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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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Houston loses 68-63 at Wichita State

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UPDATED: February 18, 2021 -- 11:03 p.m. CT

POSTED: February 18, 2021 -- 10:27 p.m. CT

WICHITA, KS (Charles Koch Arena) -- The Houston Cougars men's basketball lost 68-63 on the road to the Wichita State Shockers. Houston is now to 17-3 overall and 11-3 in the American Athletic Conference. The Shockers improve to 13-4 and 9-2 in the AAC. The two teams split their two-regular season meetings.

Coming into the game, Wichita State needed a résumé-building win; and, after Houston jumped out to a 28-16 lead, the Shockers out scrapped Houston and clawed within 1 (34-33) at halftime.

Houston's defense clicked on all cylinders early in the first half and limited Wichita State to 2 for 9 field goal shooting.

Houston made 6 of its first 12 field goal attempts in the game. The Shockers cold shooting continued and became 3 for 13 field goal shooting including 2 for 6 on three-point shots.

Then, the Shockers got hot from three. Wichita State closed the first half with a 17-6 run to cut Houston's 28-16 lead to 34-33 at halftime. The Shockers made their last 4 three-pointers to close their half shooting 6 for 10 from three in the opening half. Many of them were tough, contested, well-defended shots.

Houston's hot shooting cooled considerably as Houston made 9 of its next 21 field goal attempts to finish the first half.

Wichita State opened the second half with an 11-0 run which included 3 for 3 shooting from three-point range for 7 consecutive threes made in the ball game.

"I thought we had most of those shots contested," Kelvin Sampson, Houston Head Coach said after the game. "They were hitting tough shots."

Houston trailed 44-34 with 16:57 remaining in the second half. DeJon Jarreau made a three-pointer to end Houston's scoring drought. Marcus Sasser followed with a tough shot off the glass to bring Houston within 5 (44-39) with 15:56 on the clock.

Wichita State kept Houston at arms' length with leads of 7 or 5 the next three minutes until Houston forward Reggie Chaney scored a layup to cut Houston's deficit to 3 (48-45) 11:01 remaining in the game.

Houston did not attempt a free throw until the 10:27 mark of the second half when forward Fabian White Jr went to the line and split 2 foul shots. White saw his first game action since tearing his ACL in May 2020. White finished the game with 3 points in 9 minutes.


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Quentin Grimes sank a three-point shot to pull Houston within 2 points 51-49 with 8:50 remaining in the ball game.

Wichita State answered with a 5-0 run to lead 56-49 with 6:35 on the clock. After Grimes missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Jarreau hit a three-pointer to trim Houston's deficit to 56-52.

Next, Jarreau split 2 free throws to claw the Coogs within 56-53 with 4:39 remaining in the game.

Wichita State outscored Houston 6-1 to stretch the lead to 62-54 with less than three minutes to go in the game.

Houston forward Justin Gorham scored back-to-back baskets in the paint to slice the Shockers' lead to 62-58 with 1:59 on the clock. Neither team scored for more than a minute when Jarreau made 2 foul shots with 54 seconds left.

Houston trailed 62-60.

Wichita State guard Alterique Gilbert split Houston's defense and scored a driving layup with 29 seconds remaining. Seconds later, Quentin Grimes banked in a 3 pointer to make the score 64-63, Wichita State.

Houston called timeout with 19 seconds on the game clock. After the timeout, Houston fouled Tyson Etienne with 18 seconds remaining to send Etienne to the line for 1-and-1. Etienne missed the first free throw. Gorham got the defensive rebound and passed the Jarreau. Jarreau raced up the right side of the court; then, Jarreau passed the ball cross the court to the left side and Dexter Dennis picked off the pass.

"He should have took the ball -- we wanted him to take the ball to the rim," Coach Sampson remarked of Jarreau's decision to pass the ball crosscourt. "You don't throw the ball cross court there. You just don't. Take the ball to the rim! Attack!

"We got them in transition," Sampson continued. "There was no way we were gonna call timeout because we got them in retreat. Just attack it. DeJon's the perfect guy to do that. There's absolutely no reason why he should have passed that ball there. He should have got in the paint; and, either, tried to draw a foul or try to score or then, maybe, kick it out. But, crosscourt pass there is, obviously, mind boggling."

That turnover by Jarreau was his only turnover of the game.

Dennis attacked the basket and was fouled hard by Gorham. A flagrant 2 foul was called on Gorham and Gorham was ejected. Dennis made both free throws and the Shockers kept possession after the foul. Etienne was fouled with 10 seconds remaining and made both free throws for the final points of the game.


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Houston finished the game 5 for 11 from the free throw line. Wichita State was 18 for 23 from the foul line.

"I was proud that our guys didn't quit. They just kept grinding," Coach Sampson commented. "Not making free throws. There's not a coach in America that doesn't over-practice that area (free throw shooting). But, being tough enough to step up to the free throw line during games, you gotta be able to do that."

Wichita State outrebounded Houston 35-33 in the game including 21-14 in the second half.

"That team was tougher than us on the boards tonight," Coach Sampson said. "I don't know how many times I've said that in 7 years -- especially the last 6 years."

"It's always disappointing in our program when get out-scrapped on the boards."

Jarreau scored a team-high 16 points for Houston. Grimes scored 13 and Gorham added 10 points and a team-high 6 rebounds.

Etienne and Gilbert each scored 16 to lead the Shockers. Dexter Dennis added 12 points and Ricky Council scored 11.

UP NEXT:

Houston's next game is scheduled for Sunday, February 21, inside Fertitta Center, against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Tip time is 12 p.m. ESPN will broadcast the game.

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