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by: Kris Gardner, United States Basketball Writers Association member. Credentialed media member since 1997. USBWA approved online journalist. Voter of Katrina McClain, Naismith, USBWA, and Wooden awards.

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No. 6 Houston defeats Alcorn State, 88-55, Sunday afternoon

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POSTED: December 20, 2020 -- 9:45 p.m. CT

HOUSTON, TX (Fertitta Center) -- The 6th-ranked Houston Cougars men's basketball team routed Alcorn State 88-55 Sunday afternoon to improve to 5-0 this season. Houston's Quentin Grimes scored a game-high 27 points to lead Houston in the victory. Grimes also had 10 rebounds.

"We needed this game to kinda get our feet wet and get back in the flow of things," Grimes mentioned after the game.

Justin Gorham grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Newcomer Reggie Chaney scored 18 points (6/8 field goals, 6/9 free throws) in 20 minutes. Freshman Jamal Shead scored 10 points in his first collegiate start in his young career.

Chaney scored Houston's 4 points in the game. Shead scored 7 consecutive points as part of Houston's 20-4 run in the first 11 minutes of the ball game.

"It's nothing new to us," Grimes said of Chaney's performance. "It's new to y'all. We see that everyday in practice."

Houston (5-0) led Alcorn State (0-2) 35-18 at halftime. The Braves outscored Houston 11-4 to slice Houston's lead to 39-29; however, Houston went on a 13-3 burst to stretch the margin to 23 points (55-32) with 9:41 remaining in the game.

Houston freshman Tramon Mark scored 5 points during the run.

The Coogs' largest lead was 36 points (86-50) with 1:46 left in the game.

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Sunday's game was Houston's first game since December 5th versus South Carolina.

Houston had to pause activities as well as postpone (cancel) games versus Sam Houston State (Dec. 9th), Rice (Dec. 12th), and at Alabama (Dec. 19th) as well as reschedule a Dec. 15th home game versus to January 17th which switched the January matchup to a Dec. 26th road game at UCF.

"No coach in his right mind is going to schedule three consecutive road games in conference," Kelvin Sampson said during his postgame media session. "But I did because of COVID. We play Central Florida on the 26th; we play at Tulsa on the 29th; and, we play at SMU on January 3rd."

Coach Sampson explained his reasons for rescheduling the UCF game to December 26th.

"I rescheduled the Central Florida game that canceled to the 26th; so, we could keep our kids together. So, we could test them and not have to quarantine them for two weeks. Can you imagine a kid gets home for Christmas, he sees some of his relatives, some of his relatives get tested; they test positive and then this kid gets contact traced; and, then, the kids he's with get contact traced.

"If a kid tests positive here (in Houston), we have the facilities to isolate him, by himself, for those days; get him his meals; make sure he's hydrated; make sure he's got everything he needs here. And, that's why we're going to keep them here."

As a result of the positive COVID-19 test results and contact tracing, Houston had 6 players available for practice Tuesday, December 15th through Friday, December 18th. Clearly, not enough players for any 5-on-5 scrimmages in practice.

Justin Gorham said, "I feel like we bonded; and we got through it."

"We had to bring the energy," Gorham said of the practices. "Me and 5 others."

The 6 players were Chaney, Gorham, Grimes, DeJon Jarreau, freshman big man Kiyron Powell and Shead. Brison Gresham, Tramon Mark and J'Wan Roberts were able to practice Saturday, December 19.

"We're just going to have to navigate this terrain the best we can," Coach Sampson said. "And, don't complain about it."


Houston's next game is Tuesday, December 22, at 7 p.m., versus Temple, inside Fertitta Center. ESPN+ will show the game. Tuesday's game will be Temple's second game of this season.

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