewing in the bottom of the second, with three singles in the first four batters of the inning, the third an RBI-single by Myles Straw to put the Astros in front 1-0. However, Matthew Boyd would limit the damage, getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat.

After two easy innings for Jake Odorizzi in his regular-season debut for his new team, he would allow a game-tying solo homer to Akil Baddoo, his fourth of the year, in the top of the third. Detroit struck again in the top of the fourth, getting a leadoff double to set up a two-run go-ahead home run to jump ahead 3-1.

They didn't stop there, getting another two-run bomb later in the same inning; a frame that would take Odorizzi 31 pitches to get only one out before Houston would bring in Bryan Abreu to get the last two outs. Odorizzi's final line in his debut: 3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 HR, 0 BB, 4 K, 80 P.


Detroit continues home run parade, Houston loses fourth in a row

Abreu would hope to do what Luis Garcia did the night before, eat up as many innings as possible after a poor outing from Houston's starter. The Tigers would get yet another two-run homer, though, in the top of the fifth, extending their lead to 7-1, with all seven runs coming over a three-inning span. For good measure, they'd knock one more out with two outs in the top of the ninth, making it 8-1.

As far as Houston at the plate, other than their string of hits to bring in a run earlier in the second, they were getting nothing done against Boyd, who would go six and two-thirds innings. Detroit's bullpen would finish things off, despite an all-too-late sac fly by the Astros in the bottom of the ninth, with Houston dropping their fourth-straight game and continuing to lose ground in the division.

Up Next: The finale of this three-game set with Detroit will be an hour earlier on Wednesday, getting underway at 6:10 PM Central. Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will try to maintain his perfect record and improve upon his two five-inning one-run starts for the Astros, going opposite of Michael Fulmer (0-0, 2.57 ERA) for the Tigers.

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