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Quentin Grimes' career-high 32 points helps Houston erase deficit and top Rice, 97-89

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POSTED: November 20, 2019 -- 8:46 a.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Tudor Fieldhouse) -- The Houston Cougars' offense erupted late in the second half Tuesday night to turn a 9 point deficit into a 97-89 win over the Rice Owls inside Rice's Tudor Fieldhouse.

Houston sophomore guard Quentin Grimes sank a three-point shot with 5:31 remaining in the game which pulled Houston within 77-71. The basket began a 21-1 Houston run over the next 4 minutes, 30 seconds which turned the tide for Houston as the Cougars improved to 2-1 on the season.

Grimes knocked down 4 three-point shots during the huge run. Grimes finished the game with a career-high 32 points on 11 for 17 field goal shooting including 6 for 10 from three-point range. He also added 9 rebounds and 5 assists.

Houston freshman guard Marcus Sasser swished a three-point shot (assist from forward Fabian White Jr to put Houston ahead 79-78 at the 3:30 mark then Grimes put Houston ahead 82-78 with a three point basket.

"I've been coaching Quentin hard," Kelvin Sampson, Houston Head Coach said after the game. "I hold him accountable, I think, because he's such a high-character kid. Tonight, it's a good pay day for him because he's put in a lot of work. This kid really works at it. He deserved to have that game. That's why I'm so proud of him and happy for him."

A key part of Houston's comeback was switching to a zone defense. The switch to zone was necessary because Houston's man-to-man defense was leaving numerous Rice Owls players open for three-point shots.

"We switched our defense. We got of the man-to-man," Sampson remarked. "I'm sure their (Rice) second team guards them better (in practice every day) than we did. That thing was getting ready to get ugly the way we were guarding them."

Houston's inexperience and miscommunication caused mistakes on defense and Rice made Houston pay for the miscues.

"They know what to do; but, they're not sure they know what they're doing," Sampson acknowledged. "The next thing you know. Boom! Just a little hesitation. Wide open three. So, I told the staff, 'Look, fellas. Unless we find a way to get them off their rhythm this thing ain't gonna end real good.' So, we jumped into that 3-2 (zone); and, our kids were active in it. But, what we did in that 3-2 was rebound. Every time they shot and missed, we got the rebound. Then, we got out in transition."

Rice missed 5 field goals and five of 6 free throws during Houston's decisive run.

"We went to that 3-2," Grimes remarked. "They (Rice) kind of got rattled in their offense and got a little bit stagnant with the ball movement. They took some bad shots. We got the rebounds. We went down and played Cougar basketball."

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Another key to the comeback was Houston's three-point shooting, Houston made 10 of 17 three-point shots in the second half including 5 threes during the 21-1 run.

"Not playing with a post man," Coach Sampson said. "I said, 'Let's play corners, high slot, and middle. And, that gave us room to drive.

If you don't have a big man (on the court), that's why we were getting so many wide open threes because once somebody broke the defense down, they collapsed; and, we were just playing inside out. Playing five guards; taking those five guards and playing zone."

Rice (4-2) led the entire first half. The Owls led by as much as 15 points (34-19) in the opening 20 minutes. Owls' senior forward Robert Martin made 3 three-point shots during an 11-0 Rice run. However, Houston finished the half with 13-5 run to trail 39-32 at halftime.

Houston started the second half with a 13-5 run and led 45-44 with 17:23 remaining in the half. The margin stayed within 2 points the next 6 minutes before Rice sophomore Drew Peterson scored 11 consecutive points in 100 seconds to put Rice ahead 75-68 with 6:33 remaining.

Rice sophomore guard Chris Mullins knocked down a jumper in the paint to extend Rice's lead to 77-68 with 5:50 on the game clock.

Then, Grimes got hot and Rice cooled off as Houston earned the hard-fought victory.

Grimes scored 21 of his 32 points in the second half. Nate Hinton, DeJon Jarreau, and Marcus Sasser each scored 15 points. Caleb Mills added 12 points.

Jarreau scored 13 of his 15 points in 13 plus minutes in the second half. He played under control in the second half.

"DeJon came in and started playing good," Sampson said. "DeJon could not have played any worse in the first half if he tried to be worse. But, the second half, he was DeJon again. And, that's why I think our team will continue to get better. If we want to be where we want to be, DeJon has got to play good."

Fabian White Jr pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds and scored 8 points. Hinton pulled down 11 boards. Houston out-rebounded Rice 47-34 and outscored Rice 23-5 in second chance points.

Houston's next game is Friday, November 22, on the road, against the Oregon Ducks. Tip is scheduled for 8 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network.

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