The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Lowe's Senior CLASS, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.
HOUSTON, TX (H&PE Arena) -- Devin Davis scored a career-high 28 points (and snared 10 rebounds) in the Houston Cougars' 91-65 thumping of the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Coogs never trailed in the ball game (and, the only tie was 0-0).
“It was a blessing. Personally, it was a payback game for me because I missed 12 games as a result of an injury I sustained from the game against this team last year,” Devin Davis said after the game. “Our team played extremely well though, especially our point guards.”
The Coogs dominated the stats: shot higher field goal percentage; shot better three-point percentage; shot better free throw percentage and made two more free throws; more rebounds; more assists; less turnovers; more blocked shots; more steals; more points in the paint; more second-chance points; more fast-break points; and more bench points; and, of course, the most important stat, more points.
Final score: Houston 91, Arkansas 65.
Before tonight, the Razorbacks, in six 6 games, had played 240 minutes this season and led for 195 minutes and 29 seconds.
The Coogs jumped to an 11-0 lead before the Razorbacks got on the scoreboard with 2 made free throws at the 13:19 mark of the first half.
Houston's leading scorer, Rob Gray, went to the bench with 2 fouls with 13:05 on the clock; and the Coogs leading 11-2.
The Razorbacks did not make a field goal until the 12:11 mark to pull within six points (11-5).
However, Houston senior guard Wes VanBeck converted a three-point play to boost the lead to 14-5.
VanBeck nailed a three-point shot for a 17-5 lead; and, the Razorbacks did not get closer than eight points the rest of the first half.
Sophomore guard Armoni Brooks made two consecutive three-pointers for a 23-10 lead.
The lead grew to 18 (44-26) before Arkansas' Anton Beard made a three-point shot before the halftime buzzer to send the teams into the locker rooms with Houston leading 44-29.
In the first half, Arkansas turned over the ball 10 times while making only 8 field goals out of 25 attempts.
Houston shot 51.9% (14 for 27) in the first half -- including 7 for 12 from three-point range. Three Cougars scored in double-digits in the opening half: Devin Davis scored 13; Armoni Brooks scored 11 off the bench; and, Corey Davis, Jr. added 10 points.
The second half was much, much more of the first half.
Devin Davis scored 15 points in the second on 5 for 6 field goal shooting (including one three-point bucket to beat the shot clock). Davis grabbed seven boards in the second half.
Galen Robinson, Jr. kept his foot on the gas pedal and dished out 6 assists in the second half. His uptempo pace was huge throughout the ball game. Galen finished the game with 9 of the team's 19 assists.
“Toughness is something that Coach Sampson preaches to us during every meeting and practice,” said Devin Davis. “His philosophy of toughness includes having the lead and not taking our foot off the gas pedal. Our main focus is building off our momentum and toughness.”
The Coogs led by as much as 30 points in the second half.
Devin Davis scored 28 points to lead four Coogs in double-digit scoring in the game. Corey Davis, Jr. finished the game with 17 points (5 for 11 on threes); while Brooks and Rob Gray each scored 11 points.
Houston improved to 6-1 with the victory. Arkansas' record is now 5-2.
“It was all about staying focused,” Corey Davis, Jr. said. “At no point during the game were we content with how we were playing offensively or defensively. All week our main focus leading up to this game has been playing hard defense, and playing Houston Cougar basketball. All of those things are what ultimately secured our win tonight.”
“We changed our starting lineup a little bit, I don’t know if we have one this early in the season,” Kelvin Sampson after the game. “We have eight new players, so we are trying to figure out who goes where for a while. I know that our two best defenders are Galen and Corey, and their best offensive players are (Jaylen) Barford and (Daryl) Macon. I felt like we matched up ok at the other three positions, but Macon and Barford are really good. They’re both shooting over 50% from three.
We said we were going to make them put it on the floor. That’s the main thing I emphasized defensively and it upset me when Galen fouled on one shot, because I really emphasized that we were going to contest hard, but not foul. I think we did a good job of taking away their three and being disciplined. It’s taken a while to get this team to this point, because we were starting over. I’m proud of our effort tonight more than anything, Galen was our leader. The other thing was our push game, our kids do a good job of spacing the ball in transition. We run to the corners and the baseline and it forces other teams to spread out. When you’re spaced in transition the point guard has to make the right decision. This was a good step for us. There is a lot of basketball left, so we’re getting ready for Wednesday.”
Houston's next game is Wednesday, December 6, versus Fairfield. As part of Education Day with students from Houston Independent School District schools, tip is set for 11 a.m.