Caleb Mills scored a game-high 18 points as the Houston Cougars take a 13-point victory over the Tulane Green Waves.

Mills shines as Cougars pick up victory over Tulane

Kelvin Sampson. Getty Images

After a disappointing defeat to the Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday, the No. 25 Houston Cougars returned to their winning ways in a 75-62 victory over the Tulane Green Waves, Thursday night, inside the Fertitta Center in Houston. With the win, the Cougars have now won 11 of their last 13 games while improving to 8-2 in conference play.

It was another remarkable performance for freshman guard Caleb Mills, who registered a game-high 18 points while shooting 70% from the field, 57% from behind the arc. While making his return to the starting lineup in nearly a month, sophomore guard Quentin Grimes scored 15 points (6-11 FG, 4-5 FT) and dishing out five assists in the win.

Following a made 3-point field goal by Mills that was assisted by Nate Hinton, the Cougars took their first led of the game with 13 minutes left in the first period. Following the basket, Houston embarked on a 24-4 run to take a 39-21 lead into the halftime break, as the Green Waves missed nine consecutive shot attempts in the first half.

Although Tulane went on a second-half surge where they outscored Houston 41-36, their inability to take care of the basketball played an enormous in the result of the game, as the Cougars converted 19 points off 12 turnovers. While shooting 54% from the floor and connecting on 10 3-point field goals, the Cougars had one of their best offensive performances of the season, as Houston also held a 38-18 advantage in points in the paint.

Hinton came three assists shy of a triple-double, as the sophomore guard tallied in 12 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists in the win. In the loss, sophomore Teshaun Hightower recorded 17 points, five rebounds and four steals, with K.J. Lawson adding in 13 points for the Green Wave.

Following the win, the Cougars will continue their two-game homestand on Sunday when they take on the 17-5, 5-4 Wichita State Shockers. Tip-off is slated for 2 P.M. CT.



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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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