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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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Coogs edge Saint Louis and improve to 10-0 this season
Posted: December 16, 2018 -- 7:03 p.m. CST
HOUSTON, TX (Fertitta Center) -- Sunday afternoon, the Houston Cougars continued finding ways to win a basketball game. The Cougars edged the Saint Louis Billikens 68-64 in front of an announced crowd of 6,131 fans gathered in the Fertitta Center.
The Cougars moved to 10-0 for only the second time in school history and the first time since 1967-68.
"Just because our record says 10-0,we didn't all of a sudden become Duke," said Houston Head Coach Kelvin Sampson after the game. "We're a team that's going to have scratch, fight, and claw for the things we get. Sometimes people get records confused for how good a team is. We're a team that's still evolving. We aren't a great team, yet. We're a long way away from it. Having to call a timeout, draw something up, execute it, get a big stop, a rebound, a loose ball, and make the right play… the more you do that, the better prepared you are for close games. We won't be blowing a lot of people out. We're going to fight and claw for everything we get."
Houston senior guard Corey Davis Jr. scored 12 of his team-high 17 points in the second half including the go-ahead three-point shot with 30 seconds remaining and two free throws to close out the scoring.
Davis Jr's three point shot broke a 63-63 tie. The shot was his third three-point basket of the game (out of five three-point shot attempts).
"It felt good. I believe I got those shots off because I wasn't focused on it," Davis Jr. said after the game. "I came in to today's game focused on the match-up, playing defense and playing hard. Coach Sampson told me that when I first got here: 'Play hard and everything will fall into place'; and, that's what happened. That's why I got a good look; and, it went in."
Houston led Saint Louis 29-27 at halftime; however, the Billikens scored the first 8 points of the second half and led 35-29 before Houston called timeout. When both teams walked to their respective bench, Saint Louis' Javon Bess was whistled for a technical foul. Corey made both technical foul shots; and, Houston went on a 9-0 run to lead 38-35.
The Billikens did not go away. The game was tied at 40 then at 42; before Houston sophomore Fabian White Jr. converted a three-point play for a 45-42 lead. Houston stretched the lead to 50-42; but, once again, Saint Louis responded. The Billikens outscored the Coogs 16-7 to lead 58-57 with 5:07 remaining in the ball game.
Houston's DeJon Jarreau converted a three-point play (driving layup plus the foul shot) for a 60-58 lead with 4:23 on the clock. Saint Louis tied the game at 60.
The Coogs went scoreless for 2 minutes and 47 seconds and trailed 63-60 with 97 seconds remaining. Fabian White Jr. made two free throws to pull the Coogs within one (63-62).
Saint Louis guard Tramaine Isabell Jr. missed a three-point jump shot and Houston's Armoni Brooks pulled down the rebound and was fouled. Brooks split the free throws to tie the game at 63 with 1:09 remaining.
On the Billikens' possession, Jarreau blocked Fred Thatch Jr's shot attempt; and, Houston called timeout with 48 seconds remaining.
After the timeout, Corey Davis Jr and Fabian White Jr exchanged hand-off; White Jr set pick; and Corey swished the three to put the Coogs ahead 66-63.
The Billikens called timeout to set up a play. After the timeout, Javon Bess missed three; loose ball. Jordan Goodwin launched long 2; missed. Jarreau fouled Goodwin with 4 seconds on the clock. Goodwin made the first foul shot and intentionally missed the second attempt. Bess picked up the miss and launched a jump shot which completely missed the rim.
Davis Jr. grabbed the missed shot; was fouled; and made both foul shots to ice the game at the foul line.
Jarreau scored 10 points in the game in 14 minutes off the bench. He also pulled down three rebounds and added a key blocked shot and steal.
The 14 minutes Jarreau played were the most minutes he's played this season (two games).
"These past couple of months have been a real tragedy for me; but, Coach Sampson has had my back and my teammates have had my back," Jarreau said. "That made it easier to go through everything, and it made me a better person. I can honestly say it's good now that I am back."
Houston committed 14 turnovers in the game which Saint Louis converted into 18 points.
"Offensively, DeJon Jarreau came in and gave us a big lift," Sampson commented. "I know he's been anxious to do that. We've got a lot of things that we need to work on. We're not a finished product. We understand the areas that need improvement. We've got a great group of young men. No doubt we'll get back to practice and get better."
Galen Robinson Jr and Armoni Brooks each scored 13 points. Houston out-rebounded Saint Louis 41-35. The game featured 18 ties and 14 lead changes.
Houston's next game is Thursday, December 20, versus Utah State, at 7 p.m. The game is the 3rd of a 7-game homestand for Houston:
LSU (December 12); Saint Louis (December 16); Utah State (December 20); Coppin State (December 23); NJIT (December 29); Tulsa (January 2); and Memphis (January 6).
CLICK HERE for The HRR's write-ups of Coogs' men's hoops games.
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