The Houston Roundball Review is an online basketball publication
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.

Contact Kris Gardner for details pertaining to advertising on the website; the blogs; and / or the podcasts.

Get the Disney Bundle. Movies, Shows, & Sports

2-seed Houston comes-from-behind to defeat 10-seed Rutgers 63-60 in second round of 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship

Houston Cougars logo

Buy Houston Cougars Gear at

The Saxenian Family

UPDATED: March 22, 2021 -- 12:43 a.m. CT

POSTED: March 21, 2021 -- 11:55 p.m. CT

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Lucas Oil Stadium Unity South) -- The 2-seed Houston Cougars came-from-behind in dramatic fashion Sunday night to edge the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 63-60 to advance to the regional semifinals of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship. Houston will face 11-seed Syracuse on Saturday, March 27.

Houston trailed Rutgers 52-42 with 8:45 remaining in the second half; but, Fabian White, Houston senior forward, hit a three-point shot from the top of the key to keep Houston's hopes alive trailing 52-45 with 8:33 on the mark.

"Boy, did we need that" Kelvin Sampson, Houston Head Coach, said. "That was a big, big possession. They had some momentum going. A lot of time left, but they had some really positive momentum going at that time."

Rutgers' senior guard Jacob Young, from Houston, TX, scored a driving layup with 7:38 on the clock to boost Rutgers' lead to 54-47.

Houston trailed by nine two more times 56-47 and 58-49.

Houston freshman guard Tramon Mark split two free throws to bring Houston within 58-50 with 4:33 remaining.

Then, Rutgers big man Myles Johnson missed a dunk. Marcus Sasser pulled down the defensive rebound and dished to DeJon Jarreau. Jarreau, playing with a very sore right hip, swished a three-pointer to cut Houston's deficit to 58-53 with 4:16 remaining in the game.

Rutgers missed two jump shots; Fabian White missed a layup; Tramon Mark missed the follow up layup; and Rutgers' Caleb McConnell missed a three-point shot.

Quentin Grimes got the defensive rebound and was fouled eight seconds later. Grimes missed both free throws; but, he rebounded the second miss foul shot and sank a deep three-point shot to claw Houston within w (58-56) with 2:39 on the game clock.

Rutgers' guard Geo Baker scored on a smooth driving layup for a 60-56 Scarlet Knights' lead with 2:04 left on the clock.

DeJon Jarreau attacked the basket and was fouled. Jarreau split the three throws. Houston trailed 60-57.

1:53 on the clock. Rutgers called timeout.

After the timeout, Baker missed a layup and teammate Myles Johnson missed the follow. Grimes grabbed the defensive rebound and teammate Marcus Sasser, who struggled to make field goals the entire game, shot a three-pointer which barely grazed the front of the rim. Myles Johnson was unsuccessful keeping the loose ball from going out of bounds.

Seconds later, Grimes was fouled. He split the free throws. Houston trailed 60-58 with 64 seconds to go in the game.

Rutgers was deliberate on offense to take time off the clock. Jacob Young attacked the paint and tossed a pass to the corner which was picked off by Marcus Sasser with 37 seconds on the clock. Sasser dribbled up the court and passed to Jarreau. Jarreau missed a game-tying jumper; but, from out of nowhere, Tramon Mark swooped in to grab the missed shot and score an acrobatic putback to tie the game. Mark was fouled while he scored; and, he went to the line for 1 shot. He made the free throw. Houston led 61-60 with 24.1 seconds remaining in the game.

"Tramon, he a warrior. That's actually my roommate when we on road games," Jarreau said of Mark's putback and free throw. "Me and him always talk, just talk about the game, just talk about life. That's my little brother. Just seeing him fly in, get that rebound, make the free throw, the and one, shows his toughness, how important he is to this team.

"Man, that was a culture play, culture play, toughness play. Happy he was the one to do it. It paid off for him. He been through so much this season. Just to see him just come in and fly and get the offensive rebound, that's just stuff we work on. I'm happy the stuff we work on is coming out in the games."

"Playing big, we were just one-and-done too much," Coach Sampson commented. "So, once we went small and got our guards to the boards, that's where we made a difference. That's where Tramon was. Tramon is a good rebounder. He was a terrific high school player, but most of these guys coming into this program never really understood the importance of rebounding."

After a Rutgers' timeout, Marcus Sasser used Houston's last foul before the 1-and-1 bonus on Geo Baker. Sasser's foul occurred with 18 seconds remaining. Rutgers inbounded the ball; and, Sasser stole the ball from Baker with 11 seconds remaining. Sasser was fouled with 9.0 seconds left in the game. Sasser made both free throws for a 63-60 lead.

Ron Harper Jr. missed a game-tying three; and, Houston erupted in jubilation.

SUPPORT The Houston Roundball Review via PayPal or via the Cash App.

Sign up to get ESPN+.

Or, get the Disney bundle: ESPN+, Disney+, and Hulu!!! Save when you bundle all three and get the best movies, shows & sports.

Despite his right hip being extremely sore, DeJon Jarreau kept Houston afloat. He scored 13 of Houston's first 31 points; however, he grimaced each time he was hit while moving and especially when he ran into screens set by Rutgers' big men.

"I mean, when I say he was in pain, he was in pain," Kelvin Sampson remarked. "I knew he was going to try to go today. He got a hit early in the game. He's one of our best defenders. He just could not keep those guys in front of him because he couldn't move laterally. Marcus got two fouls the first half. He didn't play any of the first half. Maybe 4 minutes, something like that.

"Leadership doesn't have to be loud. It doesn't have to be words. DeJon's leadership was huge tonight just by his actions, refusal to lose. Sometimes you don't play good enough to win, so sometimes you just have to refuse to lose. I would put that in the refuse-to-lose category, and DeJon was the captain of that ship."

Houston outscored Rutgers 14-2 in last 4:33 of the game. Rutgers finished the game making 1 of their last 8 field goal attempts and going scoreless the final 2:04.

"We never thought the game was over," Jarreau acknowledged. "Credit to Coach Sampson for being in our ear, just telling us we're one stop away, as soon as we do this or do that, we'll be this close. That gave us confidence when you have a coach like that. Man, Coach Sampson, just a great coach. He gives us confidence.

"I try my best - along with the seniors - to give the young guys confidence because it's never over till it's over. Anything can happen, especially in March.

"A will to win. Came together. That just shows how close we are, how much we love each other. We don't want it to end so soon. Like I say, it's all about the culture. Houston has a great culture."

Houston outrebounded Rutgers 22-11 in the second half including 11-4 on the offensive glass. Houston outscored Rutgers 12-0 in second chance points in the second half.

"Our second- and third-chance points, when I went in at halftime, that was my biggest disappointment," Coach Sampson recalled. "You can't ever get upset at your team for shooting poorly. They don't try to miss. Seriously, they try to make shots. But we had three points at halftime, second-chance points. In the second half we had 12. That's how we have to win some nights. On nights when we shoot well, we look good. There's not a lot of teams that can play as poorly as we did and still win, but we've done that a lot.

"Quentin Grimes I don't think had any offensive rebounds at halftime. Had four in the second half. Tramon Mark had three in the second half. Seven offensive rebounds from your wings. Sometimes when the good Lord closes windows, he opens doors.

"They were being physical. Rutgers is big. They were boxing out our fours and fives. But they couldn't box us all out. Really proud of how our wings got in there and got us some second and third shots."

The Saxenian Family

"Did we play poorly?" Coach Sampson summarized. "Yes. That's okay. There's a lot of teams that played a lot better than us that's at home tonight. Don't get carried away if you don't play good. That's an ugly win. It's a win. This time of year, I don't evaluate them. What did you think about this? We won the game. We're in the Sweet 16. We play Syracuse next Saturday. That's the bottom line."

Survive and Advance.


Houston's next game will be versus 11-seed Syracuse, Saturday, March 27, tip-off at 8:55 p.m. CT, inside Hinkle Fieldhouse, in the regional semifinals of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.

CLICK HERE for The HRR's write-ups of Coogs' men's hoops games.

Subscribe to The HRR provides news and info of UH Coogs' men's basketball by Email

The HRR's YouTube Channel

Click to Support The HRR

Official Merchandise

Houston Roundball Review Merch

Shop at

HBCUs gear

Houston Cougars gear

Rice Owls gear

Texas A&M Aggies gear

Texas Longhorns gear

Texas Southern Tigers gear

Shop at

Houston Rockets gear

Shop at