A BIG VICTORY

Kelvin Sampson's Cougars get signature win by knocking off No. 7 Wichita State 73-59

Kelvin Sampson led the Cougars to a big win. UHCougars.com

Kelvin Sampson's Houston Cougars may have finally arrived. 

The Cougars got a long-awaited signature win, knocking off No. 7 Wichita State 73-59 on Saturday at the Health and P.E. Center on the TSU campus. Joe Lunardi had the Cougars on his "first four out" of the tournament list before Saturday's game. They are now 15-4 on the season after the win, 5-2 in the tough American Conference, tied for second in the standings. Their best prior win before this was probably over Arkansas in early December.

Sampson is in his fourth season at UH, and has his best team to date. His teams won 13, 22 and 21 games in his first three years, respectively, but were never really tournament threats. 

Now they should be. They still have some tough tests ahead -- but also games that could be resume builders. They face Cincinnati and SMU twice, and still have Memphis on the schedule. So while they might not be a tournament team yet, they are in the conversation, and a winning record against that group down the stretch would probably get them there. 

Senior guard Rob Gray continues to play at a high level, leading the Cougars with 24 points on an array of drives and pull-ups. The Cougars played tough defense, and held their own with a big Wichita State team that dominated the boards, including 17 offensive rebounds. But the Cougars also forced 18 turnovers and were never really threatened down the stretch. It was a huge win, in that the Shockers had won 11 straight road games before Saturday's game, and routed Houston just over a week ago. It was Houston's first win over a top seven team since 1996.

Thus, it was fitting that the school is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century, UH's signature 71-69 win over Kareem-Abdul Jabbar and UCLA at the Astrodome that launched the modern TV era of college basketball. That UH team would lose a rematch in the Final Four. 

This Houston team has a long way to go to even make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2010. But Saturday was a huge step in the right direction.

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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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