TIME TO RELOAD

Despite Final Four loss to Baylor, the future remains bright for Coogs

Houston was no match for Baylor. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Amid the scoring droughts, overall lack of firepower, and stupid jokes on the set by Charles Barkley, the Cougars were simply outmatched. However, Cougars Nation can hold their heads high. Ignore the scoreboard and the end result of 78-59, the Houston Cougars identity is firmly intact, and they are well positioned for the future. In many ways, the Cougars had already "won" before stepping onto the court Saturday Night at Lucas Oil.

The scoreboard sometimes doesn't matter in the overall picture. The "bigger" storyline is that U of H basketball is "back" at an elite level, generating far more interest in town than even the pro team that takes up residency at Toyota Center. Kelvin Sampson's program will remain in title contention for years to come. They will remain elite, because Sampson doesn't have "quit" in his DNA. During Saturday's blowout loss to Baylor, I thought of Gloria Clemente's character from the movie White Men Can't Jump, played by actress Rosie Perez. Her quote of "sometimes when you lose, you really win." Houston's recent achievements are vast and well documented. (Anyone that can survive three weeks cooped up in hotel rooms in Indianapolis, are stronger than most.)

Give credit to Baylor, especially the depth on their bench. More than anything, the 17-0 point differential in the first half paved the way for the Bears' first half dominance. Aside from Marcus Sasser, the offense really never got on track. Certain stretches reminded me of a decade ago, as I witnessed the offensive futility of a national title game at Reliant. On that particular night, the Butler Bulldogs struggled in putting a meager 41 points on the scoreboard in a loss to U-Conn.

Expect the Cougars to reload. Expect future runs to the Final Four, and if the stars align, they might even cut down the nets in two years at NRG Stadium. The future is bright!

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Houston gets the best of the Dodgers

Astros behind McCullers Jr. get shutout win in hostile Dodger Stadium

Yordan Alvarez added some big insurance runs against the Dodgers on Tuesday night. Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Having dropped two of three in San Francisco against the league record-leading Giants over the weekend, the Astros exited an off day on Monday and entered a hostile environment at Dodger Stadium in the first of a two-game series on Tuesday night. With some timely hits and an excellent start from their starter, Houston would grab the win.

Final Score: Astros 3, Dodgers 0

Astros' Record: 65-42, first in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (9-2)

Losing Pitcher: Walker Buehler (11-2)

Houston scores first as McCullers Jr. out-duels Buehler

After nearly turning the game's very first pitch around for a home run but instead going foul, Jose Altuve still started the game with a single in the top of the first. A double play would erase him, though, as the game remained scoreless into the top of the third. Martin Maldonado led that inning off with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch by Walker Buehler, then scored on an RBI double by Michael Brantley, putting Houston ahead 1-0.

Houston threatened again in the top of the fourth, getting two on with two outs, bringing up Martin Maldonado with an empty base, which the Dodgers would use by intentionally walking him to get to Lance McCullers Jr., who grounded out to strand all three runners. He made up for it on the mound, though, out-dueling Buehler, who finished six innings while allowing a run by getting into the seventh scoreless. He would get two outs into that frame while giving up a single and a walk, leaving two on base for Blake Taylor, who came in to get the third out. McCullers Jr.'s final line: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K, 110 P.

Alvarez adds insurance as Astros take the opener in LA

Clinging to the one-run lead in the top of the eighth, Carlos Correa worked a one-out walk to bring Yordan Alvarez to the plate, who demolished a 415-foot two-run homer to add two big insurance runs, extending the lead to 3-0. Kendall Graveman took over out of the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth and, despite allowing a leadoff single and hitting a batter, was able to finish a scoreless inning.

With Ryan Pressly on the paternity list, Houston handed the ball to Ryne Stanek to close things out in the bottom of the ninth. He would get the job done, earning the save by retiring the Dodgers in order, giving the Astros the win at the dismay of the fans in Los Angeles.

Up Next: This short series's second and final game will begin thirty minutes earlier on Wednesday at 8:40 PM Central. For the Dodgers, they will get the debut of Max Scherzer (8-4, 2.76 ERA), while Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.30 ERA) will take the mound for the Astros.

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