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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.

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Rob Gray's 34 points leads 5 in double-digits in Coogs 104-71 win over Tulsa

Posted: January 11, 2018 -- 11:48 pm CST.

HOUSTON, TX (H&PE Arena) -- Rob Gray snapped out of his shooting slump in a huge way Thursday evening in the Houston Cougars' 104-71 victory over the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Gray scored 34 points (in 28 minutes) versus Tulsa. In his three previous games, Gray scored a total of 32 points on 13 for 37 field goal shooting. Thursday night, Gray made 12 shots on 17 attempts.

Final stats: Houston Cougars 104, Tulsa Golden Hurricane 71

Gray said he didn't do anything special to break out of his shooting slump.

"Same regimen… I just worked with (Director of Player Development) Hollis (Price) throughout the day and just listened to what he had to say," Gray acknowledged. "He’s a first team All-American and he’s a great person to take advice and learn from. I followed his instructions and he’s going to laugh in practice tomorrow and say ‘you need to listen to me’."

Houston Head Coach Kelvin Sampson said he and the coaching staff made a few tweaks to get Gray better shot opportunities in the offense.

"Just Rob, we wanted to get the ball to Rob early in the shot clock and told him to be aggressive," Sampson admitted. "I said earlier that Rob cannot be a parasite, he has to be a piranha and go after people. He's a lot better that way. Obviously we’re 13-3 and in the games Rob hasn't played so well we still won. So can we win without Rob. We still win, but our team is a lot better when he is aggressive. One thing we did tell him to do was to shoot if they slid on the ball screens, we're a good offensive rebounding team so shoot it with confidence."

Gray's sensational shooting was contagious. The Coogs set an American Athletic Conference record by making 18 three-point shots in the ball game.

"To be honest, it feels good when you see your hard work paying off," Armoni Brook said after the game. "We work really hard to be good three point shooters. Seeing your teammates succeed, that’s the best feeling. Seeing everyone work hard definitely helps you succeed."

Gray added, "We shoot a lot as a guard group collectively. I also have to say it feels normal, because in practice we move the ball a lot and hit a lot of threes, we know that’s our strength. When we do what we have to do we can’t be too happy, you don’t get a pat on the back when you do what you’re supposed to do like Coach Sampson says. We can’t hit this many three’s all the time, but we would like to make it normal."

Houston (13-3 overall, 3-1 in the AAC) made 13 three-point baskets (out of 18 attempts) in the first half to lead Tulsa (10-7, 3-2) 59-34 at halftime.

Tulsa got as close as 22 points early in the second half; but, Houston led by as much as 40 and cruised to the easy conference win.

Houston sophomore Armoni Brooks scored 15 points off the bench. Brooks made 5 of his 8 three point shots. Corey Davis Jr scored 14 points. Wes VanBeck scored 10 points; and, Gabe Grant scored a personal-high 10 points in just 12 minutes.

Houston's bench combined for 44 of the 104 points.

The Coogs shot 55.2% (37 for 67) overall for the game: 19 two-point field goals and 18 three-point field goals.

In addition to the hot-shooting, the Coogs also out-rebounded the Golden Hurricane 39-32.

Houston's biggest negative was the 17 fouls the Coogs were whistled for in the second half.

"The key for tonight was how much better we got throughout practice this week," Coach Sampson commented. "We came out and our defense was really good early and then it became a foul fest. If you have to run to the free throw line every possession it becomes a discombobulated game."

After Thursday’s game, the Coogs will hit the road for a pair of games: the first road game is Sunday, at 1 p.m., when the Coogs take on ECU inside Williams Arena in Greenville, NC.  After that match-up, Houston heads to New Orleans to take on the Tulane Green Wave Wednesday, January 17, at 7 p.m., inside Devlin Fieldhouse.

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