Houston extends winning streak but falls to No. 22 in AP poll

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The University of Houston men’s basketball team has remained undefeated through its first 12 games, although it nearly suffered the first set back trailing Utah State by 10 at halftime.

Enter Armoni Brooks, who saved all of his scoring for the second half, pouring in 15 to lead the Cougars to grab a firm hold on the nation’s longest home winning streak.

“We came out lackadaisical in the first half,” Brooks noted after the game. “Galen [Robinson Jr.] and Corey [Davis Jr.] are our emotional leaders. They told us at halftime to stay together and keep fighting. We went out in the second half and started getting stops, once we get stops our confidence rose. We pride ourselves on defense and rebounding, so when we get stops it elevates our entire team.”

In addition to Brooks’ performance down the stretch, DeJon Jarreau supplied 10 points off the bench building up momentum coming out of the break.

The second half started with a 29-10 run in favor of the host Cougars where all of Brooks’ shots fell. On the other end of the spectrum, the Aggies started that span 3-of-14 from the field and suffered six turnovers to allow Houston back into the game.

Cougar Head Coach Kelvin Sampson understood this Utah State team is capable of doing exactly what they did in the first half but was proud of the late-game effort from his players.

“I didn’t do any interviews the week before the game, so I never got the chance to say how good Utah State is,” Sampson said. “Utah State is really good, nothing they did surprised me. They’re well-coached and they beat St. Mary’s, who won 28 games last year.

“I thought we really out-competed them in the second half and I can always tell that by our effort on the boards,” noted Sampson. “That team was out-rebounding their opponents in 11 games by 13 rebounds. Defensively, everything they did statistically was better than us. So, lot of respect for Utah State and I was really proud of the way our kids played in the second half.”

That positive drive carried into a matchup pitting undefeated Houston against winless Coppin State but the Cougars knew not to take the visiting Eagles lightly.

“We do a good job of treating everyone the same,” Davis noted. “With games like this, we have to focus on ourselves and bring our home energy. Just bringing that type of energy that is going to be there on a big night.”

It was indeed a big night for the Houston defense, who allowed a season-low 44 points after two halves of play. The closest Coppin State got to even tying the score came in the opening moments of the game where a Giir Ring three-pointer made things 11-9 with 13:03 showing on the clock.

But a third three from Davis pushed the visitors away and by the time the halftime buzzer rang out it was already 37-22 in favor of the Cougars. Davis led all Houston scorers with 16 points by the end of it.

He elaborated on playing in front of the Cougar faithful in the brand-new Fertitta Center and mentioned it was a good feeling to have the longest home winning streak in the country.

“It means a lot to know that we can come and take care of our home court,” Davis noted. “It always puts an extra boost in us. It helps that we are winning all of our games, because we make sure that we take care of business at home. We definitely put an emphasis on that.”

Despite taking care of said business, the Associated Press’ next poll had them docked a spot, down to No. 22 nationally.

The University of Buffalo descended from No. 14 following a defeat to a Marquette team that rose from No. 20 to 18 in the poll.

Also suffering a defeat was South Dakota State, who previously owned the nation’s longest winning streak on its home court. The University of Montana secured an 85-74 victory to end the Jackrabbits’ streak at 26, exactly where Houston picked up.

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