Sophomore guard Quentin Grimes scored a career-high 32 points as the Houston Cougars complete comeback victory over the Rice Owls

Second-half surge leads Houston past Rice in dramatic finish

Kelvin Sampson. Getty Images

The Houston Cougars trailed 77-71 late in the second half to the Rice Owls when junior forward Fabian White knocked down two free throws to cut into the deficit. Following a made 3-point field goal by Quentin Grimes, the Cougars ignited for a 21-1 run late in the second half, which led to a 97-89 victory over the Owls Tuesday night inside Tudor Fieldhouse in Houston.

Shortly after the win, Grimes said this game was an example of how great this team can be, calling the Cougars one of the best in the nation. While Houston will be among some of the top teams in college basketball, this game also proves how great Grimes will be on an individual standpoint.

The sophomore guard from the Woodlands put on a show in the Cougars comeback victory, as he recorded a career-high 32 points (11-17 FG, 4-6 3PT), nine rebounds and five assists in the win. While coming up huge in the clutch, Grimes scored 21 of his total points during the Cougars second-half surge.

Despite picking up their second win on the new season, the game for the Cougars did not start on the right note. Following a 3-point basket by Rice guard Trey Murphy, the Owls jumped out to a 5-0 run and held the lead for the entire first half. Rice increased its lead to a 15-point advantage as Houston failed to buy a bucket in the first 15 minutes. Following a timeout by a frustrated Kelvin Sampson, the Cougars ended the half on a 13-5 run but still trailed 39-32 at the halftime break.

As Houston started to connect on the offensive end, the Cougars picked up their intensity on the defensive end after a switch to zone defense in an attempt to slow down the Owls.

In addition to Grimes, several players stepped up big for the Cougars, with freshman guard Marcus Sasser scoring 15 points on 55.6% shooting from the field, 62.5% from deep, in his first career start. Nate Hinton and DeJon Jarreau both added in 15 points of their own, with Caleb Mills pouring in 12 points off the bench.

With the win, the Cougars snapped the Owls four-game win streak and gave them their second loss of the regular season. In a losing effort, Owls were led by senior forward Robert Martin, who recorded 23 points while shooting 50% from the floor. Drew Peterson and Ako Adams both added 16 points apiece for Rice.

Following a comeback win, the Houston Cougars will hit the road for an early-season test against the No. 11 Oregon Ducks on Friday, inside the Matthew Knight Arena in Oregon. Tip-off is slated for 8 P.M. CT.

QUICK TIP-INS:

  • The Houston Cougars made only three triples in the first half before connecting on 10 made 3-point baskets in the second. (13-26 3PT)
  • The Cougars won the battle of the glass, out-rebounding the Owls 47-34, 16-8 in offensive rebounds in the win.
  • After they once trailed by 15-points, Houston once held a lead as big as 11 in the second half.

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This week the NASCAR cup series heads to the world center of racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, for the inaugural fourth of July version of the Brickyard 400. This is unprecedented for NASCAR considering over the course of 50 years they are usually in Daytona around this time. While this move was met with a lot of criticism from fans, there is a positive to come from this move though, as the sport will hold their first doubleheader with Indycar. This has been talked about for many years and now it has finally come to fruition. Another new facet of this weekend will be the Xfinity Series running on the road course configuration. This could very well lead to the cup series transitioning from the oval to the road course next season should everything go well when the Xfinity series does it. It will definitely be an interesting weekend.

Last week, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin dominated the first-ever doubleheader at Pocono. The two drivers finished first and second in both races with Harvick taking race one and Hamlin winning race two. Both of these races came down to pit-road strategy as Harvick was able to eke out a victory by taking two tires and fuel while his teammate Aric Almirola took four. The next day Denny Hamlin pretty much had the whole field covered as he went on to claim his fourth victory of the season. Overall, the idea of two races in a weekend went over well but for the racing itself, it was hard to watch. One of the main issues I had was how the drivers didn't have to shift this week. In my opinion, that was what made this track so unique. It was an oval that had road course characteristics and it usually produced some pretty good finishes. Hopefully this will be addressed when the new car makes its debut in 2022.

One of the big stories going into this week is the announcement a couple of weeks ago that NASCAR will be moving their all-star event to Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past couple of weeks, there has been a whirlwind of news from the Bubba Wallace story at Talladega, to the doubleheader races last week. A lot of this has put this announcement on the back burner but this is a huge story. The race will be held on Wednesday, July 15th as NASCAR continues with midweek races. This is the first time since 1986 that the race will not be run at NASCAR's home track in Charlotte back when it took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The format will be pretty much the same as all the winners from 2019 and 2020 will all have an automatic birth into the race while the rest of the field will run in the open event the day before. The main event will feature four stages including a 15 lap closer around one of NASCAR's most popular race tracks. I think this move was long overdue and I hope that they continue with it in the future. Don't get me wrong, there isn't anything wrong with the race at Charlotte but I think a change of pace would be welcomed. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.

As we move on to Indy this weekend, the driver I have winning is Kurt Busch. This weekend will be the 2004 Cup Series champion's 700th career start, and he's won just about every race that there is to be won except this one here at the Brickyard. This week, that is going to change. It hasn't been the most consistent season for the Vegas native, but he still sits tenth in points and right in the thick of the playoff battle. This track isn't his best as he currently has a 19.42 average finish, including a dismal 30th place finish last year. But this week, I think he gets back on track with a victory as he starts second. The veteran has flown under the radar this year, but he has definitely shown spurts where we think he is going to break-out. He also has runs where it seems like him and his team are mid-pack, but there aren't many drivers out there that have the experience he has. And a talented driver like him always finds a way to bounce back. Look for Kurt Busch to take the #1 Monster Energy Camaro to victory lane.

All stats and information used in this article are brought to you by the good folks at driveraverages.com and Racing-Reference.com, the best websites for all NASCAR stats.

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