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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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Ten different Coogs scored in 73-42 rout of Tulane

Posted: February 11, 2018 -- 8:11 pm CST.

HOUSTON, TX (H&PE Arena) -- The Houston Cougars (the players) got payback Sunday evening in a 73-42 beat down of the Tulane Green Wave. Sunday's win avenges the 81-72 road loss at Tulane January 17.

Final stats: Houston 73, Tulane 42

“Payback is the word we used all week,” said Houston senior guard Rob Gray after the game. “Yesterday we had the best practice of the year. When we ended practice, we thought ‘That’s how you go to war’. Some teams know when their season is going to end and we’re planning on something special. We’ll have another payback match on Thursday against Cincinnati.”

Gray scored 8 points in the game which help become the leading scorer in American Athletic Conference history with 1,463 points, surpassing SMU guard Nic Moore’s 1,462 points.

“I didn’t know I was approaching that until one of the AAC staff members informed me,” Gray acknowledged. “It’s crazy that I achieved it on a night where I felt like I didn’t score a lot, so I guess that was God’s plan. I’m proud of our defense tonight more than anything. I’m glad we won, so now we can focus on getting our 20th win this season against Cincinnati.”

Houston (19-5 overall, 9-3 in the AAC) utilized a balanced scoring attack to defeat Tulane (13-11, 4-8). Ten different players scored for Houston. Senior forward Devin Davis led the Coogs with 16 points. Sophomore guard Armoni Brooks scored 11 points and pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds for his second consecutive double-double.

Once Gray sank a three-point shot to give Houston a 5-2 lead, Houston never trailed the rest of the ball game.

Tulane struggled making shots. The Green Wave shot 26.1% (6 for 23) from the floor in the first half while the Coogs shot an efficient 50% (17 for 34) in the opening 20 minutes.

Houston led 39-15 at halftime.

Tulane got as close as 21 points in the second half. That's it. Houston went on a 10-0 run to lead 50-19 and blow the game wide open.

“I just thought that this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were three of our best practices all year and that tells you how much this team has grown,” Houston Head Coach Kelvin Sampson said after the game. “We’ve learned how to practice. When you learn how to practice, that gives you a chance to have great carry over in games. You have a bunch of kids who try to go easy or don’t want to play hard in practice and just flip it on for games, you aren’t going to win with those kids. I don’t care how talented they are. There’s a lot of talented teams in America that are losing, so if all you have is talent, that’s not good enough. You have to have talent, toughness and the culture that permeates throughout every kid in this program and that’s what we have.”

Despite lukewarm shooting in the second half, Houston's lead grew to as much as 35 points as Houston cruised to the victory.

Houston made 9 of 24 field goal attempts in the second half and finished the game 26 for 58 (44.8%). Tulane shot 8 for 26 in the second half and shot an ice-cold 28.6% (14 for 49) for the ball game.

“It was a defensive game for us,” Devin Davis said. “Anybody can be a lead scorer on our team and it was a good scoring night for me.”

“We have a scouting report, so usually you’re trying to take something away,” Coach Sampson added. “In all their big wins they hurt you by posting their guards. We worked hard on that the last three days. We worked hard at 11:45 this morning. We were prepared. When were prepared and our kids come with the right mindset, then we can guard. If you can defend and you can rebound, those two things will give you a chance and those two things are the things we focus on the most.”

The Coogs wrap up their three-game homestand Thursday, February 15, versus the Cincinnati Bearcats. Tip is set for 6 p.m. CBS Sports Network will broadcast the game.

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